26 January 2015

Whisky Cabal 16 - the final countdown

We're doing this live. Or trying to. This may make the notes more decipherable, or less. no idea.... i may give up. it's very exciting.
Update: I'm tidying up some of the links and adding in more comments, overall I think the live tweeting/blogging worked ok, certainly easier to read my notes that way...

First up:
House of Commons - no.1 Scotch Whisky 40%, bottled about 1977/78. but unopened.

nose: paint stripper, methanol, scary, 3 day week,
palate: absolutely nothing there,
finish: burn, methylated vanilla, aftertaste of sick,

1/10 (for the bottle)
Update: fair to say this was appalling. Buchanan's were awarded the contract to supply the HoC back in the 1880s. I'd be sticking to beer or wine. Couple of links about the whisky here and here.

Dalmore 12 yo
nose: rubber, sweaty socks,
palate: caramel,
finish:  very very short
3 (B), 4(R+G), 5(A)/10

Update: It's not complex, it would be ok as a pub whisky. Distinct improvement over the HoC tho'.

Arran - 1996 53.9% single cask - sherry finish
nose: sherry, fruit, xmas cake, vanilla
palate: warm, nice, sherry, wow, honey,
finish: med-long, warming,

SMWS 28.25 Sweet, nutty, personality 23yo, d25/6/1990 1/237, refill hogshead, ex bourbon, 51.9%
Nose: caramelised sugar
palate: fruit salad, melon, walnuts,
finish: very hot, and melony,

Addition of water
brings out bourbon on the nose, lime, melon, citrus, definitely needs water.

It's a Tullibardine, and it's very very nice with water.
no water: 5-6/10
water: 8/10

Arran - 17yo 46%
nose: sherry, caramelised sugar
palate: i want more, honey, grapefruit, tangy citrus, apple - cooking,
finish: med-long

Light, tasty, and brilliantly balanced.
Update: surprisingly consistent rating by us compared to last time we had it. huzzah!

Douglas - Speyburn 9yo, 1/457 bottles, 46%
nose: rubber, medicinal, socks
palate: light, fruity, tangy,
finish: medium
Very quaffable, camping trip whisky,

SMWS 26.89 An exotic tearoom experience 27yo, 56.6% refill butt ex - sherry 1/485
nose: fruit salad, .lemon, pineapple, tea,
palate: zingy, more fruit, tangy,
finish: medium
quite vigorous for 27yo whisky,

Clyneish: i like. 'ees nice, yet another tin-arse moment

AnCnoc - Flaughter 46%
nose: salt, bacon, peat, tobacco
palate: peat, medicinal, salt, smoke, green apple,
finish: medium


and that ends the live blogging. we're off to repeat a couple of them for my (possibly) final tasting with the cabal.

love B and the Cabal.

Cow lactation

A throwaway comment on Countryfile last night caught my attention, nothing startling, they were commenting that bobby calves were effectively useless - except that this farm was keeping them for 12 months and selling as rose veal. Their point was more that the main function of the calves was to put the cow into lactation, allowing milk collection.

All of which requires artificial insemination (or old skool bull rogering). There's a 2 month period between lactation and birth before allowing the teats to recover.

So, why can't cows be genetically engineered to lactate all the time? or for a 9 month period? In some countries cows are already fed a large number of vitamins, which arguably do more harm than genetic engineering.

Obvious problem is the consumer, for some reason they're happy to accept meat/milk choc-full of vitamins to improve milk and meat production. Probably as they don't realise it's happening. But genetic engineering, which is labelled, is rejected. It is, largely, ignorance, but I suspect if people realised how their meat/milk was actually produced then GE would be less contentious.

any thoughts why it's not looked into?


19 January 2015

Top albums 2014 numbers 1-5

So the top5.

5 - Swans 'To Be Kind'
It took the previous Swans album, The Seer, and added Krautrock. There's almost trance-like vibe in some of the tracks, although it's still brutal and an almost physical aural assault. Which is nothing compared to seeing them vibe, the manchester uni O2 has a cavern like approach to sonics and adding in the nut shredding volume the Swans play at, somewhat intimidating.

4 - Jakob 'Sines'
New Zealand's post-rock lads delivered a superb album this year, strings by Rhian Sheehan (who has popped up in other years top10 lists). All win this album.

3 - Alcest 'Shelter'
More post-rock/shoegazer, this time French. Alcest have dropped the cookie monster vocals, and gone for glorious soaring melodies. Definitely worth a punt.

2 - Abel Ganz 'Abel Ganz'
It appears to be my most played album this year (from a quick look at last.fm), prog / rock / pop / celtic - a little hard to categorise this one. But it's wonderfully tune/melody based. It also has a brass band, more pop music needs brass. [that may not be true] Apparently AG have been going for some time, but this album is a big departure for their style. I've since picked up the previous album, and I'd strongly recommend this new one.

1 - Opeth 'Pale Communion'
The days of Opeth as a black metal band are well and truly behind them. The previous album was a big lurch towards 70s prog, and Pale Communion continues that. A quite stunning combination of prog, jazz, funk and metal, which reflects how the band approach playing live. Admittedly live you get the feeling all band members are doing all those styles within the same track, and not at the same time. Brilliant album.

Love, B

15 January 2015

Top Albums 2014 : Number 6-15

It's more usual to have a top 10, but I usually struggle with that and have at least two tenth equal, and 2014 was a brilliant year for music. So I decided 15 was reasonable, unlike some (ehh HippyDave) who went for 25.
I decided the top5 could probably be ordered, and the next 10 were a block. So you get the block now, and the top5 shortly.

Firstly, as usual, the disappointments.
Anathema - Distant Satellites
The last few albums have been, for me, of diminishing returns. The passion present in A Natural Disaster seems to have bled away to a bland mix of vaguely new-agey lyrics and portentous music. None of which sits too well for me, but I'll freely admit it's working for a lot of other people. Half of Distant Satellites was an improvement on the previous two albums as they were trying something new (almost hints of Mogwai?) but it didn't save it for me. As a friend put it, when he heard they were doing a tour of cathedrals, 'well they've gone right up their own arse', hard to disagree.

Amplifier - Mystoria
Octopus, the sprawling, complex, intense, confusing, brilliant double album from a few years hooked me. The follow up felt like a band trying to record something quickly to stop going insane, this new album feels like a punk album. Direct and short. And it didn't work for me.

Pineapple Thief - Magnolia
Never thought I'd put a 'thief album in my disappointments! I can see why they released it, it builds on (and is very similar to) the previous album which did well. Unfortunately having enjoyed the progression and changes in each album, this one doesn't have anything I haven't heard before.
Having said that, they are still on the best bands playing live, so go see them.

And so to the 6-15.
Don Walker - Hully Gully
Fair to say it wasn't easy to get hold of this album from the main songwriter of Cold Chisel. But it's worth it. And his website (link above) now has a bandcamp page. Kind of pub blues with great observational lyrics.

David Kilgour - End Times Undone
What is it about The Clean and their alumni? Can they produce a bad album, ever? Apparently not. This one takes the guitar based music of Left by Soft which is also a favourite album, and moves it to almost psychedelic overtones - particularly on the superb Christopher Columbus.

Robert Scott - The Green House
The Bats, solo, he can't make a bad album. Particularly if you like jangly guitar pop, this stuff is perfect. Being an addict I grabbed the deluxe OTT package from FlyingOut which was ridiculously good value. I felt guilty the amount of crap I got and minimal outlay for it. Yes, me, guilty. Weird.

Jonathan Crayford - Dark Light
Brings back memories of sipping cocktails/craft ale at Havana bar with others trying to forget their PhD's. Superb piano based jazz trio. It was a close run thing between this and Matthew Halsall + the Gondwana Orchestra, which Neil suggested. But the memories of Crayford and beer trumped Matthew, just. Both are well worth checking out. There's some sound samples of the Crayford here.

Leonard Cohen - Popular Problems
How does an 80 year old make on the best albums of the year (and it's not just me, he seems to have popped up on a number of best-of lists)? Eh who cares, Len's renaissance is great, and there's still a very wry sense of humour in those lyrics.

IQ - Road of Bones
They appear to be on a bit of a roll with their last few albums. But this one steps up, it's heavier (kind of), the new keyboardist has changed their sound - making it darker, and everything seems a degree better than the last album. Sure it's prog, and they ain't no pretty boys, but damn it's a fine album that pulls you in making you listen to the full 50+ minutes. There's not as much prog on this list as normal, and I'd really recommend giving this a spin.

Behemoth - The Satanist
Fuck me. Behemoth disappeared after the previous album with the lead singer Nergel being treated for leukemia. They came back with this, by far their best album (and Evangelion was superb). It's brutal riff based black metal, and in a year of some stunning metal releases, this stands above them all (honourable mentions to Scar Symmetry and Epica). It is everything I want in a metal album, aggression, riffs, tunes ... go forth and spin the video. It's also one of the best metal vids in years.

Scott Walker+SunnO))) - Soused
We appear to be getting almost regular releases from Scott Walker. This can only be a good thing. Although described as a collaboration, it feels more like a Scott Walker album with SunnO))) as the backing band. There's a bit more of their noise/sound scapes in there, but it's certainly very close to what you'd expect (?) from a SW album. It's dark, intense, and unsettling, so no change there. If you haven't heard SW before, this isn't a bad place to start, but I'd recommend watching the documentary 30th century man first.

Pink Floyd - The Endless River
A bunch of leftovers from the Division Bell sessions? Nick had mentioned in his book there was enough material for an ambient type album which the band had briefly thought about as a companion to TDB. I had low expectations, but what the hell, I knew I'd be buying it. It's a wee bit good. There's a lot of haters out there, but really as a parting shot for one of the most influential bands, it's a perfect eulogy. Lots of Rick Wright throughout, and lots of referneces to earlier Floyd albums. I'm not convinced the lyrics are the best for the one song, but eh, they could be a lot worse.

Robert Plant - Lullaby and ... the ceaseless roar
I'm not a LedZep fan, at all. But Plant solo? yep, it's interesting and varied. This new one is probably the best of his solo work, what struck me is the space within the tracks - it's beautifully recorded. Yeah I'm sure someone out there is criticising him stealing from xx or yy, but what the hell, it's a great album.

So there ya go. And three kiwi albums in there. Great stuff.

More to come.