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Hi, you're in the Archives, November 2005 - Part 2
       
       
November 2005 - part 1 <--- November 2005 - part 2 ---> December 2005 - part 1
 

November 30, 2005


TASTING - TWO GLEN ORDS

Glen Ord 40 yo (40.1%, Royal Mile Whiskies, 300 bottles, circa 2005) Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather rich and complex at first nosing, with lots of waxy/smoky notes, strawberry wine, getting quite buttery and sort of meaty at the same time. Notes of cider, Guinness, butter caramel, arak… Also some dried oranges, vermouth, herbal teas… And quite some oaky notes but nothing overwhelming. Really complex, like an old wine, getting extremely minty after a while, with also some bold eucalyptus. Vicks VapoRub!...

Glen Ord 40yo (40.1%, Royal Mile Whiskies, 300 bottles, circa 2005)
Mouth: not too powerful of course but very different again. Lots of mint, as expected, caramel cream and wood infusion. I never had such heavy minty notes in a drink, maybe not even in a mint liqueur. Some apricot juice as well, quince, fudge, but it’s all almost masked by the minty and woody notes. The finish is rather long, not too drying, curiously, with some notes of peach skin. An old malt that has sort of lost its ‘whiskiness’ but that’s very interesting to try. 86 points.
Glen Ord 23yo 1974/1998 (60.8%, Rare Malts) Glen Ord 23 yo 1974/1998 (60.8%, Rare Malts) Colour: straw. Nose: funnily very similar aromatically at first nosing, but soon to become very ‘exotic’ and fragrant, with some dried longans, rambutans, arak again, overripe strawberries, fruits au gratin, Something quite hot, like the foreshots of a fruit eau de vie, or a basket of rotting fruits. And like in the ‘RMW’, something meaty (hot ham). Perhaps some hot porridge as well. Gets very coffeeish after ten minutes – and some faint hints of tequila. Rather unusual and very interesting. Mouth: powerful but curiously flavoursome and balanced at such high strength. Quite some mint again but far less than in its older brother. Lots of dried tropical fruits (pineapples, coconuts), bergamot (earl grey), hints of rum, clove and pepper… Let’s try it with a little water now: it gets sweeter, with also some violet candies but quite simpler, even after quite some time. Anyway, a very nice Glen Ord, less spectacular but more balanced than ‘old minty’. Let’s rate it just the same: 86 points.
MUSIC – JAZZ - Recommended listening - Cuba's marvel Omar Sosa sings - well, talks, over a beautiful, ever-developing and complex piece called Campos Verdes.mp3. Just superb! Please buy Omar Sosa's music and all cross-cultural works. Omar Sosa
 

November 29, 2005


TASTING - TWO GLEN GRANTS
Glen Grant 31yo 1970/2001 (45%, Samaroli, sherry cask #1025)

Glen Grant 31 yo 1970/2001 (45%, Samaroli, sherry cask #1025) Colour: full amber. Nose: rather rich, starting on all sorts of very ripe fruits, notably apricots, mirabelles, strawberries, yellow peaches. Great notes of hot praline, pastries, vanilla crème… A nice freshness, despite the richness and creaminess. Goes on with some old Sauternes, flower nectar. Faint whiffs of smoke… A most enjoyable sourness, at that, like in some cooking apples. Keeps developing on sultanas, marzipan, orgeat… Classy and classical, just beautiful although not overly complex.

Mouth: creamy and nervous at the same time, quite tannic and slightly drying right from the start (cocoa). Lots of dried fruits of all sorts, butterscotch, herbal tea… The vanilla is big! Keeps developing with some violet candies, a little olive oil, beeswax and honey… Very nice indeed, except that it then gets more and more drying, with some bold cinnamon. Not excessively, that is, let’s say it’s just at the limits. The finish is medium long, mainly on cocoa. A very nice old Glen Grant, in any case. 88 points.
Glengrant-Glenlivet 18 yo 1972/1990 (46%, Cadenhead)
Colour: gold/amber. Nose: rather similar at first nosing, but soon to get much flowerier, with lots of nectar, dandelion, buttercup. Extremely honeyed, at that, with again these beautiful notes of old sweet white wine. It then gets rather waxy and smoky, with also some bold notes of earl grey tea coming through (bergamot). Whiffs of oak, and maybe a little camphor. Fantastic, as enjoyable as the Samaroli but a little more complex. Near perfection considering its profile.
Glengrant-Glenlivet 18yo 1972/1990 (46%, Cadenhead)
Mouth: more powerful than the Samaroli but almost as drying, despite its younger age. Notes of flour, cocoa, cinnamon again, cardboard… Lots of tannins in there! Gets then very chocolaty, with also lots of cold over-infused tea… A mater of tannins, definitely. Much more drying than the Samaroli, in fact. The tongue starts to stick to the palate, id’s ve’y ha’d do go on li’e d’at… Well, you got it, the spirit couldn’t stand the wood. Was it brand new oak? But the nose was fabulous, no doubt. 83 points.
Gotan Project MUSIC – Recommended listening - Gotan Project's nu-tango. These guys rock! Have for instance a go at Una Musica Brutal.mp3 and then buy their music.
 

November 28, 2005


TASTING - THREE OLD INDIE BUNNAHABHAINS

Bunnahabhain 33 yo (45.5%, Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #6249, 201 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: some rather bold whiffs of smoke right from the start, but also quite some freshness. Bold notes of marzipan and ginger tonic, almond milk, praline, nougat. Really youthful, quite curiously, developing on apricot pie and peppered apple compote, nutmeg…

Bunnahabhain 33yo (45.5%, Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #6249, 201 bottles)
Getting slightly sour, with some vase water notes and beer but it remains clean. Hints of cooked cabbage, wet hay, seaweed, hot butter… And quite some smoke again (fireplace, not bonfire). Complex and very ‘contemplative’ but not bold. Rather delicate, I’d say. Mouth: sweet and spicy attack, with quite some body but also kind of a sugary laziness. Lots of nougat and orgeat syrup but also lots of tannins, vanilla… Lavender crème, violet candies, mastic Turkish delights… Something very waxy. Cocoa powder and cinnamon, white pepper, sugared strong tea… Funny how tannic it is, whilst remaining perfectly enjoyable. The finish isn’t too long but enjoyable, on cough candies and paraffin. In short, not a total thrill but a very good old Bunnahabhain. 86 points.
Bunnahabhain 1974/2005 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, casks #11534-11536) Colour: gold. Nose: a little more closed, more discreet, and also much younger in style. Amazing. Not too far from the regular 12 yo , even if it’s more complex, quite obviously. Whiffs of sawdust again, caramel, flowers from the field, everlasting flowers, ripe apricots and prunes… Quite some white pepper… It gets woodier and woodier after a few minutes, with lots of vanilla, lactones, tealeaves… Did this one go over the hill? The palate will tell. Mouth: a little punchier than the previous one and also quite sweeter this time – but yes, very woody. Lots of liquorice stick and lots of tannins again, over-infused tea, burnt vegetables, getting very drying and even sort of bitter. Very oaky indeed, even if the malt behind it seems to be nicely fruity and flowery. Too bad. 80 points.
Bunnahabhain 27yo 1977/2005 (50.6%, Adelphi, cask #7850, 201 bottles) Bunnahabhain 27 yo 1977/2005 (50.6%, Adelphi, cask #7850, 201 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: sort of discreet at first nosing but with some very nice notes of wax, overripe apples, freshly cut quince… Hints of wet dog (don’t ask me which ‘brand’). Rather refined and not explosive at all, but Bunnahabhains are rarely explosive. Some nice notes of sweet olive oil and caramelized fruits. A nice, ‘whispering’ nose.
Mouth: rather sweet but quite nervous, starting with quite some argan oil (from the Anti-Atlas of course) and beeswax, developing on Turkish delights and fir honey. A little water makes it very dry, strange…The finish is rather long and very waxy. Very nice but not overly complex. 84 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
MUSIC – JAZZ - Recommended listening: Brazilian new star Rita Maria sings simply Feliz.mp3, feliz indeed. Please buy Rita Maria's music. (via Musak Multiply). Rita Maria
 

November 27, 2005


Francis Poulen MUSIC - It's Sunday, we go classical! The Nederlands Kamerkoor conducted by Eric Ericsson sings Francis Poulenc's short Pilons l'Orge.mp3 (let's grind the barley!!!) And if you'd like something more 'consistent', there's also this excellent C'est la petit' fill' du prince.mp3 (It's the prince's lil daughter - both songs composed in 1945). Please buy the Nederlands Kamerkoor's music and go to their concerts (hey Johannes, Michel and Alexander!)
TASTING - TWO AGED TOMATINS
Tomatin 1968 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail CC old map label, early 1990’s) Colour: gold. Nose: wow, superb! Lots of tropical fruits, just like these old bottling from a famous Islay distillery starting with a B. (okay, and ending with an E.) Great notes of passion fruits, mangos, going on with banana flambéed, and getting then very waxy (like these old Northern Highlanders starting with… okay, like a Clynelish). Then it’s an herbal maelstrom, (tons of parsley) finishing with some bold notes of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Far, very far in style from the usual Connoisseur’s Choice Speysiders, that’s for sure... Tomatin 1968 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail CC old map label, early 1990’s)
Mouth: sure, it couldn’t really have gone on like that. Yet, the attack is gently waxy and cardboardy (in a nice way), with some nice apple juice again, white pepper, kiwi and fresh apples, maybe strawberries… Quite some cinnamon from the wood, a little ginger… The finish isn’t too long, alas, and a little too drying. But the nose, the nose! 88 points.
Tomatin 25yo (43%, OB, 2005 bottling) Tomatin 25 yo (43%, OB, 2005 bottling) Colour: gold. Nose: there are some similarities, definitely. Crisp, playful, with some bold notes of cider and boxed pineapple juice, getting then nicely sour (very light apple vinegar). It gets then a little winey and mashy at the same time, just before it falls almost asleep quite suddenly. Light indeed but not weak. Ah, some very distant whiffs of smoke now… Anyway, it’s nice and harmless. Mouth: very nice attack, on some very bold and unusual notes of spearmint and lemongrass. Lots of various herbal teas, citrus candies, lemon marmalade. Really playful, even if there a rather drying background beyond all that. Also some kiwi, fresh pineapple… It’s very nice. Granted, it isn’t a monster in any way, and maybe it lacks a little extra-boldness, but I must say I like it – also for the humility of its packaging. Probably the cheapest of all official 20 yo plus malts – and certainly not the worst, far from it. 85 points.
 

November 26, 2005


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
BOB DYLAN AND HIS BAND

Brixton Academy
London November 20th 2005

What sort of people go to watch Bob Dylan? “Look”, I nudged The Photographer as we trained towards Brixton, “It’s Father Ted and the auld fella”. There they were (“Father and son” said the Photographer) Dublin brogue, blue folder with careful computer printouts of all their travel and ticket details, anxiously plotting their course from the station to the Academy. Like apparent innocents abroad they stepped into the army of hustling touts that filled the platform and disappeared into the night.

Bob Dylan
We wrestled our way to the throng and joined the queue that snaked almost round the theatre – all ages, a large selection of (mostly Caucasian) nations, Dylan tour T-shirts from way back, lots of old friends. And lots of security. The Photographer was disappeared into the office by a burly looking prison guard from Cell Block H and returned after about 5 minutes, paler and sans camera. We went in search of drink.
Bob Dylan Comfortably seated, black stuff, hotdogs, potato crisps, chatting with our companion when, out of the blue, “Sure it’s yourselves again, now come on Michael” said Father Ted, or should I say Joseph, “you just sit yourself down here with the folks aff the tube, and I’ll get the beer”. Open mouthed at this non-metropolitan familiarity from these strangers on a train we then found ourselves drawn into both conversation and the wonderfully wacky world of the Bob Dylan fan(atic). That was Joseph – as his dad Michael explained, “I’ve only been doing it for a few years, but he’s been going forever.” I got a bit confused, but am pretty certain they’d been to Rotterdam, Prague and Munich on this tour. I wasn’t sure how many nights they were doing in London, and I’d guess they’d be going to Dublin too. Joseph returned from the bar, where he’d been proselytizing – “those kids wanted to know what it would be like – it’s their first time.
I told them, I said it doesn’t matter what it’s like, just remember you’re in the presence of a Living Legend”. “Now you must be going to Jimmy Ketchup’s after show party” said Joseph; “You’ll know Jimmy K” said Michael, “now he’s a nice boy - young mind, but a nice lad, very keen”. “And always great parties”. “Did you see the touts – worse than New York? Tell them about New York Joseph”. “Which time?” So we got the New York story (which involved them staying at the Chelsea Hotel), learned that they had only just arrived but were staying at London’s Fashion Rock and Roll Hotel (“is it good - you must have stayed there yourselves?”), and got good tips on how to get various electrical devices into the Bobster’s concerts – “in my boots” said Joseph. “Sure there’s always room for my camera, i-pod, I like to keep my mobile and Blackberry there too …I’ll send you some pictures, but it won’t be for a while mind, I’m not in much and I don’t like these computers”. They were looking twitchy. “Now drink up Michael, you know he’s always on time”, “never late Joseph, as punctual as a judge” and at 7.15 they were off into the crowd, as a pre-recorded overture heralded the imminent arrival of his Bobliness.
Now from the noise that’s gone on in the UK around this tour it’s clear that Dylan certainly seems to polarise folks, but I reckon that for five nights in Brixton he must have had 5,000 or so devotees each night eating out of his hands. He’s certainly hot at the moment, what with the Martin Scorsese film (‘No Direction home’) and all (are you listening Santa?). And this, lest you should be in any doubt, is Rocking Bob. Keyboard all night, a little bit of harp (which brings out whoops and bellows of delight from the audience), no guitar. He out Bill Frisells Bill Frisell in his reinterpretations of his songs, particularly the sixties classics. And his voice sounds increasingly like a parody of a parody of a parody. He says “thanguverymch” once before his final number, and introduces the band as if he’s singing a parody of ‘All along the watchtower”, which he does as his final encore. Bob Dylan
Actually I should mention that the band are very good (although there were a couple of moments when I swear they were all playing different songs) – very rocking – and the sound balance is the best I’ve heard (outside of the Barbican) all year. Nice stage set, simple lighting, very professional. And Bobtastic Bob, hunched over his keyboard, occasionally taking the centre of the stage for harmonica solos that wouldn’t disgrace a ten year old child, is …, well…, Bonkers Bob (what was he doing with his harps when the band lined up at the end – a secret The Brotherhood of the Bob symbol – like the strange Masonic design projected onto the stage and printed on all the merchandise?) an unlikely looking character to wield an almost messianic influence over his audience.
Bob Dylan
A photograph of the gig by Nick's brand new Nokia. When will Leica('s remains) make cell phones?
And most of them seem as devoted as Joseph and Michael. They know the old songs, they know the new songs. They’re all a bit more drunk than I anticipated, and the group in front of us are largeing on the exotic hand rolled smokes, but it’s all very friendly. The man next to me cries when Dylan plays ‘Don’t think twice’ as his first encore; at the end outside folks are embracing, “see you next time” (tomorrow night?).
This is real fan land. So I knew I didn’t need to bother with the set list. You can get it here along with almost anything else you need to know – why they might even get a link to this Whiskyfun review too. There’s even a website for fans who compete in teams to predict what each night’s set list will be (respect to Bewildering Bob and the band, they ring the changes frequently) – it’s where Jimmy Ketchup hangs out apparently. So I really don’t need to add any more. Oh yes – The Photographer thought it was about seventy odd points, maybe three and a half stars, I might have given it a little more. But foolishly, although it was a Sunday, we were only there for music, not worship. I’m sure Joseph and Michael, lounging in their rock and roll hotel, trashing their tea making facilities John Bonham style, would have given it 100 plus. Oh yes, and that reminds me boys. Whiskyfun might not be the Financial Times (sorry Serge – we’re back to the New York story), but at least we put you in our review. And you were worth the (hefty) price of admission. - Nick Morgan (outside photo by kate, concert by Nick's new Nokia).
Many thanks Nick! I agree the fans are often more interesting to watch and listen to than the artists themselves - and maybe that interest is even sort of inversely proportional to the musicians' 'quality'. But let's not follow that logic too far, otherwise we'll end up by going to Slipknot rather than... yes, Bill Frisell. As for Bob Dylan himself, well, just like you, I haven't a great deal to say about him... Some music? Why not listen to another fan, Jason Rossi, doing his very, err, 'personal' cover of Just like a woman.mp3, or to Audry Rose doing Clothes Line.mp3... Ha, fans!
Old Pulteney 17yo (46%, OB, 2005 bottling)

TASTING - TWO OLD PULTENEYS

Old Pulteney 17 yo (46%, OB, 2005 bottling)
Colour: gold. Nose: very fresh and clean start, extremely fruity. Lots of freshly cut apples, lots of melon, plus something buttery and quite herbal. Freshly mown lawn. Develops on hot pastry, hot butter, caramel crème. Feint whiffs of smoke… Ends up with some bold notes of gooseberries and yoghurt, and perhaps whiffs of sea air but that might be the power of my mind (you know, after all these ads…)

Mouth: very, very sweet, almost sugary attack, developing on lemon juice and caramel. Something of Bladnoch (although it’s so remotely located). It gets herbal and grassy, but nothing excessive, with kind of a lack of body in the middle. Then it gets a little malty, with some notes of burnt cake and wax… The finish is longer than expected, though, with some nice notes of tea jelly. Not a monster, that’s for sure, but a very good Northern malt. 84 points.
Old Pulteney 14 yo 1990/2005 (46%, Signatory UCF, rum finish, cask 04/446) Colour: white wine. Nose: first, there’s the rum (white rum, ti punch), then lots of tropical fruits (lime, pineapples, guavas, sugared lemon) and finally some waxy notes, almost paraffin. Quite enjoyable but it just doesn’t smell like a whisky anymore. Ah, yes, a margarita, or even gin fizz… Mouth: hum, we’re closer to Scotland again, even if, again, the attack is very sugary, with also some notes of white rum and tequila. One can feel the original profile through the rum, and it’s quite mashy, yeasty, on porridge and grain, but the whole is rather nicely integrated (but rather simple). The finish is medium long and quite sugary. Well, shouldn’t we encourage differences? 80 points. Old Pulteney 14yo 1990/2005 (46%, Signatory UCF, rum finish, cask 04/446)
 

November 25, 2005


Brora 26yo 1977/2003 (54.9%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 228 bottles)

TASTING
FOUR BRORAS

Brora 26 yo 1977/2003 (54.9%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 228 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: rather powerful and slightly spirity, with some big notes of rubbery sherry, burnt orange cake and toffee. It gets really winey after a while, with also some tobacco, leather, milk chocolate…

It’s not the ‘thick’ kind of sherry but it still lacks a little extra-complexity. Very caramelly as well, with very little peat if any. Nice but not the blast we (I) would expect from a Brora from the 1970’s. Mouth: nicer and more complex at first sip, but it gets then rather oddly perfumy, with some orange flowers water, Chinese lychee liqueur, overripe pineapple… The sherry really overwhelms the spirit here, and it’s no first-class sherry, I’m afraid. Now, Michel, who provided me with the sample, told me I should add some water. Let’s see what it’ll give… Ah, yes, the nose gets much nicer now, with some very typical ‘farmy’ peat really coming through. It does work on the palate as well, the peat grows bolder and sort of wipes the sherry off. Yeah, good old Brora is back in the glass. As for a rating, I’d say it would be only 82 points when naked, but around 88 with a few drops of water. Let’s go for 85 points then.
Brora 26 yo 1978/2004 (57.2%, SMWS 61.22) Colour: straw. Nose: completely different, with lots of cold ashes, cardboard and wet calcareous stone at first nosing, getting then nicely grassy and herbal, with notes of freshly mown lawn, dill, raw celeriac. Some rather nice coffeeish notes as well. It keeps developing on the typical farmy notes, hay, baked sour apples, horse dung, with quite some peat smoke, first in the background but soon to come to the front. The mocha is growing stronger as well. A rather classical, Brora, not as peaty as the earlier ones but still very smoky. Very nice. Mouth: extremely punchy, peaty and slightly bitter, with lots of pepper and even wasabi assaulting the palate. Something boldly mustardy indeed, perhaps not too enjoyable organoleptically speaking. Some curry as well, un-sugared over-infused tea, horseradish… It gets really bitter now, let’s add some water again. The nose gets even smokier, whilst the palate gets rather smoother and fruitier, with also some praline, but it’s still very smoky, peaty and herbal. The finish is long and rather peppery. Well not one of the nicest Broras, for it’s a little too austere but it should appeal to the Brora freaks. 87 points.
Brora 1982/2002 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice) Colour: light gold. Nose: unexpectedly ample and complex at first nosing. Not much peat, at least something very ‘discreet’ but lots of style. These 1982 got better and subtler with more ageing, I think. It gets Clynelishly waxy after a moment, with some paraffin, some nice flowery notes and maybe some kerosene. A high flyer indeed. Brora 1982/2002 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice)
Mouth: oh, too bad, it’s rather ‘limper’ now and also bitterer, with some burnt cake and lots of grainy notes. Probably too light, almost weak… Too bad! The finish is quite short, at that, and a little too cardboardy. But the nose was excellent. 83 points.
Brora 22 yo 1983/2005 (50%, DL Old Malt Cask, sherry, DL 1836, 421 bottles)
This one has been distilled in March 1983, so it’s one of the very last batches – very moving. Colour: full amber. Nose: rather discreet and not too aromatic at first nosing, even a little dusty but it does open up after a while, with lots of fresh fruits (pineapples) and quite some fudge. But no peat, no farmy notes and no maritime ones that I can smell. Mouth: very fruity again, bold, caramelly, but getting waxier and waxier and rather smoky this time. Bold notes of cooked fruits. Something cardboardy again, a little drying, with some flour and some slightly coffeeish notes. Very good, in fact, but not one of the highest flying Broras. 86 points.
And also Brora 23 yo 1981/2005 (58.2%, Signatory CS Coll, cask 1555) Very, very sherried. Rather sweet but getting much smokier with a few drops of water. 87 points.
Brand X MUSIC – Recommended listening - We're in 1976, and a few excellent 'studio' musicians (namely John Goodsall, Percy Jones, Robin Lumley and yes, then Genesis drummer Phil Collins) gather to record a bewildering piece called Nuclear burn.mp3 (from their album Unorthodox Behaviour) under the band name 'Brand X' . Hey, doesn't 1970's fusion sometimes stand the test of time? Btw, John Goodsall still leads Brand X today, so please buy their music!
 

November 24, 2005


TASTING - SEVEN VERY GOOD YOUNG 'PEAT MONSTERS'
'Peet Reek' (61.7%, Blackadder for Sun Favourite Taiwan, hogshead BA 10571, 294 bottles, May 2005)
'Peet Reek' (61.7%, Blackadder for Sun Favourite Taiwan, hogshead BA 10571, 294 bottles, May 2005) Colour: white wine. Nose: powerful, almost prickly at first nosing but it’s soon to sort of settle down. Very clean, very pure peat, with some notes of cold ashes, grapefruit juice, wet stones. Hints of cactus juice, whiffs of white pepper and that’s all. I’d say it’s beautifully simple. Mouth: extremely powerful but rounded, with a superb peat smoke and lots of citrusy notes. Lemon juice and seeds, icing sugar, pepper, hints of mustard… Again, it’s very simple but so perfect in its simplicity… A flawless young Islayer. Superb. 87 points.
'Peet Reek' (62.1%, Blackadder for Sun Favourite Taiwan, hogshead BA 10570, 299 bottles, May 2005) Colour: white wine. Nose: close to its sister cask but even stonier and ashier, and more on lemon juice. Superbly sharp – like a blade. Mouth: it’s funny, now it’s even creamier and more powerful, with more liquorice instead of lemon. Other than that, it’s quite similar. Maybe a tad better, in fact. 88 points.
W&M House Malt 'Born on Islay' 1997/2005 (43%, Wilson & Morgan, Cask #818-824) Colour: amber. Nose: smoky and stony at first nosing, with some very nice lemon, freshly cut apples and hints of cold ashes. A rather typical young Caol Ila, with maybe a little fudge and surely some caramel and praline. Nothing less, nothing more. Most enjoyable. Mouth: smoky as expected, with also quite some caramel again, hot cake, liquorice, mocha… A very nice mouth feel, with also some earthy flavours, roots, fresh mushrooms (boletus and such). Maybe it gets a little too caramelly, but the finish is still very nice, rather bold and satisfying, on peat and liquorice. No winner but a very nice one. 85 points.
The Peat Monster (46%, Compass Box, K5064) Colour: white wine. Nose: not a peat monster, I’d say. Some peat smoke, of course, but also lots of sugared apple juice, and then some bold notes of very ripe melon and pineapple, with something waxy and farmy in the background. Hints of grass, maybe Parma violets, fruit jelly and whiffs of sea air. Very nice, balanced, elegant, rather clean but not monstrous at all. Maybe they should choose another name. Like The Peat Dancer? Mouth: sweet but probably peatier and more powerful than what the nose suggested. Rather medicinal, with some eucalyptus, raw propolis, overinfused tea… Notes of burnt cake, dried herbs (thyme). It’s really enjoyable! Lots of oomph… Hints of lavender ice cream and more and more liquorice. The finish is long and balanced, with lots of peat and oranges. I like this one, probably one of the best vattings I had. 88 points.
The Smoky Peaty One (40%, John, Mark and Robbo) Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather punchy, peaty and smoky just like many young Islayers. Slightly meaty, with whiffs iodine, stone, matchsticks. Very simple but flawless and enjoyable – if you like peat. Not much else to say… Mouth: not much body and a curious mix of heavy caramel and peat smoke… A little clumsy right at the start, but it does improve after a moment, getting creamier, with some bold notes of eucalyptus candies, mastic… Very waxy, at that. Moreover, the finish is rather long, with quite some bitter oranges and peat. A nice baby that stands the low alcohol! 83 points.
'Smoking Islay' (59.7%, Blackadder for Taiwan Single Malt Whisky Tasting Association, cask #BA 2005/202, 233 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: powerful – of course – but sort of delicate at first nosing. Lots of aromas coming to the front at the same time, but very gradually. Peat smoke, seaweed, beer, hay… Wow, now it’s the whole cavalry, no wonder it starts to smell like a horse stable. Extremely farmy and not ‘maritime’ at all, except for some hints of dried kelp. There’s a fine layer of caramel and fudge coming after a moment (Werther’s Originals), fresh vanilla… And some very nice notes of ripe fruits (apricots and melons)…. And yes, finally, some sea spray! Almost perfect at its (probable) young age. Mouth: again, it’s very bold, very rich, but not overpowering. Lots of peat, fruit jam, wax… Very herbal but also nicely sweet. Much pleasure in there but it’s still a little too strong. Water please... (while the nose got even farmier)… Oh yes, it works nicely, with more rooty notes (lots of gentian spirit, Suze…), smoked fish, roasted nuts, tea, liquorice… Almost perfect! I’ll ask our maniacal Taiwanese friend Ho-cheng if I can get more! 90 points.
Finlaggan 'Old Reserve' (40%, Vintage Malt Whisky Co) Colour: gold. Nose: ah, this is much more complex. Very smoky again but also very ‘stony’ and medicinal. Wet stone, ashes, bandages… Notes of smoked ham, cow stable, seaweed… Hints of gentian roots and liquorice. Rather beautiful! Quite some camphor developing after a few minutes. Certainly a bang-for-your-buck Islayer, according to this beautiful nose. Mouth: oh, lots of gentian spirit (which I always love), peat smoke, smoked tea… Rather creamy and really full-bodied at 40%. Nice notes of apple pie, fresh green pepper, salted liquorice… The finish is long, smoky, waxy earthy… A very nice surprise, as far as I’m concerned. 86 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Some poor souls suggested I select many female singers because they are pretty. That's completely untrue! Take for instance Katie Melua singing a jazzy Shy boy.mp3. Isn't her music just nice? Anyway, please buy Katie Melua's music. Katie Melua
 

November 23, 2005


TASTING - TWO INDIE AND TWO OFFICIAL GLENROTHES
Glenrothes 1972/2004 (43%, OB) Glenrothes 1972/2004 (43%, OB) Colour: amber. Nose: extremely honeyed at first nosing, with also lots of pollen, mead, fresh butter… Very clean and rather pure. Some superb winey notes (fino, Jura vin jaune…) and lots of vegetables, mashed potatoes, braised carrots, salsify. Very complex, probably better than any other Glenrothes I had before. Hints of porridge, fresh cream, green gooseberries and pears. Some vanilla fudge, sabayone, camomile tea. Most delicate but not thin in any way. Mouth: sweet but not sugary, oaky but not too tannic, starting on apricot jam, Mirabelle jam, apple pie, flower nectar, light ‘breakfast’ honey… Some quince jelly as well, the whole being nicely peppery. Hints of dried ginger and lots of vanilla, with a bit of Turkish delight. Excellent! Medium long finish, on soft pepper and just a little nutmeg. Pure pleasure. 90 points.
Glenrothes 36 yo 1968/2005 (53.2%, Ducan Taylor, cask #13486, 144 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: rather bold and vibrant, starting on some strong notes of ale and oak (and a superb oak). Fantastic notes of cider apples, moss, forest after the rain, fresh mushrooms. Notes of mashed potatoes again, dill, fresh parsley… Great honey, balsam, coffee, raisins… Extremely compact and very ‘coherent’. Lots of oak of course but it’s so nice! Now, after that kind of nose, the mouth is often a disappointment. Let’s see… So, mouth: very creamy and coating, powerful, on lots of bitter chocolate and strong coffee. Very honeyed, almost rummy… Cognac… Havana cigar (when it’s quite wet)… Pinches of salt and pepper. Not extremely complex but beautifully structured. Again, pure pleasure! Long finish, a bit drying. Bolder than the OB, perhaps a tad simpler: 90 points. Glenrothes 36yo 1968/2005 (53.2%, Ducan Taylor, cask #13486, 144 bottles)
Glenrothes 1973/2000 (43%, OB) Glenrothes 1973/2000 (43%, OB) Colour: pale amber. Nose: very rounded attack, starting very nutty and malty, on some bold notes of walnuts and walnut liqueur (nusswasser), hot praline, baked pears topped with caramel. Gets then quite flowery (peonies), with also some fresh vanilla. A very nice nose, very ‘cosy’, very classical and perfectly balanced.
Mouth: oh, this time I feel it lacks some body, and the attack is sweet but unusually grainy. But it’s quick to adjust its aim a bit, with again quite some praline, fudge, caramel, honey… We’d probably like more oomph but it’s a very nice all-rounder, although the recent 1972 (see above) is much, much better in my opinion. Anyway, 85 points for the 1973.
Glenrothes 17 yo 1985/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry, 681 bottles) Colour: amber. Nose: a very sherried start, with lots of chocolate and Smyrna raisins. Quite some sulphur too. Goes on with some meaty notes (steak, gravy). It’s a bit simple in fact, with a big, bold sherry but it’s still flawless. Mouth: ah, even nicer! It’s not often that the palate is better than the nose with these sherry monsters. The sherry doesn’t dominate the spirit at all, in fact, and the whole is nicely balanced. Granted, there’s a lot of chocolate and praline, but it keeps elegant. Gets very dry after a moment, though, and the finish is long, quite drying (but not too much) and rummy at the same time. I like it very much, I must say. 87 points. Glenrothes 17yo 1985/2003 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, sherry, 681 bottles)
CRAZY WHISKY NEWS: THE EGYPTIANS MAY HAVE INVENTED IT! - According to Professor Willibald Schmitz-Jones (Archaeologist - University of Edinburgh) who's currently in charge of the 'spirits' section of the Ramsseum excavations, some newly found hieroglyphs, dating back from circa 1,750 BC may well prove that the ancient Egyptians knew how to make whisky perfectly well.
Prof. Schmitz-Jones just sent us this beautiful photograph of the most spectacular piece, called 'Charlimaclinis' Stone' (Charlimaclinis was a famous Theban amanuensis). We're very proud to be able to publish this Whiskyfun world exclusivity today, and to give back to Caesar what belongs to... err, Ramses (well, you see what I mean.)
MUSIC – Recommended listening: Ethno-techno? Hmmm... Well, as far as Ryukyu Undergroound is concerned, I quite like it. Try for instance Shinkaichi.mp3... and then buy it. Ryukyu Undergroound
 

November 22, 2005


TASTING - FOUR NEW WINESKIES BY ARRAN AND EDRADOUR
Arran ‘Chateau Margaux Finish’ (59.1%, OB, 317 bottles, b. 2005) Arran ‘Chateau Margaux Finish’ (59.1%, OB, 317 bottles, b. 2005) I must say the ‘race’ between Arran, Edradour, Glenmorangie and now Bruichladdich regarding ‘who’s gonna get the rarest wine casks’ is very funny. We’ll soon have all the Bordeaux 1855 Grand Crus in these ranges – and I can’t wait to read ‘Johannisberger Trockenbeerenauslese’ on a whisky label (and hear a Scot pronouncing it ;-)) Anyway, let’s taste this new wonder now.
Colour: salmon. Nose: ha! It starts amazingly meaty and rubbery, with also some rather bold notes of cooked strawberries. Not too bad, actually. A little ginger, Alka-Seltzer, getting then very spicy (lots of clove and pepper from the casks). Not bad at all. One must not forget that Château (that’s right, there’s a circumflex on the ‘a’, folks, don’t forget it on your labels!) Margaux uses only new oak, so the wood’s influence is very big, even if it’s very tight French oak. Mouth: a sharp attack, with some bold notes of liquorice, very spicy again – and also quite herbal. And them come the cloves again, together with quite some juniper, making the whole taste almost like a (very strong) mulled wine. Very curious but not bad! 79 points.
Arran 'Grand Cru Champagne Cask Finish' (58.8%, OB, 308 bottles, b. 2005)
Colour: gold (just like its presentation box). Nose: rather hot and spirity at first nosing, with quite some toasted bread at first nosing, getting then rather grassy and smoky. Burnt matchsticks, fireplace… Notes of wet hay, burning wood, roasted nuts… No winey notes that I can smell (who said good news?) Mouth: punchy, spirity and yes, winey. Really hot, I think we’ll add a few drops of water… Oh the nose gets much farmier, as often when you add some water to a malt – it smells almost like a cow stable (but no soap). The mouth got sweeter and rounder, with quite some fruity notes (caramelized apples), fudgy, very caramelly… Quite enjoyable, in fact. What’s more, the finish is rather long, perhaps a bit too sweetish but with some nice notes of violet sweets. In short, I couldn’t find the Champagne but the end result is nice, no doubt about that. 82 points.
Edradour 11 yo 1994/2005 (59.6%, OB, Straight from The Cask, Madeira finish, cask #04/316/4, 488 bottles) Colour: pale amber. Nose: some very bold notes of cooked caramel with lots of nutty aromas, roasted almonds, fresh walnuts, toasted bread… Not typically winey nor vinous, Develops on some rather heavy notes of marzipan, linseed oil… Also some cooked strawberries. Gets more and more toffeeish, coffeeish and waxy (paraffin). Not too complex but nicely compact, balanced and really enjoyable. I’m sure the ‘finishing’ really added something to the spirit in this case.... Edradour 11yo 1994/2005 (59.6%, OB, Straight from The Cask, Madeira finish, cask #04/316/4, 488 bottles)
Mouth: very vinous now, with some sweet and sour notes, strong liquorice, a little rubber. Gets quite earthy with hints of bergamot candies, raspberry candies, gentian liqueur and quite some spices and herbs (dried thyme, cloves, a little cumin). The finish isn’t fantastically long but enjoyable, on toffee and jam. A finishing that works. 86 points.
Edradour 11yo 1994/2005 (57.1%, OB, Straight from The Cask, Gaja Barolo finish) Edradour 11 yo 1994/2005 (57.1%, OB, Straight from The Cask, Gaja Barolo finish) Colour: amber with reddish hues. Angelo Gaja is the star of Barolo, in the north-eastern part of Italy. Barolos are made out of nebbiolo, a very rough and drying variety when it’s young, but getting sumptuously complex and rich when the wine gets older. Nose: curiously smoky and very caramelly and toffeeish at first nosing, with some nice toasted notes and lots of cooked red fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries…) Gets very ‘jammy’, with some bold notes of Port, old roses and peonies. Just a little sulphur, burnt matchsticks… An interesting finishing again.
Mouth: bold, powerful, creamier and compacter than the ‘Madeira’. Very special, extremely fruity but not like a regular malt. Lots of Turkish delight, raspberry jelly, pomegranate, cranberry… Something slightly – and nicely - metallic (just like in many Barolos). Blackcurrants. Again, it’s not extremely complex but very, very enjoyable – and so different. Another finishing that works. Very well. 87 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Nope, she's not Madonna, and yes, that's nu-jazz (or whatever they call it) but it is nicely crafted and Norway's Beady Belle has a great voice. And whether the Rhodes and the saxes are just samples or not isn't that important, is it? Anyway, have a go at Goldilocks.mp3 and make up your own mind. And please buy Goldilocks', I mean, Beady Belle's music. Beady Belle
 

November 21, 2005


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
FAIRPORT CONVENTION ‘ACOUSTIC’, 100 Club, London, November 16th 2005
Fairport Convention     Hey Serge, did you know that the esteemed historian and songwriter Ralph McTell wrote a wonderful tune about the greatest of all English patriots, William Conkere? You must remember William. He was the legendary English hero who fought off the invading hordes of Harold Hard at Hastings, and famously told “his lusty yeomen true” (I quote Ralph) to fire conkers from their longbows – one of which killed old Harold by hitting him in the eye. It was sad that William’s uncle was killed in the battle, but such was the nation’s gratitude that for years “all young men lusty and true” (Ralph again) were named ‘Norman’ in his memory.
And we still celebrate William’s famous victory every October by eating conker pie. Hmmm. And of course by singing Ralph’s song: “Have you seen King William, true patriot and fair, he’s the lusty warrior we call the Conkere” Yikes! Now that’s what I call history meets poetry. Anyway it was a shame that Fairport Convention didn’t find time for this McTell classic (though that’s not too say it was a McTell free night) in their gig at the 100 Club on Wednesday.
Although it wasn’t really like a 100 Club gig – more like a Convention of Conventioners, a mid-season Cropredy reunion without the rain - why they’d even brought along their fishing chairs, and I swear there was a stall selling (the famous West Midland’s delicacy) hot Ozzies and mushy peas outside on Oxford Street. I’m not even sure if many of them were there for the music, more for the chat and familiar friendly faces (apart from the one that The Photographer had a spat with at the bar, but that, as they say, is another story) four of whom just happen to be on the stage.
Fairport ConventionFrom left to right: Ric Sanders, Simon Nicol,
Gerry Conway and Chris Leslie.
Because it’s not full on Fairport, it’s the acoustic sitting down in fishing chairs version (all plugged in to amplifiers on course), comprising the hard-working Gerry Conway on a very abbreviated drum kit and percussion, grumpy Simon Nicol on guitar and vocals, the normally flamboyant Ric Sanders (tied to his chair) on fiddle, and the simply nice Chris Leslie (The Photographer’s school chum) on vocals, fiddle, electric mandolin and electric bouzouki. Acoustic? Confused? Me too. So apparently is bassist Dave Pegg, who rather than performing was in the south of France “getting his new house together” following his matrimonial adventures over the past year or so. Big shame as that means we miss Dave’s laddish and quite unique Brummie humour. Big shame.
And the performance? Well, I know my fellow reviewer Dave “boy” Broom hates this particular descriptor, but I have to see it was very … nice. Thoroughly pleasant. Most entertaining. Nicol actually sounds a much better singer in this smaller outfit that he sometimes sounds with the full (electric and plugged in) band, and I was able to watch closely, and admire, his exemplary rhythm guitar technique (though I suppose it should be good after about forty year’s practice). Conway is inventive and tireless (though I should observe he looked knackered at half time in the Gents, where he was being pursued by a Convention of ageing amnesic Gerry Conway fans, “what did you say you played again?”).
Fairport ConventionChris Leslie
Sanders is sublime, good humoured, and playing up to a Convention of Sanders fans seated determinedly in front of him on the left of the stage. Leslie spends most of the evening grinning away to himself as he swaps instruments, introduces songs (modestly neglecting to tell us that he’d written most of them) and sings. Now as I’ve already mentioned elsewhere a lot of this new material isn’t really as strong as the Fairport classics of the Thompson, Denny and Swarbrick days. But give the guys their credit – they don’t rest on these laurels - much of the material is of a more recent vintage and played with considerable gusto. And it’s just … nice. Easy, undemanding, fun … errr, nice.
Leslie does a nice line in sentimental – ‘I’m already there’, ‘Banbury Fair’ (he missed out all the fights, a great feature as I recall), ‘The fossil hunter’, ‘Close to you’. We get some nice instrumentals – ‘Woodworm swing’, ‘Canny Capers’, and Duke Ellington’s ‘Sophisticated lady’ morphed with ‘Here there and everywhere’ (unlike the Bill Frisell treatment I got this within half a bar). A nice old Thompson and Swarbrick tune, ‘Now be thankful’, and the nice ‘Culworth gang’, ‘Sheriff’s ride’ and ‘The dancer’.
And of course Ralph McTell’s gushing but nice ‘The hiring fair’, which is a suitable vehicle for Saunders to really put his fiddle through its paces. In between we get a not-so-nice drunks Convention, who appear nosily out of nowhere, but are soon put in their place by a collective turn of heads and glowering glare from the fishing chairs. And of course, as encore, the very nice ‘Meet on the ledge’, by which time, with the wine and beer fully kicked in, its nice hugs and tears and “see you next year at Cropredy’. Fairport Convention
Actually I think I might give it a miss next year, and find something a little less predictable (and less nice) to cover for you Whiskyfun rock fans, but on the other hand if I don’t go, what on earth will I do with my nice fishing chair? - Nick Morgan (concert photos by Kate)
 
Thank you so much, Nick. I've been more than happy to be able to revise what I had been told about Hastings and that French bugger called 'Guillaume le Conquérant' - and about Ralph McTell, while I was at it. But it's time to listen to some 'very nice' (sorry again, Dave) Fairport Convention now, with the legendary Who knows where the time goes.mp3 (1969, with Sandy Denny). How good she was!
 
TASTING - THREE BENRIACHS
Benriach 28yo 1976/2005 (56.9%, Signatory, Cask #9442, sherry butt, 426 bottles)
Benriach 28 yo 1976/2005 (56.9%, Signatory, Cask #9442, sherry butt, 426 bottles) Colour: gold/amber. Nose: rather spirity and almost pungent right at first nosing, with some strange whiffs of ammoniac. Let’s let this one breathe for a few minutes (it was just opened). Ah yes, now it’s better. What strikes me is its resemblance with an old Brora, with its deep farmy, peaty notes. It’s really phenolmenal! (thanks for that good one, Stéphane). Lots of wet hay, fermenting fruits, freshly cut privet, developing on some rather bold liquorice and balsam. Goes on with some pine needles, moss, dill, embrocations, soy sauce. It’s a fantastic nose, I must say, extremely complex and bold but not overpowering. The peat is just superb. Mouth: oh yes, it’s magnificent again. Punchy, starting on some strong rooty and leafy notes, liquorice, coffee toffee (Nick would say ‘what a cheap alliteration!’), Tibetan tea with yack butter (I had that only once but shall remember it forever)… Notes of burnt cake, tar, overcooked wine sauce… Getting even a little meaty. And the finish is long, very bitter (a superb bitterness, not of the bitter kind – well, you see what I mean) with even some (soft) chilli. Let’s try it with a few drops of water now, I’m curious… Right, the nose gets more peppery, while the mouth doesn’t change much, getting even bitterer – that’s excessive now. This one is not really a swimmer! Anyway, it’s a superb Benriach by Signatory again. 92 points.
Benriach 10 yo 1994/2005 (46%, Signatory Unchillfiltered, cask #1665, 383 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, clean, with some strong peaty and grainy notes. It really smells like a ‘distillery’. Mouth: clean and fresh again, a mix of porridge and smoke, with a peat of the farmy kind). Simple but nicely balanced – most enjoyable. 84 points.
Benriach 16 yo (43%, OB, 2005 bottling) Colour: straw. Nose: a very grainy and vegetal start, not too bold I must say. Lots of porridge and some bold notes of freshly mown lawn, grain dust and yoghurt. Simple – not bad at all but maybe a little weak in fact. Mouth; very grainy and herbal again, and a little oomphier. Some cake and caramel, something rummy towards the finish, and maybe a little peat. Not too bad! 78 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
 

November 20, 2005


TASTING - SIX PURE/VATTED/BLENDED (WHATEVER) MALTS
The Famous Grouse 'Vintage Malt Whisky' 1992/2004 (40%, OB)
The Famous Grouse 'Vintage Malt Whisky' 1992/2004 (40%, OB) Colour: full gold. Nose: very nutty, grainy and very faintly smoky attack but with quite some body, unexpectedly. Slightly peaty, with whiffs of fermenting grass, overripe oranges, hints of lavender… Also some apple juice. Hey hey, that’s rather nice! Mouth: extremely sweet and caramelly, probably a little weak but not feeble. Dried oranges, cake, roasted nuts, cereals… Something waxy and also some notes of fruit eau de vie. Gets then a little bitter (burnt caramel) but nothing excessive. The finish is a bit short and on caramel again… In a nutshell, it’s rather enjoyable, probably one to pour your ‘regular’ friends (not the obsessive hardcore whisky nuts) who just ask for a good whisky, as nobody will dislike it. 77 points.
The Smooth Sweeter One (40%, John Mark and Robbo) Colour: straw. Nose: very grainy and mashy, with some white bread, white fruits (gooseberries, pear juice, cider) and something grassy… Again, not too expressive but not bad at all, I must say. Mouth, very sweet indeed, but again, rather weak. Lots of fruit eau de vie (mostly pear, kirsch), grain, boxed fruit juice (syrup), heavily sugared herbal tea… And not much else, I’m afraid, with a short finish on pear juice. Well, not much happening in there… Hello? Not serious flaws either, that is. A perfect example of a 75 points malts in my books.
The Rich Spicy One (40%, John, Mark and Robbo) Colour: amber. Nose: much more happening in there! Granted, it’s not bold and even a little weak at first nosing, but I quite like the heavily nutty notes, with the praline, the butter caramel and the fudge. Whiffs of smoke (just distant whiffs), hot cake and, yes, maybe some spices (not sure it’s not the power of mind). Nutmeg? Cinnamon? Also some fruit jam (apricots) and quite some vanilla cream. Again, harmless and enjoyable. Mouth: ah, now there’s really some body. Rather creamy, with lots of caramel, fudge, cake, roasted peanuts, orange marmalade… The middle is a little less bold (not exactly weak, that is) but it gets quite spicy indeed after a moment, even if a little watery at the same time. Medium long finish, perhaps a little sugary (candy sugar). No doubt this one would have been a very good bottle if reduced to 46 or 43% instead of 40%. 81 points.
No'Age Edition 2001 (45%, Samaroli, vatted, 1596 bottles) An interesting vatting, that’s been reduced for one year (a little water is added every two months). Colour: straw. Nose: much fresher and cleaner, on white fruits (apples, pears, green mellon) and cereals. Some bold notes of mashed potatoes, hot Belgian waffles with whipped cream (a sin), pancakes… It gets nicely farmy and herbal, with some hay, straw, French beans… Whiffs of ginger and grapefruits. A very nice “natural” one, it appears. Gets more and more citrusy after a few minutes. I like it! Mouth: quite some oomph now! It starts on some superb peaty notes (there’s probably an Islayer in there) and quite some fruits. Gets very spicy (lots of pepper, clove). Develops on bitter oranges, marzipan, mastic… Really nice and rather uncompromising for a vatted malt (some would have made it sweeter, I guess). The finish is rather long, very waxy and peppery… In short, probably one of the nicest vatted malts I ever had, even if it lacks a little compactness. 86 points.
Eleuthera (46%, Compass Box, K5073) Colour: white wine. Nose: much smokier than expected. I remember having read that Dave thought it smelled like bacon and I must say I agree. Notes of cold ashes and wet stones, burnt matchstick, toasted bread… Something cardboardy, chalky, getting then rather herbal (cooked vegetables, potato skins, salsify, celeriac). And always quite some peat and wax in the background. Nice! Mouth: sweet but nervous, really full-bodied and, again, very peaty and peppery yet sweet and rather rounded around the edges. Caol Ila? Some very nice fruits (mangos, Star Crimson apples…) and quite some beeswax with honey. Something spicy in the background, with also some minty notes… A perfect balance and a vatting that works beautifully. The finish is very long, nicely phenolic and bitter (propolis). I like this one a lot. 87 points.
The Spice Tree (46%, Compass Box, Inaugural Batch, 4150 bottles, 2005)
Colour: gold. Nose: very oaky, as expected. Sawdust, heavy nutmeg… Very heavy nutmeg… very, very heavy nutmeg! Notes of kummel liqueur, burning fir tree wood, getting then very waxy. Shoe polish, turpentine, fresh mastic, grapefruit rinds… Whiffs of white pepper. A very unusual profile, for sure – and yes it’s very spicy. Mouth: lots of nutmeg again, with also lots of wax, pepper, chilli… It gets very gingery, with some Schweppes, Campari… Quinquina… Eucalyptus candies… Very, very different indeed. The finish is long, very waxy and ‘nutmeggy’ (of course). Well, we all like John Glaser’s enthusiasm and his passion for experimentation and no doubt this ‘whisky’ is very ‘honest’, whatever that means. But on the other hand, I feel this Spice Tree is too far away from ‘what whisky is’ (whatever that means again), especially because of these very heavy spicy notes from the wood (yeah, nutmeg) that nobody will find in any other whisky. So, I will give it 80 points because that’s kind of a neutral mark in my books, but some could give it 90 points, and others 70 or 60… Frankly, I'm lost here and I just don’t know how to rate it. Ha, ratings!
Kathleen Battle MUSIC – It's Sunday, we go classical: American soprano Kathleen Battle sings a very funny and entertaining Mein Herr Marquis.mp3 (from Johann Strauss Jr's Die Fledermaus, CD 'Kathleen Battle at Carnegie Hall', Deutsche Grammophon). Please buy Kathleen Battle's recordings.
 

November 19, 2005


TASTING - THREE NEW INDIE CAOL ILAS
Caol Ila 25yo 1979/2004 (61.2%, Blackadder for Sun Favourite Taiwan, hogshead #5334, 44 bottles) 
Caol Ila 25 yo 1979/2004 (61.2%, Blackadder for Sun Favourite Taiwan, hogshead #5334, 44 bottles) An incredibly high strength for a 25 yo malt ! This one mus be quite a beast… Colour: straw. Nose: very powerful as expected, with some big, bold farmy notes. Lots of manure, wet hay… Getting then astonishingly meaty for a Coal Ila, mainly on smoked ham. Also dry seaweed, balsamic vinegar… It then calms down, switching to caramel sauce and fresh oranges, before it gets more ‘frankly’ smoky, peaty, on burning beech, with also a little apple juice and whiffs of paraffin and diesel oil. Complex, with a long development. I like it very much. Mouth: very strong and extremely salty and herbal. Ouch, what a beast! Lots of dried herbs (thyme, parsley, bay leaf). Very little sweetness if any. It gets very bitter (chlorophyll, propolis, herb liqueurs like Jägermeister). Lots of liquorice roots as well, tea… Highly reduced meat sauce. It reminds me the strange stuff we were used to (forced to) drink when I was a boy scout. Like coffee plus mustard plus salt. You never forget that. Anyway, let’s add a few drops of water now, perhaps it’ll become ‘easier’. Hmmm, no, it gets just a bit duller but there’s no significant improvement. The finish is very long but, you guessed it, very bitter and quite mustardy. Well, it’s note an easy one, that’s for sure. For lovers of extreme malts only – but the nose was a thrill. 84 points.
Caol Ila 1993/2005 (59.9%, Adelphi, cask #6779) Colour: white wine. Nose: explosive and very different, much more medicinal, with whiffs of ether (that are soon to disappear, thank God) and medical alcohol. A rather delicate peat and also lots of notes of buttered mashed potatoes. Funnily, it’s then that the farmy notes appear (horse stable, cat bedding) and finally some bold notes of natural lavender (not the ‘perfume’) and freshly cut shallots. Very organic, maybe I could use some as a seasoning for salads or smoked fish? But first, let’s check the palate. Mouth: much, much sweeter than the Blackadder, yet quite simpler. Spirity but delicately smoky, too strong to be tasted naked, alas. With a little water now: yes, it works. A very nice smokiness, lots of peat (peatier than the usual Caol Ilas), lots of liquorice, apple skins, walnuts… Maybe a little simple but very satisfying, with a long and very rooty and peaty finish. But what a beast again! Forget to add some water and you’ll loose your uvula! 85 points.
Caol Ila 25 yo 1979/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, DL 1358, 296 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts on some bold, simple but beautiful fresh fruits (just apples and pears but of the best kinds), together with quite some paraffin and, of course, smoke. The balance is perfect, with also some very clean farmy notes, a little tar and some notes of smoked salmon. Extremely compact and ‘coherent’, I like it a lot. Mouth: rather smooth at first sip, although very ‘solid’. Maybe a little weaker (or ‘less bold’) than on the nose, but with, again, lots of fresh apples. Un-sugared tea, apple skins, fresh walnuts… The finish is long, with something ‘Kidaltonely’ medicinal. Anyway, a superb old Caol Ila, no doubt. Too bad I couldn’t taste it head-to-head with the 25 yo OB, I’ll try to do that one day. 91 points.
Dynamite Hack MUSIC – Recommended listening - A 'quirky post-grunge quartet' indeed, and they knew their Beatles! Have a go at Dynamite Hack playing Boyz in the hood.mp3 in 1999 and you'll see what I mean - and please buy their music.
 

November 18, 2005


CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
BILL FRISELL
, Barbican, London, November 15th 2005
Hey Serge. Do you remember when you were a little boy with shorts and bruised knees sitting in your school classroom on a long sunny late summer afternoon? Did they make you learn and sing those weird songs that you didn’t quite understand ? Like all those fair Spanish ladies who you always had to say farewell to ? Or two two the lilywhite boys clothed all in green ho ho ? Or my land is your land is your land my land my land is your land ? No ? Well I did. And of all the songs that have stuck in my mind one, ‘Oh Shenandoah’, always comes back to me. It’s just what a schoolboy wanted - wide open spaces, the Wild West, cowboys and, err… Native American Indians, romance, and the adventure of the endless rolling river all wrapped up in one. Cinemascope pictures merging in the autumn-burnished leaves blowing through a deserted school playground.
Enough purple prose - back to Shenandoah. It’s a river apparently, but as for the song – well that’s a mystery left to the speculations of numerous internet chat rooms (have a look, it’s fascinating). But I still love it because my meaning of the song is etched firmly in my memory, so when I first listened to Bill Frisell’s hypnotic and haunting instrumental version (aided by the odd bit of Ry Cooder) from his 1999 album Good Dog, Happy Man I was taken back to all those adventures of my desk-bound childhood. And I have to admit, I was somewhat taken with Mr Frisell, albeit somewhat belatedly, as he’s been recording and touring since 1978. However, better late then never.
Six years and several albums later Bill has a Grammy and numerous award nominations under his belt, and is heading for that dangerous ‘national treasure’ territory – ‘a revered figure amongst musicians’ the programme tells us.
Bill Frisell
He’s playing as part of the rather stuffy London Jazz Festival at the acoustically brilliant (good) but soulless (bad) Barbican, accompanied by Greg Leisz on guitar and lap steel guitar, and Jenny Scheinman on violin. Oh yes, and the gig is being recorded by festival co-sponsors BBC Radio 3, and broadcast on Tuesday 22nd November on ‘Late Junction’. So radio surfers - you know where to head for.
I should note that on a personality level Bill is about as engaging as he was when I last saw him five years ago. Could he, I wonder, have done a deal with the devil ? “Beeal” said the Devil (dam, why does the Devil always talk in that corny accent ?), “Beeal, give me your charisma and I will make you the greatest guitarist in the world.” No, I can’t see it somehow... just too exciting for Bill. But it doesn’t matter, apart from the pink baseball boots and the red hooped socks (ouch !) this is a man that lets his guitar do the talking.
I could think of no better way of spending an evening than watching, and listening to, Bill Frisell play the guitar. I wouldn’t even want a dram, his playing (all loops, delays and reverses) is as alluring as the viscimetric whorls of the most powerful of whiskies. And I wouldn’t care if he was playing the wallpaper – and I have to say I’ve heard some refusniks say dismissively he does just that. It’s partly a guitar thing. Watching him pluck harmonics out of the air at will; the way he really works his guitar, almost like an extension of his body. Like the skipper of a yacht he’s always fidgeting with something, an amplifier switch here, a pedal there (woops, there go the red hooped socks again), his guitar volume control, always beavering away to get the very best performance possible from his instrument. And here’s another quote from the programme, “his signature is built from pure sound and inflection; an anti-technique that is instantly identifiable”. Anti-technique ? Phew ! And he’s playing – guitar heaven – it’s a Fender Telecaster, the virtuoso’s instrument of choice.
That’s the good bit. It was, as the man in the Gents (he’d driven down from Birmingham) said, “Fookin’ ace”. But the choice of material was a bit surprising. The evening was made up entirely of a selection of songs written by John Lennon (although of course attributed to Lennon and McCartney, or as his Sir Paulship tried to insist recently, McCartney and Lennon). Trying to figure out exactly which song he was playing was quite a challenge, as the give away melody normally didn’t emerge until about two thirds of the way through the number. I did manage to pick ‘Across the universe’, ‘You’ve got to hide your love away’, ‘Revolution’, ‘There are places’, ‘Julia’, ‘Please please me’, ‘Come together’ and ‘Nowhere man’. Bill Frisell
But there were a couple (quite good ones) that I missed. And to be honest, rather than saying “it didn’t work” it’s probably true to say that the Frisell treatment showed up in cruel light the strengths and weaknesses of some of these songs. ‘Julia’ sounded like schmaltz. ‘Nowhere man’ was (I thought) quite brilliant, as was ‘Universe’. I think it was something about Frisell’s complex arrangements exposing the frailty and predictability of some of Lennon’s melodic structures. But hey, I’m no critic, and that sounds dangerously like critic bollocks, doesn’t it?
It was strange that when I got home I listened to the radio whilst I tried to make sense of my notes, Frisell’s gorgeous guitar still echoing through my head. There on the late news was Mark Chapman, whose notoriety I need not mention, talking about the ‘incredible feeling’ he had when he shot John Lennon. Rather tasteless really, and what they call, so I understand, “a bit of a downer”. - Nick Morgan (concert photo by Kate)
Thanks a bunch, Nick. And yeah, some jazz (in the largest sense)! With modern jazz, you often need the CD's case to find out about a tune's name, even if it's the most hackneyed standard, so it's probably quite an achievement to have recognized all these Beatles songs. Too bad he didn't do 'While my guitar gently weeps' (did he?) Now, this gig probably wasn't as extreme - although 'extreme' is hardly a Frisellian word - as the one I once heard, showcasing him and John Zorn. It was really out of this world! But enough ramblings, let's go for a little music now. We have for instance a very bluesy piece with Kelly Joe Phelps called Piece by piece.mp3 (that was live in 1999) where Frisell really has 'his sound' (and nobody else's). We have also a beautiful podcast with various recent 'African' works here (via SF Gate).
 
TASTING - TWO VERY SALTY INDIE MACALLANS
Macallan 'Coilltean' 1992/2004 (55%, Samaroli, new American oak, cask #8518, 420 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: a little close right at the start, but soon to exhale some very interesting notes of fresh butter, herbs (lovage) and cold ashes. A different Macallan, that’s for sure. There’s a phase where it gets also a little cardboardy, with lots of vanillin, before it switches to fudge and milk caramel (Werther’s Originals). Lots of cappuccino notes, roasted peanuts, praline… Oh, the coffee gets bolder and bolder and after a good five minutes, it smells just like a Jamaica Blue Mountain! Very special indeed – is that espresso, Mr. Samaroli?... Macallan 'Coilltean' 1992/2004 (55%, Samaroli, new American oak, cask #8518, 420 bottles)
Mouth: oh, it’s extremely salty and spicy at first sip. How unusual! Herb decoction, meat sauce… Lots of liquorice too, burnt caramel, Chinese plum sauce, balsamic vinegar… Incredible, I guess you could just pour it on a steak… The funny thing is that it’s most enjoyable. Possibly the first sweet and salty whisky I ever tasted - I mean, it’s ‘really’ salty. Yes, that’s what it is: infused Dutch salted liquorice. Now I understand why Johannes loves it that much. Well, I like it too, and the finish is rather long and… meaty (on Peking duck with its sauce). Worth trying, definitely, and one of the best recent Macallans I had. For ages. 90 points.
Macallan 'Coilltean' 1992/2004 (55%, Samaroli, new American oak, cask #8518, 420 bottles) Macallan 15 yo 1989/2005 (57.2%, SMWS 24.82)
Colour: straw. Nose: how funny, this profile is rather similar (by chance!) Lots of cardboardy notes, wet stone, ashes, with something smoky/meaty and even farmy in the background. Whiffs of peat, growing bolder with time, wet hay, even a little muck. It gets then curiously perfumy (dried flowers, lavender) with kind of a sourness (overripe apples). And yes, there’s quite some coffee as well. A nice one, even if it doesn’t stand a chance ‘against’ the great Samaroli – as long as the nose is concerned for now. Mouth: it’s powerful and again, the profile is rather similar, with quite some salt, liquorice, and something rather perfumy (orange flowers water). Quite some olive oil as well. Something more herbal as well, with also a little coffee and some curious hints of coriander and, maybe, cooked salsify. Very unusual again, although less impressive than the Samaroli. Long finish, on some bold notes of salted liquorice again. Very good, and worth trying, in any case. 86 points.
 

November 17, 2005


Hazelburn 8yo 1st Edition (46%, OB, 2005)

TWO RECENT EXPERIMENTS BY SPRINGBANK

Hazelburn 8 yo 1st Edition (46%, OB, 2005) Colour: light gold. Nose: rather spirity, starting with some bold notes of pear spirit, with something Irish. Yet, it’s soon to get quite Scottish, with some organics, farmy aromas and quite some burnt caramel.

Keeps developing a bit, mostly on coffee and on various kinds of fruit liqueurs (banana, pineapple, triple-sec and Chinese Mei kwei lu.) Rather different, not as close as expected to some other triple distilled malts, such as Auchentoshan. Less ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ and with more body. Mouth: very ‘different’ again. Quite some vivacity and heat, creamy and very sweet. Gets then bitterer and bitterer (burnt bread) and finally extremely salty. Rather simple, in fact. The finish is long and rather tary and sulphury, with quite some bitterness. A rather difficult whisky, I must say, not offering much pleasure in my opinion, but that’s very interesting to taste, hence my 84 points.
Longrow 10 yo 1995/2005 (55.6%, OB, 2440 bottles) This one has been finished for two years in some fresh Tokaji casks. For those who don’t know, Tokaji is a very sweet white wine made in Hungary (the old, genuine Eszencias are legendary). Colour: gold – amber. Nose: oh my God! That’s weird! Some bold notes of stale beer, boiled cabbage and rotting fruits assault your nostrils, together with some notes of ‘chemical’ orange juice and old vase water. Completely offbeat, almost unbearable in my opinion. Mouth: very sweet as expected and less monstrous at fist sip than the nose suggested, but getting then extremely drying, with some very bold notes of foul meat and game (from last year ;-)) emerging. Painful, not my cup of tea at all, I couldn’t go any further, I’m sorry. But maybe some will like it? Now, I sort of admire Spingbank for having brought it to the market, I must say they have cojones! But I’ll also second Loch Fyne’s Richard Joynson who wrote: ‘I blame Willy Taylor of Broxburn Cooperage for selling innocent, unsuspecting distillers bizarre casks found lying around on old station platforms of Europe.’ Well, I don’t know Willy Taylor but I trust Richard Joynson! Anyway, 49 points for that very weird winesky.
And while we are at it...
Snake Whisky SHOPPING - It's been a while since fellow maniac Lex wrote about this extravagantly 'finished' whisky for the first time - he even tasted it (but didn't actually swallow it - see Celtic Malts, May 1, 2003 entry). Well maybe Lex should have drunk it, as here's what's written on the label: 'Real Speciality of Done Sao Laos - Snake Whisky (one unit) - Usage: rheumatism, lumbago, sweat of limbs - Dosage: twice a day, each a small cup before meal.' I just hope it doesn't bite your tongue! (via Dan's pages)
MUSIC – Recommended listening - Well, not really, but I thought the title was so funny! It's a young London-based band called Johnny Boy and they are doing their 2004 single You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve.mp3. Would work with whisky as well, I guess... Ha, yoof! But please buy their music...
Btw, we have another band (well, a good DJ) called Neon Phusion answering The Future Ain't The Same As It Used 2B.mp3.
Johnny Boy
 

November 16, 2005


Bruichladdich 1986/2005 (46%, OB, La Maison du Whisky 50th Anniversary, cask #2)

TASTING - FOUR NEW BRUICHLADDICHS

Bruichladdich 1986/2005 (46%, OB, La Maison du Whisky 50th Anniversary, cask #2) Colour: gold. Nose: rather nervous and hot at first nosing, with quite some cold coffee, getting rather fragrant and toffeeish at the same time, with some hints of sherry, cooked strawberries and cigar box. Sandalwood, rosewater. Faint rubbery notes. Quite leathery at that, strong pipe tobacco, Chinese plum sauce… More complex than expected, with also some nice notes of toasted bread, wax polish… A not so fat sherry, it appears – I like it...

Mouth: very coffeeish again and very rubbery. Some sharp bitter notes but nothing excessive, Grand-Marnier, praline, orange marmalade, prunes in Armagnac. Gets a little tary and smoky, tobacco… Less complex than the nose and a bit ‘sticky’, but still very nice. Lots of burnt bread, strong tea and liquorice… The finish is medium long, on burnt notes and rubber-liquorice. Nice, although I do prefer the natural, less sherried Laddies. 84 points.
Bruichladdich Twenty Third Edition ‘Islands’ (46%, OB, 5 days Madeira hogshead ‘ACE’ 2005) ACE stands for Additionnal Cask Enhancement, according to the Laddie's semantics. Colour: amber, with faint reddish hues. Nose: curiously more discreet than the 1986 at first nosing, but getting rather similar after a few minutes. A little rubberier and also more winey, growing hotter. Gets very orangey and coffeeish, with the distillery’s markers still there but toned down (melon). Smells of oriental pastry, getting very fragrant and almost perfumy (orange water, musk) and bubblegummy, with a strong layer of toffee and caramel. Whiffs of menthol. Not exactly my type but rather complex and nicely ‘made’... Bruichladdich Twenty Third Edition ‘Islands’ (46%, OB, 5 days Madeira hogshead ‘ACE’ 2005)
Mouth: more balanced and fruitier than the 1986 this time, with lots of cooked fruits (strawberries, apricots), crystallised oranges and tangerines, praline, but also quite some fresh fruits (very ripe peaches). A bit of rubber again… Develops on some very nice hints of camphor and spearmints… Not the most complex ever but definitely a nice version with not too much wine influence – thank you. The finish is quite long and bold, very balanced, on fruitcake. Very nice palate! 86 points.
Bruichladdich 1992/2005 'Extra Strength' (50%, Wilson & Morgan) Bruichladdich 1992/2005 'Extra Strength' (50%, Wilson & Morgan) colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh but a little spirity, coffeeish, very close to new make. Little cask influence. Gets mashy, with some porridge and cornflakes, some fruity notes (apples, green peaches) and something vegetal (French beans, celeriac). Not very aromatic, to say the least. Just some added notes of mushroom and humus after a good five minutes. Mouth: oh, this is funny, it’s almost like a pear eau de vie! I mean, really! Not sure I’d have said it’s whisky, had I tasted it blind. Some caramel too, maybe a little ginger and that’s it. The finish is rather short and on… pear, you guessed it. Just a bit of salted liquorice, getting a little grassy. Really funny! 79 points for this pear spir… I mean, Bruichladdich.
Bruichladdich 14 yo 1990/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask, 348 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: rather similar profile, but less spirity, with more milk chocolate and praline. It gets even nicer with a bit of breathing, mashier and funnily farmier, with much more body and balance than the W&M. There seems to be quite some peat smoke in there, that’s strange… Lots of milk chocolate too. Smoky chocolate? Very, very nice. Mouth: creamier, much bolder and fruitier again (melon, pears again, granny smith), with lots of fudge, vanilla cream, lemon pie, chocolate. Not complex but perfectly balanced. Moreover, the finish is rather long and very satisfying, with again a dash of salt on the tongue. Quite an excellent surprise. 87 points.
MUSIC – Recommended listening - When was Since K got over me.mp3 recorded? In the 1960's? No, it was in the 2000's and the band is called The Clientele. Uh! Anyway, please buy The Clientele's music if you like it. The Clientele
 

November 15, 2005


PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
 
Check the results of the Malt Maniacs Awards on maltmaniacs.com!
 
CONCERT REVIEW by Nick Morgan
ROGER CHAPMAN & THE SHORTLIST,
100 Club, London November 11th, 2005
Roger Chapman I have to admit that Roger Chapman and I go back some. In fact it’s 1970 (remember – we all used to make our own entertainment then?) and I’m at Birmingham Town Hall with a couple of mates for My First Proper Concert, and it’s Roger Chapman fronting Family (picture), touring to promote their fourth album, Anyway.
Now for those of you who don’t know, or who don’t or can’t remember, Family were that strangest of strange bands, ‘snotty little Leicester louts’ from the East Midlands who, proud of their non-cosmopolitan working class roots (“everyone thought that we took acid all of the time, but we’re much more of a working class sort of band …”) never quite fitted in wherever they went, and no more so that the USofA, where Chapman’s unrealised attempt to decapitate Bill Graham (the famous evangelist rock promoter) at the Fillmore, with a characteristic twirl of his microphone stand, brought their international career to an abrupt end, or so the stories go. After that Birmingham gig (something of an adventure, as I ended up sleeping overnight in Birmingham New Street Station, quite a rock and roll experience for a young kid from the country) I saw Family twice more, the last time in Oxford on their farewell tour (as I write I have the Zig Zag tour programme – 10p – on my desk) in 1973. By then they had already started to turn their back on their more psychedelic tendencies, bringing in the boozy and beefy Tony Ashton to replace vibe player and Moog experimenter Poli Palmer on keyboards.
This beery and blokey outlook defined their next incarnation – Streetwalkers (picture) – formed around Chapman and guitarist and co-writer from Family, Charlie Whitney. I saw them once – a brawl of a night at Banbury’s Winter Gardens (apparently the Stones and the Who played there, but before I pitched up in the place back in ’68) when the bouncers, fresh from their tractors, decided to kick eight pounds of shit out of one of the road crew for dancing (it was a Sunday night, and there was no dancing license). Roger Chapman
An incensed Chapman responded by trying to decapitate the bouncers with the mike stand (are you beginning to get the picture …?) and the evening turned into a standoff between band, audience and management. Streetwalkers didn’t last too long – Chapman and Whitney broke their knot – and Chapman went into a sort of retirement before producing the R&B infused Chappo in 1979. It’s still a quite brilliant album, but sadly became something of a template that Chapman and his band, The Shortlist, have followed in most of their subsequent recordings. We saw him launch the album somewhere in Victoria in a club owned by Richard Branson – strangely one of the highlights of the evening was when he tried to decapitates a couple of leery drunks at the front of the stage with the – you-know-what.
After that it was probably twenty years before we came face-to-stage again. In the meantime Chappo had taken off to Germany (and German Whiskyfun readers please note – he’s starting a short tour there in December) where, like many a lost monster of British rock and roll, he’s forged a pretty successful career. And released a fistful of albums, albeit all somewhat formulaic and derivative of the blues and soul feel of Chappo. It was at the original Meanfiddler up in Acton – and a pretty good gig, though clearly the Chapman voice was nowhere near as strong as it had been years before. Five years later, and having just celebrated his solo career’s silver anniversary Chappo is back in London at the 100 Club. It’s late on a Friday night, it’s hot and it’s packed, there’s beer in glasses, on the floor, on the wall … well everywhere.
Roger Chapman The prostateically challenged are queuing for the Gents, there are fathers and daughters (“I’ve never heard of Robert Cheeseman” one confided in The Photographer in the secrecy of the Ladies loo, “I’m just here to make sure Dad gets home safely” – later she’s spotted dancing passionately with a stranger) and to our left a very drunken bus-party of balding, middle-aged, check-shirted rocket scientists are swaying in anticipation, lager bottles and clandestine cigarettes in their hands.
So I was not surprised to see a heavier Chapman take the stage, or to see that his once trademark mike-stand callisthenics were heavily subdued (though he can still knock the living daylights out of a tambourine). Nor did I expect much of his interplay with the audience, which as I anticipated, had not moved on much in thirty years, “Fuck me, that’s alright then”, “Fucking hell, what’s next”, “Woa, that was a bit of a fucker …”. Indeed, I might often have been tempted to think that Chapman was somewhat inarticulate were it not for the fact that I’ve read a fistful of quite thoughtful interviews with him over the years, and that he’s often forgotten as the lyricist in Family, responsible for songs such as ‘My friend the sun’ (“This used to be a lovely fucking song ‘till you fuckers got hold of it” complained Chapman to the tuneless sing-along audience), ‘Burlesque’ (“right down to my snakey spat shoes”) and of course the absolute classic ‘The Weaver’s Answer’ (“Weaver of life, let me look and see, the pattern of my life gone by shown on your tapestry”).
Roger Chapman And for what it’s worth, he’s written or co-written much of his more recent material too. I suppose the disappointment, though not surprise, was just that The Voice, probably at one time the most unique in rock, can’t quite make it anymore. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t as bad as, lets say, Stephen Stills a few months ago, but it just couldn’t quite get to that pitch or frequency that in his prime was simply spine-tingling. And it was noticeable that the band carried him by drawing out many of the tunes to give him a good old rest now and again. Well deserved I’d say.
Now for once, as The Photographer managed to divert the attention of the road crew by harassing Chapman for an autograph, I managed to get hold of a set list from the stage. Do you know people sell these on e-bay? Why, I’m surprised they don’t just fake them.
This one listed nineteen songs, but I doubt if we got more than twelve of them, and certainly not in the order listed, so not much help there then. But in addition to the three Family numbers we definitely got ‘Kiss my soul’, ’18 wheels and a crowbar’, ‘X-town’, and ‘Kick it back’. Not being too familiar with some of this later stuff I was, to be honest, at a bit of loss, but helpfully the projecting fists of the rocket scientists was a useful guide to both perceived quality and the overall excitement (and lager) level in the room. Of course by the time we got ‘Weaver’s answer’ as an encore they were beside themselves - I thought the one standing on a chair was probably going to take off. Roger Chapman
And we were all pretty happy too – after all it’s not that often you can spend such a pleasurable few hours in such close proximity to a true hero of rock, who apparently swears (“fuck me …”) that he’ll never retire. But here’s a thought. Just in case he does, why not go out and buy one of his albums, just to help with the hard earned pension ... - Nick Morgan (concert photos by Kate).

Many thanks, Nick. Yes, it's strange to see all these old British glories emigrate to Germany (remember the great Kevin Coyne?) but on the other hand, I live very close to the German border, so it's quite cool for me. I won't complain (and 'they' seem to like fine whiskies better than your fellow compatriots, by the way). So, kudos to our German friends indeed! Now, we have an excellent acoustic version of Shape of Things.mp3 and you tell me it's an old Chappo song. I like it! (via the Roger Chapman Official Appreciation Society)

 
TASTING - THREE GLENFARCLAS
Glenfarclas 1974/2000 (43%, OB, 2732 bottles)
Glenfarclas 1974/2000 (43%, OB, 2732 bottles) Colour: gold. Nose: very smooth and fresh, buttery and flowery. Lots of nectar, flowers from the fields, sweet white wine (Monbazillac), light honey. Very little sherry in this one, it appears. Some fresh tangerines, mirabelle pie, caramel fudge, vanilla-flavoured whipped cream, sugared apple juice… Sweet and harmless, most enjoyable even if not too complex. Mouth: sweet, rounded but not dull at all at first sip, on cooked fruits, with a little cocoa. Alas, the middle is a little weak, lacking body but not short of tannins… What’s funny is that it gets bolder again after a few seconds, with some nice notes of honeyed herbal tea, Chinese anise, quince jelly, caramelized apples… And the finish is quite long, a little drying but with lots of apple compote and caramel. Well, it’s not one the best Glenfarclas but it’s still an enjoyable dram, no doubt. 83 points.
Blairfindy 24 yo 1980/2004 (55.9%, Blackadder for Sun Favourite Taiwan, sherry butt #5984, 182 bottles) Blairfindy is another name for Glenfarclas. Colour: brown with greenish hues. Nose: heavily sherried, with lots of oloroso. Lots of chocolate, rum, raisins at first nosing, developing on raspberry ganache (chocolate mixed with fruits), mocha, toffee… Again a sherry monster that’s superbly balanced – no, it’s no oxymoron. Faint whiffs of fresh mint, citronella, and quite some soy sauce. Perfect! Mouth: wow, again a fantastic attack, with some sherry again (not of the ‘pasty’ style at all), lots of dried fruits, some bold marzipan, Corinth raisins, milk chocolate, cappuccino. Something funnily Irish in the fruitiness… Mellon liqueur… Just beautiful! The finish is long, coating your whole throat (good for winter), on coffee, Grand-Marnier and chocolate. An excellent one, congrats to our Taiwanese friends for having chosen this one. 90 points.
Glenfarclas 30 yo 1964/1995 (54.1%, Signatory, sherry cask #4996) Colour: pure gold. Nose: punchy, powerful, with some very nice notes of white wine (Meursault?) and apple juice. Gets then unusually maritime and smoky, with some superb waxy notes and lots of dried fruits (bananas, figs). Goes on with the ‘empyreumaatic cavalry’, pine needles, resin, eucalyptus leaves, chestnut honey, mastic… Brilliant! Also quite some candy sugar and old rum, raisins, bergamot, liquorice, nougat… Really a thrill. It’s so complex, I’m speechless… Mouth: creamy and resinous, with lots of icing sugar, fructose, and all the fruits on Earth, either fresh or dried. Raw beeswax with its honey, pine candies, mint and chocolate, apricot liqueur, lavender honey. Gets superbly tary… And now there’s some cooked rhubarb… This one is extremely complex and it seems to keep developing forever. The finish is long, quite fresh, on herbal tea (camomile) and crystallised orange zest… Wow, what a beauty! 95 points – well deserved.
 
TERRIBLE NEWS – First case of bird flu here in France. We have the picture here. (thanks for that, Yolande)

November 2005 - part 1 <--- November 2005 - part 2 ---> December 2005 - 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:

Benriach 28 yo 1976/2005 (56.9%, Signatory, Cask #9442, sherry butt, 426 bottles)

Blairfindy 24 yo 1980/2004 (55.9%, Blackadder for Sun Favourite Taiwan, sherry butt #5984, 182 bottles)

Caol Ila 25 yo 1979/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing OMC, DL 1358, 296 bottles)

Glenfarclas 30 yo 1964/1995 (54.1%, Signatory, sherry cask #4996)

Glenrothes 1972/2004 (43%, OB)

Glenrothes 36 yo 1968/2005 (53.2%, Ducan Taylor, cask #13486, 144 bottles)

Macallan 'Coilltean' 1992/2004 (55%, Samaroli, new American oak, cask #8518, 420 bottles)

Smoking Islay' (59.7%, Blackadder for Taiwan Single Malt Whisky Tasting Association, cask #BA 2005/202, 233 bottles)