Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2005 - Part
- THREE OFFICIAL CARDHUS
22 yo 1982/2005 (57.8%, OB, 3000
Colour: gold. Nose: wow,
very unusual! It starts on some
very bold notes of burning candles
and oxidized apple juice, paraffin,
passion fruits and kirsch. Whiffs
of burnt caramel, burnt bread, coal,
chimney… Also some raspberry
liquor and calvados. Really different!
It gets then a little sourish, with
hints of Madeira and sweet light
fruit vinegar, mead, tequila…
It’s a whole bar! Goes on
with some notes of old books, getting
slightly dusty and with whiffs of
cinnamon on a plum pie. Complex
and very, very interesting. Ah,
and now there’s some bold
praline. Beautiful. Mouth: ha, this
is really unusual, as it starts
on some very heavy notes of kirsch
again, plum eau de vie (quetsche,
kind of dark-red plum), calvados
and grappa. Funny! Lots of fruits,
Muscat, white currant… It
grows stronger and stronger. Notes
of rosewater, Gewurztraminer, rice
spirit (mei kwei lu), with lots
of chocolate and mocha. It then
gets quite tannic and rummy…
Decidedly a whole bar. The finish
is long, rather hot and quite spirity.
In short, this one is quite a beast
and all these ‘eau de vie’
notes might not please everyone,
but I really like it a lot, for
it’s unlike any other malt
I’ve tasted. 90 points.
12 yo (43%, OB, Wax & Vitale
Colour: white wine. Nose: very malty
and caramelly at first nosing, developing
on quite some smoky and waxy notes.
Great whiffs of turpentine and eucalyptus
leaves, wet stone and iron. Notes
of grapefruit juice, almond milk
and marzipan, old books, getting
more and more mineral like some
Rieslings. Extremely enjoyable,
certainly much less middle-of-the-road
than the more recent bottlings.
Ah, also some roasted peanuts…
Really beautiful, a great surprise!
Some similarities with the new 22
yo ’s. Mouth: yes, it’s
superb! Paraffin and paper again,
mastic candies, olive oil, bitter
almonds, orgeat syrup… Very,
very waxy and malty, with no weakness
at all. Cookies, coffee caramel,
cigars… Wow, Cardhu! No wonder
it was such a star in the old days
(before they transformed it into
a heavy selling MOTR malt). 89
points, no less.
12 yo (86 proof, OB, US, ivory label,
Colour: light amber. Nose: a very
nutty start, with quite some caramel,
burnt cake, brioche and praline.
Notes of nectar and light honey.
Gets very flowery (dandelion). Nice
and balanced! Mouth: the attack
is quite punchy, creamy and coating…
Quite some caramel and lots of light
honey. Oomphy indeed! Develops on
apricot jam, Mirabelle pie, with
a rather long finish on caramel.
Again, it’s a nice, full bodied
whisky. 80 points.
listening: another tune I should
not like (for it's so Enya-esque
and 'produced') so please forgive
me, but I enjoy Julie
the end of the world.mp3 quite
a lot. Is it serious, doctor? Please
buy Julie Cruise's music if you
- TWO NEW ABERLOURS
1994/2005 (46%, Berry Bros &
Colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh,
nicely grainy, starting on muesli,
hot milk, breadcrumb. Some nice
notes of fresh butter. Develops
on some nice vegetal notes, fern,
dill, fresh parsley, freshly mown
lawn. Also some fresh fruits (gooseberries,
apples) and hints of violets. Really
clean, with very little wood influence.
Mouth: sweet and fruity start (apples,
white peaches, watermelon), grainy,
getting quite spicy and gingery.
Some rather bold notes of pear eau
de vie. Rather short finish, quite
salty. A rather good and interesting
‘pure’ Aberlour (for
it’s quite unusual) but no
complexity monster. 80 points.
30 yo 1975/2005 (49.2%, OB, cask
#4556, 168 bottles)
Colour: light gold. Nose: fresh
attack with whiffs of white pepper
and some rather bold notes of light
honey, nectar, flowers (dandelion),
apricot jam, developing on sweet
white wine (Sauternes). Cooked apples,
vanilla fudge. Interesting whiffs
of sea air and notes of high-end
cider. Extremely enjoyable and very
far from most sherried Aberlours
we’re used to. Mouth: sweet
and rounded attack, with some beautiful
oak and quite some vanilla and apple
juice. Very nice spicy notes (a
bit of nutmeg, white pepper) and
quite some salt. Dried parsley,
Provence herbs. Gets a little cardboardy
and drying… Notes of sweet
wine again, hints – just hints
– of balsamic vinegar. Rather
long finish, extremely salty (it
makes me think of a Malt maniacs
vatting we did, that contained a
good deal of Lochindaal seawater).
Very good indeed, even if it could
have been a little bolder. 88
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
thanks to Davin de Kergommeaux)
listening: I'd bet you'd never expected
to see the versatile José
Feliciano on whiskyfun,
had you? Okay, I win, here's Stevie
lady.mp3 (from Feliciano's 1974
CD 'And the feeling's good') - and
after all, didn't he do the best
'Light my fire' after the Doors
(okay, and after Julie Driscoll...)?
Please by José Feliciano's
- THREE INVERLEVENS
27 yo 1977/2005 (51%, Signatory
Cask Strength, cask #3600, 146 bottles)
Colour: white wine - straw. Nose:
bold and elegant at the same time.
Lots of notes or ripe apple, cider,
developing on wet stones and ashes,
just before some striking notes
of aniseed start to assault your
nostrils. Great – if you like
aniseed, that is. Mouth: quite powerful
and sweet, with these bold notes
of aniseed right from the start
this time, with also lots of liquorice
and a nice oakiness. Some bold tannins
but not of the (too) drying kind.
Quite some lemon juice too. Probably
the best Inverleven I ever had,
with a superb balance. 88
1979 (40%, G&M licensed bottling,
Colour: pure gold. Nose: very fresh
and clean start, on grains and apples,
getting then quite gingery with
also some notes of aspirin and gin
fizz, orange drops, Fanta…
Also rather cardboardy. Quite simple
and not too enjoyable, in fact.
Mouth: not too bold and extremely
sweet, on sugared apple juice, Fanta
again; It then sort of falls apart,
with a very short finish and just
a little pepper and cinnamon –
quite bitter, in fact. Drinkable
but that’s all, I’m
afraid. 73 points.
26 yo 1977/2003 (57%, Ducan Taylor
Peerless, cask #3095, 168 bottles)
Colour: light gold. Nose: quite
spirity, with a mix of grapefruit
juice and freshly sawn wood. The
alcohol is very burning! What’s
more, it does not ‘carry’
any specific aromas – just
a little caramel and burning candles
– quite soapy at that. Mouth:
bold and rather punchy, better than
what the nose suggested. Lots of
citrusy notes, grapefruit skin,
lemon juice and even seeds…
Notes of gin, wood, getting quite
drying. The finish is long but spirity
and quite bitter. Interesting as
an example of a very citrusy Lowlander
but I did not enjoy it too much.
One of the very few real misses
by Duncan Taylor? 77 points.
Bettens does a minimalist
over here.mp3 (from her album
Scream). Nice voice! Please buy
Sarah Bettens' music.
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
- TWO NEW INDIE GLENDULLANS
14 yo 1991/2005 (46%, Signatory
Unchillfiltered, cask #4056, 259
Colour: white wine. Nose: very fruity
and vegetal at the same time, fragrant
and almost vibrant. Beautiful notes
of violets and lavender (not that
kind of lavender) and freshly cut,
ripe pear. Very fresh indeed! Beautifully
sweet, creamy and bold. Maybe a
little too tannic but nothing unbearable.
Also a nice sourness towards the
finish. In short, the nose was very
interesting, the mouth nicely sweet
and sour, a young Speysider to try,
definitely. 86 points.
9 yo 1996/2005 (46%, Murray McDavid,
Bruichladdich decided to ‘affine’
(no finishing, they say) most of
Murray McDavid’s core range
from now on, while the Mission series
This Glendullan (‘not exactly
blessed with the most inspiring
name or location’ says the
label) has been fini… err,
affined in some Banyuls cask (the
grape variety being Grenache). Colour:
blush wine, salmony. Nose: sweet
and not winey, but with lots of
cooked strawberries and raspberries.
Fresh, ultra-clean and uncomplicated.
Mouth: bold and powerful, with lots
of liquorice and toffee, getting
most funnily very salty. There must
have been lots of minerals in the
cask(s). Hints of violet candies.
Gets a little rubbery but it’s
a nice winesky. 84 points.
(When people will start talking
about wineskies, please remember
you saw it here for the first time!
listening: does French pop-rock
really exist? Maybe the answer is
in Hubert Mounier's L'Affaire
Louis Trio and their
1993 hit Mobilis
and mobile.mp3, which was based
on Jules Verne's work. The band
splitted in 1999 but it's rumoured
that Hubert Mounier's new CD is
extremely good. Please buy it!
- This is too funny!
It's called the Gray
Liquor Filter and even
the way they talk about it is funny:
'The world's first and only
personal liquor filter is fucking
awesome! The Gray Kangaroo Personal
Liquor FIlter was invented several
years ago as a means of providing
high quality cheap booze for large
groups of people. The Gray Kangaroo
Personal Liquor Filter (currently
in it's third design) uses the same
technology that the liquor companies
use to improve the quality of packaged
liquor... What it does is remove
particulate matter and harmful toxins
while leaving delicious filtered
liquor. Filtered liquor (especially
vodka) is competitive with brands
that cost three times the price.
Try it: you will be amazed and never
go back to high priced booze.'
What's sure is that this is not
- TWO YOUNG HIGHLAND PARKS
Park 12 yo ‘Millenium Edition’
(55.7%, OB, 2000 bottles)
Colour: pure yellow gold. Nose:
very bold (yet delicate) but fresh
attack, very flowery and quite
smoky, soon to get also rather
spicy. Lots of nutmeg, fresh ginger,
cinnamon. Whiffs of dill and fresh
parsley, wet moss, Chinese star
anise… Some interesting
notes of wet calcarious stone.
Great balance! Mouth: bold and
creamy, with again what appears
to be a perfect balance. Lots
of liquorice, though, and also
some smoke and pepper. Clove,
cooked zucchini flowers, strong
chestnut honey, rubber, satay
sauce, light toffee… The
finish is bold and very ‘creamy’
and coating, mainly on liquorice.
In short, an excellent one and
at 12 years old, it’s got
a superb complexity. Perfect.
Park 13 yo 1992/2005 (65.2%, Adelphi,
Colour: golden. Nose: rather closed
at first nosing, which is quite
astonishing, but it’s soon
to get spirity and fragrant, with
lots of melon, peach and pineapple.
It then gets very winey (white wine,
muscadet) with also some whiffs
of white pepper and a little caramel,
light toffee and fudge. Some sour
notes (nice ones) do also develop
after a while, and finally some
rather nice oaky ones. It seems
to be fresh and ‘natural’
but very far from the OB’s
in style. Mouth: very bold and powerful
of course, but it’s ‘drinkable’.
Very sweet and fruity (tangerines,
melon and peach again, boxed pineapples),
growing quite herbal (tea) and getting
finally very citrusy, with some
bold lemon skin and seeds as often.
Very little woody notes. Not too
complex in fact, but very nicely
balanced. Certainly one of the nicest
‘natural’ indie Highland
Parks. 86 points.
listening: if you sometimes go to
rock concerts, you probably already
drumming, as he must be today's
most sought after session drummer.
Listen to him in Think.mp3
by M.J. (not the R.S.) and you'll
probably understand why. Please
buy Curt Bisquera's music! (via
- TWO STUNNING LEDAIGS
18 yo 1972 (54.4%, James MacArthur)
Some fellow maniac told me wonders
about the 1972 Ledaigs, and it’s
true I loved an G&M ‘old
brown label’ we had on…
Islay. Colour: straw. Nose: wow,
wonderfully peaty a la Ardbeg 1974
or Brora 1972 (yeah, talking about
vintages in whisky). Very smoky,
with whiffs of wet stone and fresh
pepper. Extremely clean, pure, almost
austere and sharp like a blade,
I love that. Hints of seltzer. Mouth:
incredible, it’s exactly like
the very best unsherried old Ardbegs.
Very pure again, sharp, clean, with
a superb blend of smokiness, peat
and grapefruit juice. Great balance,
and some great peppery notes at
that. Stunning development on lemon
seeds and a very long smoky finish.
A perfect style, this one could
compete with many Ardbeg single
casks or Broras Rare Malts, OB’s
or Platinum – and I’m
not sure about the results if that’s
done ‘blindly’. A stunning
surprise: 93 points
(thanks again, Luc).
30 yo 1974/2005 (48.7%, Signatory,
cask #3223, shery hogshead, 208
Colour: amber. Nose: wow! Very complex
and immediately enjoyable. Notes
of vanilla fudge, cooked strawberries,
fresh bananas and oysters right
at the start – tell me about
a mixture. A delicate but well present
woody structure with whiffs of white
pepper, plus some very nice notes
of dried oranges, Grand Marnier
(the best cuvees), and old sweet
wine (Sauternes). Traces of peat
smoke, just traces (the 1974’s
seem to have been much less peaty
than the 1972’s at Ledaig).
Not overly complex but truly beautiful.
sweet, creamy and coating, with
a beautiful mix of fruit jams (plums,
apricot), smoked tea and lemon juice,
with also some acidic fruits (kiwi,
green apples) which prevent it from
being not nervous enough. Medium
long finish, on lemon peel with
a little cinnamon. An excellent
old Ledaig again, really beautiful
and not tired at all after all these
years. 91 points.
listening: Master of the Hammond
Smith plays Herbie
Hancock's famous Watermelon
man.mp3 in 1995 - that was on
his CD 'Damn!' Not sure it's not
even better than the Headhunters'
latest version, which says much.
The great Jimmy Smith died in January
this year but he will never be forgotten.
Please buy his music! (via superlative
listening - oldies but goldies:
1970, Chicagoan band The
ides of March do Vehicle.mp3.
Ah, how much I like the short, but
very Zappa-esque guitar solo! And
the brass section... Better than
Blood Sweat and Tears? You decide...
Anyway, I've seen they are together
again, so please buy their music
or go to their concerts!
TASTING - TWO OLD BRUICHLADDICHS
NAS (70 proof, OB, 1970’s)
Colour: straw. Nose: caramel,
fudge, Werther’s Originals.
Very, very light. Some vanilla
crème. Mouth: very light
again, even weak. Dried herbs
and caramel, getting very grainy.
Some notes of old papers. Perhaps
a bit tired? 65 points.
10 yo (43%, red on cream label,
airline plastic bottle, early 90's)
Colour: straw. Nose: grainy again
and caramel again. Herbal tea, fudge,
hot butter. Quite fresh. Better
than the older version. Mouth: bolder
again and a little creamy. Notes
of wood. Develops on herbal tea,
fudge, getting quite oaky and finally
grainy. Hints of spices (clove).
A dry finish but it's rather sippable.
This one, once again, stresses the
good work done at Bruichladdich
since the takeover. 78 points.
- NEW AND OLD HIGHLAND PARKS
Park 19 yo 1985/2005 (54%, Signatory,
cask #2911, hogshead, 296 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: quite
powerful, flowery and fruity (apple,
pears, fresh pineapple) at the
same time. Nice and lively, showing
little cask influence. It then
gets quite yeasty, with some cooked
yoghurt and porridge, before the
fruity notes come back with some
gooseberries and white currant.
Some light perfumy notes and also
whiffs of varnish. Rather fresh,
lively and enjoyable.
fruity attack, the alcohol being
rather discreet. Develops on some
heavy citrusy notes, not unlike
some Lowlanders. Lots of lemon peel
and seeds, green vegetables, herbal
tea… Quite herbal indeed,
with a rather nice sharpness –
and also an enjoyable bitterness,
provided you’re into this
kind of very ‘natural’
whiskies. Rather long, lemony finish.
I like this profile, provided there’s
some balance. This time it’s
the case. 87 points.
Park 18 yo 1960/1978 (43%, OB, ‘James
Grant green dumpy’)
Colour: cognac. Nose: very complex,
growing very coastal and rather
smoky. Great notes of sea air and
crystallised fruits, honey and heather.
Rather light in fact but really
complex. Embrocations, camphor,
sweet Chinese sauce, soy sauce…
Very nice indeed. Mouth: rather
creamy, punchier than expected.
Very interesting notes of smoked
meat, resins, camphor, dried fruits…
Also some ‘arranged rum’
(with pineapple juice). Very, very
good, even if perhaps a little less
complex than the other ‘HP
green dumpies’ I had before.
The finish is long, though, just
slightly bitter. Anyway, an excellent
old official Highland Park again!
92 points (thanks
Park 1957/1977 (70° proof, Berry
Bros & Rudd)
Colour: amber. Nose: rather light
but very complex and delicate at
first nosing, wit some spring water,
dried angelica, liquorice…
It gets then beautifully smoky (bonfire),
with also some beeswax and heather.
Very subtle indeed. Mouth: sweet
and light again but not lacking
vivacity at all. Very nice notes
of crystallised oranges, balsam,
menthol and spearmint, with also
some hot caramel and flower jelly.
An old style Highland Park, all
delicacy. Hints of liquorice, dried
parsley and Provence herbs. Perhaps
a tad flat but really beautiful,
getting just slightly bitter towards
the finish. 90 points.
listening - Did you know Jimi
Hendrix's home recordings?
Here are two versions of Angel.mp3
one after the other. Just Jimi and
his guitar... Very, very moving...
- TWO TALISKERS
'175th anniversary' (45.8%, OB,
Colour: gold. Nose: extremely
fresh at first nosing, on sea
air and light toffee. No punch-in-you-face
smells this time, but lots of
smoothness and, dare I say, delicacy.
The peat smoke is well here but
it’s somewhat distant, while
these coastal and ‘caramelly’
notes develop together. Then it
gets also quite fruity, with some
plum jam, quince jelly and very
ripe apricots. Hints of apple
skins, cider and even some white
wine. Less peat and pepper, and
more fruit seems to have been
the motto when they composed this
new Talisker that makes me think
of the Caol Ila 18 yo OB.
smooth, sweet and peppery (here
we go) at the same time, with again
these enjoyable citrusy notes (sugared
lemon juice, tangerines…).
Some peat but not too much, tea,
herbal tea, a little liquorice and
just hints of toffee, with also
some passion fruit. Medium long
finish, very enjoyable and with
no burn whatsoever. Very, very smooth
and balanced but not lacking oomph,
this one might be the feminine version
of Talisker. Extremely quaffable
just like that (warning, danger!)
15 yo 1989/2004 (59.9%, SMWS 14.14)
Colour: sweet white wine. Nose:
ah, this is much rougher! More spirity,
with quite some peat and lemon or
grapefruit juice. It’s also
very mineral (flint stone) and quite
yeasty (‘good’ porridge).
Some very nice notes of camphor
come through, and also something
(nicely) perfumy. But it’s
still very pure, extremely clean,
and reminiscent of the best ‘mineral’
Rieslings (which means much better
than BNJ, Mr. Murray). Mouth: the
attack is very sweet and smoky at
the same time, with some nice notes
of not too ripe kiwis and lemon
playing with your tongue and quite
some pepper, even if it’s
not the usual blast. Quite curiously,
it’s rather strong but it
sort of lacks body, with a rather
thin ‘middle’. Nothing
too serious, though, it’s
still an excellent dram. The finish
is long and bold again (bizarre!)
on lemon juice and white pepper.
Definitely a good one, with a nose
that I loved. 87 points.
LET'S GET SUPREMELY ELEGANT
it's time to forget about your old,
lousy Arrow or Hathaway shirts (or
your whisky-branded olive green
polo-shirts) and switch to these
new T-shirts that are now available
they cute or T-Shirt
T-Shop. Granted, you will never
make it onto Vogue or Vanity Fair's
covers but everybody will now understand
that you live with passion and that
you don't swim with the small fish.
And why not try them with your Prussian
blue Armani suit and a pair of Prada
– BLUES -
Recommended listening: it seems
that I never posted about the already
famous young guitarist extraordinaire
Tedeschi, so let's
be quick, here's an excellent piece:
woman.mp3 (live). Please buy
- THREE YOUNG SHERRIED ARDBEGS
1974/1983 (59%, Duthie for Samaroli,
2400 bottles, sherry)
Colour: straw. Nose: very powerful,
extremely tary and hugely smoky
attack, with lots of asphalt.
Develops on some mega-bold notes
of pineapple skins and pu-her
tea and then turpentine and pine
resin. This young puppy is extremely
concentrated, it appears, very
compact but not raw in any way
(nothing to do with some very
fashionable recent baby Ardbegs).
Some great notes of pine honey,
balsam and even balsamic vinegar.
as usually, it’s quite smooth
for ten seconds but then it grows
stronger and stronger, almost overpowering.
Let’s say ‘just at the
limits’. Lots of peaty notes
of course, all sorts of smoky ones,
and also some enjoyable pine candies.
Full of empyreumatic tastes indeed,
with also some eucalyptus, tar and
a little rubber. Now, it’s
also really hot and extremely strong!
young Ardbeg (the real McCoy?) that
you can feel from the top of your
head to the tips of your toes. Many
more recent young so called ‘peat
monsters’ taste like diluted
cider compared to this one. Its
finish is incredibly long but also
quite burning, even after a good
three minutes. This, is a monster.
A genuine killer in fact –it’s
hard to rate it, even if water makes
it a bit more complex and ‘drinkable’
indeed. Let’s say 91
points (thanks, Luc)
9 yo 1995/2004 (56.4%, Spirit of
Scotland for Potstill, sherry cask,
cask #1397, 321 bottles)
Colour: pure gold. Nose: very classical,
typically Ardbeg with a nice smoothness
from the sherry. Quite tary, smoky
and maritime, with a very nice definition.
Then come the caramelly and toffeeish
notes, but it’s all very enjoyable
and so nicely balanced. Some liquorice
too, crystallised oranges, rubber.
Just plain enjoyable. A young Ardbeg
can be fantastic when not from a
lazy cask! Mouth: sweet and rounded
at first sip, but the rather violent
peaty notes are soon to rule. Really
bold and powerful, but not thick.
Quite some caramel and liquorice,
with some notes of burnt cake. It
gets then a little bitter and too
rubbery but nothing excessive. Long,
bold finish, with a pinch of salt.
A very good youngster from an excellent
cask: 89 points.
6 yo 1998/2005 (56.2%, SMWS 33.57,
fresh sherry gorda)
Colour: amber with pink hues. Nose:
this one is very different, much
less Ardbegish. Some big bold notes
of caramel, sherry and sulphur manage
to dominate the malt right from
the start. Incredible! Bold notes
of cold ashes (chimney) and matchstick,
gunpowder, wet stone… Some
feint organics but almost no traces
of Ardbeg, most astonishingly. In
short it’s nice, but it’s
not Ardbeg. Gets more and more perfumey
and a little sour with time, with
something Bowmoreish. Mouth: curiously
thin attack, with just some spirit
and some wine… Then some overcooked
wine sauce, lots of tannins, strong
caramel and all sorts of burnt notes
and that's all, folks. Or rather
not: there are some peaty flavours
hiding behind the cask but they
are barely detectable before the
finish where, indeed, they finally
nice finish, by the way, but again,
the cask might has taken too much
of its share – after just
6 years! Certainly a curiosity,
for heavily sherried Ardbeg freaks
only. 80 points
(for the truly enjoyable finish).
listening: the great Fela
Kuti died on October
15, 1997 but his legacy is stronger
than ever. Have a try at Water
no get enemy.mp3 and you'll
see why (and I'm not talking about
politics). Please buy Fela's music,
(a part of) the money should go
to the right place.
Kentish Town, London
Sept. 14th 2005
blame this gig on a good friend
of mine, Ol’ Misery. Every
now and again Misery (as I like
to call him) sends me compilations
of his favorite sounds, normally
stuff like Bangladeshi funeral chants
sampled with the best of Brian Wilson’s
Smile. Exhilarating stuff! Anyway
a few months ago a Misery special
dropped on my doormat. Half way
through, just as I was giving up
all hope, I was stopped in my tracks
by a country tune, “What was
that?”. I played it again
and realized to my delight it was
a bluegrass pastiche of that great
rockers’ favourite, Motorhead’s
‘Ace of Spades’, by
a band called Hayseed
Dixie. I was hooked
– or so I thought. Hence the
Big mistake. Hayseed Dixie are a
one joke band, playing frenetic
of a comical variety of vaguely
heavy metal tunes, ranging from
AC/DC (Hayseed Dixie – get
it?) through Kiss, Black Sabbath
and Led Zeppelin. They even manage
to include the marvelously funny
Outkast and the less amusing but
highly fashionable Franz Ferdinand.
The problem is that once you’ve
got the ‘joke’ of each
song, normally at the start of each
arrangement, then each one frankly
sounds pretty much the same. It’s
like hearing a one-dimensional stand-up
comic doing jokes about his mother-in-law
all night, and about as interesting.
That’s why we left early.
not to say that the band isn’t
without talent. Singer and fiddle-player
Barley Scotch (aka Nashville recording
studio owner and PhD-holding Guardian
reader John Wheeler) sings and plays
strongly, and does his best to engage
the audience with ‘comic’
patter (more of which later) as
their interest patently wanes as
the night goes on. The guts of the
band are provided by Don Wayne and
Dale Reno, on banjo and mandolin.
These ‘boys’ are sons
of the famous banjo picker Don Reno,
who co-wrote ‘Duelling Banjos’
back in 1955, or thereabouts. And
their playing, despite the comedic
bent, is of the highest quality.
from the look of it both Don Jnr.
and Dale were with their Daddy at
the time, for they both look to
be the wrong (oops, I meant to say
the right) side of 50. Now despite
his advanced years Dale burst onto
stage not in bib and braces, like
the rest of the boys, but a cut-off
B&B outfit in tribute to AC/DC’s
Angus Young (headband and all) ,
and for the first few numbers does
a pretty good and laughingly incongruous
Angus routine with his mandolin.
But time takes its toll on us all,
and as Dale slows down he begins
to seek frequent refreshment from
the huge tub of iced beers that
sits behind the band. As a consequence
he takes increasingly prolonged
absences from the stage for ‘relief’.
that’s ok, because Barley
Scotch is there to drawl though
a parody of a good old boy routine
that like the songs becomes increasingly
threadbare, complete with a Alabama
3 revivalist religion thing. And
lots of beer. Now I guess it may
be an attempt to jolt the straight-laced
sour faced PC majority out of their
sanctimonious smugness, but in the
end it’s flat and repetitive.
A discourse about ‘ass’
and breasts (both of which feature
heavily on the cover of their new
album A Hot Piece of Grass),
is followed by one about women’s
pubic hair (it’s supposed
to be a George Bush joke), NASCAR
(it’s an American sport apparently)
involving more breast, ‘ass’
and beer, and divorce, which brings
on more of the same.
In between, in addition to the covers,
we also get some of the boy’s
own tunes, most notably ‘I’m
keeping your poop (in a jar)’,
and for whisky lovers, ‘I
married the moonshiner’s daughter
(she made me liquor all night long)’.
Ho hum indeed. Well, it maybe that
my sense of humour is failing me
(actually I don’t think it
is) but this all seemed to add up
to something pretty lightweight.
A decent idea executed well, but
not one that really adds up to an
hour and a half in a concert hall,
or for that matter forty minutes
or so on a disc. So if you have
to listen to them think hard about
buying an album; maybe get in touch
with Ol’ Misery first. - Nick
Morgan (concert photographs by Kate)
thanks, Nick. Keeping your poop
in your jar? Hum, that may sound
familiar to all modern art lovers,
since Italian conceptual artist
Piero Manzoni issued his famous
d'artista' in 1961. What's more,
it seems that Hayseed Dixie do sell
such a piece on their website, where
they write: 'We really mean
it - the genuine article, folks!
After keeping it on a stand by the
bed for all these years, Barley
finally feels ready to "make
the break" from the past and
pass this exquisite reminder of
love gone very wrong on to some
other needy individual (for a fair
price, of course)'. The
price is $2,000, but that might
well be only a joke. Anyway, we
still have the song: Keeping
your poop in your jar.mp3 (live).
- TWO FAIRLY RECENT OLD BLENDS
Scott’s Superior Blended 35
yo (43%, Duncan Taylor for John
Scott, Kirkwall, bottled 2003)
This one has been made out of five
quarter casks of Highland Park (two
from 1965 and three from 1968) plus
37% old Invergordon grain. Colour:
deep mahogany. Nose: beautiful!
Lots of Turkish delight, rose jam
and gewürztraminer. It really
smells like an antiques shop. Develops
on milk chocolate and smoked oysters,
with also some pine resin, whiffs
of camphor and fern. Wow, how complex!
too bad, the attack is very dry
and tannic, with lots of notes of
burnt wood and burnt caramel. It
gets more and more bitter, and also
curiously salty. A little unbalanced
in fact – I guess almost forty
years in a quarter cask might be
a little too much and the grain
didn’t really manage to prevent
the whole from having gone over
the hill. Especially the finish
is very bitter – and again
very salty. Yet, it’s not
undrinkable at all and the nose
was absolutely fabulous, so my rating
will be quite good: 86 points.
Rare’ (40%, OB, Irish, bottled
Colour: straw. Nose: starts weirdly,
on burnt alcohol, caramel and rotting
apples. Hints of overcooked butter,
developing on wood alcohol (methanol?)
and lots of vanilla extracts, getting
sort of bourbonny. Some nice notes
of hay and melon, though, also some
caramel cream. Mouth: very caramelly
and very fruity but rather simple.
Extremely sweet, almost sugarish.
Lots of burnt notes… The whole
is surprisingly big-bodied at 40%
abv, and much bolder than expected,
but it’s not enjoyable in
my opinion. Rather long, but very
spirity finish. 77 points.
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
– THREE OLD BANFFS
Banff 36 yo 1966/2003 (50.2%, Premier
Colour: straw. Nose: very grainy,
very vegetal and rather spirity.
Lots of notes of fern, freshly mown
lawn, and also some notes of gin.
In short, very ‘Banff’.
It gets more and more herbal, and
rather restrained, alas.
powerful and a little prickly, quite
peppery and very, very woody. Lots
of tannins… It’s hardly
enjoyable, I’m afraid. Some
notes of mustard… Gets almost
pungent, which is incredible at
36 yo . The finish is long but too
spirity and too vegetal.
24 yo 1977/2002 (50%, Silver Seal)
Colour: sweet white wine. Nose:
very spirity again, with some strong
mustardy notes right from the start.
Vase water, very vegetal. Some old
rotting seaweed. Again, this Banff
is too hard to enjoy, I’m
afraid. Mouth: sweet and peppery
attack, soon to get very vegetal
again. Lots of sugar and pepper,
wasabi, horseradish… Rather
burning, at that. A little more
balanced than the ‘Premier
Malts’ but it’s still
very ‘difficult’. Extremely
austere. 79 points.
34 yo 1966/2001 (50.1%, Signatory
Silent Stills, butt #3437, 528 bottles)
Colour: gold orange. Nose: the usual
mustardy notes are now mixed with
some rather bold sherry notes and
it sort of works. It’s rounder,
sweeter, with some bitter oranges
and even whiffs of peat. Also some
quince jelly and apricot jam. Ripe
apricot, ripe melon. An interesting
Banff, with quite some oomph for
such an old malt. Notes of fresh
cider apples. Mouth: bold, very
peppery and tannic but this time
it’s okay. Some nice notes
of tropical fruits and also something
rather nicely sourish. Long finish,
a little salty. Certainly the best
of the flight, even if it’s
far from being a winner. 84
listening - My god, it's not Louise
Vertigo who's going
to improve the reputation of the
French, I'm afraid. Try for instance
la femme.mp3 and you'll understand
why. Anyway, please buy Louise Vertigo's
- Laphroaig 31 yo 1974/2005 (49.7%,
OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry,
910 bottles) Colour:
bronze –amber. Nose: very
sulphury attack, but in a very nice
way, with also lots of rubber (bicycle
inner tube) and some strong notes
of dried oranges. A very compact
mix of sherry and peat, it appears.
It then gets also very farmy, on
wet hay, wet dog and horse stable,
and keeps developing on some bold
notes of bitter almonds, orgeat
syrup and mastic. The smoke is superb
as well. Very compact indeed, but
not narrow in any way – a
beauty as expected. Palate: bold,
punchy and creamy at first sip,
very convincing. Some big notes
of burnt herbs, smoked oysters and
dried fruits (lots: bitter oranges,
pears, bananas, quince, figs…)
Some fresh tropical fruits as well,
and again these big rubbery notes,
with also quite some pepper. It
really invades your mouth!
finish is very long ‘of course’,
very bitter (a ‘good’
bitterness) and always very rubbery…
A stunning bottling, for sure, that
rejoins the best Ardbegs in the
pantheon of the greatest sherried
peat ‘monsters’. At
379 euros, it’s not cheap
– to say the least - but alas,
the best Ardbegs are quick to fetch
the same kinds of prices at auctions
anyways! A 95 points
malt in my books.
listening: certainly one of the
most beautiful voices since Sandy
Denny left for the stars, Niamh
Parsons sings The
Rigs of Rye.mp3 (from her 2003
album 'Heart's Desire') Triple wow!
No nead to say there's no reason
why you shouldn't buy at least one
of Niamh Parsons' records, if you
– JAZZ - Recommended
Parker again, who else?
This time it's My
Melancholy baby.mp3 from the
legendary Savoy sessions. Fifty
years after he passed away, Bird
still rules, no doubt.
- Pittyvaich 12 yo (54%, James MacArthur,
Colour: straw. Nose: very fresh,
fruity and floral at the same time.
Lots of pear juice and flowers from
the field. Nice! Mouth: very sweet
and creamy, with a nice oakiness.
Some white pepper and lots of cooked
apples, apple compote, pineapple
juice. Simple but compact and highly
enjoyable ‘just like that’.
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
- FOUR OLD MACALLANS
10 yo (70 proof, OB for Halls
& Bramley, 60’s)
Colour: gold. Nose: typical old
whisky, with some caramel and
old papers – which doesn’t
mean it’s tired. Quite on
the contrary! Develops on some
turpentine, bitter almond, wax,
old furniture… It’s
like when you enter an antiques
shop. Hints of copper cleaner…
Just superb. Mouth: rather creamy
with some sherry but not too much.
Lots of ‘yellow’ jams
(apricot, plums) and some cold
herbal tea. A little praline,
fudge, and hints of roasted nuts.
Something winey, in a beautiful
way. Extremely delicate, that’s
for sure. 90 points.
15 yo 1956 (80 proof, OB, Rinaldi)
Colour: light amber. Nose: very,
very special, unlike any other Macallan
I ever had. Lots of notes of bandages,
seawater, over infused tea, eucalyptus…
No sherry that I can smell –
and no fruits. Weird! Mouth: extremely
dusty, on cocoa powder, paper, cardboard,
cold herbal tea… Getting quite
weak and tired. The nose was interesting
(yet weird) but the mouth doesn’t
make it. Perhaps was the bottle
tired? 75 points.
10 yo (70 proof, OB label but bottled
by G&M, 60’s)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: lots of
dried herbs, camomile, bitter caramel
and grass smoke. Quite dry and perhaps
too austere. Hints of soft water
and even a bit of peat. Some flower
nectar (meadow flowers). Mouth:
creamy and quite sugary, on some
light caramel and breakfast honey.
Much sweeter than on the nose, but
with a rather salty finish. An average
old Macallan, less creamy than usually
but still much drinkable. 82
15 yo (43%, G&M licensed bottling,
Colour: full amber. Nose: lots of
sherry, burnt cake, Xmas cake, bitter
chocolate. Quite rubbery too. Develops
on burnt sugar and Charteuse, Jägermeister.
It’s really bold! Mouth: superb
attack, on all sorts of herbal liquors,
caramel, balsamic vinegar, and of
course sherry. Very compact, powerful
and full-bodied; Classy, very classy
old Macallan! Very long finish,
with some hints of camphor and violet
sweets. Wow! 91 points.
– Jazz - Recommended
listening: she plays with Lenny
Kravitz, and played with David Gilmore,
Ravi Coltrane, the great Ron Carter,
the great Don Pullen, the great
Sam Rivers, the great Kenny Barron,
the great Joe Henderson and many
other greats. Here she is with her
own band: the great Cindy
Blackman plays 'Spank.mp3'
with Antoine Roney on sax, frenchman
Jacky Terrason on piano and Clarence
Seay on bass (from her CD 'Telepathy').
No need to say she's the cutest
drummer in the world - and certainly
one of the best! Please buy Miss
the index of all entries:
malts I had these weeks - 90+
points only - alphabetical:
Duthie for Samaroli, 2400 bottles, sherry)
22 yo 1982/2005 (57.8%, OB, 3000 bottles)
Park 12 yo ‘Millenium Edition’ (55.7%,
OB, 2000 bottles)
Park 18 yo 1960/1978 (43%,
OB, ‘James Grant green dumpy’)
Park 1957/1977 (70° proof, Berry
Bros & Rudd)
31 yo 1974/2005 (49.7%,
OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry, 910 bottles)
18 yo 1972 (54.4%, James MacArthur)
30 yo 1974/2005 (48.7%, Signatory,
cask #3223, shery hogshead, 208 bottles)
10 yo (70 proof, OB for Halls &
15 yo (43%, G&M licensed bottling,
'175th anniversary' (45.8%, OB, bottled