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

July 14, 2007

Ardbegs 1973
Ardbeg 15 yo 1973/1989 (46%, Signatory, cask #4902) 1973 is the year when Hiram Walker purchased the distillery for £300,000. Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely maritime, on seaweed, oysters… then we have ashes, bonfire and a little tar. Wonderfully classic. Mouth: a rather oily mouth feel, with the saltiness upfront as well as bitter oranges, pepper, oyster juice… A perfect smokiness. Also hints of bitter chocolate. Finish: long, with a little tar again, salted liquorice and hints of black pepper. As Ardbeggian as it gets even if the middle was very slightly weakish. Otherwise it would have made it over 90 points.
Ardbeg 15 yo 1973/1988 (53.5%, Sestante, green glass) This one is different from the version at 53.4% with the same label. Colour: gold. Nose: big bold peat, kumquats, pepper and oysters. Extremely maritime. Goes on with lots of almond milk. Brilliant Ardbeg, no doubt. Mouth: bold, candied, peaty and tarry, salty. Also quite some orange marmalade. A sweeter old Ardbeg but still a beast, with a very long, very peppery finish. Rather explosive and state of the art - even if it's more Bootsy Collins than Charles Mingus. 94 points.
Ardbeg 14 yo 1973 (53.3%, Sestante, clear glass) Colour: gold. Nose: a little less talkative but also subtler. Lots of sea elements (air, kelp) but little fruits. Maybe freshly cut apples, which is quite rare in very old Ardbegs I think. Superb whiffs of pine forest. Beautiful. Mouth: rounder, mellower than the ‘green glass’. Empyreumatic. Eucalyptus sweets. Crystallised quinces, black pepper… Stupendous whisky again, with a long finish, bold, more candied… Almost perfection. Bang, 95 points.
Ardbeg 30yo 1973/2003 (48.9%, DL Platinum, 197 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: bold, complex, starting more on sea elements than on medicinal notes. Really ‘a walk on the shore of the Atlantic’ as they say, with lots of kelp, sea water, shells… Then it’s more on mint, camphor and eucalyptus and finally on iodine, bandages and embrocations. Everything is slightly mellower than usual but perfectly integrated even if it comes in layers. Mouth: the attack is quite lemony, vibrant (green apples, kiwis) and then it’s really classic old Ardbeg, with a rather bold smokiness, marzipan, roots, cough syrup and finally a pinch of salt. Finish: long, maybe a tad drying now but still ample and majestic. Top notch again as expected. 93 points.
MUSICRecommended listening (JAZZ): why not a little Ornette Coleman today? I know some readers who'll be very happy to listen to Science fiction.mp3... (and some who won't). But please buy Mr Coleman's 'seminal' music (right, right...) Ornette

July 12, 2007








Glenfarclas 1959/2002 ‘Christmas Day’ (46%, OB, 96 bottles) This one was distilled on December 25, 1959 (no day off at Glenfarclas?) and the bottle is fellow maniac Luc’s one at the Quaich Bar, Craigellachie. Probably one of the best they have there. Colour: deep amber. Nose: oh, this is a very elegant sherry, rather dry, with beautiful notes of coffee, roasted pecans and toasted cake. We have also a ‘pretty’ eucalyptus, whiffs of thuja box, juniper… Also a little olive oil. Very demonstrative in fact (who said like its owner? ;-)) Mouth: more classical, rather tannic but balanced. Lots of crystallised fruits, fruit ganache, bitter chocolate… The finish is on the same notes, long, maybe just a tad tannic. Maybe a few more degrees would have balanced the tannins even better, but what’s sure is that it’s a great old Glenfarclas. 92 points. (and many thanks, Luc)
Single Speyside Malt 40 yo 1966/2007 (52.4%, The Whisky Fair, Oloroso, 150 bottles) This one should be Glenfarclas, The Whisky Fair already had several great ones in the past. Colour: deep amber. Nose: we have maybe a faint soapiness right at the start but that vanishes in a flash. After that it’s a cortege of praline, toasted brioche, espresso and milk chocolate with hints of strawberry liqueur. Then we have hints of blackcurrant buds, rubbed orange peel and finally an enjoyable meatiness (ham, game). Punchy and slightly wilder than other classic old Glenfarclasses. Mouth: bold, punchy, classic sherried Glenfarclas, with just small hints of rubber at the attack. Then it’s the usual raisins, strawberry jam… Also notes of peach leaves tea (you should try that one day). There’s also some beautiful notes of fresh fruits in the background (citrons, oranges), a little crystallised ginger from the wood… Nice spiciness as well (pepper, big cloves). Gets a little bitter (oak) but that’s far from being a problem here. Lots of smoked tea (lapsang souchong). Finish: rather long, fruity (quetsche spirit, cooked fruits, oranges), a little tannic now. In short, this one is slightly rough, less polished than most OB’s, but certainly not less pleasant. An excellent version if you’re not afraid of a little bitterness in your malts. 87 points.
Single Speyside Malt 41 yo 1965/2007 (53.5%, The Whisky Fair, sherry) Another Glenfarclas by another name, ‘probably’. Colour: amber but paler than the 40. Nose: I find this one to be closer to a Cognac actually, or rather an armagnac, with notes of old wine (like a Maury or a Rivesaltes rather than Sherry). It gets then farmier than the 1966, with whiffs of horse stable as well as something pleasantly sharp, almost metallic like in some old bottles. Hints of wet wood. Honey sauce, ham again, old waxed furniture. Not a fat, thick sherry it seems, lots of zing despite its old age. I like it! Mouth: superb attack this time, much more special and unusual than the 1966’s. Starts right on loads of spices (paprika, curry, pepper) plus various resinous flavours (eucalyptus sweets, camphor sweets). Beautiful fruitiness (butter pears, oranges, crystallised tangerines)… Gets fruitier and fruitier in fact (also ripe kiwis). And the oak is superb as well! Top notch oldie, very complex and balanced. Finish: long, compact, balanced, absolutely not tired despite the 41 years… Great bottle by TWF. What’s more, it’s interestingly different from the usual old Glenfarclasses. 92 points.
And also...
Blairfindy 30yo 1976/2006 (49,4%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry cask #4, 296 bottles) Glenfarclas by another name, very good but maybe a little simpler than expected. 85 points, still.
Blairfindy 40yo 1965/2006 (51,7%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry cask #1850, 194 bottles) Nose: beeswax and old red wine. ‘smoked toffee’. Mouth: perfect balance but maybe a little drying and rough, tannic. A little rubber as well. Otherwise it’s great whisky. 87 points.
'Probably Speyside's Finest' 40yo 1965/2006 (50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask, Sherry, 539 bottles) Nose: ripe apples and coffee. Mouth: not unlike an old Calvados. A little salt. Cognac. Well, this one is very ‘French’, if I may say so. Slightly drying but very, very good. 89 points.
Speyside Single Malt 35yo 1971/2006 (51,4%, The Whisky Fair, Sherry butt, 534 bottles) A Glenfarclas that won gold at the Malt Maniacs Awards 2006. Nose; more complex, more subtle and more elegant. Like a beautiful old sweet wine. Superb whiffs of high-end coffee (Blue Mountain and such). Great dryness. Mouth: more classical, again not unlike a Cognac or a Calvados. Sweet but not round. Balsamic vinegar and plum sauce, milk chocolate. Notes of pineapple liqueur. Just excellent. 91 points.
Glenfarclas 1991/2004 (46%, OB, cask #5619, 649 bottles) Colour: deep amber. Nose: lots of sultanas and rum, cooked strawberries, crystallised oranges… Not too complicated but the balance is almost perfect despite the heavy woodiness (resin). Mouth: bold, very oaky and resinous again with salty touches. Goes on with black pepper, peppermint… More and more resinous, getting a bit 'plankish'. Too bad but there's a wide range of much better young vintage Glenfarclasses to choose from. 79 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: do you remember that true gem that was on Blondie's 1978 album 'Parallel lines', called Fade away and radiate.mp3? Please buy Blondie and Deborah Harry's music... Blondie

July 11, 2007

Bruichladdich 15 yo ‘Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’ (54%, OB, 2007) Enhanced in Yquem casks just like its lower strength brother the regular 15yo. Colour: gold. Nose: maybe a bit shy at first nosing but also very elegant, with quite some farmy notes and maybe just faint whiffs of sulphur. Gets then more classically fruity, on bananas and very ripe mirabelle plums. As rounded as expected. Mouth: round, rich, expressive. A mixture of caramel sauce, very ripe plums and tinned pineapples. Also ripe kiwis, icing sugar… Nice balance. Finish: long and jammy, still on apricots and ripe kiwis. A very effective ducal mixture, maybe not the most complex ever but it’s perfectly crafted. 87 points.
Bruichladdich 34 yo ‘Legacy 6’ (41%, OB, 1,704 bottles, 2007) This is a vatting of 1965, 1970 and 1972 Laddies and the very last ‘Legacy’ to be issued. There’s also the new “Redder Still” but I still have to taste it properly. Colour: gold. Nose: starts on full pineapple and melon juice, in the old Bruichladdich tradition and develops more on ripe bananas, pink grapefruits and marshmallows, with whiffs of rubbed mint leaves. Not the most complex old Bruichladdich ever but it’s very elegant whisky, no doubt. Mouth: much shyer at the attack, almost whispering. Notes of bananas, cold tea and very soft spices from the wood (hints of nutmeg and cinnamon). Extremely soft but still interesting. A charming old lady. Finish: not long but neither tannic, quite surprisingly. Clean and delicate, on pineapple syrup. In short, it’s fading away a little but it’s still a bl**dy good whisky. 88 points.
Bruichladdich 1966/1983 (53.5%, Moon Import, Riserva Veronelli, 2400 bottles) Colour: deep amber. Nose: a relatively grainy, malty and minty attack on the nose – all that being quite superb – with also a delicate sherry. Greta notes of rum-soaked sultanas and Corinth raisins, ripe apples, ripe melons (as often I great old Bruichladdichs) and not less ripe peaches. Also whiffs of smoked ham. Mouth: the sherry is bolder now, imperious. We have a little mint again, liquorice, quite some salt, cocoa from the cask… The distillery character is more absent than on the nose, thanks to the sherry. Now, the finish is fresher again, more coastal, with also notes of fresh mushrooms and pepper. Bold, punchy despite all these years, perfectly balanced… In short, a perfect old Bruichladdich. 91 points. (and thanks, Heinz)
MUSICRecommended listening: she's Japanese, she's a whisperer and her name is Chara. Today we'll have Beautiful day.mp3. Please buy her music. Chara

July 10, 2007


Hammersmith Apollo, London, July 1st 2007

I recollect that Lou Reed’s 1972 album Transformer, produced by Mick Ronson and David Bowie, was a mandatory fashion accessory when I went to college the following year, along with tight bottomed flared trousers, clogs, and rolled up copies of Socialist Worker (“Socialist Worker!”).

I remember equally clearly that almost no-one bought the follow up, the commercially calamitous Berlin, or if they did it soon found its way to the back of the line of vinyl (remember vinyl?) long players stacked against the wall.Transformer, with songs like ‘Walk on the wild side’ poised Reed for stardom. Berlin was his characteristically uncompromising riposte, a dark and inaccessible ‘concept’ piece that lost sales faster than the Titanic lost passengers. Time, of course, is not only a healer, it’s also a lens through which critics are able to reappraise their judgements; Rolling Stone, for example, commented thus on the albums release: “Reed’s only excuse for this performance…can only be that this was his last shot at a once-promising career.” Now it calls Berlin the “Sergeant Pepper of the 70s”. So in the course of time Berlin has gone from misjudged disaster to critical masterpiece – not I suspect that many more folks have bought it as a result. But it has encouraged Reed to bring it to the stage, with the assistance of the increasingly ubiquitous musical producer Hal Willner (“Where’s Willner?” says Reed at the end, taking a much deserved ovation, “we couldn’t have done this without Willner”).
Lou Reed albums
Transformer, Berlin, New York
Now let me be clear that I have never greatly admired Reed. I’ve always felt he was hugely over-rated (not least by himself), and that his pseudo intellectual projects and ramblings (or was he, as they say here, “taking the piss”?) were inexcusably over indulged by a music press who chose to be cowed by his famously grumpy demeanour. Which reminds me of an interview on BBC TV just before this show, when some obsequious and sycophantic presenter asked Reed, “So Lou, do you think it would be right to describe Berlin as the world’s first concept album?” To give him credit I think he did suppress a grin before answering “No”. Anyway – my caveat would have to be my admiration for his 1983 album New York, which I would probably nominate as the best musical biography of a city you could buy, wonderfully written, played and produced.
Strangely the theatre’s only half full (maybe everyone’s at Wembley rocking with the two young princes, Sir Elton, Sir Tom and the no doubt soon to be Dame Lily). A screen behind the band’s kit is showing a hypnotic film loop of crashing breakers and undulating waves – enough to get the beer drinkers’ bladders working overtime. Did I mention it’s our first non-smoking gig? Reed takes the stage promptly at 8.00. His band are a mixture of old-timers including Steve Hunter who played guitar on the original Berlin album. There are long time collaborators Tony ‘Thunder’ Smith on drums (who, I notice, played for Serge Gainsbourg back in the seventies), Fernando Saunders on bass and Rob Wasserman on string bass (he played on New York). Katie Krykant, swathed in red, is backing vocalist. On keyboards, and leading the band is producer and arranger Rupert Christie. He’s got some job, and it’s not only keeping Reed and Co. in order. The screen is raised to reveal on the left a seven piece string and brass section (borrowed from the London Metropolitan Orchestra) and on the right a dozen choristers, from the New London Children’s Choir. Behind them is a wonderfully eclectic backdrop (including a hanging sofa) designed by New York artist Julian Schnabel – onto it is projected a film narrative of the story made by his daughter Lola.
The story? Well if you didn’t know it’s a ferociously depressing tale of boy meets girl going badly wrong, set in Berlin, a city which at the time Reed had never visited but which (like the Dubonnet on ice in the opening song, which he had never drunk) had captured his imagination.
Caroline, the main protagonist, is abused, falls into drug addiction and prostitution, has her children taken away, and eventually, if I’m reading things right, tops herself. Gloomy indeed. But it’s a full-on performance that I find difficult to criticise. Maybe Hunter was given rather too much space for his slightly indulgent solos, but apart from that the band were superb, the orchestra rocked and the incongruously virginal choir superb. Reed cut a curious figure – slouching onto the stage he straightened up to reveal a somewhat over-developed upper body and a paunch that wouldn’t have been out of place in the public bar of the Distillers Arms (yes, we’re near the site of H & J Haig’s Hammersmith Distillery, acquired by the DCL in 1910 and used by them for distilling grain spirit and for research into industrial alcohols) round the corner, which was nicely hidden by his guitar. Dubonnet
Like Bulldog Drummond he smiled grimly. His singing took off slowly, but after a couple of songs his performance was outstanding, delivering his splenetic lyrics with a mono-tonal expressiveness and verve that was truly captivating. ‘Men of good fortune’ and ‘The kids’ (“They’re taking her children away, because they said she was not a good mother”) stood out particularly for me, the latter with a perfectly matched piece of film was timeless and heart-wrenching. And I never thought I’d say that about Lou Reed. I even enjoyed his single string droning solos.
It was pleasing to see the genuine sense of pleasure and achievement that the band shared at the end of the performance because they had put on quite a show. So had the swaying and gently rocking choir (how jealous must their school friends be?) many of whose Mums seemed to be sitting (actually standing and waving their arms hysterically) around us. And when Reed slouched his band back for an encore of ‘Sweet Jane’, ‘Satellite of Love’ and particularly ‘Walk on the wild side’ they almost stole the show, and gave Reed occasion to change one of the most famous lyrics in the history of rock and roll to “all the nice girls sing”. In summary – I would find it hard to find room for Berlin either on my shelf or i-Pod, but I would find it equally difficult to resist an opportunity to see this exceptional performance again. By the time you read this the European tour will be almost over, but if he tours the show again either here or in the USA I would commend you to go and see it without hesitation. Just don’t expect too many laughs. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)
Many thanks Nick. I must say your comments on the original Berlin LP came as a surprise, I had thought it had been a heavy-selling slice of vinyl, as we all used to own it over here (between Bowie’s Alladin Sane and the Stones’ Sticky Fingers, the latter causing lots of trouble to its neighbour because of the infamous zipper…). Maybe because we didn't understand the lyrics? I also remember how big it was when I first saw Lou Reed in concert here in Alsace, around 1975 I believe, peroxide hair and Steve Hunter stealing the show (Sweet Jane!) in the true ‘rock and roll animal’ genre. But last time was completely different – it was in 2004 – Reed was very grumpy indeed, very noisy (no Steve Hunter, only Reed’s torrential tries at sculpting a ‘sound’ on the guitar) and very artsy as well (cello and so on). The fans loved that, the others had left way before Romeo had Juliette. But let’s listen to Reed and Hunter’s famous live anthem, Sweet Jane – and of course the intro.mp3. - S.
Campbeltown Row Campbeltown Row 1992/2007 (49.1%, Taste Still, 188 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: first it’s the sherry that strikes and that really dominates the peat, with notes of blackcurrant jam and buds. Then we have typical hints of aspirin and ‘very wet’ dog, gin fizz, a little sulphur, then cigarette tobacco and leather, paraffin, apple peel, then a pack of marshmallows that you just opened… Green tea… All that is much cleaner than more recent distillations I think, even if it’s got nothing to do with 1973-1974 or 1987 Longrow. Now, there’s very little peat.
Mouth: good attack, punchy, very sweet (almost sugary), with notes of toasted brioche and a little Cointreau. Also quite some fruit eaux de vie (kirsch and plums) and a pleasant bitterness in the background (chlorophyll chewing-gum, propolis). Notes of lemon sweets and liquorice allsorts. Again, little peat but maybe a little more than on the nose. Finish: long, candied, fruity and kirschy again. Good whisky no doubt, and good refill sherry, pretty much in line with the unfinished OB’s. 85 points.
Longrow 10 yo 1996/2006 (59.4%, Cadenhead Bond Reserve, cream sherry butt, 654 bottles) Right, let’s start these notes with some comments a friend just pointed me to. Indeed, on Springbank’s official forum, the site’s admin, ‘sbpeter’ wrote that “the Longrow Tokaji has been abused by Malt Maniac Serge Valantine (yeah, right), Richard Joynson at Loch Fyne Whiskies and self-proclaimed whisky guru Jim Murray, just goes to show what they know." I’d reply that, indeed, I found that Longrow Tokaji to be quite undrinkable. Of course it’s only a personal opinion, and I may well be wrong, just like I may be wrong when I think that other whiskies by Springbank are fantastic, which happens more than often. Longrow
Further, I won’t comment on what Richard, Jim and my very humble and much less important person know, but I can’t see why the fact that we don’t like a whisky should mean that we know nothing. I'd also add that no less than eleven MM's have tasted that Tokaji and that the current average rating is 72 points. And oh, by the way Mr. sbpeter, it’s ‘Barolo’, not ‘Barollo’ like you write on your forum…. No offence I hope. Anyway, I hate sterile polemics and I promise this will be the only one on WF this year, so back to another whisky that, I must say, I didn’t like at all either I’m afraid. Colour: gold. Nose: an extremely powerful sherry and quite some sulphur. No peat at all at first nosing. Notes of cooked cabbage, lager beer, hops… With water: we do have a little more peat now, as well as hay and dried flowers… And even more sulphur. Mouth (neat): very creamy, oily. Weird notes of rotting oranges, ‘loud’ fructose. Pepper. Apricots and orange liqueurs. Rather mouldy. With water: orange juice and candy sugar, liquorice allsorts. Finish: extremely long, ultra-sweet and slightly tarry. I don’t like this one, which, again, does not mean that it’s not good (holy sugar, of course!!!) 70 points.

July 9, 2007

The Barbican, London, June 30th 2007
Chick Corea Gary Burton
“Who wants to spend an hour listening to piano and vibes?” That, according to Gary Burton was the question posed when it was suggested that he and pianist Chick Corea should make a recording, following an accidental jam session in 1972 (“Well they asked all the performers to come up and play after the show and we were the only two who turned up”). Given that the Barbican is packed, and that Burton and Corea are in the middle of a twelve month tour celebrating 35 years of on-off collaborations that have resulted in six albums and numerous awards, you might judge that the answer to the perhaps rhetorical question was “almost everyone”. Certainly while both have maintained highly successful individual careers their collaborative work has been outstanding, and their live performances much anticipated.
Burton is the rather reserved, scholastic, and almost Waspish-looking vibes player who contrasts starkly with the laid back finger-clicking eye-brow raising Corea, of mixed Italian (Sicilian?) and Spanish descent, who sits easily at his piano stool, and casually cracks jokes with the audience (“switch your mobile ‘phones on, this is about audience empowerment”) when his partner has to return to the dressing room for some forgotten sheet music. They’re like music’s Odd Couple – except of course when they sit down to play – at this point they appear to be joined at more than just the hip.
I can still remember Burton from an old black and white BBC TV recording made at Ronnie Scott’s, more years ago than I care to remember. He’s the guy who uses two sticks in each hand (actually they’re called mallets, and despite the fact that he wraps them carelessly in an old Heineken beer towel I understand they are made to his own exacting specifications). Before he plays he towers above the Musser vibraphone, sticks (sorry, mallets) in hand, with a slightly puzzled or pensive expression on his face, as if he doesn’t quite know what’s coming next. Gary Burton
Maybe he’s rehearsing his moves in his head. But when he starts playing, with magical harmonic chords effortlessly flowing from one to the other (‘Love castle’), interspersed with syncopated melodies and, on songs like ‘Bud Powell’ classic jazz riffs – then he just becomes a blur. Rarely will you see someone engaged with an instrument with such intensity – I count one missed note (“thud”) all night – otherwise his playing is as close to perfection as you might get.
Chick Corea
It’s easy to forget that Corea is even there. That’s not because he’s overwhelmed by Burton’s playing or the theatrical nature of his performance. It’s because his accompaniments and fills on songs like ‘Love Castle’, ‘Natural sense’ and ‘Crystal water’ are so delicate, subtle and perfectly attuned to Burton’s playing that you could think that you’re hearing one musician, one instrument. “We discovered”, said Burton, “an immediate connection, like two people who speak the same obscure language …”. It’s evident to see. It’s not that Corea is playing within himself, it’s simply that for much of the evening his performance is an object tutorial in “less is more”. Of course Corea does break cover on tunes like ‘Alegria’, his own composition (they bring out the sheet music for this one) that begins with both artistes using the lovely and well-polished Yamaha piano as a percussive platform to beat out a flamenco rhythm, and particularly ‘Bud Powell’ where he and Burton swap complex be-bop lines with ease.
Chick Corea Gary Burton
As the unlikely pair return for their encore Corea fools around on the vibes (“You thought there was only one guy who could play these, huh?”) before being joined by his partner for an unlikely duet until he returns to his keyboard for a rousing finale of Armando’s ‘Rhumba’. If the audience could have had their way they would have kept Corea and Burton on stage for a few more hours, and hardly surprising really. Marks out of a hundred? Almost as many as you could get. Stars? A constellation. They’re still touring – if you get the chance drop everything and go and see them. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Thank you Nick. Corea? A star indeed. I love everything he did. As for Burton, whom I saw with Carla Bley in Paris a long time ago, why the hell are so many great artistes named ‘Burton’? And the vibraphone, I’ve infused in the sound of the vibraphone almost as much as in the Hammond organ. We have a neighbour here named Michel Hausser who’s a fabulous vibraphonist (he played with Milt Jackson, which says a lot) and who, despite his age, still plays very ‘blurry’ – and with two sticks indeed (sorry, mallets). I agree how they do that is barely understandable… But enough name dropping, let’s listen to Gary Burton playing an easy but enjoyable Body and soul.mp3 and then one of Chick Corea’s mysterious classics, Return to forever.mp3 (huge file - and yes she's Flora Purim). - S.
Glencadam Glencadam 15yo (46%, OB, Allied, circa 2000) Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts a little soapy and quite flowery, with a lot of oak and butter toffee. Disturbing hints of lavender. Box of mint drops, sawdust… Not great I think. Mouth: better now. Full bodied, starting on candy sugar and pepper, getting woodier and drying, alas. Nutmeg and cinnamon. Gets a little biting after a moment. Finish: rather long, nutty, candied, with notes of young rum. In a whole, it’s drinkable but not too interesting – and a little too dry except at the finish. 78 points.
Glencadam 32 yo 1974/2007 (57.3%, The Whisky Fair, sherry wood) From a brand new batch of Whisky Fair bottlings - I guess the actual label isn't that pink! ;-) Colour: gold. Nose: starts quite fruity, buttery and quite oaky (notes of toasted bread). Beautiful notes of very ripe peaches, acacia honey… The sherry is quite discreet but it does make the whole a little more complex. Goes on with notes of caramel crème and crème brûlée, and very faint notes of cardboard, and finally more fruits again (strawberries). With water: huge soapiness, which often happens when you add water. Let’s wait… After three or four minutes: gets sort of purer, more on nougat and oak as well a a little grenadine. Mouth (neat): more sherry and more fruit (kirsch, plum spirit). Punchy and quite hot. Also a little malty, with a peppery woodiness in the background. It needs more water than in the nose. With water: gets more vegetal, grassy, discreetly bitter. Black tea. Finish: rather long, malty and oaky, with notes of caramel sauce and toasted bread again. Very good but no extraordinary malt in the sense that it hasn’t got truly specific character, but the whole is pleasant. The profile isn’t too far from the OB’s, only better. Works better with water on the palate. 85 points.

July 8, 2007

Benromach 2000/2007 ‘Peat Smoke’ (46%, OB) Soon all Scottish distilleries will bring peated variations of their output to the market, or so it seems! I must say some of those have been very good in the past… Only one question remains, to change names or not? Anyway, let’s try this new Benromach. Nose: good, easy, very pleasant even if probably not exactly mind-boggling. Notes of apple pie and ‘light’ tar as well as ripe gooseberries. Rather compact and ‘easy’. Mouth: sweet, starting on plums, with lots of smokiness. Maybe a tad more brutal than on the nose. Finish: more on fruits tan on peat now. In a whole, it’s rather a success I’d say. Simple but pleasant and very drinkable. What more could anyone want! 82 points. Benromach
Benromach Benromach 1978/1993 (60.6%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #2985) Colour; straw. Nose: very punchy of course, quite fruity (apples and pears as often) and very spirity. Hard to enjoy when diluted, so let’s add a little water. It’s more the wood that comes out now but it’s a rather nice one. Also a little mint and liquorice sticks. Also somewhat fizzy (Fanta). Quite nice actually but lacks a little character beyond the spirit. Mouth (neat): very powerful, raw, fruity and sugary but that’s almost only the high alcohol. With water: it got frankly better now, with very pleasant orangey notes (both crystallized and fresh) and a little pepper and cloves. Finish: quite long, orangey, spicier now (a lot of pepper). A gentle fruity brute. 80 points.


MUSICRecommended listening: it's Sunday, let's go classical and pay tribute to the fantastic French soprano Regine Crespin who passed away last week. How fabulous she was... As somebody wrote, 'the rest is noise'...

Regine Crespin

July 7, 2007

Diego Macallan 12yo ‘Diego’s Experiment’ (40%, Private Finishing, 2007) Our friend singer Diego made some Fragolino white wine a while ago and decided to let some Macallan 1992 Elegancia further mature for 18 months in the small oak cask he had used. Let’s try the result now… Colour: amber with red hues. Nose: ho-ho, it’s quite nice! Zesty, more vibrant than the ‘base malt’ for sure, with an added layer of fruits such as pink grapefruits and very ripe bananas. Quite some orange juice as well, limoncello (obviously), something like smoked ham in the background, gunflints…
Also a little ginger tonic. Lots happening in this one! Mouth: well, this is even more different, we’re very far from the original Elegancia this time. Something like artichoke liqueur, a little rubber, heavily infused green tea… Would I dare to say ‘Campari’? The added flavours are all in the bitter/rubbery range and it sort of works, provided you’re not put off by these unusual notes. Finish: quite long and not unlike some herbs liqueurs. Jägermeister and Underberg spring to mind. Anyway, there’s not much point in rating this one, it’s off-commerce... Or around 80 points? But interesting it is! Home finishing is a funny concept, isn’t it? By the way, Diego has a new CD out, 'A fine day between addictions' (see picture), you’ll be able to buy it in September. Check his website!
Macallan 1987/2007 (57.7%, Duncan Taylor, cask #9795) Colour: gold. Nose: it all starts on vanilla and praline as well as nougat and caramel sauce. Goes on with notes of apple peels, freshly sawn wood and mint leaves. With a few drops of water: much more interesting. Very farmy for a Macallan, with notes of wet dog, wet leaves, hay, infused tealeaves… The wild side of Macallan? Mouth (neat): quite simply fruity and slightly peppery, relatively young, lacking depth at full strength. Water will maybe work again… Yes it does, the whisky got more complex, even phenolic (smoked tea, hints of peat), beautifully peppery and slightly mustardy… Very good. Nice finish too, long, balanced, compact, grainier but still nicely spicy. I think they should write on the labels that adding water to this one is obligatory ;-). 86 points. Macallan
MUSICRecommended listening: another favourite of mine, Brazil's jazz pianist Eliane Elias who's been more into bossa nova lately. No prolems, she's good at that too, as Kissed by nature.mp3 will show you... Please buy Eliane Elias' music! Eliane Elias

July 6, 2007

Glenrothes Glenrothes 38 yo 1969/2007 (40.7%, Duncan Taylor, cask #381) It’s always a pleasure to taste two almost consecutive casks! Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh, this is interesting, we have whiffs of seaweed butter (from Bordier’s – please see picture), smoked tea and mint at first nosing, with also faint whiffs of eucalyptus and hints of camphor. It gets then more classically grassy and vanilled, delicately honeyed… The balance is perfect and the oak rather discreet for now. Let’s check the palate…
Mouth: of course it’s not powerful and yes there is quite some oak now but it’s still very pleasant, nicely bitter, a little vegetal, with the spices from the wood taking control after a moment (pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, maybe hints of mustard). Not an athlete anymore but it’s perfectly drinkable and especially the finish is interesting, with quite some salt that must come from the wood. Lacks maybe a little more fruits and honey. 87 points.
Glenrothes 38 yo 1969/2007 (41.5%, Duncan Taylor, cask #383) Colour: gold. Nose: very similar as expected but a little shyer this time. Less honey and vanilla as well and maybe a little more oak. But let’s not split hairs, it’s more or less the same (excellent) whisky on the nose. Mouth: now out’s almost exactly the same malt as cask #381, just a little punchier but also a tad more tannic. 87 points.
Glen Rothes Glen Rothes 22 yo 1957/1979 (45.7%, Cadenhead dumpy) Colour: full gold. Nose: a great mix of metal (aluminium pan) and fruits (oranges and tangerines). Also a little peat in the background, a little ham, apples, kiwi, apple compote. Nice hints of olive oil. Less honey than expected. Bananas, sage, chervil… Then wax and hints of cinchona. Superb whisky that keeps developing for ages. Mouth: fantastic attack, extremely complex right from the start. Crystallised oranges, pepper, orange honey, fruity olive oil, sweet pepper, mint syrup… Absolutely wonderful. Finish: quite long, compact, complex, both honeyed and slightly peppery, with just a little parsley. 93 points (and thanks, Heinz).
MUSICRecommended listening: sometimes I prefer to think that Neil Hannon's Divine Comedy is all about 2nd or 3rd degree but what's sure is that he knows how to compose a catchy and precious little tune such as Your daddy's car.mp3 (on his 1993 album Liberation). Please buy his music Neil Hannon

July 5, 2007

PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK on vacation in Saint-Tropez
Glendullan 2002/2006 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills) Colour: very pale white wine, almost white. Nose: spirity (should I add of course) but not that spirity. Quite nice, with lots of pear and apple juice as well as hints of smoke. Gets then milkier, mashier, and grainier as expected considering its very young age. Much better than vodka anyway. Mouth: very fruity, with the same notes of pears and apples, with then notes of mashed potatoes, a little porridge. There’s also a little vanilla. It’s not immature at all, quite amazingly. Then we have a funny saltiness and a little liquorice – it’s more or less like salted liquorice actually. Finish: relatively long, even saltier and more liquoricy now. Interesting, it matured quite quickly. Reminds me a bit of the old official 8yo that you can still find in some shops these days. I’d say a good 80 points, especially because of its very young age.
Glendullan 12yo (47%, OB, Manzuoli, brown twist cap, 1980's) Colour: gold, slightly orange. Nose: what a nice old bottle effect! It starts right on metal polish and shoe polish mixed with chamomile tea (what!), various herbs and lavender scented soap (which isn’t such a problem here). We have very interesting mineral notes as well, wet stones, flints… It seems that there’s quite some peat in there. Gets waxier with time, with the shoe polish getting bolder by the minute. Very unusual profile. Also notes of aluminium pan. Mouth: very interesting again, quite assertive at the attack, as mineral as on the nose, metallic again, in a nice way… A lot of chestnut honey and fir honeydew, liquorice again… And excellent surprise in any case. Finish: rather long, with quite some salt like in the 2002, notes of toasted bread, bitter caramel, chocolate… And a peppery aftertaste. Quite amazing considering its pedigree I must say – Proof that Glendullan can be very good. 88 points.
Glendullan 12 yo 1993/2006 (58.9%, Blackadder, bodega sherry butt, cask #1669, 238 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: this is frankly soapy now, milky, mashy, grainy, porridgy… Not too pleasant I must say, quite harsh and lacking complexity – to say the least. Gets very grassy after a moment but the soapiness never vanishes. Is it the ‘true’ sherry or the malt? Or both? Mouth: a little better, fruitier, but it gets very quickly very spirity, like fruit spirit that wasn’t distilled with much craft (we have lots of these ones in the mountains over here). Gets sort of sugary after a moment but also quite rubbery, even a little sulphury. Finish: quite long but not very fine, lacking precision, with again these notes of rushed fruit distillation (raw kirsch). Drinkable but that’s all in my opinion. 72 points.
And also Glendullan 16 yo ‘Centenary Bottling’ (62.6%, OB, 1998) Nose: punchy and interestingly grassy, on cut cactus and newly cut grass. Rather extreme in its own genre. Mouth: sweeter and more on lemon and grapefruit, extremely clean. Sleek and elegant, pretty much in the Rare Malts style (close to the distillery character and without compromise). 85 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: well, she's very famous and she probably doesn't need any further recognition but I felt I had to post a little Fiona Apple on WF... Such as her extraordinary Extraordinary machine.mp3. Just brilliant. Please... (ah, you already did?) Fiona Apple

July 4, 2007

Clynelish 5 Clynelish 5 yo (43%, OB, early 1970’s) No need to say it’s extremely interesting to try a very young version of Old Clynelish, that should be as close as it gets to the distillery’s ‘original’ character. Colour: white wine. Nose: much bigger and bolder than I had thought. Truly coastal and quite smoky, with a great freshness despite all these years in glass. We have whiffs of eucalyptus leaves, dill, wood smoke, ashes, seawater… Bolder than the more common old 12yo at 43% (like the one for Di Chiano). Goes on with Vicks and a little rubber (burnt tyres), very phenolic.
Mouth: waxy and peppery, starting also fruitier (grapefruit) than on the nose. Beeswax, mead, soft chilli… Lots of body and an excellent persistence, with hints of salt and a little mustard like in some Broras. And something like diesel oil (not that I drink that on a daily basis). Finish: very long, peaty, peppery and waxy, with touches of horseradish. Very powerful at the retro-olfaction. Probably the best very young malt I ever had, even if it might have been older than 5yo actually. Spectacular! 91 points.
Clynelish 34 yo 1972/2007 (50.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland) Just bottled. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it's very, very classically Clynelish, starting on bold notes of watch, dare I say as usual, fruits such as pears, apples, peaches (all kinds of stone fruits actually) and quite some smoke at that. Something slightly resinous, it's definitely phenolic on the nose. Goes on with notes of plum spirit. The smokiness grows bolder with time, but then it gets more and more on stone fruits spirit, such as mirabelle and kirsch. We have also slight hints of marshmallows in the background, also strawberry sweets (do you know Tagadas by Haribo?) And finally a very nice woodiness (wet wood, ginger, even ginger tonic). What's sure is that this one is very far from being tired, but let's try it on the palate now. Mouth: it's maybe slightly prickly at the attack, with quite some wood and pepper but those flavours mingle with the waxiness after a while, with also hints of paraffin. Gets a little leafy and slightly resinous. The pepper strikes back after a moment, there's even a little mustard like sometimes with Clynelish - and Brora. Again, there's a lot of ginger. Interestingly rough, it's not an old Clynelish de salon.
The finish is quite long, very waxy again, quite balanced even if we're always rather on on Clynelish's rough side. Fresh almonds and maybe little notes of cooked peaches. In short, another very good 1972 Clynelish, less delicate than some others but not that phenolic. Let's say it's a superbly rough Clynelish, a profile that you don't find too often in Scotland these days. Old Highlands style, I like that. 91 points. Clynelish
And also Clynelish 21 yo 1982/2004 (50%, Lombard, Jewels of Scotland) A powerful, very waxy and very typical Clynelish, for thrill-seekers exclusively. 89 points.


MUSICJAZZ - Recommended listening: Let’s have something by the eternal light from Brazil Hermeto Pascoal again today, with this very agitated Viajando Pelo Brasil.mp3. Jazzier and less ‘Nordeste’ than usual but just as thrilling. Please buy the Grand Master’s music!

Hermeto Pascoal

July 3, 2007

Wembley Arena, London, June 26th 2007
The Who
We went to see the Who. I’m afraid my literary powers escape me on this occasion. Suffice to note the following. Although they’ve cleaned up Wembley Arena since my last visit, and it is superbly staffed, it’s still a dump. Daltrey and Townshend were as energised as a year ago, when they were at the start of a twelve month world tour. Remarkable. The band are even tighter and Zak Starkey’s drumming has gone from being “fantastic” to sublime. Townshend’s cross about something that happened at Glastonbury – between the expletives it seems that he was interpreted as claiming that he invented the internet, a touchy subject for Pete at the best of times. The set isn’t too different from a year ago, ‘though they do include a mini Endless Wire opera. The volume was loud. The visuals were, as before, awesome. Altogether a very satisfactory evening, and you don’t have to take my word for it, you can always buy the DVD here. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Oh well, that was short and sweet, thanks Nick. Our distinguished readers may also read your previous review of a Who gig, and/or listen to that good old Shakin all over.mp3 (that's right, it's originally by Johnny KIdd and the Pirates). Some other nice pictures by Kate here and here.
Longmorn 3Rivers Longmorn 31yo 1975/2006 "The Life" (54.1%, 3Rivers Tokyo, cask #3956, 144 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: relatively hot, with a nice wood right at the start and then the usual fruit blast like often with these old Logmorns. We have ripe apples, tangerines, hints of bananas and mangoes and then it gets more honeyed (acacia), with also notes of apple skin. All that is balanced with some nougat and praline, notes of roasted peanuts and then the oak that’s back (carpenter’s workshop, freshly sawn oak). It’s maybe just a tad spirity after deep nosing but it’s brilliant whisky, like often with old Longmorns. Oh, and we have also a liitle pine bark smoke.
Mouth: rather powerful, nice mouth feel, starting on crystallised orange zests, hints of Cointreau, roasted almonds… Just like on the nose, the wood is quite present. There are quite some tannins but they aren’t overwhelming though. It’s quite malty as well, with a little candy sugar and cereals as well. The whole is quite rough, maybe less subtle than on the nose. A punchy old Longmorn. The finish is long, candied, honeyed, fruity (oranges, apricots). Just a faint bitterness from the wood at the aftertaste. In short, a Longmorn that’s maybe a little rougher than most other old Longmorns but also pleasantly punchy. This one could have stayed in its cask for another ten years – at least. 89 points.
Longmorn 16yo 1990/2006 (58.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, cask #30051) Colour: straw. Nose: oh, this one is maltier and mashier but not less nice. There’s a lot of vanilla and tannins, nutmeg, hints of sawdust just like in the 3Rivers. Nice smokiness, lots of roasted nuts and maybe just hints of rubber. The rather heavy oak reminds me of some Glenmorangies such as the Artisan Cask version. Or something of a bourbon? We have also traces of eucalyptus and mint. Mouth: very punchy, very fruity, sort of sugary but again, it’s kind of a pleasant wood infusion. Quite some tea, bay leaves, a little chlorophyll, even mastic. Quite some liquorice as well. It’s really concentrated but a fair part of that comes from the wood it seems. Finish: very long, compact, woody, vanilled and slightly minty and sugary. A modern style single malt I’d say, that also reminds me of some new oak finishings or heavy bourbon wood treated whisky. But it’s nicely done! 85 points. Blackadder
Longmorn Longmorn 1973/2000 (55.7%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’, cask # 3235) Colour: coffee. Nose: punchy, starting on a mixture of dried fruits (bananas, figs and dates) and developing on coffee and chocolate. Lots of oloroso. A very pleasant smokiness. Goes on with whiffs of hot pecan pie and even more sherry (a heavy one but the whisky isn’t heavy at all). Also raspberry jam and then ultra-bold notes of ginger and liquorice. Water makes it a little more sophisticated – and smokier! Mouth: punchy, with an immense sherry and litres of strawberry jam. Also liquid caramel, burnt caramel… What a rich and concentrated whisky! It’s maybe a little hard to enjoy without water, that is. With water: it gets more on honey, nougat and praline. Finish: long, on caramel and raisins. Really fantastic but it needs one or three drops of water. 92 points.
Longmorn 1969/1993 (61.2%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’, casks # 3721 – 5297) I tried this one at the Potstill in Glasgow. Nice place and friendly staff but like almost everywhere in Scotland, the stocks of great whiskies are dwindling and they don’t seem to be willing to replace these old bottles except with mundane new bottling. Plus, they have the crappiest stereo (vintage 1977, guaranteed 2x5 Watts) and the loudest patrons in the world. Colour: amber. Nose: really powerful, almost burning. A lot of pollen and honey, whole beehives actually. Gets then more coffee-ish, with also quite some milk chocolate and vanilla flavoured toffee. Too strong I must say. Water makes it a little shyer (which was unexpected) but there are nice notes of old Sauternes and apricot jam. Mouth: very hot but quite entrancing, with loads of passion fruits ala Bowmore as well as crystallised oranges. Not much else when undiluted, that is… With water: gets beautifully smooth, on mandarins and oranges, crystallised grapefruits. Also more tannic (silky ones). Hints of pears. Finish: very long, with a lot of pepper arriving now but still those fruity notes, especially at the aftertaste (citrus, melons, pineapples). Excellent but water is needed, as often with this series. 90 points.

July 2, 2007


The Jazz Café, Camden Town, London, June 24th 2007
As you may be aware it’s Glastonbury weekend and the rain has been falling persistently in the South West since the Festival began – that hasn’t stopped it receiving media coverage worthy of a major world event (quite the reverse), which frankly it isn’t. It’s pretty wet in London too. Yesterday we were supposed to see Peter Gabriel perform at this year’s Hyde Park Calling but continual heavy showers dampened our enthusiasm during the afternoon, and our last opportunity to leave coincided with a thunderstorm and torrential rain that lasted for almost an hour, so apologies, but we took the easy option. And tonight’s even better; we’re upstairs dining at the prematurely smoke-free Jazz Café in the company of blues harmonica maestro, Charlie Musselwhite and his band. Charlie Muselwhite
Musselwhite is the real deal – born in Mississippi of American Indian descent he moved to Memphis as a child and spent his most formative years in this musical hothouse before travelling north to Chicago. Here he became acquainted with, and performed with, the city’s musical giants such as Muddy Waters and Big Joe Williams, and harmonica greats such as Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter and Big Walter Horton. He was particularly close to Waters’ one-time band leader Otis Spann: the two, despite their difference in years, sharing a passion for women and alcohol. Booze killed Spann – Musselwhite battled with alcoholism for many years before drying out in 1987.
In 1966 Musselwhite released his first album, Stand Back, and shortly afterwards domiciled himself in California, persuading close friend and best man John Lee Hooker to move there too. In more recent years Musselwhite has been known for his many collaborations (notably the Blind Boys of Alabama, Tom Waits and most recently Otis Taylor) and two recent albums of the highest quality: 2004’s introspective Sanctuary, and 2006’s Delta Hardware.
He’s performing tonight with the Delta Hardware band, a tight and well drilled outfit with Chris ‘Kid’ Anderson on guitar (really first-rate playing but apart from the conceit, I couldn’t understand why he was playing a Fender Jaguar which didn’t really have the right sound for this), Randy Bermudes on bass, and an exceptional June Core on drums (he’s played with Robert Lockwood Jnr and Johnny Shines). Charlie’s got a sore throat, but if it makes his singing a bit hoarse it does nothing to reduce the quality of his harp-playing – he only misses a few notes and those are on the most demanding phrases he chooses to play. He’s got his case next to him – in it are not only his harps, but also, on scraps of note-paper, hand-written lyrics to all of the songs. He’s one of the most laid back artistes I’ve seen, very conversational and seemingly genuinely pleased with the response he gets from the not capacity crowd. The set features songs from way back – like ‘Nobody knows me’ and Eddie Taylor’s ‘Bad boy’ along with ‘You know it ain’t right’ and ‘Blues overtook me’. There’s also a brief exploration of Brazilian blues, reflecting Musselwhite’s work on his 1999 album ‘Continental Drifter’. And of course from Delta Hardware ‘Church is out’, ‘Blues for yesterday’ and ‘Black water’, a poignant reflection on the flooding of New Orleans.
Charlie Musselwhite
For anyone trying to learn the harmonica Musselwhite’s mastery is a tad depressing – he’s quoted as saying “I only know one tune”. If that’s the case then it’s a very long one, with a lot of key changes and a lot of complexity. That of course doesn’t stop the air-harmonica players at the fringes of the audience from playing along – but it’s not quite as hard for them. Anyhow Charlie’s full of words of encouragement as he takes time at the end of the gig to speak with fans and autograph CDs – and it strikes me that he’s not only one of the blues greats. He’s also a real blues gentleman. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)
Excellent, thank you Nick, I had just thought we could do with a little more blues on WF these days. Like Mr. Musselwhite's The blues overtook me.mp3 (from his 2002 CD One night in America - via Jazzinternet.com) - S.
Ardbeg 1974
Ardbeg 1974/1994 (40%, Spirit of Scotland, '500 years of Scotch Whisky', circa 1994) Colour: gold. Nose: very honeyed and quite caramelly, with quite some pollen, then wood smoke and toasted brioche, garden bonfire… No maritime notes this time. Light but not weak. Mouth: nicely citrusy (kumquats) and a little peppery, with hints of violet sweets. Now, the middle is a little weak and the finish is quite short I’m afraid. Earl grey tea. Well, this is a good Ardbeg but let's say it's more for (big) babies. The phenols are sometimes fragile when the malt has been bottled at 40%... 84 points.
Ardbeg 22 yo 1974/1996 (40%, Sestante, ‘Mellow Matured’, 70cl) Colour: gold. Nose: this is weaker, with a little sea air, pineapple juice and whiffs of peat smoke but all that is very light, almost diaphanous. Also a little grainy, porridgy. Mouth: weak and watery, cardboardy, quite poor. No middle and no finish I’m afraid. Maybe a defective bottle? Anyway, all the phenols are gone. 71 points.
Ardbeg 26 yo 1974/2000 (50%, Kingsbury, 278 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: ‘a peat blast’ as they say. Very smoky, ashy… Lots of coal, matchsticks, garden bonfire… And then it’s camphor, turpentine, creosote, tar, eucalyptus… Fantastic. And citron, lemonade, grapefruit. Magic, and what a perfect balance. Mouth: superb attack, clean, lemony, peaty, nougatty… Camphory, coastal, crystallized lemon, tar… And a huge smokiness. State of the art, with a long clean pure finish. What’s more, it’s highly drinkable. Perfection by Kingsbury - again. 95 points. (thanks to Bert)
Ardbeg 1974/2006 'Flying Turf' (52.2%, OB for Denmark, bourbon, cask #3306, 126 bottles) Colour: pale amber. Nose: both milkier and more citrusy and sort of perfumy. A rather unusual profile for Ardbeg. Quite some lemon and tangerine, freshly squeezed oranges, a little sandal wood. Then it gets more on grain, violets, muesli, strawberry jam, marshmallows. Less typical and a little disconcerting but still very enjoyable. Mouth: a little weird at the attack, starting on ‘chemical’ orange juice and peat, lemon pie, tangerines… Quite some tannins, at that. Slightly cardboardy, with quite some flour, lots of cinnamon… Disconcerting again. The long finish is a little more lively, with a little icing sugar and kiwis. Slightly disappointing I think. 85 points.
Ardbeg 1974 Ardbeg 1974/1993 (55.1%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #4377) Colour: straw. Nose: this one is an ultra-clean Ardbeg again it seems. It starts boldly on lime juice and kiwi as well as a little porridge and muesli, then shifts towards fresh almonds and oysters, clams, rubbed lemon skin. Also wild carrots, hints of celery, then mastic, marzipan, white chocolate, tapicoa… This one is ultra-complex and keeps developing for age. A novel.
Mouth: a rather entrancing attack, clean-pure-peaty, slightly acrid in a beautiful way, powerful, invading… Lots of candied lemons, mastic flavoured Turkish delights (oh well), lemon pie, touches of fresh ginger, pepper… Amazing purity. Finish: very, very long, getting more beautifully bitter, with notes of apple skins and marzipan. Tremendously good, high class. Ths is why we’re into whisky. 96 points. (thanks to Konstantin)
Ardbeg 1974/2006 (53.9%, OB, Belgium, cask #3324, 118 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: this one is very medicinal and very ‘Ardbeg’ as well. Quite some tar, peat smoke, liquorice, wet hay, wet dog. Also hints of eucalyptus and camphor as well as lemon and fresh almond milk. Mouth: maybe not the most complex but the balance is perfect. Pleasant notes of liquorice, pepper, cardamom, cough syrup… Unusual notes of plum jam (greengages). Finish: long and compact, smokier. An excellent recent Ardbeg. 91 points (thanks to Luc's Water Society)

July 1, 2007

Royal Brackla 1970
Royal Brackla 1970/1986 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice) Colour: gold. Nose: rather powerful considering its age, very malty and cereally. Notes of flints, Seville oranges… Slight mintiness and mustiness, hints of old books. OBE on its way… Gets farmy after a while, with notes of peat, cow stable, liquorice… A complex dram on the nose, getting alas very cardboardy after that, dry, drying… Too bad. Mouth: quite some body but it’s even grainier now and hugely cardboardy, getting then much thinner on the palate. Almost no middle. Papery, oaky, tannic, caramelly… Well… Finish: rather short, with a little liquorice, drying (flour), quite acrid. 70 points (because of the rather nice attack on the nose).
Royal Brackla 10 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, late 1990’s) Colour: pale straw. Nose: an extremely milky start with quite some cardboard again, lactones, brand new book, stones… Develops in the same vein, going from mashed potatoes to canned vanilla crème and concentrated milk. Gets very grassy and green after that. Mouth: it’s better now but not very definite, quite spirity, a little bitter, tannic. Notes of liquorice and a little pear juice, small cider apples, burnt caramel… A rather austere dram but it’s certainly not flawed, just a little hard to enjoy in my opinion. Finish: much longer than the G&M’s but very mashy and sort of ‘green’ and peppery… 75 points.
Royal Brackla 12 yo (43%, OB for John Bisset – Zenith, 1980’s) Colour: white wine. Nose: now we’re talking. What’s interesting is that the profile is pretty much the same (milky and porridgy) but the balance is truly superior, with lots of other aromas coming through: praline, wild flowers, cornflakes, violets… There are traces of peat and the same farminess as in the G&M but again, the whole is much better balanced. Mouth: excellent attack on grains and caramel with quite some salt. Goes on with vanilla crème, hints of tequila, lemon, tea, liquorice stick, lots of soft spices (quite some curry!) Gets more and more peppery with time… Lots of body and oomph at 43%. A very good old style malt, nicely rustic. 87 points.
Royal Brackla 1979/2004 (46%, Strathblair Collection 2, 90 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: very close to the Flora & Fauna but even more austere, almost silent, getting then very, very grassy. Quite nice in its extreme grassiness, in fact… Nice notes of fresh sawdust, newly cut grass, roots, green tea… Yes, austere but very elegant. Mouth: we aren’t too far from the old 12yo. Even more zing and that obvious ‘rurality’ again, lots of liquorice, a nice oak, maybe hints of soap but nothing unpleasant, white pepper, caramel crème, vanilla… The wood is at work but it’s a really a nice one, with very obvious but elegant tannins. Long and good finish, rural and clean at the same time, with quite some liquorice and high-end homemade apple juice. 86 points.
MUSICRecommended listening: it's Sunday, we go classical with György Sándor Ligeti playing his own Etude 9 (Book 2), Vertige.mp3 (from the CD 'Mechanical Music', 1990). What an amazing musician he was! Please buy his music... Ligeti
June 2007 - part 2 <--- July 2007 - part 1 ---> July 2007 - part 2

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



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

Ardbeg 14 yo 1973 (53.3%, Sestante, clear glass)

Ardbeg 15 yo 1973/1989 (46%, Signatory, cask #4902)

Ardbeg 15 yo 1973/1988 (53.5%, Sestante, green glass)

Ardbeg 1974/1993 (55.1%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #4377)

Ardbeg 26 yo 1974/2000 (50%, Kingsbury, 278 bottles)

Ardbeg 30yo 1973/2003 (48.9%, DL Platinum, 197 bottles)

Ardbeg 1974/2006 (53.9%, OB, Belgium, cask #3324, 118 bottles)

Bruichladdich 1966/1983 (53.5%, Moon Import, Riserva Veronelli, 2400 bottles)

Clynelish 5 yo (43%, OB, early 1970’s)

Clynelish 34 yo 1972/2007 (50.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland)

Glenfarclas 1959/2002 ‘Christmas Day’ (46%, OB, 96 bottles)

Speyside Single Malt 35yo 1971/2006 (51,4%, The Whisky Fair, Sherry butt, 534 bottles)

Single Speyside Malt 41 yo 1965/2007 (53.5%, The Whisky Fair, sherry)

Glen Rothes 22 yo 1957/1979 (45.7%, Cadenhead dumpy

Longmorn 1973/2000 (55.7%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’, cask # 3235)

Longmorn 1969/1993 (61.2%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘Cask’, casks # 3721 – 5297)