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July 2012

Seriously Dramming

"well it is my Birthmonth"

I'm back home again and Scotland with its dream castles may now be history, but July is going to be rather special with lots of great drams, not so great ones and somewhere in the middle; my Birthday!





Saturday July 7th 2012

True Classics

or "Motor Maniac meets Malt Maniac"

After a recent discussion about some wonderful old classics with fellow Malt Maniac Serge, I decided what better way to celebrate a few magnificent drams in my Birthmonth than to pair them with some of those magnificent old classics.


What would I like for my Birthday? Well, a bread van like this would be quite marvellous. It's a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Drogo, chassis No.2819GT.

In 1962 Count Giovanni Volpi commissioned Giotto Bizzarrini to upgrade a Ferrari 250 GT SWB to GTO specifications as Ferrari were not amused with The Count and had refused to sell him a GTO.



Bizzarrini (auto engineer) & Piero Drogo (a car body specialist) spent 14 days working on this project and in that short time created the Ferrari 250 GT Drogo also known as the Bread Van due to its unique shape. The Bread Van is lower than the GTO and thanks to that shape, sees the engine further back in the middle of the chassis. Thanks to a dry sump system the engine is also lower than its GTO counterpart.

The Bread Van competed in the 1962 Le Mans 24h and other world championship events and reportedly had a 7 kmh faster straight line speed than the GTO.

So, enjoy this series which I will ehance over the next week or so, but please remember, whisky and motors are both meant to enjoyed, but never together. Don't drink and drive!

Slàinte Mhath

All photos copyright Whisky Emporium photography and may not be copied or re-used without permission.



Glenfarclas 1966

Vanwall 1954-60



Vanwall competed in Formula 1 during the 1950's and was founded by Tony Vanderwell, owner of Thinwall bearings in Acton, London. The team name Vanwall was created by combining the name of the owner with his business name, hence Vanwall. Vanwall started by converting Ferraris for non-championship races, but in 1954 they created their own car for that year's Formula 1 season.

The team achieved racing successes in 1957 & 58 with Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks at the wheel. Sadly, Vanderwell's health was deteriorating during this time and 1958 was the team's last full racing season, even though they won the inaugural constructor's championship that year. The team stopped racing in 1960.

Glenfarclas 1966 for Nth Las Vegas is a special bottling for the Universal Whisky Experience, Las Vegas, March 18th & 19th 2011 and is one of only 219 bottles. Cask No.2602 has matured this whisky for well over 40 years and created a truly stunning nose offering the fruitiness of plums and damsons, alongside aged oak and some wonderful floral and herbal notes in the background. Although the palate doesn't quite have the delicate beauty of the nose, it is rich and full-flavoured with coffee, dark chocolate and oil of orange.

Vanwall may not have survived to see this Glenfarclas created, but for me these are two quintessentially British marques deserving of full recognition as I begin my personal exploration of Classic pairings for July.




(Sunday July 8th)

BenRiach 1976 35y "Auld Alliance"

Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 Ca. 1938



Alfa Romeo is undoubtedly one of the great auto marques with a racing pedigree dating back to its inception in 1910, when a group of entrepreneurs took over the Darracq automobile company on the outskirts of Milan.

They called their new company Anonima Lombardia Fabbrica Automobili and their racing successes date right back to 1913 when they achieved 2nd place in the Parma-Poggio Berceto hillclimb. In 1914 they built their first grand prix car which covered a kilometre at more than 147 km/h.

My featured car today is the Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Corto which has a straight 6 (cylinder) 2.3 litre engine with 95 BHP and capable of 81 mph (130 km/h). It's a rather beautiful 2+2 fixed head coupé with all the elegance of those late 1930's.

BenRiach 1976, 35y for Auld Alliance, Singapore is another special bottling, this time for Auld Alliance in Singapore and is also a thing of beauty and great surprises. From the very first nosing it announces an incredibly fruity presence which is rich in pineapple and pink grapefruit. The fruitiness extends to the palate which now includes not only pineapple, but also banana, raspberry, peach and some wonderfully creamy vanilla. The finish just continues with more light fruitiness as this whisky just goes on and on and ....

ALFA Romeo is one of my favourite auto marques with which the general public seem to have a love or hate relationship. I personally love them, in fact I currently own my second model which offers endless driving pleasure so I didn't hesitate to pair this wonderful 6C with an equally pleasurable BenRiach 1976 which I have awarded a mighty 88 points. As for the ALFA? At least as many points, Si?




(Monday July 9th)

The Glenlivet "Josie"

Daimler Conquest 1953



The Daimler Conquest was produced from 1953 to 1958 and was an executive luxury saloon with a 2.4 litre straight 6 engine, 75 BHP, a top speed of 90 mph and 0-60 mph in 20.4 seconds. A total of 4568 of this saloon model were produced. I'm pleased to say that this particular example enjoys a working life here in Bavaria and is in excellent condition. How do I know this? No, sadly I don't own it, but it is pictured on my driveway as I hired it for my wedding in 2008.

The Glenlivet "Josie" is one of a range of annual alphabetic single cask releases from the distillery and the name always reflects something particular to the distillery. I have previously seen Faemussach and this one; Josie is named after Glenlivet's underground spring. It exhibits the typical fruity style of Glenlivet with plenty of orange and lime, but it also includes fresh coffee beans on the nose and cappuccino on the palate. It does have a little woodiness, but not overpowering for my taste.

How can a series like this not include an original Daimler, it's just so very English and with a nickname (thanks to the number plate) of "Jo", it just had to be paired with Glenlivet's "Josie", Aye, 87 points too although "jo" is probably worth a few more!



(Tuesday July 10th)

Mortlach 1942, 50y

Golden Submarine 1917


The Golden Submarine was built in 1917 by Harry A Miller and Fred Offenhauser specifically for Barney Oldfield. In fact this car is said to have brought Miller nationwide prominence as a race-car builder. It comprised an aluminium body, a 4.7 litre aluminium alloy engine with 136 HP and on its racing debut in 1917 at the Chicago Board Speedway, averaged 104 mph up to the point when the engine failed. The car went on to compete in 54 races, winning 20 and also with two second places and two third places.

G&M's 1942, 50y Mortlach is from their Book of Kells series and offers many of the typical Mortlach characteristics, but in a surprisingly light way for such an aged whisky. It has the fruit of plums and dark cherries alongside a woodiness on the nose and then a palate offering that nuttiness alongside quite herbal elements. The finish is again surprisingly delicate and gentle.

A Mortlach with such a provenance but yet surprisingly delicate character has really found a soul-mate with the Golden Submarine which is equally rare, delicate and surprising. I had the pleasure of seeing this amazing machine running in the late 90's at Goodwood Festival of Speed and it was one of the stars of the show. Similarly, in June 2012 the Mortlach was one of the stars of our Maniacal 15y Anniversary. I think 88 points for each is very fair indeed.




(Wednesday July 11th)

Convalmore "Rare Malts" 24y

Stutz DV32 1933



Stutz began with some great success in 1911 with the Indianapolis 500 and immediately earned a reputation as "the car that made good in a day". Tis DV32 was made in 1933 just before their last car was produced in 1934. It was amazingly advanced at that time with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder and hemispherical combustion chambers. It had an 8-cylinder (in line) 156 HP engine with 32 valves and could cruise at up to 90 mph. A total of less than 200 Stutz DV32 models were produced.

Convalmore 24y, Rare Malts has a quite gentle, difficult to ascertain and subdued nose with a light fruitiness over hints of furniture (or car?) polish. The palate is much more expressive with lots of tropical fruitiness, vanilla and ginger all wrapped in a delightful creaminess. The finish just cruises on and on with a gentle pepperiness.

In the Stutz and Convalmore we have indeed two rarities with very individual characteristics and sadly, both no longer produce their elegant wares. I photographed this Stutz DV32 at Goodwood Festival of Speed around 1995-7 whereit was being entered in a classic car show at the event, rather than being raced up the hill. The convalmore was sampled in June 2012 and is well worthy of a magnificent 89 points. The DV32? Just magnificent.




(Friday July 13th)

Glenury Royal "Rare Malts" 23y

Bugatti Royale Type 41



The Bugatti Type 41 is more generally known as the Royale and is rumoured to exist thanks to the comments of an English Lady who unfavourably compared Ettore Bugatti's cars to those of Rolls Royce. The Royale is indeed a luxury car and has a massive 4.3m wheelbase and 6.4m overall length. The Royale weighs over 3 tonnes and has a massive straight 8, 12.7 litre engine which is one of the largest auto engines ever built producing 275 to 300 hp. Ettore Bugatti planned to sell the Royale to European Royalty but I guess his timing was bad as this was introduced around the time of the great European depression of the early 30's and although he planned to build 27, only six were ever built and only three of those actually sold. Unbelievably, all six production Royales still exist today, although the prototype (with an almost 15 litre engine) was destroyed in an accident in 1931.

Glenury Royale, Rare Malts, 23y is also pretty large and imposing with a nose not quite as large as the Bugatti, but comprising lots of perfumed and floral elements alongside furniture polish, creme brulee, mocha and rich dark chocolate. The palate is delightfully creamy with coffee and dark chocolate. An extremely long finish just about matches the length of that incredible Bugatti as it just goes on and on and .......

What can I possibly add here other than to say this is indeed a very Royal(e) pairing, big, expressive and with magnificent presence, both the Glenury and Bugatti easily earn my personal award of Greatness with an extremely well desrved 90 points. In fact I may even add a couple of extra points for the Royale. I am honoured to have tasted the Royal in June 2012 and photographed the Royale in full running glory at Goodwood Festival of Speed some 12-15 years ago.




(Wednesday July 18th)

Ardbeg "Day"

Auto Union Type C/D



The Auto Union V16 Type C was built as a Grand Prix racing car for the 1934-7 seasons when the weight restriction for cars was limited to 750kg. Amazingly the Type C had a V16 engine which produced 550 almost uncontrollable HP. For the 1938 season the engines were restricted to 3 litres for blown versions or 4.5 litres for conventional ones, so the Type D 3 litre V12 was developed with almost 300 BHP. This V12 had two cylinder blocks angled at 45° with a single overhead camshaft operating all 32 valves and providing optimum torque at low engine speeds. The version in my photo is a special Hillclimb model which was designed with dual back wheels to provide more traction especially upon exiting corners.

Every year during Feis Ile (Islay's festival of whisky and music) each of the island's distilleries hosts an open day and in 2012 Ardbeg's open day was June 2nd. To coincide with this, Ardbeg produced two versions of a bottling called Ardbeg "Day" which were supplied to their "Embassies" around the world, well, mostly in Europe really. This was available to buy in 70cl version and for tasting(s) in the 4.5 litre version. I was recently lucky to try this at Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh. This is a truly amazing whisky with not only that trademark Ardbeg peatiness, but it's a massive fruit bomb too as it offers apricot, peach and a host of summer berries on both nose and palate. Add just 4 drops of water and the fruitiness recedes to leave even more of that peatiness.

Whether in V16 or V12 format the Auto Union was a hard beast to tame and although the Ardbeg comes in an equally bestial 4.5 litre version, the fruitiness really shines through and goes a long way towards making this a very civilised dram with a wonderful depth of flavour. What can I say other than both are almost "Great", but just not quite as I offer a very creditable 88 points to each.




(Saturday July 21st))

Linlithgow 1973-2004 30y

Duesenberg SJ Roadster 1935



Frederick & August Duesenberg founded Duesenberg Automobile & Motors Company Inc. in 1913 with the intention to build sports cars and operated between 1913 and 1937. As early as 1914, just one year into the company's history a Duesenberg finished in 10th place at the Indy 500. Duesenbergs then went on to win the event in 1924, 1925 & 1927. In fact in 1923 Duesenbergs were used as pace cars for the race. In 1921 Jimmy Murphy became the first American to win the French Grand Prix when he drove a Duesenberg to victory at the Le Mans racetrack.

Pictured here is the Duesenberg SJ Roadster from 1935 A supercharged version reputed to do 104 mph in second gear and have a top speed of 135-140 mph in third gear. It could manage 0-60 mph in around 8 seconds and 0-100 mph in 17 seconds which is quite incredible considering it werighed in at two and a half to three tonnes. The supercharged engine produced 320 hp and even recorded a 1-hour average speed of 152 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.

Linlithgow 1973-2004 30y Decanter is a truly magnificent whisky with lots of delightful flora and exotic fruitiness, gentle wood, vanilla and just a hint of furniture polish, all delivered with a wonderfully creamy mouth-feel. Sadly the St. Magdalene distillery was closed in 1983 and expressions of St. Magdalene and Linlithgow are becoming harder to find, but if you do find a well-aged one my recommendation is to buy and savour it.

Today I offer two pedigrees par excellence with a motoring legend and a whisky to match. Only 36 examples of the "Duesy" SJ Roadster are said to have been built, slightly more of this 30y Linlithgow were bottled (or should that be decantered?) and both are well-deserving of my personal label of "Great"ness with an indubitable 91 points.




(Monday July 23rd))

Canadian Club 1909

Peerless Green Dragon 1904



The Peerless Green Dragon was built for Barney Oldfield in 1904 after he fell out with Alexander Winton (of Winton Motor Carriage Company). He joined the Peerless racing team and in 1906 purchased the equipment and continued to race Peerless Green Dragons on his own until 1907, winning many races and setting new speed records.

Barney Oldfield was a real crowd-pleaser with his style of driving which was to skid around corners with full throttle, although many would initially consider him reckless, he always received rapturous welcomes. On December 17th, 1904, he set a new record at Agricultural Park Los Angeles by covering a mile in 54 seconds. Remember, this was 1904.

This Canadian Club was distilled in 1904 and probably bottled at around 5-6 years old. I had the very rare privilege to try it during our Malt Maniacs 15y Anniversary in Scotland thanks to fellow Malt Maniac Patrick. It's a delightfully smooth whisky with lots of butterscotch and nuttiness (hazelnut and almond) alongside hints of apricot jam. It's an absolute delight and I really couldn't help comparing it to one of today's very fine old Scotch grain whiskies, in fact if I were to taste it totally blind I would probably believe it to be so.

I searched my picture libraries long and hard before finding a suitable companion to this rare old Canadian Club. In the end there was only one real option; The 1904 Peerless Green Dragon. It's believed that maybe as few as only four Green Dragons were ever made and one was destroyed in August 1904 when Barney's racing goggles were shattered by a rock, causing him to career off the track. Only 5 years separate the creation of these two beauties and although it's not known how many bottles of this 1904 Canadian Club were released, not how many have survived until today, I can certainly vouch for this particular one which was thoroughly enjoyed in June 2012. A veritable 89 points from me.




(Tuesday July 24th))

Charbay 12y "LAWS"

Babs 1926



How do you make a car go faster? These days we talk of turbo chargers, computer chips and various other hi-tech performance enhancers, but there was a time when one just built or installed a bigger engine. Maybe even a 27 litre aero engine.

Welcome to the roaring twenties & "Babs" a one-off monster, a veritable beast if I may so say. Most of my generation grew up with a certain film called chitty chitty bang bang, now welcome to the original Chitty 4, one of a series of aero-engined cars Count Louis Zborowski had built in his Chitty Bang Bang series. It was built on his Higham Park Estate near to Canterbury, England and sported a 27 litre, V12 Liberty (aero) engine with 450 bhp in 1924.

Sadly The Count died before the car was fully completed and was bought for £125 by John Parry-Thomas who rebuilt the engine with four Zenith carburettors and his own design of pistons. He also renamed the car "Babs" and in 1926 used it to claim a new land speed record at 171.02 mph (273.6 km/h).

On March 3rd 1927 he was attempting another new land speed record at Pendine Sands when the exposed drive chain broke and is said to have at least partially decapitated him, although there is some doubt as to whether he was really decapitated and whether the chain was at fault. Investigation of the recovered wreckage suggests the right rear wheel may have failed and overturned the car at speed.

Babs was left buried where it crashed on the beach at Pendine for 40 years before Owen Wyn Owen excavated, recovered and began to restore Babs. A project which would take some years. Although it wasn't firing on all cylinders that weekend, I was fortunate to witness it running up Goodwood hill during 1997's Festival of Speed and yes, it is a veritable beast which growls vociferously with all 27 litres.

Charbay is a winery and distillery in Northern California whose eccentric owner Miles Karakasevic creates occasional whiskey editions. In his search for ultimate quality he distils only bottle ready beers and, in this case he used Pilsner from the (now closed) Sonoma Mountain Brewery. It's massive, it's explosive and sports a lightly perfumed, very aromatic and truly wonderful nose of butterscotch, apricot, exotic spices and a touch of furniture polish. The palate delivers equally explosively with oil of orange, finest dark chocolate espresso coffee and various herbs and spices.

Today is undoubtedly a day of superlatives, a feast for all the senses with a pair of untamed beasts roaring with all their might. Babs is big and powerful but equally matched by this quite unbelievable Charbay. Speechless? Lost for words? maybe, but one immediately comes to mind; "Great" which in this case means 91 points from me.

A 3-litre dilemma: Whilst looking through my photo libraries searching for the right partner for today's Charbay I met upon something of a dilemma in the form of Babs or the equally astounding 24 litre Napier-Railton Special. The Napier-Railton was built in 1933 and soprts a 24 litre aero engine, producing just over 500 bhp and capable of 168 mph (270 km/h). Between 1933 and 1937 this car broke 47 world speed records.


So, what are 3 litres between friends? As a final thought for today I can't help thinking about the difference between these two beasts, namely 3 litres. I personally drive an Alfa Romeo with a V6, 3-litre engine and am now thinking that my own car with (almost) 230 bhp which is capable of around 160 mph (260 km/h) is merely the difference in capacity between these two beasts, but there is an engine technology difference of a good 70 years and I do manage more than 5 mles per gallon of petrol.

Slàinte Mhath




(Monday July 30th))

Glenfarclas 1953, 58y

Bentley 8 litre Tourer, 1931



The Bentley 8 litre Tourer has the reputation of being the largest and most luxurious Bentley model to be built before the company collapsed and was sold to Rolls Royce in late 1931. The model was originally introduced in 1930 with a straight six, 8 litre engine and a choice of 3.6 metre or 3.9 metre wheelbase, making it the largest car built in the UK up to that time.

Only 100 examples of the Bentley 8 litre were produced as this model was introduced at the beginning of the great depression in Europe and sadly it failed to sell in the required numbers to make a profit and helped put Bentley into receivership late in 1931.

Of the 100 examples produced, many of them still exist today and I was delighted to see this one in exemplary condition and being shown in the Cartier competiton at Goodwood around 1997.

This Glenfarclas 1953, 58y is an exclusive edition to Master of Malt and is bottled in conjnction with Wealth Solutions which means it is being promoted as an investment. It is of the oldest vintage Glenfarclas have in their warehouse and was bottled at a cask strength of 47.2% abv and 58 years old.

But what about the whisky? How can any 58y whisky be so gentle, delicate and yet so intense with flavours? It' an absolute delight with a nose including perfumed creamy toffee, sauteed raisins and apple, apricot fruitiness and an ancient wax seal on parchment. The palate is equally delightful and slightly dry with creeamy toffee sertved on a bed of Alpine flora and creamy vanilla leading into the extremely long finish.

What better way to end this "Classics" series than on a complete high with two magnificent and majestic marques, in fact true "Greats" by a country mile. You know by now what that means; 90+ points and in this case an extremely well-deserved 94 points from me and the honour of being the best whsiky I've yet tried in 2012.






Sunday July 1st 2012

Nosing New Make

or "28 New Spirits in an Ancient Castle"


One of the highlights of our Maniacal celebrations in Scotland was undoubtedly a visit to Diageo's quality control laboratory, a place where spirit from each of their 28 distilleries is continually analysed, batch by batch.

Panels of highly qualified nosers are given the task of continually assessing the new make from the distilleries to ensure ongoing quality. But that's not all as we were surrounded at one point by sucking, whirring, highly scientific and very delicate machines steadily going about their jobs. Sadly, although very impressed, "sucking and whirring" is about the most scientific description I can manage here.




So, could our Maniacal noses detect any similarities between new make and its corresponding mature counterpart? A very interesting quest indeed.

Before us were 5 samples of new make and 5 samples of mature whisky from the same five distilleries. This wasn't a blind exercise, but it was certainly interesting to be able to make the comparisons.


Linkwood The new make exhibits lots of graininess, fresh bread dough, yeast and after some time a hint of raspberry. The mature whisky appears to have lost all the yeast and bread dough notes as it offers more fruitiness, especially citrus and is also quite fresh in character.

Clynelish A very waxy, almost soapy new make also hints at a faint leatheriness, car polish and stewed damson or plums. The actual whisky still has some of the damson alongside a very faint, possibly waxy grassiness, but it is indeed much more rounded and mature.

Cragganmore Would you believe the new make suggests roast pork with a herb crust and a slight suggestion of sulphur? The sulphur is totally gone in the mature whisky, but the roast pork remains, in fact it is slightly more citrus with a suggestion of lemon or even lime.

Inchgower Now here's one of my favourite distilleries, especially for (much) older expressions, so how does the new make compare? well, it has lots of dried walnut, morning coffee biscuit and cereal. This translates very well into the mature whisky as it offers lots of fruity, nutty cereal.

Caol Ila Ahh this new make is big, very big with coal tar soap, bonfire smoke and lots of presence. The mature whisky is a little calmer, perhaps as one would expect, with a lighter smokiness, some peatiness and plenty of grassy fruitiness.

This was a marvellous and extremely interesting exercise to be able to compare new make directly with its mature counterparts and also one where I further improved my whisky knowledge, but sadly not to the scientific level of understanding those hi-tech sucking and whirring machines.

Slàinte Mhath




Recent major features (A full list of all Dram-atics articles may be found in my ToC)  
May-Jun 2012 Limburg - Whet Dreams, Dalmore Constellation, Independence? MM 15y Scotland, Blend of Maniacs  
Mar-Apr 2012 Investment grade madness, Glenglassaugh, 5th IWD, 1000th Review, April Fool, Going dotty, age verification  
Feb. 2012 It's a rum old do, Growing old gracefully, Four Imperial sisters  
Jan. 2012 Onwards & Upwards, Canadian Whisky Awards  
Dec. 2011 MMA 2011 Winners, HP 70's Orcadians, Debussy plays Pitaud, Class of 64-65, Elementary my dear Sukhinder  
Sept-Nov 2011 Malt Maniacs Awards 2011 - A weekend in the life of a Postmaster General  
June-Aug 2011 Bits Bytes & Drams, Glen Garioch 1994, Angela D'Orazio - Mackmyra, Trinity of Two Earls, Drams at Dawn
May 2011 Don't bug me with ads, A dram fine evening
April 2011 Cry me a River, Golden Oldies, The Shackleton Legacy, Two Weddings and a Whisky
March 2011 Masters of Photography, Memory and the Middle Cut, Sampling again, Dave Stirk 5, Choosing choice Choices
Feb. 2011 Festival time again, Spam Galore!, Drams & Trams

Jan. 2011

Lookback at 2010, New Job? Three Thirties, ToC, Overdosing on sherry casks




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