Music in 2019

Like last year, I’m about a month late with this post. Also like last year, things were insanely busy, both in things to do and things on my mind. Being in-between-jobs brings a lot of stress and a very strange way of filling days with mind numbing activities, and job applications. Also, especially in December with all the festivities and holidays, the kids are at home virtually all the time, so no down-time there either.

Anyway, in my previous job which lasted until the end of November, I didn’t really get around to listening to a lot of music, which means that (according to Spotify) I only listened to about a third of the amount of tracks I normally do.

The result of that is that it was a lot harder than normal to make a proper top ten, because I didn’t listen to these records all that much. Most of the +/- 15000 tracks I listened to were random playlists at home while doing something else. Listening to an album and giving it the attention it deserves is not really in the cards when playing games, or having a family dinner.

Yet, there is a list. Let’s kick things off with number 10!

#10: Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Honestly, I didn’t see this one coming. Mostly because it’s massively popular in the ‘popular music’ bracket, I skipped it. Until I somehow put it on towards the end of the year and it has been on a lot since. Massively catchy, but I guess most people already knew that.

#9: Vampire Weekend – Father Of The Bride

This one I did see coming. I really loved Vampire Weekend’s previous record so I kept my eye out for this one. Quite upbeat, especially for what I normally like, but sometimes you have to break the mold.

#8: Angel Olsen – All Mirrors

Yet again, one I did see coming. I loved her previous album(s) and I kept my eye out for this one. Not upbeat at all, virtually the polar opposite of the previous record, but it’s gorgeous.

#7: Old Crow Medicine Show – Live At The Ryman

Okay, three videos. Let me explain. First of all, of course if there’s something new by OCMS it’s in my list (not a guarantee, Calexico’s album isn’t in…). The second song ‘Will the circle be unbroken’ reminded me of the Belgian movie ‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’, which has quite some overlap with my preferred style of music. Also, that movie kind of wrecked me when I saw it, and it’s been on my mind since. So, that’s one to three.

Anyway. Old Crow Medicine Show played an amazing set at The Ryman, if this live record is something to go by, and I sure hope it is. Technically it’s not new music, but it’s just plain awesome and needs to be on here.

#6: The Twilight Sad – It Won’t Be Like This All The Time

I went to see this band with Anneke on my birthday in 2018 and it was a wall of sound if there ever was one. The opening act warned us about one of his songs being sad, and followed that up with ‘You’re here to see The Twilight Sad. You’re used to sad music’.

The above video doesn’t do the intensity of their performance justice, and the volume is cranked up to 11 during their shows too. There is no respite. There is no time to catch your breath in between the songs. And it is glorious.

#5: TOOL – Fear Inoculum

Tool isn’t a band you play by the track. You listen to their albums or you don’t really listen to it at all. It needs time to build up, and the way they make music isn’t something to take lightly.

Fear Inoculum is their first record in 13 years and it seems they’ve been able to pick up where they left of. In a good way. The record is amazing, and I just can’t not love TOOL.

#4: Tyler Childers – Country Squire

Well of course, there’s more country records in this list, although it’s a bit less than in previous years. I wasn’t expecting to like Tyler Childers’s ‘band record’ as much as I did. It’s a bit slick compared to what came before, but with Sturgill Simpson as producer, that can’t come as a surprise.

I went to see him live at Once In A Blue Moon last August, and it was awesome. Once again, I was a bit skeptical how he’d perform compared to previous shows I saw of him, but the worry was uncalled for.

#3: Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real – Turn Off The News (And Build A Garden)

Yes, Lukas Nelson is the son of Willie Nelson. It’s pretty easy to find stuff on the internet where they perform together. Pretty cool, especially if Nelson Junior has the skills to have a career in music.

#2: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen

There are no single videos available, but I can recommend spending some time with the entire record.

I was slightly skeptical about this record. The Skeleton Tree turned out great, even though it’s a record wrought with pain. Ghosteen is a bit toned down in the grief section, but still goes more in the direction of poetry with music. At least, compared with about 4 or more records ago…

#1: Rammstein – Rammstein

A self titled album of a band that’s been out and about for over 20 years? Sure, why not? And if it’s as good as this, I’m game. I kind of stopped listening to Rammstein some 15 years ago for some reason. Somehow, it didn’t resonate with me anymore. On this record, however, they seem to have toned down a little bit, although that’s not the case with their amazing video for ‘Deutschland’.

This record is well loved at home, with the kids enjoying the louder kind of music too!

So, summarizing, 2019 was a lot more diverse than some years prior, with a much wider range of music being listened to the the De Haan-Kramer residence. Let’s hope 2020 continues in the same vein.

Of course, there are some honorable mentions that just didn’t make the final cut:

Swans, Sharon van Etten, Mandolin Orange, Hauschka, Shovels & Rope, Andrew Bird, Lambchop, Weyes Blood, Marissa Nadler, Aldous Harding, Bear’s Den, Damien Jurado, Rhye, Son Volt, Rhiannon Giddens, Justin Townes Earle, The National, Calexico, The Raconteurs, Willie Nelson, The Black Keys, The Cactus Blossoms, Joan Shelley, Paul Cauthen, The Highwomen, Belle & Sebastian, Hiss Golden Messenger, The Heavy, The Mavericks and Patrick Watson.

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Green Spot, Château Léoville Barton, 46%

I just had this sample last week and I think I’ve been sitting on it for little over two years when I got it from MvtZ at 2017’s Whiskybase Gathering. When I had it, I didn’t bother to look it up because I knew MvtZ had given me some really old Irish whiskey samples back then.

Little did I know that this was in that same parcel too, with it being Irish, but not old at all. At least, not compared to the 1930s Jameson that sat next to it. So, in a way, I tried it blind.

Generally, I’m not too big on Irish whiskey, as avid readers know, but with some exceptions to the rule. Which is true for everything in the world of whisky. There are always exceptions to every rule. Ever.

Anyway, a single pot still whiskey from Midleton Distillery, finished in Bordeaux wine casks. Two things I ‘generally’ don’t like all that much, so that could be interesting!

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Almost the middle between corn-like, sweet bourbon and dry grainy scotch. Corn syrup, dry oak, old apples.

Sip:
Again the combination of overdone sweetness and dry oak and grain. Old fruit, dusty grain and pulpy oak.

Swallow:
The finish has a bit of a spicy tinge to it, and the oak lasts very long. Very old fashioned, but also a tad simple.

What’s strange is that based on the tasting notes, I would never have bought a bottle of it. It reads like its incoherent, out of balance and overly sweet. Which it actually is, but for some reason it kind-of works. It’s a bit simple, there’s not too much depth, and I guess after half a bottle it will find its way to a bottom shelf, but it’s not bad at all.

84/100

Green Spot Château Léoville Barton, 46%, bottled in 2015, is available for just under € 50 in Germany and Switzerland. It’s about a tenner more elsewhere.

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Glentauchers 20, 50.9% – Chorlton Whisky

Chorlton, honestly, sounds like the polite English version of barfing, but apart from that, I had never heard of this whisky brand, and until I found these tasting notes and looked up more information on the bottling, I had once again forgotten its existence.

Anyhow… Glentauchers is always a bit of a weird one, in my book. There’s not much out there and what is available is rather polarizing. I know of a lot of people who really like it, especially their sherry bombs that have been released the last couple of years. But this is from a refill bourbon barrel. More room for a little known distillery character to show itself.

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Some waxy notes on the nose, with some fresh oak. Wood shavings, corky apples, in a good way. Some red fruit eventually.

Sip:
Some bite on the palate, with a lot of cake like flavors. Some vanilla and a bit of butter. Wax, honey, oak.

Swallow:
The finish is bit mineral like, with apple and iron. Some wax again, but hardly any wood.

So, it’s a bit of a weird one. If you’d have given me the tasting notes on either the nose, palate or finish, I would have told you it was from a bourbon cask, but I wouldn’t have put them together on the same whisky. It does make it feel a bit out of whack. On the other hand, it does give you something to discover while tasting this.

It’s nice, with some very likable flavors, but not overly complex. The waxy notes are good, and prominent, which is a very good thing.

86/100

Glentauchers 20yo, bottled in 2018, Refll Bourbon Barrel, 50.9%, Chorlton Whisky. Available in Whiskybase’s Marketplace for € 155, which I find a bit steep.

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Bunnahabhain 1975, 36yo, 53.5% – Jack Wiebers

In one of the scavenger hunts through the remainder of my samples I found this wee baby. A couple of centiliters from 45 years ago, bottled a rather long while ago by now. These old Bunnahabhains are a light and day difference to virtually everything that’s coming out in these days, with almost all single casks being heavily peated spirit.

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I find that a shame, since the beauty of Islay’s whisky is also in its diversity, and with Bruichladdich also switching to a large chunk of peated spirit since the reopening almost two decades ago, there’s not much left. Unless you count Ardbeg Blasda as something worth drinking, because that thing also exists.

Sniff:
A very timid nose, with lots of old barley notes. Dried oranges and oak. Almonds, hazelnuts, very typical for Bunnahabhain. Slightly earthy, and some moldy paper in the attic’.

Sip:
The palate is a lot sharper than I expected with quite some chili heat from the alcohol. It’s pretty dry, earthy and has a lot of nuttiness too. Almonds, hazelnut and because of the dryness also some walnuts. Dried tangerine and orange. It gets a bit waxy later on, which fits with the oranges (the peel)

Swallow:
The finish quickly mellows with a lot of dry warmth going down. Oranges, nuts, oak and barley.

This is exactly what you want from an old Bunnahabhain. Lots of ‘simple’ notes of the grain and the oak, with additional flavors of oranges and a lot of nuttiness. The last part is typical for Bunnahabhain, and it’s gorgeous.

89/100

Bunnahabhain 1975, 36yo, Refill Sherry Cask, 53.5%, bottled by Jack Wiebers’ Whisky World, in the Auld Distillers Collection. Available at Whisky Antique for € 565

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Kilkerran 15 year old, 2004-2019, Fino Cask, 51.6% – OB for Bresser en Timmer

I have absolutely no idea how this one slipped by me. Maybe because I just wasn’t paying attention, but normally if there’s anything from Campbeltown in a Fino Cask coming out, I need to have it. Because it is delicious, usually.

But, this one slipped by me and I only had a 10cl sample of it, courtesy of a swap with RvB. The label didn’t say it was a Fino cask and I hadn’t paid proper attention when the sample came in, so I had it on the shelf for a week or so before I tried it. Then I finished it, right away.

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Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Lots of intense sherry. Fino, and clearly so. Lots of mold and typical funkiness for Springbank’s distillate, even if it is Kilkerran. Old baking spices, stewed fruit.

Sip:
A tad sharper than I expected, with hints of salinity, bitterness and dry oak. Apple seeds, skins. Baking spices, nutmeg, clove, but also old cardboard, moldy attics.

Swallow:
A gentle and rather fruity, big sherry finish. Dry oak, cork, bitterness.

This is a belter! It’s big, but not ridiculously ‘just sherry’ with nothing else. It seems like this is one of those awesome Fino casks which I have come to love from Springbank, and in this case Kilkerran, which is Springbank made a hundred yards down the road.

Now, if anyone knows if there are bottles available somewhere, since Whiskybase doesn’t have any links anymore…

90/100

Kilkerran 15yo, 2004-2019, Fino Sherry Puncheon, 51.6%

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Hey there, 2020!

While technically the new decade only starts next year, we’ve still moved from the tens to the twenties last week and that is much more noticeable than 2020 to 2021 is going to be. So, to get things going: Happy new year!

Let’s do a bit of reminiscing over last year, and look forward to the coming 12 months!

Spending

In 2019 I didn’t spend an awful lot on whisky. I overspent in 2018 and wanted to make up for that a little bit, which I (think I) did. I bought some bottles when in Scotland with JPH, but after that things went quiet until November or so. Of course, with special releases, and some nice discounts, the new Springbank Local Barley, shit happened. Still, I think I’ve become far more critical of new releases and my whisky spending went down significantly. Unfortunately, my beer spending has gone up. The quantity hasn’t but the quality did, which means I’m skipping most of the random stuff released by just about everyone, and focus more on the high rated brews that’s a bit more expensive or rare.

Samples

I’ll do a post on the samples I wanted to go through in a few days when I’ve had the time to do a count of everything that’s left after going through (I think) quite a lot of them.

I know I went through some of the great ones, I finished the remainder of the Blind Tasting Competition from 2018, and I finished a lot of bottle-share ends I kept for myself. Apart from that, not much happened in categories that I don’t really care about, like new make spirits. (Last year’s post on this)

Other booze

At the beginning of every year, for about a decade or so, I’ve been setting goals for the annum in all areas of my life. Travel, barbecuing, booze, chores and minor construction work, finance, and so on. Historically that means that around the next new year I get to rub my own face in what I failed to accomplish in 12 months. This year wasn’t any different with my trying to finish a lot of the mezcal I bought a few years ago, the remainder of the Lone Wolf BrewDog bottle-share shit and some other assorted hooch. It’s still there and if three bottles are a bit more empty than a year ago, that’s two more than expected.

I guess a ‘random booze bottoms up’ is in order.

Shares

What I do like about last year is that I managed to do quite some shares of bottles I already owned. This means I finally got around to opening quite a few bottles that I wanted to try, but didn’t want 70cl of. This also means I managed to shrink my collection quite a bit, which also makes it a lot more focused on stuff I really like, or want to keep for later.

I find these shares very manageable, since I don’t have to quickly order semi-rare stuff that comes out or watch prices as much. When a share doesn’t fill up I can easily decide to do it anyway, since the money is already spent and the money that comes back in can go to other things like a new bottle, a bit of traveling or something else entirely.

This might continue over the year, whenever I feel like doing a share.

Looking forward

I have some whisky related plans for the year, of which most are just a continuation of what happened last year. Drink samples, empty bottles, share some stuff, host a tasting now and again. You know the drill.

In regards to acquiring new bottles, there’s a rather specific plan linked to planned travel. In April I’m in Scotland going to Fort William, Campbeltown and Arran, and what I want to do is buy a few bottles as an itinerary of that trip. Which means a Glenlochy, Ben Nevis, Springbank, Longrow, Hazelburn, Glengyle, Glen Scotia and Arran. Just to get in the mood, and drink the appropriate whisky at the appropriate distillery.

Of course, these drams can’t just be any random bottle from each distillery. They have to make a lasting impression. With Glenlochy that’s a given, since that stuff is as rare as hen’s teeth (or close to it). The others are all in production, but I’m not just getting a 10 year old Ben Nevis and 10 year old Springbank, although these are very solid drams.

Construction plans

We’re planning to do some rather major changes to our house (living room extension, removing the fireplace, redoing the electrical wiring, and so on), which cause me to have to go through everything we own all over again. Before that happens I want to shrink my collection of open bottles a bit further, because I will only have room for so much after all is said and done.

Also, construction costs a shitload of money, so not buying too much makes a lot of sense there too. Expect some bottle-shares from my own collection this year!

Bottle-shares

With me trying to also get better at managing my time, I hope to finally get my ass off Facebook. I don’t like the way Facebook handles people’s data, their way of growing the company and so on, which means I want to distance myself from it.

However, the reason I’ve not done that is the bottle-shares I host through there. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to carve out some time to make a little web site specifically for these shares, so when that’s finished, I can delete my account.

Of course, I should extend this to Instagram as well, but you need something to scroll through on the bog, and the exhibitionism on ‘the gram’ is entertaining.

Concluding…

All in all I want my involvement in the world of whisky and beer to be a bit more sane than last year, which was already a lot more sane than the year before.

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Longrow 11yo, Refill Re-charred Sherry Butts, 56.9% – Springbank Society

This bottle was the first one I emptied this year. Of course, it’s only been a week, but still. This also means I’ve not done anything on this blog that has been a staple since the beginning, with end-of-year lists of whisky, other booze and music. I’ll try and make up for that with a pending ‘what was good in 2019’ post.

Anyway, yet another Springbank Society thing that has gone up ridiculously in price. And yet another good one. Sorry, spoiler alert…

Springbank is a bit sketchy with it’s sherry casks over the last couple of years, with some misses, but luckily still mostly good ones. These casks were re-charred, which means they got a new coat of charcoal on the inside. This doesn’t happen often, or at least isn’t disclosed often.

20200105_224347Sniff:
Sharp, fresh sherry. Orange, apricots, almonds. Bitterness, with smoke and salinity.

Sip:
Quite sharp, but not as sharp as I expected. Fruit on a very coastal backbone, with quite some dry smoke. Smoked oranges, apricots, dates, bitter almonds.

Swallow:
The smoke comes to the front, suddenly, with rather heavy sherry and fruit. Salinity, oak, and a lingering smoke.

Honestly, it’s a cracking Longrow. The smoke is noticeable but not as much to the front as some others, almost like it’s in between regular Longrow and Springbank. The orange notes on the nose made this hugely interesting from the start, and with the added bitterness it just works fantastically.

89/100

Longrow 11 years old, 2007-2019, Refill Re-charred sherry butts, 56.9%

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