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Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2008 - Part 2
       
July 2008 - part 1 <--- July 2008 - part 2 ---> August 2008 - part 1
 

July 31, 2008


Linkwood

TASTING
’90, ’89, ’88, THREE LINKWOOD

Linkwood 17 yo 1990/2007 (52.5%, Alambic Classique, cask #71136, 120 bottles) From a bourbon cask. Colour: pale gold. Nose: powerful and maybe a tad spirity at first nosing. Rather ‘neutral’ at first, but gets then rather delicately flowery (maybe hints of roses – but very faint – or maybe none at all ;-)). Other than that it’s all on oat, porridge, mashed potatoes, ripe apples and vanilla. Hints of freshly sawn oak. Water should help here… With water: some wood smoke comes out, as well as a little green tea. Very nice ‘natural’ nose. Mouth (neat): sweet, almost sugary, rather powerful, with an attack mostly on apple compote, ginger and white pepper. Slightly green tannins (apple peeling). With water: now it’s very candied, rounded yet nervous, with notes of liquorice allsorts, crystallised oranges and honey. Very good. Finish: long, candied, with the spices in the background. Crystallised oranges spiced up with ginger and pepper. Comments: this one went from rather mundane to very good, especially with water. Proof that one should never be too fast with his malts. SGP:542 – 85 points.
Linkwood 18 yo 1989/2007 (50.1%, James MacArthur, cask #2011) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one has more wood, more vanilla, more liquorice and rather big notes of grated nutmeg. Much less masy/porridigy as well. With water: interesting that we do get green tea again, just like in the 1990. Very close to it with water. Mouth (neat): almost identical to the 1990, just a tad more expressive at the attack. Gets then much spicier, gingery and very ‘nutmeggy’ again. Coriander, bitter oranges. With water: even spicier than the 1990 and more liquoricy as well, but other than that it’s very similar. Finish: similar again. Comments: we’re I the very same family here and I can’t find any reasons to score this one differently. SGP:552 – 85 points.
Linkwood 19 yo 1988/2008 (56.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #2023, 287 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: certainly more powerful but also a little more ‘mature’, with quite some nutmeg again and also milk chocolate, vanilla crème, ginger and plain apple juice. Hints of yellow flowers (no ‘impressions of roses’ this time.) With water: not much more happening this time. Maybe just faint whiffs of wood smoke like in the 1990. Mouth (neat): same whisky as the 1989, with just an extra-quick from the higher ABV. With water: extremely close to both the 1990 and 1989 again. Finish: same. Maybe a tad more gingery. Comments: on the palate and after addition of a little water (hence at roughly the same ABV), all three whiskies were almost identical, and all from bourbon casks, most probably. SGP:552 – 85 points.
Linkwood And also Linkwood-Cadenhead 15 yo 1979/1994 (58.4%, Cadenhead) Nose: good sherry, smoky, tarry and chocolaty. A lot of coffee and kisrsch. Slight meatiness. Classic sherry. Mouth: powerful and very candied, orangey, honeyed. Quite some white chocolate. Very, very good. 87 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Yo-yo.mp3 by Willa Mae Buckner aka The Snake Lady (yoooooooooooo!) Let's take this opportunity to pay tibute to the Music Maker Relief Foundation, great people, great work. And please buy Willa Mae Buckner's music. Willa Mae Buckner
 

July 30, 2008


TASTING – TWO 7 AND TWO 17 YEAR OLD GLENROTHES
(but does that make any sense?)

Glenrothes
Glenrothes 2000/2007 (53.9%, Chieftain’s German Tartan Edition) Colour: pale mahogany. Nose: very huge, highly concentrated, almost like fortified sherry, with a clear acidic/sour note in the background. Big notes of old walnuts and flor (‘taste of yellow’ as they say in French Jura) and dark chocolate. Certainly not unpleasant at this point but it’s on the palate that everything should happen. With water: ouch, it’s almost plain vinegar now. Gym socks. Now it IS unpleasant. Mouth (neat): again, this is a sherry concoction. Walnuts, cherry stem tea, blackcurrant buds and overripe strawberries. Sweeter than on the nose. With water: now it’s really ‘approachable’. Added notes of chlorophyll and dark chocolate. Finish: long and a tad drier. Comments: something unnatural in this one. The nose was frankly ugly with water (dirty cask, vinegar) but some parts were rather, well, ‘interesting’. Now, any blender would reject this I’m sure. SGP:541 – 69 points.
Glenrothes 7 yo 2000/2008 (56.4%, First Cask, cask #2417, 312 bottles) From a first fill sherry hogshead. Colour: pale mahogany. Nose: less exuberant and, to tell you the truth, better balanced. More complex (if not subtle), with quite some chocolate and dried oranges. Too bad there’s kind of a sourness in the background again, the whole growing more winey after a while. Whiffs of sulphur, cabbage. Huge coffee notes developing after that, mocha, torrefaction… (very nice.) With water: more sulphur! Not rotten eggs at all but it’s just like when you’re ‘nosing’ a gun that just fired. All that disappears after a few minutes, leaving room for rather nice notes of walnuts, coffee and cocoa again. Very nice I must say. Mouth (neat): again, cleaner than the Chieftain’s. Spices for mulled wine, chocolate and raspberry jam. Thickish but good! With water: balance is achieved. Rather nice combination of red fruits, chocolate, smoke and coffee. Finish: rather long, the dry part getting the upper hand (cocoa). Comments: very good but for lovers of sherry monsters only. Remarkable maturity at 7 years of age. SGP:542 – 83 points.
Glenrothes 17 yo 1990/2008 (59.9%, The Clydesdale, cask #0221/13001, 542 bottles) Another sherry version. Colour: amber. Nose: almost subtle after the pretty monstrous 2000’s, even at almost 60% ABV. Big sulphurous notes but of the pleasant kind (bicycle inner tube, matches, gunpowder). Asparagus. Very nice, dry nose actually. Not winey at all. With water: reminds me of the First Cask but with more delicacy. Liquorice, mint, coffee and burnt matches. Mouth (neat): starts sweet and candied (raspberries), gets then a tad rubbery (like when we were chewing rubber bands at school – didn’t you do that?), tarry and finally rather orangey. Works well despite the very high ABV. With water: no changes with water, quite unexpectedly. It got maybe a tad more tarry but that’s all. Finish: long, with notes of prunes dipped into chocolate. Comments: very good (we didn’t really overtax ourselves, did we?) SGP:553 – 87 points.
Glenrothes 17 yo (59.5%, G&M for Sestante, +/-1990, 75cl) Colour: pure gold. Nose: this is completely different. Starts on immense notes of pineapples, pina colada and tinned lychees. Banana juice. Then a little smoke, bubblegum (juicyfruity) and, well, even more pineapples. Hugely demonstrative, even at 59.5%. Curious about what will give with water. So, with water: gets a tad more balanced, with whiffs of smoke now, as well as unexpected hints of tinned fish (sardines). It’s complex and unusual whisky on the nose. Mouth (neat): the same exuberant fruitiness strikes right at the attack, with loads of pineapples again but also grapefruits. Icing sugar, hints of rosehip tea. Gets a little more bitter/sour after that (lemon zests). With water: no changes. Pineapples galore! Finish: long, warming, kind of tropical (maybe it’s the effect of pina colada.) Comments: a very unexpected profile, less honeyed/nutty than most ‘fairly or un-sherried’ Glenrothes, except for some old ones by Duncan Taylor if memory serves us well. Big dram. SGP:842 - 89 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: more fun with the funny Hayseed Dixie and their Fat bottom girls.mp3 (from 'A Hillbilly Tribute To Mountain Love'.) You may also re-read Nick's excellent 2005 review there. And then please buy Hayseed Dixie's music. Hayseed Dixie
 

July 29, 2008


Rosebank

TASTING – TWO 17yo ROSEBANKS

Rosebank 1990/2007 (46%, Montgomerie's, cask #1756) Colour: pale straw. Nose: the attack on the nose is a little spirity, maybe not perfectly defined but it improves after a few seconds, getting rather citrusy as expected (lemons, then tangerines.) Too bad it gets a bit too mashy after that (boiled cereals). Wet cloth, cheapish bottled lemon juice (something faintly chemical.) A rather simple Rosebank, lacking the usual ‘clean zestiness’ even if it does improve after quite some breathing. Mouth: better, much better. Huge fruitiness, with big notes of lemon drops, liquorice allsorts, barley sugar and Parma violets (sweets). Even raspberry sweets. Spectacularly clean and fruity. Finish: rather long, more candied now. Comments: amazing how nose and palate are different, s if it was not the same whisky. Which makes scoring and ‘SGP-ing’ (yuck) quite difficult I must say. SGP:640 – 83 points.
Rosebank 17 yo 1991/2008 (56.3%, The Clydesdale, 324 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: much more expressive, even when reduced. Starts all on lemon pie and vanilla crème, then oranges, then something slightly dusty (flour, old papers) and finally something like gingered milk (should that exist somewhere on this planet.) The development is a little less appealing than the attack but it’s still a pleasant Rosebank. Mouth: a classic very lemony Rosebank here. Lemon in all its forms. With water (while the nose didn’t change much): pure lemon pie with a little aniseed and hints of carvi. Finish: Comments: clean, typical, good. Very ‘young Rosebank’. SGP:530 – 85 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK in Saint-Tropez
 
 
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Bob Marley was so omnipresent in the early 1980's that we needed twenty years before we could enjoy listening to his music again but now it's really time to have a go at his wonderful Africa Unite.mp3 again. Hardly a novelty or something 'deserving better recognition' but... Please buy Bob Marley's music (and no, there won't be any Supertramp on WF...) Marley
 

July 28, 2008


    It’s on July 28, 2002 that we first put something on line under the ‘Whiskyfun’ banner. Even if it’s only in the very beginning of 2004 that we started the ‘tasting diary’, we thought we could celebrate WF’s 6th birthday (as we completely forgot to celebrate the 5th one.) Okay, done, what's next?

Port Ellen

TASTING – THREE GREAT PORT ELLENS

Port Ellen 31 yo 1969/2001 (42.9%, Douglas Laing for Alambic Classique, 41 bottles) We’ve already tried Port Ellens from the late sixties but this one is the oldest in age we ever had. Only a small batch bottles but a huge reputation (both aspects may be related, as always.) It is to be remembered that Port Ellen re-opened in 1967, after many years of closure. Colour: gold. Nose: certainly as impressive as old Laphroaigs and Ardbegs from the late 1960’s. Directly medicinal and tarry as well as very ‘maritime’, displaying, in no particular order, notes of tarmac, clams, dried tangerines, tyres, lime, old books (you’re your fav author), fresh almonds, crushed coriander leaves, lemon pie, kelp, angelica, langoustines, sorrel… Even basil… All that is rather mellow, ‘mingled’… Very superb, even if it sort of ‘bows down’ after a few minutes. Mouth: big and absolutely wonderful (imagine the bottle was open since 7 years!), with an extraordinarily oily mouth feel (thick like olive oil, or even butter.) Hints of vanilla fudge, buttered bread, then rather big notes of resin (and mastic), of crystallised lemon, of bitter almonds, of salted liquorice, of tar liqueur (had that only once but believe me, it’s unforgettable)… Quick, call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: not too long but wonderfully tarry, lemony and almondy. Comments: it’s often said that Port Ellen was a second-rate distillery (when compared with Lagavulin and Caol Ila) but frankly, I doubt it was the case. Sure there were some odd casks (uber-sulphury sherry) but other than that, we could try a fair share of stunning bottlings, including this very rare and amazingly complex 1969… SGP:346 – 95 points (und vielen Dank, Hermann.)
Port Ellen 19 yo 1982/2001 (56%, Douglas Laing for Alambic Classique, 390 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: much more ‘direct’ than the 1969, less complex it seems, and much more marked by sherry. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate, then black pepper, oxtail, beef bouillon, parsley, lovage, dried meat (pemmican)… And more pepper. Also quite some gunpowder but no sulphur that I can get – as such. Very dry in any case. With water: now we get leather, tallow, game, ‘exhaust pipe’ and even Parma ham. Less sherry as such but more ‘wildness’. We like it much better now. Mouth (neat): very big and unusually fruity, contrarily to what happened on the nose. Blackcurrants. A little rubber but that gives the whole kind of an extra-kick. Peat and pepper only arrive at the middle. Grape skin. With water: excellent, more phenolic now, peaty, with notes of chewing tobacco and a little salt. Finish: rather long, coherent. Comments: and excellent swimmer that will really benefit from a few drops of water. SGP:567 – 90 points.
Port Ellen 24 yo 1982/2006 (57.6%, Whisky Magazine, Editor’s Choice, 300 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: more classic PE this time, starting on bold whiffs of crushed walnuts, apple peeling, tar (not too much) and then various kinds of oils (mainly linseed and fusel). Medium-peated it seems. With water: it got kind of younger, closer to fruits (apples and almonds) but a tad less complex. Still extremely nice, that is. Mouth (neat): a very interesting attack, first pretty smooth and ‘civilised’ but soon to get much more restless, with loads of pepper and peat that assault your palate in waves. A big, big Port Ellen that reminds us of most OB’s. With water: excellent balance, superb profile (unusually close to Ardbeg, that is), all on marzipan, sweet pepper (Szechuan) and various other spices (black pepper, cardamom, the average curry powder, paprika mix…) A tad less tarry than usual. Finish: long, smoother, more almondy and sort of resinous, going on ‘live’ like FZ’s guitar in ‘Montana’. Comments: simply top notch, the guys at Whisky Mag sure know their whisky. SGP:457 – 92 points.
Stephane

STEPHANE THE MAD MALT MIXOLOGIST
proposes a new Summer malt cocktail

Cocktail #3:
"Margarita's Renaissance"

Pour into a shaker :
- 6 cl Ardbeg "Renaissance" 55,9%
- 3 cl Triple sec Combier or Cointreau
- 1/2 lime juice
Add ice, shake then strain into a cocktail glass previously frozzen with lime juice, mint syrup and salt (from Islay of course!). Decorate with a lime slice and maybe a sprig of fresh mint.
Margarita Renaissance
MUSIC – Recommended listening: time to have some of WF favourite Nellie McKay's latest, with the shocking (well) Mother of pearl.mp3 (from Miss McKay's fantastic CD Obligatory Villagers). You should really buy all of Nellie's McKay's music!! Nellie McKay
 

July 25, 2008


TASTING – TWO BIG TAMDHUS

Tamdhu

Tamdhu 1973/2008 (56%, Gordon & MacPhail, Reserve, cask #3230, 481 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: wonderful at first nosing! High-end coffee/schnapps, raspberry ganache, gianduja and top-notch porridge (well, as far as porridge can be top-notch.) Something very pleasantly acid (slightly), balsamico from Modena (not the rot-tastic stuff one can find in most supermarkets), redcurrant jam, wet wood, chocolate… Very interesting nose. More red fruits and a little smoke come through after a few minutes. Not easy-easy and maybe a tad cerebral, but truly wonderful.

With water: it got immensely organic, with wet hay, ‘clean’ manure, mushrooms and green tea. Hints of asparagus. Quite beautiful if not very ‘classic’. Mouth (neat): a rather sumptuous sherry and truckloads of spices. Various peppers, a lot of cloves, gingerbread, red fruits (jams)… A bit too heavy and concentrated at full strength, though, so let’s try it with water again: right, it didn’t change a lot and just got a little easier to drink. But spices ahoy! Finish: long, all on spices and fruit jam. One to keep for Christmas eve? Comments: a big, wonderful Tamdhu, not easy at all but rather enthralling. SGP:653 – 91 points.
Tamdhu-Glenlivet 16yo 1980/1997 (58.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, SherryWood) Colour: deep amber. Nose: starts on milk chocolate, milk chocolate, milk chocolate and… coffee, and develops more on rubbery/sulphury aromas. Strawberry jam and then something like corked wine (but it’s not exactly cork). Heavy notes of gunpowder as well. Not too much to my liking, but maybe water will help. With water: immense notes of nutmeg, parsley and green curry. Very unusual. Mouth (neat): how thick and heavy! Extremely concentrated, almost cloying… Quick, water. So, with water: it’s the tannins that shine through now, both from the wood and from the wine it seems. Better balanced, that is. Finish: as long and slow as Excel 2008 for Mac, which says a lot, and still thick and very peppery. Strawberry jam and sweets. Comments: quite a monster, a little disconcerting. SGP:662 – 83 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening: why not have a very refreshing Mint julep.mp3 today? It's the wonderful Etta Baker, born 1913, who's playing it... Please buy her music (she sadly passed away in 2006 at the venerable age of 93.) Etta Baker

By the way, the very excellent Gordon Homer over at The Spirit of Islay has posted pictures of the new Ardbeg Ten - or how to change without changing whilst changing a bit but not really...
 

July 24, 2008


TASTING – TWO OAKY GLENMORANGIES

Glenmorangie Glenmorangie 'Astar' (57.1%, OB, 2008) Our maniacal friend Ho-cheng told us the whole story of this Astar here. Colour: pale gold. Nose: typical of most of Glenmorangie’s experiments with new oak, starting with a huge sweetness and loads of vanilla crème and developing mostly on more vanilla crème (custard) and soft spices (ginger, nutmeg.) The whole isn’t subtle nor complex, but pleasant, balanced and fresh. Nice notes of strawberry pie and a little wood smoke (and toastiness) appearing after a while.
Mouth: frankly, I like this Astar much more on the palate than on the nose. More of that with water. Sweet, very compact and very firm, all on Mirabelle plums, caramel, vanilla and ginger/cinnamon. With water: the pears come out, as well as plum spirit (Slivovitz). Thicker. Finish: long, with a little less fruits and a little more wood. Comments: to malt whisky what (good) Californian chardonnay is to wine: very good but maybe lacking a little magic. Superbly engineered, that is. SGP:630 – 84 points.
Glenmorangie 1993/2005 'Post oak' (58.2%, OB, cask #1947, 296 bottles) Another woody experiment by Glenmorangie. Post oak is a small American oak, also called quercus stellata. Colour: gold. Nose: this is much more wham-bam! Rather heavy, like a concentrated version of the Astar. More of everything, I’d say, except complexity. A little coffee-ish and maybe a tad plankish after a moment (pencil shaving). With water: ditto, but with more complexity (herbs, hay, more spices). Mouth (neat): huge, creamy, uber-fruity and very spicy. Hugely demonstrative, with loads of vanilla, ripe yellow plums and assorted spices (Chinese anise, cloves, nutmeg) and a lot of sweet liquorice. With water: it got a tad drier now, and in a rather beautiful way. More roasted nuts, liquorice, orange cake and vanilla cake. Finish: very long, very compact and ‘focused’. Comments: very good and very ‘new world’ in a certain way. Sexy, but maybe more Jennifer Lopez than Elizabeth Hurley. Oh well... SGP:641 – 87 points.

 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: a very beautiful little tune by Amy Campbell called Fade.mp3 (from her CD Achitecture.) Not just another love song... Please buy Amy Campbell's music!

 

Amy Campbell
 

July 23, 2008


MUSIC AND WHISKY INTERVIEW
JACKIE LEVEN

After having started his musical career at the very end of the 1960s (and recorded under the pseudo ‘John St Field’), Scotsman Jackie Leven founded the cult punk band Doll by Doll, and after it was disbanded in 1983, started a very prolific solo venture under his real name, as well as under other pseudos. He makes good use of irony and humour, as this very funny story that Jackie himself tells on wikipedia (right) will show:

Jackie Leven
“Some years ago I noticed that I was writing a lot more songs than I was ever going to record and get released, especially in these times where you can only release one studio album every eighteen months. As I am a writer of genius, this began to worry me more and more. So I went to see my Cooking Vinyl boss, Martin Goldschmidt, to ask him if I could make more records. He said no. I said to him 'look, The Beatles once released four albums in one year, and nobody said to them, hey that's too many records in one year'. Martin said 'Jackie, this is not 1967 and you are not The Beatles'. We talked some more and we agreed that I could make records under a different name - that name is Sir Vincent Lone.”
Jackie Leven isn’t only a great musician, singer and composer, he’s also a true whisky aficionado, and that’s why we’re very happy about the fact that he kindly agreed to answer our ritual questions about music and whisky. And you should really rush out and buy his CD’s ‘Defending Ancient Springs’, ‘Fairy Tales For Hard Men or ‘Forbidden Songs Of The Dying West’, they’re all full of great whisky stories…
INTERVIEW
Serge: Jackie, tell us briefly about what you do, music-wise.
Jackie Leven: I write songs, I play guitar, I make records - lots of them - maybe 35 since 1971.
Which other musicians are you playing (did you play) with?
In my time I have recorded with David Gilmour, Glen Matlock, Eddi Reader, Mike Scott, Robert Bly, David Thomas, crime writer Ian Rankin - on my last record (OH WHAT A BLOW THAT PHANTOM DEALT ME!) and my next record (out August 18- LOVERS AT THE GUN CLUB) I have been working with the country noir singer from America Johnny Dowd - a genius - like me!
No doubt about that! Which are your other favourite artistes?
I like so many artistes that it's a hard question to answer, BUT, my favourite singer is Chet Baker, the greatest records ever made are by Judee Sill, and when I'm cleaning my kitchen floor I listen to Roland Kirk.
Which are your current projects?
LOVERS AT THE GUN CLUB comes out on Cooking Vinyl records on August 18 - after that I will be touring all through Europe for four months - next year I will tour China, Japan, New Zealand, USA, Canada, then I will come home and watch some old Rockford Files on TV...
So, what’s your most memorable whisky?
The whisky I really love is a Speyside called LINKWOOD - it has a close cousin called MORTLACH. My father wrote a book about whisky and took me to many of the distilleries when I was only fifteen. I will never forget the kindness, charm and life-force of the old whiskymen at Linkwood.
Do you have other favourite whiskies?
As I get older I find I like simple blended bar whiskies more and more. In a working class bar in Scotland, guys will be drinking STEWARTS CREAM OF THE BARLEY, or CAMERON BRIG, or GRANTS, and I like these simple tastes. I have become tired of hearing about the wonderfulness of this malt or that malt...
Are there whiskies you don’t like?
I once drank a lot of TEACHERS in an apartment in London and suddenly knew I was going to be real sick - I ran to the window and was sick onto the street below - the sick hit two policemen walking by - it was not a good night.
‘If the river was whisky baby, and I was a diving duck’ is one of the most famous and well used whisky lyrics, from sea-shanties to blues and rock and roll. Do you have a favourite musical whisky reference?
My favourite musical reference is Lightnin Hopkins singing 'I got the blues in the bottle but the stopcork in my hand' - he does not say it's whisky but I know it is - a great simple expression of despair and understanding of despair.
Music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Whisky does have a masculine image but girls have a masculine side and sometimes it's very sexy when women are drinking whisky - nobody should play guitar AND drink whisky - that's just stupid and there are deities who are watching for this kind of idiot behaviour - and not in a good way...
In some ways you could argue that tasting a whisky is similar to listening to a piece of music – you deconstruct the two in the same way? Care to comment?
It is true that sipping the right whisky at the right time can lead to a feeling, just for a moment, that all is right with the world, and this can be true of music too - even bad country music can sound deep in the right place - I've been listening to Patsy Cline - when I was young she sounded like a meaningless 'George Bush' style nobody - now she sounds like a frightening powerful commentator on 'how things are' with vocal performances governed by the correct use of whisky.
I once heard an eminent whisky professional say that he tasted whisky in colours. Do you taste whisky in music?
Colours are always there in everything, even black and white, in fact especially in black and white - there is more music and colour in the image of Humphrey Bogart talking with a glass of whisky in his hand than in all the psychedelic music ever made.
If your favourite whisky was a piece of music what would it be, if it was a musical instrument what would it be?
Nat King Cole signing WHEN I FALL IN LOVE is the same as sipping SPRINGBANK as the sun goes down over the harbour and islands at Oban on the west coast of Scotland - to drink alone for beautiful reasons is always the sound of the oboe.
There is a famous passage in a book written in the 1930s (Aneas Macdonald) where the author compares different styles of whisky to different sections of an orchestra – how would you see that working in a jazz or rock band, or in a classical orchestra?
This question is too hard for me!
Do you have a favourite piece of music to drink whisky with, or better still, desert island dram, desert island disc?
The island of Barra in the Hebrides is no desert island but you can feel very alone there, but also feel a strange kind of love coming from strangers in the bars. Just sit in a corner with a PORT ELLEN listening to EIGHT MILES HIGH as young bastards play pool - better than heaven.
Everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
JACK DANIELS is a bullshit whisky - just look at the people who drink it - it tastes like shit, has nothing to say and has no soul. It's the heroin of whiskies, and when I say that, I mean no disrespect to heroin - an interesting drug.
And if it was Scotch, can you think of which brand? What would be the Scotch equivalent of rappers drinking Cristal?
The Cristal of scotch is maybe something like MACALLAN - like Cristal it's okay, but drinking anything that proves you have a fucked up attitude to sex is no way to live.

Thank you very much, Jackie, we can't wait to listen to your next CD! (and heartfelt thanks to you as well, David).
Links:

Jackie Leven's official website
Jackie Leven's MySpace page
Interesting article in The Independent about Jackie Leven and Ian Rankin's collaboration.


Glenglassaugh

TASTING – TWO 1984 GLENGLASSAUGH

Glenglassaugh 22yo 1984 (52.2%, Exclusive Malts, cask #224, 328 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: heavy-heavy sherry and heavy-heavy rubber, but not of the sulphurous kind. Also a lot of fresh putty, bitter oranges, gunpowder, burnt matches, tar and, well, rubber again (bicycle inner tube.) Spectacular in its own kind. Starts to develop more on kirschy notes after a moment, the ‘sherriness’ getting more evident. Blackcurrant buds plus quite some camphor and mint. Again, extremely concentrated.

Mouth: again, this is very heavy and very concentrated but still balanced in a certain way. Baskets of dried fruits (figs ahead, then prunes and dates), strawberry jam, orange marmalade… Gets then more on eucalyptus and mint (cough medicine), with also hints of tinned pineapples. Much less rubber on the palate – if any. Very good but you have to like heavily sherried whiskies. Finish: long but a little lighter than feared, with almondy notes (or stone fruits spirit.) Comments: an excellent monster, maybe not immensely complex but any sherry lover should like this. SGP:653 – 88 points.
Glenglassaugh 1984/2008 (54.3%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #189) Colour: amber. Nose: ultra-close to the 22yo, maybe just a tad less wham-bam and more organic (mushrooms, moss.) A tad less kirschy as well, and maybe faintly grassier (sorrel) and more chocolaty. Marginally drier than the 22yo, but it’s, very, very close anyway. Mouth: once again, we’re very close to the ‘Exclusive’, with even fewer differences on the palate. Maybe just added hints of liquorice here, and almondy notes that arrive a little earlier than in the ‘Exclusive’. Or maybe I’m dreaming, these two whiskies being so close to each other. Finish: ditto. Comments: maybe the slightly drier nose deserves one extra-point – or maybe not. Scratching my head here… SGP:653 – 89 points. (and thanks for the friendly delivery!)
 

July 21, 2008


Mortlach

TASTING – THREE MORTLACHS

Mortlach 17 yo 1990/2008 (46%, The Ultimate, sherry butt, cask #5959) Colour: gold. Nose: a rather elegant ‘mid-sherried’ nose, half-dry, half-fruity, with no sulphur whatsoever. All on dried apricots, figs, cookies, milk chocolate and plain malt. Hints of wood smoke and walnuts but no meatiness (some Mortlachs can be quite meaty in our experience.) Keyword: balance. Mouth: very round, very creamy, perfectly balanced again and extremely ‘good’ if you see what I mean. Malt, praline, chocolate, coffee, toffee and orange cake, with no flaws at all. Resembles a very good OB (that is to say a careful vatting of many casks to achieve balance and style.) Finish: not too long but still very, err, balanced. Comments: perfect and very more-ish. Again, very, very ‘good’ (yeah well.) SGP:432 – 87 points.
Mortlach 1990/2007 (56%, Scott's Selection) Colour: straw. Nose: this is quite different, even if there seems to be traces of sherry. Huge notes of vanilla crème, vanilla cake and dried bananas, with the faintest meatiness this time (BBQ). With water: oh, it’s like if it had lost ten years now. Much ‘simply’ fruitier and mashier, with quite some porridge, mashed potatoes and plain pears, with just faint whiffs of smoke. Maybe hints of sulphur. Mouth (neat): quite some peat here, or rather what tastes like peat. Smoked tea (lapsang souchong), pine resin, smoked meat, pemmican, Grisons meat (Swiss dried beef – that’s excellent), bananas dipped into porridge… Much less ‘balanced’ and ‘good’ than the Ultimate at this stage, but maybe a little more interesting. With water: added notes of both crystallised and fresh grapefruit but no meatiness left. Finish: long, cleaner, maybe a tad simpler (citrus). Comments: funny behaviour with water here. Water completely changes this Mortlach’s profile. It remains good, but very different. Two malts in one? SGP:343 – 85 points.
Mortlach 1980/2002 (63.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask, cask #3646) Colour: amber. Nose: extremely punchy, with the sherry ahead but also a lot of alcohol even if it’s not exactly aggressive (well, some might find that immensely aggressive.) Almost 64% ABV, imagine… Quick, water: ho-ho-ho! This is wonderful, as if it was a much older whisky having spent a lot of time in glass. Amazing notes of herbs (parsley, dill, a little thyme), eucalyptus and resins, wood and coal smoke, all the dried fruits of the creation, then animal notes (game), liquorice and toffee sweets, high-end soy sauce, balsam, old leather, cigar box… And only God knows what else, such is this whisky’s complexity. Mouth (neat): what seems to be a magnificent sherry with magnificent resins but at 64%, let’s not take chances. With water: glorious whisky! Probably the one that I find to be the closest to a great Bordeaux (I know that sounds weird but please believe me.) Mouton ’86. As for more precise descriptions, please ask the anti-maltoporn brigade. Finish: very long, still very complex and rich, with maybe just a slight rubber in the aftertaste that will prevent us from giving this one a totally insane score (especially given its rather ‘mundane’ pedigree, age and all that.) Comments: pure magic at barely 12 years old (update: you're right, Joe and gang, rather 22) . Well done, Mortlach and G&M! SGP:664 - 93 points. (And heartfelt thanks, Claus!)

 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: ex Parliament-Funkadelic (and Talking Heads!) Bernie Worrell makes his churchy organ sound very funky on The Mask.mp3 (from his CD 'The Other Side'). Funky and 'different' - please buy Bernie Worrell's music.

 

Worrell
 

July 19, 2008


Hi – I’ve been asked several times since Friday morning why 'stupid' spittoons (or jugs, buckets, jars, plant pots, whatever) are so important at tasting sessions or festivals, as nobody’s obliged to drink and as ‘anybody could just leave his glass without drinking everything.’ I’m sorry but some people just don’t get it. The problem is that very often, they give you just one glass, various whiskies to taste and no spittoon. Suppose you don’t want to swallow the first whisky (because you have to drive, or simply because you don’t like the whisky.) What will yo u do so that you can have the next whiskies? That’s right, you’re almost ‘obliged’ to drink the first one. I’m sorry, but this is a no-no. Organizers, please always provide your audience with spittoons! Tasters, please always ask for spittoons!
we want spittoons
Dear bloggers and webmasters, if you agree spittoons are important at festivals; distilleries or tasting sessions, please feel free to use and resize these banners. (With or without WF/MM logos, that doesn't matter.) Thank you.
 

July 18, 2008


No fun today. My son Arthur just lost one of his closest friends, Alex, 20, who’s been killed by a drunk driver while he was thumbing a hitch home. His funeral will take place today.
Remember, don't drink and drive. If you spot a friend who’s been drinking, don’t let him drive. If you’re attending a tasting session whilst being ‘obliged’ to drive, always spit out and/or pour your glasses into mini-bottles for future enjoyment at home. Or leave your car and overnight at a nearby hotel or at friends'.
Distillers, retailers, festival organisers or whisky clubs, please always provide your attendance with enough spittoons, empty jugs or buckets. Explain to your audience that it's okay to spit out.
Remember your own pleasure can become a lifelong nightmare to others. Enjoy whisky (and other drinks) as much as you like, but never drive while drunk.
 

July 17, 2008


TASTING - ARDBEG 10yo, A SHORT VERTICALE
Ardbeg
Ardbeg 1998/2008 ‘Renaissance’ (55.9%, OB) (yeah, sorry, we’re late…) For the first time some ‘new’ Ardbeg has been officially bottled at 10yo, as contrarily to what some do believe, the 10yo ‘Mor’ was made out of pre-takeover distillate. Colour: white wine. Nose: very clean and pure, much more estery and fruity than expected at first nosing. Unexpected notes of plum eau-de-vie, newly cut apples (granny smith), then just a little porridge, phosphorus, a slight fizziness (lemonade), hints of orange squash, coal smoke and gentian. Much less peaty, phenolic and smoky than expected (anticipated?) and much gentler. Mouth: an attack on pure gentian eau-de-vie with a teaspoon of sugar into it. Very different from the ‘older’ Ardbegs, with also notes of herb liqueurs and sweet ginger. Develops mainly on fruits (pineapples, even ripe kiwis) and gets then even gingerier. Quite some peat for sure but maybe not the usual ‘untameable’ one. Finish: medium long, ultra-clean, on gentian, ginger and pepper. Comments: I think this is an easier, simpler and gentler dram than the Ten that we all know well, even at cask strength. As if their will was to make it kind of more ‘approachable’ to the general public. But it’s still a lovely dram, no doubt about that. SGP:436 - 86 points.
Ardbeg 10 yo 'Mor' (57.3%, OB, 1000 bottles, 450cl) It was about time we published some proper notes for this one, before the bottle is empty (joking). Colour: pale straw. Nose: this is much wilder, kind of dirtier (in a pleasant way), phenolic, maritime (diesel oil, fisherman’s net) and oily. A much, much bigger whisky for sure. Also tar, shoe polish, yoghurt, metal (aluminium pan) and apple/walnut peelings. Hints of sulphur (nothing too embarrassing). Mouth: thicker, richer, peatier and more complex than the Renaissance, but also maybe a tad less ‘crafted’ and less ‘controlled’. Peat, lemon, pepper, smoked salmon sprinkled with lemon juice. Slight saltiness. Finish: long and in the same vein. Comments: right, maybe this is a little less balanced and ‘clean’ than the Renaissance, but I feel it’s got rather more to tell us (4.5l, no wonder.) A dram that’s rather more, let’s say ‘Ileachly Ardbeg’ if that makes any sense. SGP:338 – 89 points.
Ardbeg 10 yo ‘Ten’ (46%, OB, +/-2003) Colour: white wine. Nose: much closer to the Mor than to the Renaissance. Just a tad fruitier (apple compote) and less metallic/yoghurty than the Mor. Big peat smoke. Mouth: a slightly cleaner ‘Mor’ but other than that it’s pretty much the same whisky (when both are tried at 46%). Maybe just a tad simpler. Finish: long, hotter and more peppery. Comments: I think this one is a bigger, fatter and rather peatier dram than the Renaissance. Possibly not the same distilling regime (Cut? Purifier? Malt? Yeasts? Oh well…), or a vatting that was composed with a different goal. SGP:438 – 87 points.
Ardbeg 10 yo (80°proof, OB, UK, white label, early 1970’s) Colour: white wine. Nose: there are much less differences in style with the fairly recent Ten than with the Renaissance here, and this just can’t come from successsful bottle ageing, can it? Anyway, this old 10 is wonderfully complex, much more tarry, much smokier and much more maritime than its grandsons. Let’s quickly mention camphor, wet dogs (yeah, sorry dogs), cinchona, fresh mushrooms, tar, bicycle inner tube, pipe tobacco, bergamot, clams, kelp, leather… And even something floral (lily of the valley?) Fantastico. Mouth: much closer to the recent Ten on the palate, and maybe less ‘esoteric’ than on the nose. Also a tad softer after all these years in glass, but there’s also more salt and more notes of cough sweets as well as loads of various spices. Quince jelly, peppered orange marmalade, sesame oil. Finish: maybe a tad shorter than hoped (and maybe faintly watery) but there’s kind of a backfire at the aftertaste (pure peat.) Comments: and old bottle that kept most of its peatiness/phenols over the years it seems, which is quite unusual. Top notch, as expected. SGP:237 – 93 points.
Ardbeg 8 And also Ardbeg 8 yo 2000/2008 ‘Quite Young’ (62.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask # 60215, 163 bottles) One of the few indie bottlings of Ardbeg’s ‘new’ distillate. Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely powerful, all on peat smoke, burnt matches and iodine. Nothing to do with the Renaissance – so far. I’d say closer to the Mor. With water: more burnt matches, phosphorus, gunpowder, hot metal, peppermint, diesel oil, oysters and other seashells, iodine, sea breeze, wet wool… What’s sure is that if Ardbeg’s distillate changed under new ownership, that didn’t happen with all batches, because this is very close to ‘the good old Ardbeg that we like so much’. Mouth (neat – let’s be crazy): let’s say it’s ‘swallowable’, but we’re not THAT crazy and we really need our throat now that WF is back from vacation. So,
with water: now it’s a little closer to the Renaissance I must say, even if a tad less fruity/uber-clean and rather more peaty/peppery. A big, punchy, in-you-face young Ardbeg. Finish: very long, on lime, pepper and salt. Comments: a fiery young Ardbeg that does not take any prisoners, as they say – proof that Ardbeg didn’t really get… err, ‘gentler’ after 1997 (not all batches, at least). Which might mean that the Renaissance might not be a proper prototype of all new official releases to come. SGP:328 - 88 points.

Stephane

STEPHANE THE MAD MALT MIXOLOGIST
proposes a new Summer malt cocktail

Cocktail #2:
"Velvet Smoky Tolosa"

Pour into a shaker:
- 6 cl Scottish Smoky Malt Spirit (from Jean Boyer) 40%
- 2 cl liqueur de violette - from Toulouse! - (or any other violet liqueur)
- 1/2 lime juice
Add ice, shake, then strain into a cocktail glass.
Decoration: one sprig of fresh mint and one lime slice.
Variants:
- Substitute the malt spirit with other fruity/peaty young whiskies that display a very clear color.
- Change the violet liqueur with blue Curacao for a "Blue Smoky Tolosa"
Comments: How could i resist making this cocktail the night Toulouse won its seventeeth "Bouclier de Brennus"! A nod in the direction of Jean-Marie and his excellent malt spirit. 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening: I didn't know Canada's Alex Pangman until very recently but anybody singing Can't Stop Me From Dreaming.mp3 so beautifully only deserves praise. Something of the very early Billie Holiday or even Ella Fitzgerald? Please buy Alex Pangman's music.

Alex Pangman
 

July 16, 2008


   

MALT MANIACS NEWSFLASH
THE MALT MANIACS' MALT MONITOR UPDATED!

The new, Monitor now displays no less than 32,547 ratings for 10,832 different whiskies. You may download it here.
Heartfelt thanks to MM's Luca for his tremendous work and to all the other scorers.


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
Pentangle fan

PENTANGLE
The Royal Festival Hall, London, June 29th 2008

I saw Pentangle in 1972, on what must have been the last tour of the original ensemble before they imploded. Even the stultifying surroundings of what I think was then called the Solihull Civic Centre and an audience mainly there to see “the group that had recorded that theme to that BBC TV series”, couldn’t suppress the unique brand of musical creativity that defined the band’s sound, which in itself was hard to define, if you see what I mean.

Folk, jazz, jazz-folk, folk-jazz, folk-rock; I’m sure all of these descriptions and more have been used but none seem to do complete justice to a band described recently in the same Guardian article as “the Modern Jazz Quartet of folk”, and “Britain’s Grateful Dead”. Of course, it was a unique assembly of musicians: guitarists John Renbourn and Bert Jansch, one with a leaning towards early music, the other a penchant for folk and blues; vocalist Jacqui McShee from the traditional school of folk; bass player Danny Thompson who had worked with artistes as diverse as Roy Orbison, Alexis Korner and Davy Graham, and jazz drummer Terry Cox, who had also played with Korner’s Blues Incorporated. Fittingly for a group who became famous for their hard drinking, they came together in a pub on London’s Tottenham Court Road.
Having signed to the new Transatlantic Label, they found an ambitious manager in former PR man Jo Lustig, an unlikely character in the world of folk, who also subsequently managed Ralph McTell, Steeleye Span and Richard and Linda Thompson. Commercial success of sorts followed with two top fifty hits, one of which, ‘Light flight’, also became the theme tune for a ground-breaking BBC series ‘Take three girls’. Six albums in four years (compare that with Radiohead’s seven in 14 years) saw the group’s sound shift inexorably towards a stronger folk emphasis as the influence of Jansch predominated, but they were always an oddity, somewhat on the edge of the folk scene, never to be compared with say Fairport Convention, who sat firmly at the heart of the folk-rock scene.
But the demands and influence of Lustig, combined with hectic touring schedules (and for some the hectic drinking) all took their toll, and early in 1973 Jansch walked, leading to a ‘permanent’ split. In 1982 the band reformed briefly with its original line-up before embarking on an number of personnel changes, leaving only McShee and Jansch as founding members. In 1995 McShee, along with husband (and current Fairport drummer Gerry Conway) established Jacqui McShee's Pentangle (with McShee as the only original member) who tour to this day. However not to be outdone by Fairport Convention, Pentangle received a Lifetime Achievement award from BBC Radio 2 in 2007, and later that year announced this one-off gig at the Royal Festival Hall, which soon morphed into a 13-date UK tour.
McShee looks nervous, as though she’s never seen an audience before.
Renbourn McShee
John Renbourn
Jacqui McShee
Whilst her colleagues slip easily into their chairs, Jansch stage right, Renbourn stage left, Thomson standing behind with his upright bass, Cox slightly to the right of Jansch with his diminutive drum kit, McShee seemed somewhat overcome by the sight of a packed Festival Hall, and hesitantly worked her way through the first two songs ‘The time has come’ and “our hit”, ‘Light flight’. But behind her the band were already purring to perfection. Jansch playing more of a rhythm finger-picking role, Renbourn complimenting his guitar with a melodious lead riffs and chords.
Thomson was devastating on bass, discreet and supportive when required, then booming forward with wonderfully-structured solos. Cox, who had given up the skins for a career running a restaurant in Menorca, was wonderfully deft, delicate, and light of touch, more brushes and soft timpani mallets than sticks. And by the third song, “This is a real sixties type of song – castles, hunting, maidens and all that kind of stuff…” McShee was in the space too, playing complex vocal patterns against Cox’s chops. What followed was unsurprisingly a best of set, with songs like ‘Once I had a sweetheart’, ‘Market song’, ‘The house carpenter’ (when Renbourn struggled to sit down on the floor - “This wasn’t my idea” he grumbled as he was handed his sitar), ‘The cruel sister’ (when Jansch took up the banjo), ‘Brutal tale’ (with a spectacular Renbourn solo), ‘I am a maid and deep in love’ and ‘I’ve got a feeling’, based on Miles Davis’ ‘All Blues’.
They finished off with their worst song of the night, the hugely dated faux gospel song ‘Will the circle be unbroken’ best left to the Primary School classroom, and noticeably forgotten by Jansch who was already bidding his farewells to the audience before being reminded there was one more song left. But this apart, most of the evening had felt as fresh as a daisy, timeless, accomplished, inventive and occasionally edgy, which is a bit odd because some of the recordings can sound very dated. The concert marked the fortieth anniversary of something (everywhere I looked it said something different, proving that memories aren’t what they were) and of course there’s a huge new retrospective box set you can buy. But if you want my advice try to see a live performance (there must be more before they all fall out again) - it is like a wonderful mixture of Fairport Convention, the Modern Jazz Quartet, The Box Tops, Grateful Dead, Charles Mingus, Muddy Waters, Davy Graham … - Nick Morgan (photographs: various sources and Nick's iPhone)
Listen:
Pentangle's MySpace page

TASTING – THREE OLD UNDISCLOSED SPEYSIDERS
(that may have been distilled at a well-known family owned distillery starting with a G, or maybe not.)
Feral Clangs Feral Clangs 41 yo 1966/2008 (45.7%, The Nectar, Daily Dram, 201 bottles) A tribute to the Velocette Thruxton, probably the most wonderful motorbike ever built by man. Colour: gold. Nose: starts rather nervously, with ‘direct’ whiffs of freshly sawn oak, mint and beeswax/honey. Walnut wood, cellulose. Goes on with notes of plantain, both white and milk chocolates, a little leather polish and finally hints of lemon balm, eucalyptus, butterscotch and plain vanilla. Pretty youthful at more than 40 years of age. Excellent oakiness and good freshness at the same time. Mouth: more fruits upfront, coated with tannins and white pepper. Cooked peaches and pears. Still quite malty after 41 years, with also notes of unsugared coffee, nutmeg, soft paprika…
Gets drier and more gingery after a while, as well as more vanilled. Hints of mustard. Finish: long, rather soft. Comments: a version of that distillery that’s rather different, that is to say maybe a tad more austere than usual. Also a good example of a rather big oakiness that’s still very, very pleasant. SGP:371 – 90 points.
Anonymas 34 yo 1965/2000 (50%, DL Old Malt Cask, 256 bottles) Colour: full gold. Nose: rather close to the Feral Clangs at very first nosing but gets then more almondy and sherried. Maraschino and kirsch plus caramel crème. Less oak and the same very good quality on the nose. Also marginally fruitier (regular bananas rather than plantains – not wham-bam bananas that is). Mouth: exactly the same kind of differences as on the nose. More fruits (very ripe cherries, figs) but also an oakiness that’s maybe a tad drying here. Huge spiciness developing (cloves, Chinese anise, cinnamon, pepper and ginger.) Finish: long and tannic. Comments: a tad too woody for my tastes this time but other than that it’s another very good xxxxxxxxxxx. SGP:481 – 86 points.
Blairfindy 40 yo 1963/2003 (52.3%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Sherry, cask #5, 576 bottles) Colour: mahogany. Nose: an archetypical heavily sherried malt but no genuine monster since everything is balanced if not totally subtle. A lot of chocolate, prunes, coffee, cherry liqueur again, with quite some varnish as well. Wooden cupboard. Dried parsley, putty. Mouth: creamy and heavy, starting on a huuuuge ‘spicy-sherried’ oakiness. Curry, strongly reduced wine sauce, rum-soaked raisins (more Smyrna than sultanas), dark chocolate, almond liqueur, orange marmalade and burnt cake (brownies). Finish: long but a tad sticky now. Big tannins. Comments: balanced on the nose but maybe a tad too much on the palate. Yes, monstrous. Very coffeeish aftertaste. SGP:472 – 86 points. Blairfindy
 

July 15, 2008


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK in Saint-Tropez

 
Burger

CONCERT REVIEW
by Nick Morgan

RADIOHEAD
Victoria Park, London, Wednesday 25th June, 2008

 

We’re down in the East End in London’s famous Victoria Park, over 200 acres of Victorian green space feeding the lungs of this traditionally working-class district of the metropolis. Given that the site of the 2012 Olympics isn’t far away, old Vicky Park has its part to play, having been chosen to host the Games’ Global Gourmet Village, one of the major attractions that is expected to cause thousands of visitors to flock to this otherwise neglected area. And you would expect so too, wouldn’t you? Nearby you can find some of the most traditional, and some would say distinguished, cuisine in the capital. But of course, the Olympiad is about London now, so the Gourmet Village, of which we’re privileged tonight to be some of the first patrons, really reflects what’s best about eating in London today.
Gourmet Village
It’s a showcase for the city that can boast Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White, Giorgio Locatelli, Richard Corrigan and Tom Aikens. And I suspect that is why there is a large and garrulous group of French guys (not seen in these parts since 1066 or thereabouts) behind us, apparently on a gourmet pilgrimage to this very epicentre of epicurean excellence. Or maybe they’ve come to see Radiohead.
In case you don’t know, Radiohead, as we see it from this side of the Atlantic, are “one of the biggest rock bands in the world”. They’re massive. And there are around twenty thousand people here (that’s about the capacity of London’s ghastly O2 arena) who would confirm that. I couldn’t say really – I’m bound to have a copy of their ground-breaking OK Computer album somewhere and as a matter of due diligence just prior to this gig bought the new In Rainbows (apparently their most accessible album in years, and which you could download for whatever price you cared to pay). But for all their overpowering omnipresence, they haven’t really registered with me. Of course I know about the media-friendly tousle-haired and perennially unshaven lead singer Thom Yorke, who speaks fluently and often sensibly on a range of ‘Green’ issues, but that’s about it. I can promise you that my copy of In Rainbows will be for sale in the local charity shop before Christmas. So why am I here? Well it’s not for the grub. Mainly I’m fulfilling a Christmas promise, the recipient of which has rushed to the front of the stage in a state of unbridled frenzy. But I’m also here to tell you what “one of the biggest rock bands in the world” sounds like.
Radiohead
The joke is that we’re standing so far back from the stage that the band have finished every song before we hear the start of it. Mildly funny, but not true. The sound quality is remarkable, well mixed and balanced, with a crystal clarity, only occasionally being blown away in the breeze of what turns out to be a chilly evening. Lucky for us there’s some bloke with a tea urn nearby, so in a tribute to rock and roll excess we sip milky builder’s tea as Radiohead go through their paces. Let me summarise the gig (you can get all the details here). In almost two-and-a-half hours they played twenty-five songs – and I was surprised (not knowing any better) at how well these were structured (even the most apparently unstructured) and how tightly they were performed. Forty per cent came from In Rainbows – actually they played the whole lot – and 16% each from Kid A and OK Computer, perhaps their best- known works. Yorke does have the most unusual voice, which can range from positively tuneless to positively captivating – he was working hard, singing around 3,716 words, which is 9% more than usual. Oh yes, in case you were wondering, the very effective stage lighting (an LED system), used 140A 3phase compared with the 600A 3phase system they used on their last tour. And Thom Yorke was wearing striking red trousers, more suited to a regatta than a rock concert, but at least it meant that we could see him in the distance. The final song was Paranoid Abdroid. Need to know any more?
I did wonder how many minor chords innovative guitarist Johnny Greenwood and his cronies played during the set, which was at best mildly melancholic, even when it rocked (and they really can rock, driven by Phil Selway’s powerful drumming).
The overwhelming sense of misery wasn’t helped by Yorke’s voice. So when they ventured into more melodic territories there were occasional striking echoes of Glasgow’s angst and guilt-ridden Blue Nile, and for what it’s worth in their earlier material strong suggestions of a considerable debt to the Beatles’ White Album. But we were kept in cheery mood by our new French friends, who had moved on from gourmet delights to in-depth samplings of Carling Black Label, the beer franchise holders for the event. As every song finished they chorused “à poil” at the top of their voices, explaining later that “at rock concerts in France there’s always some jerk who shouts ‘à poil’ at the end of each song”. Well, in this case there were about eight jerks, but as they were loving every minute of it would have been churlish to complain. Carling
Practicalities come into play at an event like this – have you ever tried to get a tube from Mile End Station at 11.00pm along with twenty thousand others? So the giftee, as briefed, emerged from the throng at the start of the second encore, positioning us for a prompt departure. He was equally ecstatic and furious, so here’s a fans-eye view. The band, “fantastic”, “great to hear the new songs live”, “some old tunes I’d never heard them play before”, “Johnny Greenwood’s just brilliant”. The audience “a bunch of London t***s”, “no one was doing anything”, “middle class tossers who’d just come because they read about it in the Observer” (steady on son, that’s a bit close to home), “some of the w*****s were wearing suits and drinking Pimms” and so on, a view which I notice was shared on a number of the various on-line forums about the band. But that I suppose is what happens when you become “one of the biggest rock bands in the world”, or for that matter when any brand (yes, brand, not band) moves from a niche discerning positioning to one that is more ubiquitous. Hang on, that reminds me … - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate and Nick's iPhone)
Listen:
Radiohead's
MySpace page

TASTING – MORE CAPERDONICH

Caperdoncih Caperdonich 33yo 1973/2006 (49.2%, DL Platinum, rum finish, 336 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one starts right on sultanas, cassata ice cream and, well, rum, with also touches of nutmeg and ginger (speculoos) as well as candy sugar. I must say all that is rather enjoyable. Gets then more ‘whisky’, with an obvious maltiness and various herbs and spices. Big notes of green tea (gunpowder) at the development. Certainly a finishing that worked, reminding me a bit of a splendid Tomintoul rum finish in the same series.
Mouth: very sweet, round, powerful but not aggressive, with less rum influence this time, even if there’s still quite some candy sugar and sultanas. Develops on sweet liquorice (allsorts) and dried bananas, getting fruitier and fruitier over time (guavas? Papayas?) Very satisfying mouth feel, too bad the whole gets just a tad too sugary after a while. Excellent oakiness underlining the whole. Finish: rather long and even sweeter. Caramelised oak? Comments: firm and sweet at the same time, with the oak making a late arrival. It seems that the rum did bring something to the whisky indeed. Good stuff. SGP:631 - 88 points.
Caperdonich 1972/2008 (50.3%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar, 136 bottles) Colour: full gold/pale amber. Nose: starts even more expressively than the 1973, also with more elegance. Impressive notes of beeswax and pollen, apricot cake and dandelions with hints of liquorice and pears poached in sweet white wine. It’s also a tad phenolic and almondy (putty, marzipan), with a little wood smoke. Keeps developing on wax/varnish, cigar box and vanilla fudge, with also something toffeeish. A very, very classy old Caperdonich displaying a rather sublime balance (fruits/flowers/spices/phenols). I luv’ it. Mouth: splendid attack, first sweet and smooth (sweets), then firmer thanks to beautiful tannins that are soon to give the whole a perfect backbone, and then beautifully fruity. Bananas flambéed, greengage jam, spiced up orange marmalade (with cloves and cinnamon), mango chutney, old sweet wine (such as an old Maury or Rivesaltes, and maybe even hints of Vinsanto.) Superb. Finish: long, firm and smooth again, with now hints of herbal teas (rosehip, hawthorn) and a little more pepper than before. Comments: an exceptional version of Caperdonich, absolutely flawless. But warning, it’s highly drinkable! SGP:643 – 93 points.
Caperdonich 24yo 1980/2005 (57.9%, SMWS, 38.13, 'Eiswein and Red Peppercorns') Colour: pale gold. Nose: another one that’s very expressive, more on butter cake and fudge this time, and then on loads of soft spices. Mulled wine? Goes on with a lot of milk chocolate, café latte, roasted hazelnuts, praline… Slightly rough ‘kirschiness’ in the background. Not as majestically elegant as the 1972 but still extremely pleasant despite its slight roughness. With water: a lot of sulphur for a while, rubber, even bigger kirschy notes… Hints of horse dung… What a U-turn! Actually, it never quite recovers from the savage assaults of a few drops of water. Not a good swimmer on the nose (err…) Caperdonich
Mouth (neat): it’s the spices that play the first parts here (huge cinnamon), and then various crystallised fruits (oranges, kumquats, chestnuts.) With water: more spices and more wood. Something a little ‘twisted’; a slightly weird cask? Finish: rather long, rounder again, with quite some grenadine and violet sweets this time. Definitely bizarre, even interesting. Comments: as UFO-esque as ‘Eiswein with peppercorns” but certainly ‘funny’. SGP:552 – 77 points. By the way, greatest of news, another Chivas distillery just started to distil again on July 11: Braes of Glenlivet – Braeval. Welcome back!

July 2008 - part 1 <--- July 2008 - part 2 ---> August 2008 - part 1


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

 

 

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

Ardbeg 10 yo (80°proof, OB, UK, white label, early 1970’s)

Caperdonich 1972/2008 (50.3%, Duncan Taylor for The Nectar, 136 bottles)

Feral Clangs 41 yo 1966/2008 (45.7%, The Nectar, Daily Dram, 201 bottles)

Mortlach 1980/2002 (63.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask, cask #3646)

Port Ellen 19 yo 1982/2001 (56%, Douglas Laing for Alambic Classique, 390 bottles)

Port Ellen 24 yo 1982/2006 (57.6%, Whisky Magazine, Editor’s Choice, 300 bottles)

Port Ellen 31 yo 1969/2001 (42.9%, Douglas Laing for Alambic Classique, 41 bottles)

Tamdhu 1973/2008 (56%, Gordon & MacPhail, Reserve, cask #3230, 481 bottles)