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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2006 - Part 2
       
 
March 2006 - part 1 <--- March 2006 - part 2 ---> April 2006 - 1
 

March 31, 2006


 

 

 

 

 

TASTING - THREE INDIE GLENROTHES

Glenrothes 15 yo 1990/2006 (46%, Signatory Unchillfiltered, butt #15356, 678 bottles) Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one starts very fragrant, with bold and vibrant notes of nectar, honey and buttercup, not unlike some of the best OB’s (and some Balvenies). Lots of caramelly notes as well, toffee, cake, pastries, apricot jam, white Port… All that in all freshness and cleanliness. Not very complex but flawless and as close to direct pleasure as conceivable. Mouth: not too bold but very sweet, very malty and very caramelly. Extremely typical. Develops on tarte tatin, crème brûlée, candy sugar, something of a young but good rum, roast fruits… Hints of slightly burnt cake crust, Werther’s Originals… Well, you get the picture. The finish is rather long, with something nicely fruity coated with, you guessed it, caramel and a little salted liquorice. A very nice, uncomplicated indie Glenrothes. Again, pure pleasure… 86 points.
Glenrothes 34 yo 1968/2003 (40.3%, Duncan Taylor) It’s sometimes scary to taste this kind of very old malt showing a very low A.B.V., as many are very respectable but sort of, well, tired. And I’m even more scared because we’ll then have an even older 1968 Glenrothes, of which the A.B.V. is… 57.2%! Okay, I think I took every possible precaution, so let’s go. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very delicate and elegant but certainly not weak. Superb notes of very ripe apricots and melons, whole oranges, tangerines and quince jelly with also hints of smoke, marzipan and beeswax. Extremely fresh and clean, which is amazing. Is that all? No, the malt gets then delicately flowery (cherry blossom, lilac), with also faint whiffs of smoke and something strangely maritime – or maybe it’s just the freshness. And finally hints of caramel crème and honey and a gingery touch. Just superb, not very different from the 1990, just much, much subtler. Mouth: excellent news, it’s not tired, nor too woody, nor watery. Quite on the contrary, there’s still quite some fruit (see the list above), vanilla and caramel, the whole being underlined with tannins that didn’t get drying, white pepper, nutmeg, ginger, with something slightly earthy (ginseng) and even a little nervousness brought by notes of kiwi and lemon. And the finish is quite long, sweet and spicy… A great surprise, far from many other very old malts having great noses but absent palates. 90 points.
Glenrothes 36 yo 1968/2005 (57.2%, Duncan Taylor, Cask 13485)
Here’s the possibly more brutal brother. Interesting to check which is the best one. Colour: gold amber (surprisingly darker). Nose: more spirity indeed, very powerful (amazing at 37yo) but also more closed at first nosing. Just something coffeeish and caramelly but wait, here it comes after two or three minutes! It takes off with a blend of old books (which I always like) and dried fruits (mostly citrus but also figs), and then some superb vegetal notes (both fresh and dried flowers, hay, fern, moss). It keeps developing by getting more and more complex, on old Sauterne wine, fresh mint, peach skin, apricot, vanilla crème… And then some rather bold waxy and resinous notes, leather, eucalyptus, cardamom and finally some very elegant and structuring oaky touches. Just fab! Even nicer than it’s sibling. Mouth: lots of vivacity, lots of oomph! I’d have never said it’s a 37 yo whisky, never. The attack is on crystallized oranges and dried ginger (the wood’s influence), and then lots of other spices. White pepper, cardamom again, clove, cinnamon… Wow, it gets ‘oomphier’ by the minute… Lots of orange marmalade, something smoky, sweet and sour touches (from the wood)… It gets then frankly oaky but it’s in a rarely experienced, very enjoyable way. Then minty… Yes, a fab Glenrothes, no doubt, and even the finish is superb, coating but nervous, citrusy and spicy, with quite some pepper on vanilla crème and lots of salt. A symphonic malt. 93 points.

 

MUSIC – Heavily recommended listening - Care for something quiet, peaceful and 'globally' beautiful? Then have a try at Hem and their fab singer Sally Ellyson doing Valentine's Day.mp3 (of course) and you'll 'see what you hear'! And then buy all their music, thanks.

 

March 30, 2006


TASTING - THREE CRAIGELLACHIES
Craigellachie 17 yo 1972/1989 (46%, Signatory, cask #1655) Colour: a little draker than white wine. Nose: lots of presence in this already old bottle. Starts rather spirity and smoky, with something very, very fruity that comes to the front gradually (apple juice and pears). I must say it’s quite beautiful, extremely fresh and fruity but also quite complex. Great notes of high-end muesli (the one they serve in Gstaad or St-Moritz ;-)), a bouquet of violets, high-end pils beer, something animal as well (mink), vanilla crème… And some beautiful, slightly sour – in a nice way- oaky tones. A great, very natural profile. Mouth: wow, it’s even nicer now. A nervous and compact attack, mixing all sorts of fresh fruits with something smoky and mineral and quite some spearmint that keeps the whole very lively. Lots of pastries after that, crystallized fruits and plants (orange zests, kumquats, angelica), resinous wax, hints of wasabi… Extremely coherent and very punchy and satisfying, slowly ending on a great bitterness (candied lemon skin). Pure, natural – but not boring at all - whisky. I like it a lot! 88 points.
Craigellachie 32 yo 1973/2005 (42.7%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 181 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: the profile is rather similar, except that there’s more wood and a slight sourness now, the whole being most enjoyable. It’s also more complex, revealing some new enchanting subtleties every minute. First we have some bold notes of pastis or ouzo (aniseed), then all sorts of other plants (pine needles, dill, celery), then lots of vanilla crème and fudge, and then quite some eucalyptus (Vicks VapoRub again) and liquorice. It gets then quite buttery before the nice wooden sourness strikes back. Lots happening in there, great. Mouth: it’s not extremely bold now, and very woody, but again it’s not over the hill at all. The wood gives it a perfect structure in fact, and we have then all sorts of herbs again (roughly the same as on the nose, plus quite some spearmint and lemon balm), herbal teas (camomile, linden tree) and citrus fruits such as tangerines, both fresh and dried. An amazing freshness at 32yo. And the finish isn’t short at all, not even drying, on gentian and pear spirit, orange marmalade and cinnamon. Maybe it lacks a little roundness but no doubt it’s another very good Craigellachie! 89 points.
Craigellachie 1989/2005 (54.2%, Dewar Rattray, cask #3882) Colour: straw. Nose: more power, more oomph, but it doesn’t start less interestingly. This time it’s rather on full honey mode, with lots of acacia and heather, but no mineral, animal or smoky notes anymore. But we do have flowers instead (all sorts, including roses) and loads of fruits: apricots, very ripe apples, very ripe peaches, very ripe plums, the whole being… err… very ripe. We have also a dash of allspice… Okay, maybe it’s a little simpler than its older brothers but it’s by no means less enjoyable. Mouth: a punchy, sweet, fruity, spicy and very compact attack that, again, lacks just a little complexity. Lots of apple pie and white pepper, mirabelle jam, dried ginger and ‘simple’ honey… And a long, sweet, bold and satisfying finish, with just, again, a little extra bitterness to make the whole even more balanced – and also a sprinkling of salt. A malt that will neither make you scratch your head, nor disappoint you. 86 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening - Right, we had Eric Sardinas yesterday, so let’s have Johnny Winter himself today, playing Be careful with a fool.mp3 . Don’t we all love logorrheic guitars? Anyway, please buy Johnny Winter’s music!

 

March 29, 2006


TASTING - TWO OFFICIAL 21 yo GLENLIVETS
Glenlivet 21 yo ‘Archive’ (43%, OB, 2005 or 2006) Colour: amber. Nose: wow, this is much more complex than expected! It starts with a little smoke (a distant campfire), cooked strawberries and fruitcake. Really powerful considering its A.B.V. Goes on with something maritime (yes, I know where the distillery is located), notes of toffee, toasted cake, grain and malt… And a superb oakiness, very elegant. Ah, classicism! Mouth: a bold and rather powerful attack, very creamy, on praline and orange liqueur (Cointreau), hot cake… Notes of crystallized oranges, high quality fudge, roasted coffee beans… Again, it’s very classical, and the finish is long again, very complex and enjoyable (quite orangey). Highly drinkable, and much better, I think than some previous versions. Very good news! 88 points.
Glenlivet 21 yo 1948/1969 (45.7%, OB for Italy, Baretto) A very rare, said to be peaty version of Glenlivet 21yo. Colour: straw. Nose: oh, what an incredible freshness! There are whiffs of peat indeed, let’s say like in some old bottles of Bowmore, Lagavulin or Laphroaig, but also lots of fresh citrus fruits. Tangerines, freshly squeezed oranges, very ripe lemons… Also great phenolic notes, like fermenting hay, clean horse stable… Goes on with old humid wine cellar, mushroom bed, and then lots of fresh herbs (dill, coriander, mint, lemon balm, chive) and something superbly resinous. Not too far from perfection and extremely elegant. Mouth: hey hey, lots of body here, despite almost 40 years of bottle ageing. Very waxy (beeswax), with quite some fir honey, rose jam (or rosewater), vanilla fudge and yes, quite some peat. Hints of nougat and praline, earl grey tea, almond cake, marzipan… And also a little cough syrup as often in these old bottles. Not tired in any way, amazing! And yes it was a cork stopper. The finish is rather long, on dried fruits and orange marmalade with a dash of white pepper, getting just a tad too tea-ish and metallic at the end (typical old bottle taste). Anyway, a brilliant old peaty Glenlivet, extremely classy. 92 points (and thanks, Giovanni).

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening - Is it Johnny Winter? No, it’s Eric Sardinas from Texas (hum – I mean, the rhyme) doing Low down love.mp3 (from his 1999 album Treat Me Right). Listen to it till the end, which sounds very ‘whole lotta love-esque’. And please buy Eric Sardinas’ music!

 

March 28, 2006


MUSIC AND WHISKY INTERVIEW
DARREN KRAMER

Great news – and true madness! After Luc Brewaeys who composed several contemporary classical pieces named after famous Scottish distilleries, we could get hold of another accomplished and famous musician who’s currently writing a ‘Scotch Suite’: the excellent American jazz trombonist and bandleader Darren Kramer...

Whiskyfun: Darren, tell us briefly about what you do, music-wise.
Darren Kramer: I am a full-time, professional, freelance trombonist, clinician and adjudicator throughout the USA and I also lead my own world-class group, DKO, in international festivals, concerts and clinics. I am also the Jazz Trombone Instructor at the University of Denver. I graduated from the University of Miami and moved to New York City where I toured with Matchbox Twenty, Tom Jones, Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies. I have also made national television appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman. I am also an accomplished composer/arranger of many styles which can be heard on my three self-produced CDs described as "Fresh, Innovative Funk" by Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Michael Brecker.
WF: Wow! And which other musicians did you play with?
Darren: Most recently I have performed/recorded with world-renowned jazz artists Michael Brecker, Rick Margitza and Eric Marienthal. I have toured internationally with the bands I mentioned before. I have also performed with many highly acclaimed musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Randy Brecker, Bob Mintzer, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, Barry Manilow, etc.
WF: And which are your other favourite artistes?
Darren: I am a huge fan of most styles of music but some of my jazz favourites would have to be Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, John Scofield and Chick Corea. My favorite pop/rock artists are Sting, Prince, Peter Gabriel and Roger Waters.
WF: So, which are your current projects?
Darren: My most current project is an additional configuration to DKO and is called the DKO Electric Quartet which features “Electric Horns” and B3 Organ. I am focusing on my long time interest in using electronic effects on my trombone. I am actually writing a “Scotch Suite” for my new DKO Electric Quartet. I have two movements already finished and they are entitled “The Hollow Where The Mill Is” (Lagavulin) and “Obi-Wan KenOBAN” (Oban). My most recent recording is called “In The Now” and features DKO performing over 70-min of original Funk, Jazz & Latin and includes special guest Michael Brecker, Rick Margitza and Eric Marienthal.
WF: Great, I liked Quench! as well (especially the 'Il fait très, très chaud' part!). But let’s talk about whisky. When did you start enjoying it? Are there any musical memories you particularly associate with that moment?
Darren: I believe around 1999 when I was touring with Tom Jones in Europe. We played a scotch tasting event in Holland and I found it both interesting and tasty!
WF: What’s your most memorable whisky?
Darren: Probably “Glenmorangie 10yr”. While touring with Tom Jones, we had a day off in Sweden and were treated to a nice boat ride on a secluded lake. On the return trip, the staff broke out several bottles and I really enjoyed it…. the taste and the experience. Upon returning to the hotel, several of us took part in a rousing game of night volleyball, which was quite amusing!
WF: Do you have one, or several favourite whiskies?
Darren: Oh definitely several. Scotch is like music…it’s very difficult to pick a favorite brand. Although I do think I have narrowed it down to about 7 over the last 5 years or so. Lagavulin, Oban, Macallan 18, Macallan “Cask Strength”, Talisker, Laphroaig, Bowmore (Dawn), Glenmorangie “Port Wood”…
WF: And are there whiskies you don’t like?
Darren: Not really but I don’t seem to particularly like the thinner, lighter scotches (i.e. Lowland). But hey, I certainly wouldn’t refuse one or pour it down the sink! I’m just a fan of deep, rich, expensive tastes like Islay scotch, Cabernet or Shiraz, Cuban cigars, filet mignon, chocolate cream pie, etc!!!
WF: Music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Darren: Heck yeah! Although I must admit I haven’t met very many women who enjoy scotch. It seems to be too intense for them. Music is definitely a non-gender, non-ethnic discriminator.
WF: 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?
Darren: Yes, exactly. That’s why I decided to write my new “Scotch Suite”. The first movement is dedicated to Lagavulin (my favourite scotch) and I believe it musically represents what happens to me when I drink Lagavulin.
1. Slow, sophisticated beginning
2. Builds in intensity and smoky flavor
3. Multiple experiences occur throughout drink/song.
4. Finishes with an incredible rush of adrenaline and excitement (Bluesy climax in my piece).
WF: Darren, when will we be allowed to have a listen to your ‘Scotch Suite?’
Darren: DKO website very soon!… and hopefully soon at a scotch tasting near you! That would be nice to serve the scotch of each movement and have members write down their thoughts, feelings, tastes of the scotch, etc while we played… then do a Q/A session afterwards.
WF: Do you mean you plan to do gigs at tasting sessions? Distilleries???
Darren: Absolutely! All we need is an invitation! DKO is a very special group of full-time professional musicians who love music and whisky. We would be honored and very pleased to provide the highest quality jazz/funk at any tasting or distilleries. We are currently available for bookings thru our website and incidentally, my new "Scotch Suite" should be completed within a few weeks. As I told you before, I have two "movements" complete and plan on writing three more by end of April.
WF: Fantastic, and maybe you could even jam with some bagpipers! By the way, I once heard an eminent whisky professional say that he tasted whisky in colours. Do you taste whisky in music?
Darren: Yes, I think you could say that.
Lagavulin – sophisticated, classy jazz with a satisfying finish…
Oban – faster, more exciting piece…
Macallan 18 – raw, emotional piece with spunk…
Macallan “Cask Strength” – definitely the most bang for your buck… fun, fast tune!
Talisker – down-home funky tune with energy…
Laphroaig – mysterious, earthy song with dark layers…
WF: If your favourite whisky was a piece of music what would it be, if it was a musical instrument what would it be?
Darren: Instrument? Definitely “Electric Trombone”!!!
WF: 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 band?
Darren: If I had to give a quick opinion:
Vocalists - Lowland
Horn Section - Islay
Rhythm Section - Highland
WF: Do you have a favourite piece of music to drink whisky with, or better still, desert island dram, desert island disc?
Darren: Again, favourites are hard to decipher. But here goes…
Drinking Whisky: Miles Davis – Most any album… esp “Kind of Blue“, “Fri night at Blackhawk“, “Live in Stockholm“. John Coltrane – “w/Johnny Hartman”, “Ballads”
Desert Island: Pat Metheny “As Wichita Falls…”, “Secret Story”. Mahler Sym 3, 5 or 9. Eric Whitacre: “A Cappella Vocal Works”. Roger Waters: “Amused to Death”
WF: Everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
Darren: Don’t know, probably because Van Halen outwardly drank so much of it. I love Van Halen. Also, bourbon/mash does seem to have a harder edge which might be better suited for crazy rock events. I do enjoy bourbon as well… Blanton’s, Bookers, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey… I’ve certainly chosen scotch over whisky at many rock concerts I’ve attended recently – Prince, Sting, Peter Gabriel. Chick Corea (not rock I know but I just drank Macallan 12yr at his recent concert in Boulder CO!)
WF: And if it was Scotch, can you think of which brand? What would be the Scotch equivalent of rappers drinking Cristal?
Darren: Dewar's? J&B? Glenlivet? (no offense intended!)

Thank you very much, Darren! No wonder you've got pieces such as 'Critical density', 'Intangible attraction', 'Signing for a taste', 'Give no strength' or 'Keep it closed' on your CD's ;-).
Links of interest: 
Darren Kramer's official website
Page where your can listen to a part of the 'Scotch Suite' (not labelled as such)
Darren's 'celebs' page - the guy on the 12th picture rings a bell...
Lots of great music by Darren and DKO on iTunes music store.

 
TASTING - ANOTHER TRIO OF GREAT PORT ELLENS
Port Ellen 1979/2006 (55.3%, M&H Cask Selection for Whisky Live Belgium, refill sherry, 150 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: really powerful but not overpowering, starting on a clean and sharp mix of coffee and peat. Very ‘natural’, rather close to the 1978 Rare Malt in style. Quite medicinal at first, with lots of iodine and whiffs of wet kelp and oysters, switching then to something farmier (wet hay). Very little tary or rubbery notes – if any. Hints of fresh butter and dairy cream, grass, a little incense… This one is extremely clean and full of youth, probably from a not too active cask, which is good news if you like that style like I do. No traces of sherry as far as I’m concerned. What we’d call ‘pure Islay’.
Mouth: wow, it’s really full-bodied but, again, not aggressive at all because we do have an enjoyable sweetness rounding out the peat. Quite some lemon sweets, candied lemon zests, smoked tea and gentian spirit… Notes of propolis and mastic flavoured Turkish delights. Also quite some liquorice and pepper, with something salty that reminds us that it’s a maritime whisky. Very, very good! The finish is medium long, very balanced and hugely satisfying, on wax and lemon plus, of course, peat. In short, it’s a beautiful expression of Port Ellen, very natural, with little wood – or wine - influence. Classy, one to try if you want to taste just a ‘Port Ellen’. I loved it. 92 points.
Port Ellen 27 yo 1978/2006 (55.3%, Douglas Laing Platinum, bourbon, 375 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: wow, this one is extremely medicinal, starting on bandages, iodine, hints of camphor, embrocations… It’s also a little buttery, with unusual notes of vanilla crème and violets (unusual in Port Ellen, of course). It gets then very, very maritime, with every coastal smells you can imagine (sea breeze, sea spray, shells, seaweed etc.). We have also some great farmy notes, as well as quite some marzipan, wood smoke, very fresh walnuts. Maybe it’s a tad less clean than the M&H, but it’s also a little more demonstrative and less austere. Hard to tell you which one I prefer, for the moment.
Mouth: yes, it is superb! Again it’s a little wider, bolder, saltier and maybe more civilized at the same time. Lots of tea, all sorts of infusions and resin flavoured sweets, fir liqueur. The balance is remarkable, making this one a very drinkable peat monster. Lots of liquorice as well, getting very earthy… Really excellent! The finish is a little longer than the M&H’s, but offers very similar sensations. It’s just impossible to decide between both versions, so it’s going to be 92 points as well. Now, maybe the next one will win?...
Port Ellen 25 yo 1979/2005 (57.1%, Douglas Laing Platinum for Potstill Austria, 302 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah, now we have an even more austere Port Ellen, it appears. Much more discrete, even than the M&H’s start, sort of closed. Much grassier, less maritime, less farmy, less resinous… Well, maybe I should have tasted this one as #1, but it’s also the most powerful… Okay, there is something farmy, in fact, as well as nice notes of fresh almonds and a little paraffin and smoke but that’s almost all. Let’s see whether the palate is more expressive… Mouth: oh yes, indeed, much more happening now! It’s quite close to the 1978 in style, very bold, with lots of crystallized citrus fruits, herbal teas, something very resinous, liquoricy… Lots of oomph in there but it’s very drinkable. Probably not overly complex but extremely coherent. Ah, simple, peaty pleasures… The finish is probably the longest of all, rather coating, on resin and peat plus quite some sweetness. Very, very good again, too bad the nose was a little silent - but again, it had a tricky place after the two other ‘gentle monsters’ we just had. Great whisky anyway. 89 points.
 

March 27, 2006


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
LINDA LEWIS AND HER BAND
Pizza on the Park, London, March 18th 2006

Linda Lewis' first LP (1971)

When I heard the words “welcome to our little knees-up” I confess I panicked. Surely not Chas and Dave again? But no worries, this was chirpy Cockney Sparrow Linda Lewis, of 1970s folky soulish disco crossover fame, in the plush (well – at least in the dark) and slightly posh Pizza in the Park in London’s rather knobby Knightsbridge, performing for the most part songs from her ‘comeback’ album, itself a live recording (Live in Old Smokey) made at Ronnie Scott’s, and her extensive back catalogue. Linda ‘went’ after her hits ‘Rock-a-doodle-doo’ and ‘It’s in his kiss’ in 1973 and 1975 respectively, and her last UK chart appearance in 1979.

Recording only periodically thereafter (‘though she has a gold-plated list of session work) she went big in Japan – almost Spinal Tap style - in the late 90s and is clearly now making a concerted attempt to re-stake a larger claim to fame. However not all the audience are here to see the right Linda Lewis – the two groping ladies sharing the shadowy and intimate table behind us keep on shouting for her to sing ‘Loving you’, whilst the American honeymoon couple on the other side of the stage are impatiently waiting for her to sing ‘Love and affection’. Fame? Linda, Minnie and Joan, eat your hearts out.
And let’s talk about the audience. Well they must be here for Linda because to be frank you wouldn’t come here for the food. One suspects that, pizzas apart, the kitchen has something of the microwave about it (even the salads). And the pizzas? Well you said you didn’t have them in France yet Serge, but now I know you have very nice pissaladiere. Unfortunateley ours were nowhere near as good as those tasty little treats. The venue is close by the hyper-posh Lanesborough Hotel, and a number of other similarly overpriced gaffs, so it’s an obvious draw for tourists and out of towners, who probably make up half the ample crowd.
They’re the ones wearing the Christmas present jumpers and black trouser suits, with that look of permanent distrust about them, as if they’re expecting the waiters (who, along with waitresses, are quite excellent) to stab them in the back, steal their wallets and handbags, and kidnap their husbands or wives at any moment. They also look unaccountably disconsolate (maybe because they’ve just realised that Linda Lewis isn’t Minnie, or Joan), but by the second set as the wine (good and reasonable wine list) kicks in and Ms Lewis’s very genuine and disarming charm wins them over, everyone gets pretty mellow. Both the groping ladies and the honeymooners are close to coupling by the end of the night, whilst adjacent tables of Australians and Americans have struck up a strange and very loud sort of entente cordiale. The obsessive fan with the crazed check jacket is in the Gents sharing stories with anyone who will listen about fantastic e-bay triumphs searching for Linda memorabilia (“I even got a pair of her knickers”). In the midst of this touristic League of Nations there are also clearly a lot of Linda’s extended ‘family’ – here to celebrate the new album release – and if it’s not exactly a who’s who of the London seventies scene that Ms Lewis was such a part of (which it ain’t) then it’s certainly a group of whom some, like Linda, have survivor written all over them.
Linda’s a nice soul, wears her heart on her sleeve (or in her songs) and isn’t afraid to share her vulnerability with her audience. She’s got no side, and easily takes us into her confidence. She’s been through the mill a bit since her meteoric rise to fame in the company of her boyfriend and later husband, Family member Jim Cregan (actually he’s got a rock CV as long as your arm, but that’s another story). He’s the one she sings about in Fathoms, an old song but one of the nicer ones from the first set. Of course he’s an ex – and we’re told there have been a number since. “I went out with him for two hours” she confides of Cat Stevens, before singing his ‘Schoolyard’ – and she doesn’t quite explain how she’s playing a guitar she’s had for 40 years, but which once belonged to Eric Clapton’s “girlfriend”. “She’s dead now, but I’ve still got it. Gosh – that makes me sound like a real cow doesn’t it?”. Nor does she care for Andrew Lloyd Webber, and found working with Mike Batt “the worst experience of my life”.
Ms Lewis’s most recent and apparently reticent husband is in the audience, and there’s a song written for him, the pleasant enough ‘Don’t do don’t’; “he hasn’t got long to go,” we’re told.
Well you can tell from all this that it’s a pleasant and very friendly sort of evening, if not a little lightweight. Ms Lewis has not lost her trademark high pitched voice, nor her ability to use it – even if she does start singing a little flat and ends chatting with friends, and nicely with the Photographer (“I could see your lovely headscarf from the stage”), over a pint of wine and constant cigarettes. She has a band who are really working for her, but with sadly limited material; many of the tunes sound as if they could merge seamlessly and effortlessly into ‘The road to Sante Fe’ and go all the way along the middle of it to Radio Twoland. There’s a lingering seventies feel of ‘love and peace, black and white’ about the songs (old and new) that sounds woefully misplaced in the callous and cynical first decade of the twenty-first century. I trawled out an old review of her, supporting Cat Stevens, when the reviewer wrote that Ms Lewis couldn’t decide if she was Joni Mitchell or Aretha Franklin.
Tonight it’s mostly Aretha, and occasionally Aretha meets Shirley Bassey, which is a shame, for the one Joni moment we get at the start of the first half, ‘Light years away’ and ‘Keep a wish’ is quite delightful and has the audience spellbound. I could have hugged her it was so good (it almost made the pizza worth it), and listened to it all night. I puzzled that Ms Lewis’ only fault seemed to be that she was a singer bereft of a song - or The Song that would put her back on the map. Never mind – she’s a thoroughly engaging personality on stage, a good live act to catch, and you could always lash out on ‘Live in Old Smokey’, or if you’re feeling nostalgic one of her many ‘greatest hits’ compilations. But just remember – it’s Linda, not Minnie, or Joan. - Nick Morgan (concert photographs by Kate, pizza by Nick)

Many thanks Nick - and nor Linda Gail!. As for pizzas, alas, we do have all sorts of providers as well over here but my Italian friends say they're insults to their country of origin. It seems to be a story about American pizza vs Italian pizza but I must confess I don't know much about that very topic - except that 'pizzas' are the quickest way of making money in the 'restaurant' business. Now, here, if you ever ask guys willing to go have some 'are you going to a restaurant?' they'll answer 'no, we're going to a pizzeria', so maybe everything isn't lost yet. And by the way, great picture! Do you know Daniel Spoerri? And as for Linda Lewis, we could find this old track, Baby I'm yours.mp3. Wait, could it rather be Barbara Lewis??? I mean this one, not that one? Phew, okay, I'll order Linda Lewis' new CD asap!

 
TASTING - TWO EXCELLENT GLENUGIES
Glenugie 18 yo 1959/1977 (80° proof, Cadenhead dumpy) Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather discreet at very first nosing, with just notes of wet stone and freshly cut apple, but a superb sharpness and lots of purity. Something is going to happen, we know that… Indeed, we notice a full basket of citrus fruits coming… First something rather sharp again (grapefruits, lemons), then something sweeter (tangerines, citrons) and finally a whole pitcher of freshly squeezed, sun-ripened oranges. Wow!
What’s stunning is that it doesn’t get ‘sweetish’ at all, thanks to the superb notes of linseed oil, ashes and celery that counterbalance that explosive fruitiness. And then we have quite some very elegant peat, notes of old books, paraffin, a little natural varnish (nothing chemical here) and maybe whiffs of gasoline. And how clean it is! Perfect! Mouth: wow, it didn’t loose one single ounce of power, it appears. Very nervous, invading, on full orange and lemon marmalade mode… Probably less complex than on the nose, but not less thrilling, except that there’s something slightly too drying in the background (papery). It develops on spices (lots of pepper and nutmeg), cocoa, candy sugar, liquorice stick, getting almost hot. Incredible! And the finish is very long, very compact and greatly balanced, on lemon and pepper… What a beast! (1959 was a fabulous year for all French wines – was it the same considering Scotch whisky?) Anyway, 93 points for this baby. It could have been 95, had it been just a tad less drying (and thanks, Bert)
Glenugie 25 yo 1979/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 291 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: right, it’s probably not very fair to taste this one after that stunning old Cadenhead, but it’s even more discreet at first nosing, almost closed. Let’s hope we’ll have a similar development… … … Yes, something’s happening, but it’s very different, with some bold farmy aromas starting to rush to your nostrils. We have the usual wet hay but also horse dung, cow stable, all sorts of wet animals (except aquatic ones). It keeps developing on very mineral notes such as cold ashes and wet chalk, plus maybe hints of milk and beer… A very interesting, very organic nose. Mouth: as often, the palate is sweeter and rounder, but doesn’t lack body, and even nervousness. Quite astonishingly, it’s very similar to the old Cadenhead’s, with lots of lemon marmalade, getting quite grassy and spicy. Notes of chocolate and herb liqueur, apple pie… Lots of oomph in there! Maybe it’s got a little less ‘rectitude’ but other than that, it’s almost as enjoyable as the Cadenhead. The finish is very long, very satisfying, on lemon marmalade again, getting maybe just a tad sugary but let’s not quibble over that. Okay, this one hasn’t got the older one’s grandeur, but no doubt it’s a very, very good Glenugie as well. 89 points.
 

March 26, 2006


TASTING - TWO TULLIBARDINES
Tullibardine 15 yo 1989/2004 (49.8%, Hart Bros) Colour: white wine. Nose: starts quite expressively but it seems to be very immature, with quite some feinty, spirity, mashy aromas. Something very rubbery that can’t come from the cask, notes of hot metal, porridge, cooked yoghurt and soaked grains. Also whiffs of lavender and toasted bread, newly cut grass… It’s quite rough but not totally unpleasant, far from that.
Mouth: sweet and very perfumy (diluted Cologne?), with something frankly offbeat (overcooked cereals, burnt cake and milk…) Also quite some rubber again, bitter fruits… Hard to enjoy, I’m afraid, and the finish is quite long but even rubberier and bitterer. Too bad. 65 points.
Tullibardine 33 yo 1972/2006 (43.1%, Dewar Rattray, cask #2597) Colour: yellow gold. Nose: we’re on another planet now, this one starting just like a sweet wine (Sauterne). Amazing! It’s much more ‘Sauternish’ than any Sauterne-finished whisky I could taste! Heavy notes of very ripe pineapples, mirabelle plums, apricots, going on with strawberries and oriental pastries. It’s very demonstrative, and keeps developing on rose jelly, hints of camphor, white chocolate and honey, with also a little smoke, toasted brioche and dried figs. Almost decadent! Mouth: the attack isn’t too bold but the malt is in no way tired or over the hill. It just goes on in the same vein as the nose (same fruits) but with, as expected, lots of tannins, white pepper, cocoa and nutmeg. Sure it’s a little drying and cardboardy but as the great fruity notes are still here, the whole remains most enjoyable. The finish is unexpectedly long, sweet but frankly drying now, with something slightly rubbery… Probably this Tullibardine’s weakest part. But again, the whole is very pleasant, especially that Sauterne-like nose. 87 points.

 

MUSIC – It's Sunday, we go classical with one of the greatests, Edita Gruberova, singing Bellini's Qui la voce.mp3 (from I Puritani). Charming and maybe even... funny! (imagine the standing ovation at the end!) Please buy Mademoiselle Gruberova's records and go to her concerts!

 

March 25, 2006


TASTING - TWO GLEN SCOTIAS
Glen Scotia 28 yo 1975 (46%, Murray McDavid Mission, 498 bottles) Colour: pale gold. Nose: a super attack, quite clean, on fresh butter and freshly cut hay, developing on lots of ripe strawberries, bubble-gum and marshmallows. Uncomplicated and really playful at 28yo, a malt that puts you in a good mood just like that. Yippee! Mouth: rather different, a little caramelized and nicely bitter, with quite some rubber. Gets very salty after a while (salted butter caramel) – rather unusual. Keeps developing on burnt herbs, salted liquorice and dark toffee, with a nice dryness towards the finish, the latter being quite long. An interesting case of nose and mouth going in two very different directions, but as both are very nice, I feel this Glen Scotia is still worth 88 points.
Glen Scotia 12 yo (40%, OB, 2005) Colour: gold. Nose: very interesting at first nosing, with quite some smoke and peat and notes of old books (ah, culture!), leather and Virginia tobacco. We have also hints of paraffin and old rancio, as well as a little diesel oil. A very nice nose indeed, with much more personality than expected. Mouth: a rather sweet, but ‘resolute’ attack, with again quite some smoke and wax, old fortified wine (although I’m quite sure there’s very little sherry if any), resin… Nice vivacity, and the finish is rather long and always quite smoky. Very interesting, I’d say. Glen Scotia can be classy, no doubt. 83 points.

 

MUSIC – JAZZ - Heavily recommended listening - Yes, long time no posting about Charlie Parker, so let's have a little Moose the Mooche.mp3 (it's on 'Bird Symbol') with Miles Davis on trumpet, Dodo Marmarosa on piano and Lucky Thompson on tenor. Just fab! (via K-Channel)

 

March 24, 2006


TASTING - TWO 1968 CAPERDONICHS
Caperdonich 1968/2004 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail’s Connoisseur’s Choice) Colour: pure gold. Nose: this one starts quite expressively despite the low A.B.V., on notes of rather dry sherry, wax and peat. Of course it’s not an Islayer but the peat is very obvious here, as well as quite some mint, dried eucalyptus leaves, resins and eucalyptus (hinds ov Bicks BaboRub, bah…) More than just hints, in fact, because it really starts to smell just like Vicks VapoRub indeed after a few minutes, although we do also have notes of burnt wood, ashes, baked raisins and hints of smoked ham. A very, very nice nose, showing no sign of over-ageing at more than 35.
Mouth: excellent news, the palate isn’t tired either, but very dry – in a nice way. Lots of black toffee, Corinth raisins, old rum, bitter chocolate (loads of bitter chocolate) and mint, getting then quite cardboardy but also camphory again (cough syrup) and rather smoky. Most enjoyable if you’re into this kind of ‘sombre’ whisky. Also a little kirsch. The finish isn’t too long but balanced, on raisins and chocolate, getting just a little too drying. A very enjoyable old Caperdonich, nevertheless. 87 points.
Caperdonich 1968/2006 (49.5%, M&H Cask Selection, 131 bottles) A brand new bottling by Belgium’s Mario and Hubert and we’ve already heard wonders about it. Now, ‘it’s not because many say the same thing that they’re right’, said French humorist Coluche, so let’s find out by ourselves… Colour: gold–amber. Nose: oh, we do have something special indeed here. Lots of cough syrup again and furniture polish at very first nosing, even hints of varnish but those are soon to disappear, as often. We have then some big, bold notes of marzipan and argan oil (if you don’t know argan oil, imagine a blend of olive oil and hazelnut oil) and quite some old turpentine. There’s probably some hints of peat again… And then this Caperdonich slowly switches to chocolate and toffee, with always something delicately minty (better than ‘After Eight’). And then there’s the forest, with big notes of moss and fresh mushrooms, pine needles, wet dead leaves… And finally the balsamic vinegar and even black truffles… It’s just superb indeed - the majority was right, for once! ;-) Mouth: aha, it starts with a little difficulty again (it’s a hard sell!) on something bitterly rubbery, but again, those hard notes are soon to vanish and let the sherry express itself. Superbly dry but not austere, tannic but not drying, spicy but not biting, it’s all balance again. And we have lots of bitter oranges, strong unsugared espresso, something resinous, slightly burnt raisins, cooked fruits, very old rum… Well, I guess you get the picture. Oh, yes, and lots of chocolate! And the finish is long, balanced, dry, slightly minty and very chocolaty again. An excellent, elegant, old, rather dark sherry (despite the fact that it was ‘just’ a refill hogshead - was it also 'sherry-treated'?). 92 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening - Right, I can see you frowning, especially because of the arrangements (ha, the drumming, and ha, the synths!), but I swear I do like Alvin Lee's The bluest blues.mp3 (from Alvin Lee's 1995 album '1994' - !?!). Don't we all love our old guitar heroes? And yes, I'll have another sangria... Please buy Mr Lee's music! (via Mako's rock scene).

 

March 23, 2006


TASTING - TWO 'PURE COLUMN STILL' MALTS
Glenisla 28 yo 1977/2006 (48.6%, Signatory, hogshead #19598, 274 bottles) A premiere by Signatory! Glenisla was an experimental peated malt distilled at Glen Keith, like Craigduff, and I believe, but I’m not sure, that instead of the usual pot stills, they used the column stills that had just been installed by Chivas at the time. Let’s taste it!
Colour: gold – yellow. Nose: a rather fragrant start, on lots of vanilla crème, fudge and orange flowers. Baklava? It’s quite honeyed and flowery (yellow flowers, pollen) but not exactly peated, I must say. We do have faint whiffs of peat like in some of the last Broras (it’s quite similar in fact) as well as ashy notes and something grassy (newly cut grass, vase water)… And then it finally switches to bubblegummy, marshmallow-like notes as well as well ripe pears. Not particularly interesting but not unpleasant at all – And I guess ‘it’ has to happen in your head anyway when you get the opportunity to taste such a rare whisky. Mouth: oh, now it’s very different from most malts we know, and quite frankly, it tastes like a grain whisky. The attack is rather hot and even quite expressive (sweetness, vanilla, cake, marshmallows again, pears) but the whole sort of falls apart quite suddenly, leaving just a little taste of alcohol on the back of your tongue and quite some tannins. Strange, very strange, not unlike a caramelized vodka if you see what I mean… And the finish is, you guessed it, very short, with maybe just a quarter of a pinch of salt. Right, the nose was rather interesting but I think the palate is really a simple grain whisky’s, not unlike Black Barrel’s. Now, we must thank Signatory anyway for having brought this rare malt to the market (and for having priced it quite moderately) – but no wonder Glenisla was so rare. And pssst, Signatory’s Craigduffs are so much better! 75 points, still.
Mosstowie 26 yo 1979/2006 (52.8%, Signatory, bourbon cask #12756, 274 bottles) Again a malt distilled at a ‘normal’ distillery (Miltonduff), but using column stills. Mosstovie is a little more common, though. Does that mean it’s better? Let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: this one starts much rounder, on even more vanilla, fudge and pastries, with also quite some interesting flowery notes (violets, lavender, maybe hints of peonies). What’s funny is that we do have more peat here – even if it’s very, very discreet, with notes of ‘clean’ wet dog, sugared mint flavoured tea, hay, dead leaves… And then quite some cooked turnips, mushrooms, spearmint, plus something slightly ashy again… An interesting malt. Mouth: much hotter and spicier than the Glenisla, and quite tannic. Quite some pepper, mint again, chocolate, nutmeg and maybe a little cardboard, the whole getting then a little drying –although there’s a little fruit such as tinned pineapples. Lots of ginger, at that. The finish is rather long, mustardy, peppery and slightly sugarish at the same time. In short, a hot Mosstowie – probably a good occasion to taste a good column-distilled Scotch single malt if you didn’t already. 83 points.

 

 

BANG! - Quite a few maniacs attended Whisky Live Belgium in Verviers last weekend. It was really excellent and most friendly, and the highlights were probably the two very revealing blending competitions with John Glaser and Richard Patterson, which we all enjoyed a lot. What’s sure is that coming up with a drinkable blend is very tricky - as you’ll find out by rolling your mouse over Olivier, Martine or yours truly’s heads - but if you ever have the opportunity to participate in such an experiment, don’t miss it!

MUSIC – Recommended listening - You may think Shelby Lynne's music is too commercial and maybe I'll agree, but she's still a much talented singer and the arrangements are extremely beautiful on Leavin'.mp3, don't you think? So, please buy her soulful music!
 

March 22, 2006


 

 

 

 

TASTING - THREE INDIE BOWMORES

Bowmore 1993 (44%, Strathblair Collection, 2004) Colour white wine. Nose: aha, lots of vivacity, and lots of peat in there. Very fresh, smoky, mashy and maritime, with whiffs of hot coffee and toasted cake. Maybe it’s simple but there isn’t one single offbeat note - and no odd wood treatments (that often work so weirdly with a classic beauty such as a ‘natural’ Bowmore). Lots of iodine, seaweed, breeze, then hints of gentian spirit (are you reading this, Juergen?) ashes and maybe a little mustard… Very good even if, again, simple. Ah, nature! Mouth: imagine a smoked grapefruit juice, mixed with some cold, un-sugared tea and you get the picture. Not much development after that but I like this kind of compactness and ‘straight-to-the-point-ness’. The finish is rather long, smoky, peaty, getting also a little spicy (cardamom and pepper) and maybe a tad dusty. A good one, definitely. 86 points.
Bowmore 11 yo 1991/2002 (46%, Hart Bros Finest Collection) Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is rather different, probably less ‘clean and natural’. Some rather heady smells of wet dog mixed with hot butter and fudge (poor dog!), hay, pu erh tea, semi-dried kelp, very, very organic. It gets then sort of ‘chemical’ (lyophilized lemon juice, icing sugar) with also notes of tar, rubber band. It’s much more ‘perverse’ than the Strathblair, but I must confess I like it just as much. Hints of tangerine peel… Mouth: a, now it’s frankly better. Bolder, more complex, with a superb sweetness mixed with tons of rather sharp citrusy notes, smoke and a pinch of salt. Lots of body! There’s also a little cake, buttered caramel and fudge again, smoked tea, marzipan and mastic… And more and more salt on your lips. Really excellent, and the finish is very long and very impregnating, with quite some liquorice. Great, a superb young Bowmore again, with no unnecessary make-up! 88 points.
Bowmore 16 yo 1989/2005 (53.4%, Dewar Rattray, sherry cask #1090, 262 bottles) Couleur: pale straw. Nose: starts very spirity and austere, with a profile that’s very close to the Hart Bros, just a little more spirity (pear juice and coffee). Now, it’s probably less ‘animal and organic’, and more mineral and ashy. Notes of Alka-Seltzer, rubbed lemon peel, newly cut grass, fresh green beans… We have then quite some fresh mint, eucalyptus, maybe a little turpentine… The development is much longer than its younger siblings’, in fact. Chalk, iron, ham, horse sweat… Having said that, it’s maybe less ‘pure pleasure’. Let’s try to add a few drops of water now: no further development but no deterioration either. Maybe just more marzipan. Mouth (neat): lots of power, lots of body and lots of citrus. Crystallized tangerines, orange juice, pink grapefruit, all that mixed with a dash of icing sugar that makes the whole very lively. Keeps developing on big, bold notes of grappa (or better, marc de gewürztraminer), pear spirit, but also something very vegetal, grassy (grapes clusters) and, above all, lots of salt. Also liquorice, lapsang souchong, something quite resinous and waxy (waxed cardboard, like they sometimes use for yoghurt?), herbs (thyme and rosemary)… With water: same, no further development and no deterioration – maybe just a little more sweetness. The finish is long, balanced, on a great sweetness and some very resinous and peaty notes – and again something like aspirin or Alka-Seltzer. Anyway, an excellent recent Bowmore despite the slightly disturbing notes of aspirin. 89 points.
 
CRAZY WHISKY ADS - THE AD WAR WITH MALTMADNESS GOES ON...
Good, after Johannes' 'genuine fake ad' for Johnny Walker Red Label (on maltmadness) I thought I should publish these extremely rare ads that ran in the famous magazine Jamaica Gleaner only twice, I believe (around 1973 - or was it 1972?). Johannes, your turn if you dare...

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening - Do you know the big, big sound of Austin's Ponty Bone? Try for instance Now's the Time (Do What You Do Best).mp3 and its interwoven guitar licks. Punchy, don't you think? So, please buy Ponty Bone's music...

 

March 21, 2006


TASTING - TWO DRY TEANINICHES

Teaninich 24 yo 1976/2001 (43%, Hart Bros) Colour: straw. Nose: much more expressive than expected considering the strength, starting on something flinty and slightly smoky and getting then very grassy, even lemony. We have kind of an unusual roughness, with esters assaulting your nostrils (notes of newly cut apples and grapefruits). Apple skins, potato skins, hints of peat… It’s not rounded, to say the least. Lots of oomph!

Mouth: it’s slightly rounder but offers a rather bold mouth feel, with a sharp, very grassy, almost bitter attack. Develops on lots of tea (strong tea), quite some tannins, oak, apple skin again and something very earthy (smoked tea, ginseng powder). The finish is long but rather drying, almost making your tongue stick to your palate, with also hints of mint sweets and a little salt. In short, this Teaninich is sort of enjoyable indeed, despite its roughness and dryness…. But you have to like dryness in your malt. If it was music: maybe a free piece by Gato Barbieri (not the easy, Latin ones). 82 points.
Teaninich 34 yo 1971/2006 (44.7%, JWWW Auld Distillers, Bourbon cask, 204 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: oh, now we’re on another planet. We do have these very fruity, but slightly austere notes (I got that in an old Cadenhead dumpy), like grapefruit again, citron, rubbed orange peel and then something very nicely mineral (austerity again!) Wet chalk, limestone, hints of moist plaster, gin… And then it gets quite farmy, with something peaty, hay, ‘clean’ horse dung – and also lots of herbs such as chive, fresh coriander, parsley. Hints of chocolate as well. Frankly, it’s a superb nose, beautifully balanced and with lots of presence. Very, very ‘serious’. An anti-made up malt? Mouth: it’s very coherent, but maybe it’s a little too austere now. Quite some tannins right from the start, green pepper, flour, bitter chocolate powder… A certain lack of sweetness, like in many very old malts. Don’t get me wrong, it’s easily bearable but you really have to love dryness. The malt gets then grassy and vegetal, rather bitter, peppery, with notes of ultra-strong liquorice and strong herb liqueur (it reminds me of Underberg, do you know that?) And then, good news we do have a little sweetness coming through (a little caramel, apple juice). But the whole remains quite drying, just like the medium long, but very ‘powdery’ finish. Very, very serious stuff indeed! The nose was absolutely great but maybe the palate is a bit tired… It still deserves 87 points, that is. Ah yes, music… Something rough, ‘ancient’ and ‘dry’ but still rather ‘easy’, like, yes, Steve Coleman’s ‘Transits’ (on ‘Myths, Modes And Means’)

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening - Let's have a little African music, shall we? Today it's Kenya's superb singer Suzanna Owi yo who does Kisumu 100.mp3. And it's excellently produced! Please support all African artists...

 

March 20, 2006


TASTING - TWO ARDBEGS (again...)
Ardbeg ‘Still Young’ (56.2%, OB, 2006) This one has been already vatted but not bottled. I didn’t like the ‘Very Young’ too much (79), I thought it was much too simple and rough but many aficionados loved it. So, let’s see how these first 1998 ‘Glenmo’ batches behave after one more year in their casks. Colour: white wine. Nose: yes, it’s more complex than the ‘Very Young’, obviously. It got more maritime, with notes of oysters, lots of white pepper and the phenols seem to be much subtler. The farmy notes are well here as well but, again, I think they got subtler. And good news, no big rubbery notes anymore, even if there’s still quite some ‘grainy’ tones (porridge and such). Rather amazing progress within one year, I think.
Mouth: a very sweet attack, just like with the Very Young, but also some much cleaner fruity notes (pears and apples) and no disturbing feinty notes anymore. The peat then takes off, together with lots of pepper. The whole isn’t perfectly ‘blended’ yet but it got much pleasanter. The finish is long and, again, nicely peppery. I feel this ‘Still Young’ is now worth 83 points in my books. How much for the possible ‘Still A Bit Young’ to come next year?
Ardbeg 1991/2005 (43%, McKillop's Choice) Colour: white wine. Nose: wow, lots of oomph in there despite the relatively low A.B.V. It starts on lots of fresh fruits such as gooseberries and apples but some farmy kind of peat takes control after a few seconds. Lots of wet hay, dried kelp, muesli and yoghurt sauce, smoked tea, with something slightly meaty in the background (smoked ham). Hints of fresh mushrooms. Not extraordinarily complex but ‘pure Ardbeg’, with no sulphury tones. Mouth: rather dry and austere now, much less fruity than expected (maybe apple peel) but still quite balanced. Lots of tea, herbs, spices, pepper, green tannins… Not exactly complex but enjoyable. Also lemon and grapefruit zest as often, the whole getting a little sweeter and a slightly camphory and minty after a few minutes. The finish is quite long, very ‘classically Ardbeg’. A good, unexpectedly full-bodied and drier (and less sweet) alternative to the 10 yo OB. 84 points.
 

MUSIC AND WHISKY INTERVIEW
LUC BREWAEYS

It seems that several famous Belgians are ‘Lucs’, and that many of them like whisky! Whether that’s pure coincidence or not, I don’t know, but the fact that one of them, Luc Brewaeys, composed music pieces such as ‘Oban’, ‘Talisker’, ‘Knockando’, ‘Bowmore’ (a String Quartet) or ‘Laphroaig’ (a symphony) is very troubling indeed…

‘Talisker’, for instance, was composed in 1993 for the opening day of ‘Antwerp Cultural Capital of Europe’, and no less than 24,000 people attended the four ‘premieres’! Add to that the fact that Luc also worked on pieces by Frank Zappa and you’ll easily understand why I needed to interview him quite desperately…
Whiskyfun: Luc, tell us briefly about what you do, music-wise.
Luc Brewaeys: I’m a “modern-classical” composer.
WF: And which other musicians are you playing with?
Luc: I used to play the piano, but now I do not play anymore. I do -however- conduct regularly, the Ensemble Champ d’Action (Antwerp, Belgium) for new music, the Bulgarian Radio Orchestra and the Czech Chamber Philharmonic among others.
WF: Which are your other favourite artists?
Luc: Many colleague composers, such as Pierre Boulez, Jonathan Harvey or Steve Reich.
WF: Which are your current projects?
Luc: Right now I am composing a one-act-opera for the Royal National Opera “La Monnaie / De Munt” in Brussels (Belgium).
WF: When did you start enjoying whisk(e)y? Are there any musical memories you particularly associate with that moment?
Luc: I composed up to now five pieces with “single malt”-titles. I enjoyed my first single malt some 20 years ago. I have no real favourite, and I never (in spite of the titles) linked any whisky with any particular (musical) moment.
WF: What’s your most memorable whisky?
Luc: I have very good memories of the Laphroaig cask strength.
WF: Any other whiskies you like?
Luc: I love the Lagavulin, and like the Islay whiskies in general.
WF: Are there whiskies you don’t like?
Luc: Not really, I don’t drink them…
WF: Music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Luc: Actually, they do (I know some)!
WF: 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?
Luc: I don’t agree. Listening to music is (in the best case) an experience that alters your feeling of time, I don’t think that whiskies (can) have the same effect, unless you drink too much of it!
WF: I once heard an eminent whisky professional say that he tasted whisky in colours. Do you taste whisky in music?
Luc: In a way I do, but there are no “rules”. Everything depends on the moment too.
WF: If your favourite whisky was a piece of music what would it be, if it was a musical instrument what would it be?
Luc: Well, look at (or listen to) my “malt-pieces”!
WF: 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?
Luc: That’s so personal, and -for me- has no defined connotation, I mean that such a thing could vary depending on the musical material I use in a particular piece. I’d rather say that different taste-elements can be compared to the different sections in an orchestra or in a musical work.
WF: Do you have a favourite piece of music to drink whisky with, or better still, desert island dram, desert island disc?
Luc: I’d drink a “Lagavulin” while listening to a great orchestral piece by Jonathan Harvey : “Madonna of Winter and Spring”.
WF: Everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
Luc: No idea, I’m not into rock and roll!…

Thank you Luc!
Luc Brewaeys’ official website is here. Several very interesting CD’s are available, such as the very recent Debussy/Brewaeys (Preludes books 1 and 2, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Talent Records) or ‘An introduction to Luc Brewaeys’, a double CD including both ‘Oban’ and ‘Talisker’ (Megadisc) – a short sample there. As for concerts, you’ll be able to go and listen to Luc’s works in several cities this year: Prague, Bruges, Rotterdam, Vienna, Antwerp, New York… No less! (Please check all venues on his concert page). Now, we missed ‘Talisker’ on Feb 24 at the Museum of Modern Art in Gent… And we’ll have to wait until April 2007 to be able to listen to ‘Oban’ live! (in Gent again). Too bad!

 

March 19, 2006


TASTING – TWO 9 yo 'ITALIAN' CAOL ILAS

Caol Ila 9 yo 1991/2000 (46%, Dun Eideann Italie, casks #3199/3203)
Colour: white wine. Nose: quite powerful, expressive, very fruity at first nosing. Lots of apple juice, tinned pineapples and rosewater, with the phenolic notes taking off little by little after a while. Something nicely ashy, waxy, before it gets frankly maritime, on fresh oysters, kelp… And then we have quite some caramel, fudge, cooked pears… All that is very elegant and perfectly balanced. A subtle, gentle yet uncomplicated Islayer.

Mouth: it’s not exactly wild but certainly a little rougher now. Quite some peat, pepper and nutmeg, allspice, propolis, developing on earthy, rooty notes (ginseng)… Peppered apple pie (?!), getting then quite grassy and herbal, and also rather tannic (green tannins, grape seeds). More and more nervous and full-bodied, getting even salty. The finish isn’t too long but balanced and very ‘full’ – and very salty, with notes of cooked celeriac. A very good young Caol Ila! 85 points.
Caol Ila 1991/2000 (46%, Wilson & Morgan Barrel Selection) Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is probably a little more discreet and more austere, but maybe even more elegant. Quite citric and mineral like certain sauvignons blancs, developing on lots of fresh herbs such as chive, parsley, dill, coriander. Hints of lilac, newly cut flower stems, getting then ‘resinously’ peaty (pine needles, honeydew) with also hints of menthol. Much less fruity and maritime than the Dun Eideann but more elegantly vegetal. I like it just as much. Mouth: we have a classic palate now, much peatier than what the nose suggested, with also lots of mint, wax and apple juice. A very nice bitterness in the background, with also quite some camphor and green pepper, chlorophyll, ginger ale and marzipan. Simple, compact and excellent, with a rather long and, again, quite salty finish. Less salty than the Dun Eideann, that is. 85 points.

 

MUSIC – It's Sunday, we go classical with the excellent Elisabeth Scholl singing a part of Händel's Athalia.mp3 live. What a beautiful, warm voice! Please buy her records and go to her concerts!

 

March 18, 2006


 

 

 

 

TASTING - THREE YOUNG INDIE LEDAIGS

Ledaig 1992/2002 (46%, Caledonian Collection, cask #114) Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s rather fragrant at first nosing, with a mix of discreet smoke and dried flowers (pot-pourri). Quite some Chinese anise, maybe a little coriander but the whole is very simple. It gets then very mashy, too sweetish, starting to smell just like muesli. Hints of vase water, oriental pastries, rancid butter, stale beer… Rather weak and deceptive, to say the least. Mouth: very weak again, sugarish, with a little peat smoke and marzipan, cold tea but almost nothing else. And there’s no finish whatsoever. Less than with any cheap beer, I’d say. Too bad, the decanter is nice! 45 points.
Ledaig 11 yo 1993/2004 (43%, Signatory, cask #124, 417 bottles) Colour: white like water. Nose: spirity, discretely smoky and peaty, with hints of apples and maybe pears. That’s all, folks! Mouth: very sweet, mashy and grainy, with very little peat. Rather uninteresting, I’m afraid. Right, it does get more body after a few minutes but it just tastes like a mix of supermarket vodka and gin. One to use in cocktails? 50 points.
Ledaig 1993/2004 (56.5%, James McArthur) Colour: pale white wine. Nose: punchy, almost pungent, extremely spirity and estery. It smells like neutral apple spirit with hints of pineapples, mashed potatoes and porridge and faint whiffs of beer and peat. Mouth: ah yes, now it’s nicer. Very sweet and grainy, with quite some apple juice, yoghurt, grains… At least, it does taste like whisky (somehow). Long finish, quite herbal (notes of dill). 70 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Yes, this is the original: Angélique Kidjo doing 'Santana's' Adouma.mp3. Better, uh? By the way, who are these singers next to her? A certain Lou R., a certain David B. and yes, Nick's very own Ray Davies!
 

March 17, 2006


TASTING - ANOTHER TWO INDIE CLYNELISHES
Clynelish 1993/2004 (57%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve for Glu Glu 2000, cask #1993, 282 bottles) Glu Glu 2000 is an Italian whisky club – funny name, congrats! Colour: white wine. Nose: starts quite grainy – in a very nice way – with notes of toasted bread, ashes and vanilla crème. It gets then rather smoky, with notes of hot paraffin and a rather nice sweet’n’sourness with whiffs of Provence herbs (mostly thyme and rosemary) and tepid butter plus traces of menthol. Not fabulously complex but certainly flawless and very enjoyable. I like it!
Mouth: we have a very, very sweet and playful attack, with something slightly rubbery, pineapple juice and coconut milk, fruit liquors (quite some blue curacao) and marshmallows. Certainly fruitier and sweeter than the usual Clynelishes, with no smokiness or ‘coastality’ this time but, indeed, a certain waxiness. Develops on Tia Maria liqueur, Parfait Amour, Turkish delights, dried bitter oranges, with something a little hot on the tongue, and a long, slightly spirity and quite orangey finish. Buon! 84 points. (and thanks Jean-Marc)
Clynelish 10 yo (59.8%, James MacArthur, circa 2002) Colour: straw. Nose: this one is even grainier, with again quite some ashy notes but also lots of coffee, chocolate powder and vanilla pod. We have then quite some mint and eucalyptus coming through, together with something grassy and a little tea. Let’s try it with a little water, maybe it’ll develop a little further: oh yes, now it’s much farmier (wet hay)! Not really more complex but certainly more directly enjoyable. Mouth (neat): extremely sweet and we have, again, litres of fruit liqueurs (orange and tangerine but also pineapple again, pears, apples…) Quite simple but I guess it’s the alcohol. With water: yes, it’s a good swimmer indeed. We have some great, bold marzipan now, together with the famous waxy notes, orgeat syrup, hints of mint drops and smoked tea… Very drinkable, and the finish is rather long again, a little cleaner than the 1993. Another rather typical and good Clynelish. 85 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - I'm just in the mood for this.mp3 today. Interstellar and undeniable.
 

March 16, 2006


TASTING - THREE BEAUTIFUL INDIE LAPHROAIGS
Laphroaig 17 yo 1985/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask, 294 b.) Colour: straw - white wine. Nose: this one starts rather discretely but gets then very maritime, with very nice notes of fresh seashells (fresh clams, oysters) and wet kelp before we get nice whiffs of fresh almonds and candle wax, and then something quite farmy (hay, horse dung, dampened grains). It does need quite some time to develop but gets then very, very elegant and rather complex. Superb notes of old pu-erh tea and genuine ale. Mouth: very typically Laphroaig although the attack is maybe a little shy again. We have then quite some pepper, almond milk, cereals, kilned malt that you crunch right at the distillery, wax, smoked tea, grapefruit juice… Probably less sweet than the OB’s and more austere – I like that. The finish isn’t too long but perfectly smoky and balanced, the whole being very close to what you can smell and taste right there, when you’re touring the distillery. In short, a very elegant and well bred Laphroaig - almost as elegant as Abbey Lincoln singing ‘The nearness of you’ with just the great Hank Jones on the piano (on ‘When There Is Love’). Ah, yes, by the way, I’ll try to add a musical comment to some of my tasting notes again from now on, just like I did a few years ago – I hope you won’t mind ;-). 89 points for this Laphroaig.
Laphroaig 30 yo 1966/1996 (48.7%, Signatory, cask #560, 208 bottles) Colour: pure gold. Nose: holy cow! This is the smell of perfection – the kind of nose that just makes you want to lose yourself in your glass. There’s no point in trying to organize your feelings regarding this kind of nose (no time for that just now, I’m sorry) so I’ll just list a few examples of what I get, in no particular order: eucalyptus, menthol, peat, old books, fir honey, burning pine wood, olive oil, seashells, Havana smoke, mastic, argan oil, turpentine, camphor, seawater, shoe polish, marzipan, cow stable… Just magnificent. Mouth: please just copy-and-paste what’s above and add orange zests and high-quality Turkish delights (not the awful supermarket kind) and we’re done. Finish: rather long and doing the peacock’s tail on all kinds of smoky and waxy flavours. How bold and delicate at the same time, triple-wow! A piece of music? Hmm… Probably Mirella Freni, and probably as Mimi. 94 points (or more… - and thanks, Marc).
Laphroaig 1990/2006 (58.4%, JWWW The Cross Hill, bourbon cask, 239 bottles) Colour; pale gold. Nose: we’re back in more austere and simpler territories now, it appears. It’s quite powerful at first nosing, starting very meaty like it happens sometimes with Laphroaig, maybe even ‘fishy’ (keepers), with also bold notes of flints, ashes, fireplace, newly cut grass and grapefruit juice. Really sharp, in fact, developing on hot ham, green tomatoes, getting smokier by the minute… And also very, very farmy (it smells just like a cow stable after a few minutes). What a beast (precisely). Mouth: oh yes, what a beast! The attack is more complex and sweeter than expected, with a lot of lemon and grapefruit juice, waxed paper, cough sweets, smoked dishes again (both meat and fish) and something very mineral. Not the embodiment of delicacy but it does conquer your palate ‘manu militari’, except if you don’t like Islayers. Lots of camphor, white pepper, nutmeg, quite some dried cardamom, dried chilli… Yes, it’s hot. The finish is extremely long, still invading, and even ten minutes after your last sip, you could think you just had it. A very conclusive Laphroaig, not only for hopeless peatophiles. Music? Something by Wagner (no, not Robert). 92 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 

 

MUSIC – Recommended listening - Lol, lol, lol! Did you know Ursula 1000 and his internet hit Kinda kinky.mp3? Sure it's s**t but it's nicely made s**t (really sorry guys). Please consider paying attention to Ursula 1000... (via motel de moka)

 

March 15, 2006


MUSIC AND WHISKY INTERVIEW
FINIAN McKEAN

That’s what’s really amazing with the Internet. I mean, I haven’t been to New York City for ages, never went to Brooklyn (well, once, actually), never went to the Knitting Factory (nor to Pete’s Candy Store, for that matter), and never saw any of Finian McKean’s excellent CD’s here in France, yet I feel I know him quite well now.

You know, it’s the kind of great discovery you make while looking for something about Charlie McLean on google – ‘L’ and ‘K’ being so close to each other on a PC’s keyboard. And then you click on a link, spot a picture of a guy who looks just like your son Arthur (and sometimes like a very young Willlie Nelson), see an mp3 file, click again… And think you just unearthed a very rare, early recording of Syd Barrett meeting Led Zeppelin – just much better recorded. Then you manage to get a CD, check that the whole is just as good as that excellent Barrett-esque piece, and presto, you have a new rock and roll hero, and a perfect target for a Whiskyfun Music and Whisky Interview (even if, to be honest, Finian isn’t precisely what we’d call a genuine whisky 'aficionado').
Whiskyfun: Finian, tell us briefly about what you do, music-wise.
Finian McKean: I feel these overwhelming surges of love & anxiety and then try to get it out of my system by putting those feelings to music. I’ll usually write a song on acoustic guitar or piano and then translate it to a more rocking band arrangement.
WF: Which other musicians are you playing with?
Finian: Right now my chief collaborator is the amazing drummer Patrick Brennan… we’ve been interpreting the songs off “Shades Are Drawn” as a duo, extending them, changing them, speeding them up, slowing them down. My old band the Push Kings had much more precise arrangements, so it’s been fun for me to play in a situation that’s fluid, where we never do a song the same way twice.
We’re calling our live act Finian McKean + the Wild Palms; hopefully we’ll add musicians as we get bored of each other….:) :) We just did a show with a cool bassist, Leo O’Connor. He holds down the bottom and I can go SICK on my 335!
WF: Which are your other favourite artistes?
Finian: I tend to like anything that’s raw, with a little swing to it…. John Lennon, Charles MIngus, Lightnin Hopkins, Neil Young, Syd Barrett, JJ Cale, the Meat Puppets, the Pretenders, Johnny Thunders, Duke Ellington, Augustus Pablo, the Abyssinians… My eyes are starting to wander up towards the 1000s of LPs on my shelves, but for the sake of brevity, we’d better leave it at that….
WF: Which are your current projects?
Finian: Right now I’m completely fried from preparing the official release of “Shades Are Drawn.” I wrote it, played it, produced it, mixed it, mastered it & damned if I don’t have to put it out myself, too!!!! Of course I’m learning a lot about the biz this way… Just launched my label site: www.andeachforonly.com
I’m working on my next record, now, too—it’s a collaboration with the Wild Palms, due out in winter 2007.
What else? Playing shows like crazy, opening for the legendary John Doe this week on St. Paddy’s day… that should be a trip!
WF: When did you start enjoying whisk(e)y? Are there any musical memories you particularly associate with that moment?
Finian: You know I have to be honest…. Although my full name is Finian McKean Moore Gerety & I’m a rock musician (two factors that should predispose me to a love of the hard stuff), I think I’m too sensitive… SO when I START enjoying whisky, I tend to get wasted & fall down the stairs or pass out or throw up on my date’s shoes… That’s when I have to STOP enjoying it.
WF: What’s your most memorable whisky?
Finian: See above…. but I could also add a dim memory of holding a bottle over my head, emptying the contents into my eyes, trying to kiss somebody and then passing out…. The fact that I remember that nite at all must mean that it was particularly memorable.
WF: Do you have one, or several favourite whiskies?
Finian: I love them one and all. (see above)
WF: Are there whiskies you don’t like?
Finian: I hate them one and all. (see above)
WF: ‘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?
Finian: I heard a great William Faulkner quote this morning: “All a writer needs is a piece of paper, a pencil, and a bottle of whisky.”
While I’m mulling it over, let’s review some other substances:
Little Feat: “Gimme weed, whites and wine/ & I’ll be fine”
The Gun Club: “She’s like heroin to me…”
Neil Young: “Homegrown’s all right with me/ Homegrown is the way it should be...”
Kris Kristofferson: “The beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad/ So I had one more for dessert”
Aha! How could I forget….
My fave musical whisky reference:
“Please don’t sell me any more WHISKEY tonight/
When I go home, me & my little darling will fight/
When I’ma drinking, you know my reasoning ain’t right/
So please don’t sell me anymore whiskey tonite…”
-George Jones
Words to live by, if you ask me… Although I’m sure WHISKYFUN readers are capable of enjoying their malt responsibly.
WF: Music and whisky are often though of as being male preserves. Should girls play guitars, should girls drink whisky?
Finian: Hell yeah! On guitar: Elizabeth Cotten, Chrissie Hynde, Lucinda Williams, to name a few… On whisky: it’s the only alcohol my wife will touch…
WF: I once heard an eminent whisky professional say that he tasted whisky in colours. Do you taste whisky in music?
Finian: Definitely…. Most singers & musicians are big drinkers because we work in bars and it’s hard to resist night after night. Plus music sounds better with a little BUZZ on, you know? So when I hear some music, I can hear the whisky in the singer’s voice or in the lazy twang of the guitar. And when I drink whisky, I always hear music because I never do anything without a record on or a guitar in my hands!!!
WF: Do you have a favourite piece of music to drink whisky with, or better still, desert island dram, desert island disc?
Finian: If I’m gonna drink whisky, it has to be country music or blues… Kris Kristofferson makes me feel like drinking whisky; so does Howlin’ Wolf.
WF: Everyone thinks of Jack Daniels as being the great rock and roll whisky – why not Scotch?
Finian: In my house, there’s no Jack. It’s probably the great rock n roll whisky because musicians never have any money & Jack isn’t too expensive… In this household, we’ll pour a Scotch like Glenlivet. Take that, guns n roses!
 

Thank you very much, Finian!
A few links of interest:
Finian's official website with that excellent 'Syd-Barrett-esque' piece called Shades are drawn.mp3.(although the more I listen to it, the more I think it's rather Finian-McKean-esque ;-)
And Each For Only (Finian McKean's record label)
Shades are drawn - the album (new CD, release date June 1st, 2006, to put on your to do list obligatorily).

 
TASTING - 3 + 1 HIGHLAND PARKS
Highland Park 1977 ‘Bicentenary’ (40%, OB, bottled 1998) Colour: gold. Nose: not too powerful but very fragrant and aromatic at first nosing, starting on lots of honey and the classical heathery notes. Whiffs of toasted bread and wood smoke, ripe bananas, nectar, pear juice, with something slightly meaty in the background. There’s also a little oak – yes, charred oak, ripe apricots and plums, hints of sweet white wine… It’s rather rich, even if not too bold. A rather delicate Highland Park, I’d say, maybe a tad ‘feminine’, whatever that means. Mouth: sweet and rather firm attack, despite the low A.B.V., although a little more body would have been welcomed. Starts on quite some ‘genuine’ vanilla, notes of rum, peat, wax, dried herbs and some nice oaky tones. It’s not exactly tannic but nicely structured. Hints of violet sweets, cake, mint drops… It really resembles the old versions distilled in the 1950’s and 1960’s, which is very good news. The finish isn’t too long, but superbly waxy and camphory, with also quite some caramel. An excellent Highland Park – again, too bad they didn’t bottle it at a slightly higher strength, I’m sure it would have been a winner. 89 points (and thanks, Pierre).
Highland Park 20 yo 1966/1986 (86° US Proof, Duthie for Corti, USA) Colour: white wine. Nose: wow, this one is completely different, and very similar to an Old Clynelish at first nosing (like the old 12 yo white label bottled in the early 1970’s). Starts on quite some smoke and paraffin, together with something pleasantly metallic and mineral, ashes, coal, linseed oil… It gets then quite meaty (ham, smoked sausages, smoked salmon), farmy, and keeps developing on rosehip tea, butter, dairy cream… And then we have whiffs of peat, with something clearly maritime – but very different from an Islayer. Sea air, old fisherman’s ropes, seaweed… Very classy! Mouth: the attack is almost like a cough syrup’s. Sweet and waxy, with quite some eucalyptus, spearmint, chlorophyll chewing gum and lots of quince jelly. We have also something slightly ‘chemically fruity’ (you know, like Jell-O or Haribo teddy bears), marshmallows – is that ‘chemical’ as well? - lavender crème… It gets then perhaps a little too cardboardy and tea-ish, with notes of burnt caramel and burnt bread but the whole is still superb and very, very original. The finish isn’t much longer than the 1977’s, but just as waxy, with also quite some marzipan and lots of fresh mint. Very good and highly interesting! 89 points (and thanks, Olivier).
Highland Park 30 yo (48.1%, OB, 2005) Colour: gold – amber. Nose: wow, this is bolder now, with lots of toffee and hot praline at first nosing, chocolate mousse, fresh coconut and smoke. This one is undoubtedly very complex! It’s soon to switch to some rather meaty tones like smoked ham again, bacon, making the influence of sherry even more evident. It goes on with dried plums, Chinese plum sauce, blueberry wine (like the one they make in Northern Germany), dried litchis, then we’re back to smoky, ashy notes (coal oven), maybe a little game, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, old leather… And then we do have a few fresh fruits coming through (mangos, very ripe pineapples). A very ‘ripe’ Highland Park indeed, maybe even a little decadent, not unlike some very old Ports. I like that a lot (I’m afraid!). Mouth: very sweet but not dull at all, much less creamy and ‘thick’ than expected. Lots of very ripe fruits (bananas and plums), tea jelly, several sorts of honeys (I can think of chestnut, lavender, orange tree), oriental pastries… Then we have a series of rumy, chocolaty flavours, and finally notes of fruitcake, cappuccino, Irish coffee (well, Scottish coffee) and buttered caramel. Ah, and also lots of dried litchis again (which often have a slightly ‘fermented’ taste). Superb! The finish is long – should I add of course – getting salty and, again, sort of meaty and slightly dry, with something of the best old balsamic vinegars (not the cheap supermarket ersatzes). Just excellent, one of the best very recent OB’s I could taste. 92 points (and thanks again, Olivier).
And also... Highland Park 19 yo 1984/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, 630 bottles) Colour: straw. Nose: starts on some bold notes of fresh pineapple and flint stones, developing on apple skins and getting a little waxy. Not bad at all but maybe too simple for a 19 yo HP. Mouth: lots of fruit sweets, heavily sugared yoghurt, marshmallows… Some weird notes of mouldy grains… Really lacks complexity and depth. Too bad. 75 points.

March 2006 - part 1 <--- March 2006 - part 2 ---> April 2006 - 1
   


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

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

Caperdonich 1968/2006 (49.5%, M&H Cask Selection, 131 bottles)

Glenlivet 21 yo 1948/1969 (45.7%, OB for Italy, Baretto)

Glenrothes 34 yo 1968/2003 (40.3%, Duncan Taylor)

Glenrothes 36 yo 1968/2005 (57.2%, Duncan Taylor, Cask 13485)

Glenugie 18 yo 1959/1977 (80° proof, Cadenhead dumpy)

Highland Park 30 yo (48.1%, OB, 2005)

Laphroaig 1990/2006 (58.4%, JWWW The Cross Hill, bourbon cask, 239 bottles)

Laphroaig 30 yo 1966/1996 (48.7%, Signatory, cask #560, 208 bottles)

Port Ellen 1979/2006 (55.3%, M&H Cask Selection for Whisky Live Belgium, refill sherry, 150 bottles)

Port Ellen 27 yo 1978/2006 (55.3%, Douglas Laing Platinum, bourbon, 375 bottles)