Tag Archive: 12 Year


Red Breast: Cask Strength 12: 2018 Edition (Irish Single Pot Still Whiskey: 12 Year: 58.2% ABV)

Visual: Bright honeyed gold, streaks come down as a thick sheet.

Nose: Dried apricot. Vanilla. Honey. Green grapes. Sultanas. Thick and smooth. Shredded wheat. Smoke wisp. Water makes more gentle. Touch of liquorice. Golden syrup sponge.

Body: Honey. Warming alcohol. Apricot. Plums. Mince pies. Water adds oats and muesli. Lots of honey. Buttery. Vanilla fudge.

Finish: Honey. Apricot. Vanilla toffee. Brandy cream. Fig rolls. Water makes a more spirity air. Buttery.

Conclusion: This is very rich and strong – as you may expect from a cask strength whiskey this has more alcohol weight that your average Red Breast, but thankfully still manages to come across fairly smooth. The flavours are pushed up a bit as well – fruity apricot notes matched with a huge amount of sherry influence, giving lots of dark fruit and brandy cream styled notes.

Neat it is intense and fruity, full bodied despite the smoothness. It has a tad too much alcohol, but generally great. I minorly prefer their exceptional Lustra Edition of Red Breast for overall balance and smoothness. This however has a weight and quality all of its own. Water makes it a little smoother, but with that it loses a lot of the range, weight and joy that makes it special. Still, it has a lot to offer even then – still lovely with crumpet like notes and toffee, more gentle sweetness and because of that more towards a standard 12 year Red Breast. Which is still good. However if you have gone to the effort of getting a Cask Strength I would guess you want that, otherwise you could just buy a standard edition.

So, if you want this, accept its weight and the alcohol that will come with it and all that comes with that. This is a rough edged gem if taken as it should be – neat – but gives you plenty in exchange.

Background: Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal.
Now this is something interesting as it is hard to find since Jim Murray labelled this batch, Batch B1-17, as best best Irish whiskey and best Irish pot still whiskey. As was pointed out at the tasting this year’s batch will be out soon at far more reasonable price and for far less cost (for a while at least). I’ve become a huge fan of Red Breast over the years, so this was a rare treat to check out.

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Douglas Laing: Old Particular: Mortlach: 12 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 48.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale greened spirit with fast, thick streaks coming from it.

Nose: Oily peat. Nutty chocolate. Praline. Smooth vanilla toffee. Salt touch. Water makes peppery. Dry oak.

Body: Tangy alcohol. Tangy orange. Bready. Salt. Slightly oily. Dry oak. Water adds dry soot. Vanilla. Pepper. Pears. Oily coffee.

Finish: Soot. Sugared orange. Oak. Charring. Drying alcohol air. Water makes peppery and brings out oily coffee.

Conclusion: Mortlach is always an odd one. Well, I say always. I’ve tried it like, maybe three times before this. So, basically I say that as I am pretending to be more knowledgeable about the distilleries output than I actually am. Hopefully no one will see through this sham.

Initially oily and somewhat peaty the whisky shows decent weight and throws in a touch of what would normally be Island region salty character. Below that though is thicker oily nuts and chocolate against sweet sugared orange. It is one of those that defies easy classification under the whisky regions with Highland Weight, some Islay peat and plenty of fresh Speyside sweetness. Instead what defines it is that oiliness that takes everything else and makes it its own thing entirely.

Taken neat this is just weighty enough, has just enough Island sea feel, and just sweet enough for me. Ok, it is a bit alcohol touched and a bit rough edged, but it is very distinctive and makes for an interesting dram.

Water reduces the alcohol feel, but apart from that it doesn’t really help. It makes the whisky drier and more peppery, more astringent and loses a lot of the core oily weight. It is most notable in how the oily peat instead comes across as dry soot.

So, keep this one as one to enjoy neat. Take the rougher edges it has on the chin and enjoy. It is the unusual, oily dram that mixes in a bit from each whisky region to give a complex, rich experience. Not the best Mortlach I have had – the 16 year is still the standout for me, and that is considering I haven’t tried any particularly old or unusual expressions from the distillery – but it does enough that id say give it a go if you want to drip your toes into the Mortlach style.

Background: So, sixth time around – Mini whisky samples! Woo woo! (I’m repeating myself so much that I’m starting to feel like San at the end of a bad run on Undertale …) These were donated to me by Independent Spirit for me to do notes on – much appreciated! Being a sample this is a smaller measure than normal, so may be slightly shorter notes that usual, not that I’m complaining. A quick google suggests this may be the 2006 distilled, 2018 bottled version. I could be wrong though. I’ve not had a huge amount of Mortlach but have always been intrigued by its strange style. Went with Jack Off Jill, Sexless Demons and Scars for music with this one. Such a great mix of anger and singing talent.


Bruichladdich: Micro Provenance Cask Evolution Exploration: Sauternes 2006 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 58.4% ABV)

Visual: Light clear gold. Fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Cloying sweet apricot. Dessert wine. Pears. Grapes. Light rubber. Water adds wine gums sweets. More water adds slight salt.

Body: Pears. Almost evaporates on the tongue. Water brings out dessert wine. Vanilla. Light tannins. More water adds dried banana, more apricot. Even more water adds vanilla and slight salt.

Finish: Pears. Dry. Mineral water. Alcohol air. Water adds vanilla. Toffee. Dessert wine. Wine gums.

Conclusion:This is so strong yet sweet. The expected dessert wine and apricot notes come out from the neat spirit, yet more than that you get subtle pear and grape notes underneath, I’m guessing native spirit characters accentuated by the sweetness to give more complexity than often comes from this sweet and sometimes overpowering barrel ageing.

Neat the strong alcohol means that it almost evaporates off the tongue, giving no peat, no salt or any of the expected Islay character. It is clean, slightly rubbery, but with gentle fruit over an impressive alcohol weight but restrained burn. To get the spirit to stick around and to get the slight Islay salt character coming out you need to add a fair amount of water, but don’t worry, it can take it.

Even with water it is so very clean in the spirit character, lots of dry yet sweet dessert wine, and that gentle fruit, with the pear and apricot given more room to roam. The lack of overt Islay character is matched by a lack of lot of the Bruichladdich style. Instead you get lots of subtle complexity from the oak, lots of depth in those sweeter flavours for the water to bring out.

If it had more influence from the native Bruichladdich spirit then I would have no hesitation in recommending this as an absolute stonker. As is it is a very nice show of oak ageing, especially with water, and has wonderful subtlety in its weight.

Background: This was the third of five whiskies at Independent Spirit‘s Uber whisky tasting. I love those things, a chance to try five whiskies I might not otherwise get to try. As always with tastings like this it was in a social environment so I may have been influenced by people around me and the notes may be slightly shorter than usual. Hope you still enjoy. Anyway, this one is from Bruichladdich’s cask experimentation, made with optic barley and aged in the unusual Sauternes which in my experience adds a lot of sweetness to a whisky, so should be interesting seeing how it interacts with the Islay character here.

Game Of Thrones: House Baratheon: Royal Lochnagar 12 (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Apricot skin to gold. Fast, thick streaks.

Nose: Honeyed shreddies. Apples. Pears. Light menthol. Heather. Vanilla. Pencil shavings. Water makes for predominantly light apples.

Body: Honey. Vanilla. Apples. Moderate warming alcohol. Smooth mouthfeel. Strawberry. Light cream. Malt chocolate. Water makes soft apples and vanilla toffee.

Finish: Honey. Lemon cakes. Shredded wheat. Strawberry. Slight drying alcohol. Soft apples. Malt chocolate. Water adds choc toffee. Soft apples. White chocolate and lightly nutty notes.

Conclusion: This is good at giving pleasing first impression. Very good. It is smooth, sweet, with fairly standard honey and vanilla notes soothed out by more interesting apple and strawberry fresh notes. Combine that with low alcohol burn – the alcohol is present but mainly just warming – and a solid malt chocolate body and you have a lot to enjoy already and this is just on first sip.

It is a whisky very much intent on setting you at ease. You don’t even have to work for those initial notes, they are just there easing out of the smooth but filling mouthfeel of the spirit. Because of that I was not sure if water was even needed, so I was wary and well.. it definitely changes with water, I’ll say that.

The body lightens, emphasising the vanilla toffee notes, but more than that the soft apples notes are now so very clear. With water it becomes one of the easiest whiskies to give to a newcomer for them to be able to see the lighter subtleties that you can get from a spirit.

However, with that said, in a rarity for me , I prefer this neat. All the same notes are still there, just with a bit more force , bigger mouthfeel and more honeyed style. It is just as easy to examine, you just need to let it sit and seep for a few moments and there it is. So easy to examine – so will just be a manner of preference for water, but will never need much.

This is a wonderful spirit, easy to drink, rewarding and with good range. Why this distillery isn’t better known in the UK I have no idea. A hidden gem, now given a bit more exposure that it deserves.

Background: Game Of Thrones! Ok, I’m a tad behind on the show. By which I mean I am up to where the books end. Please no spoilers. Anyway, Game Of Thrones themed whisky amused me, especially as six of the 8 bottlings are new expressions. Turns out this is one of the two that are not. It is exactly the same as the standard Royal Lochnagar 12 but with new packaging. Ah well. Never tried any Royal Lochnagar before, which is why this is one of the ones I grabbed, so no harm no foul there. I had just found out about the passing of Keith Flint from Prodigy, so put on Fat Of The Land in his memory. Bloody awesome tunes. Not much else to add, another one got in by Independent Spirit.

Powers: John’s Lane Release- 12 Year (Irish Single Post Still Whiskey: 12 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Medium intensity gold. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Sherry. General red fruit. Redcurrants. Smooth. Golden syrup touch. Lightly floral. Pencil shavings to heavier oak. Honeyed apricot. Water makes nuttier and adds crushed grains.

Body: Smooth. Honeyed apricot. Light alcohol warmth. Buttery shortbread. Golden Grahams cereal. Slightly rocky notes. Water adds more shortbread. Buttery puff pastry. Slight orange notes. Sherry notes.

Finish: Buttery shortbread. Light alcohol. Viscous sheen. Toffee. Very biscuity. Savoury bready notes. Water adds jelly babies. Dried apricot. Red fruit and sherry trifle.

Conclusion: This is a mix of that Irish whiskey smooth, lighter character combined with a slow building viscosity from the extra abv that gives it a thicker, more gripping sheen over the tongue than would be expected for a lighter whiskey. That extra grip brings some more sturdy expressions of the flavours – which gives a lot to dig into, so let’s examine it and see what we get.

Initially it hits very heavily on the sherry and red fruit notes in the aroma, before settling into a more apricot fruit middle with shortbread to crumbly pasty notes adding to the feel. It is very gentle in feel, very smooth, with a very buttery pastry character that crumbles away to reveal a surprisingly viscous finish that is simple but lasting.

Time lets the viscosity build up and the flavours with it. Water lets the whiskey open and and the notes spread out. In combination that shakes up the experience quite a bit. A simple but smooth whisky now opens to reveal those sherry notes that the aroma promised. Red fruit rounds out the body and finish creating complex pastry dessert imagery.

This is a whiskey that hits a lot of bases. Irish whiskey light and smooth early on that is dangerously easy to drink, it slowly gains mouthfeel over time before becoming viscous and tongue coating by the end that makes it hard to imagine it was ever so light at to almost unnoticeable at the start. The easy going apricot at the start ends up full on shortbread meets sherry trifle by the end, given time and water. This is easy going but ends up very flavoursome, walking the balance between easy going Irish and full on sherry aged fullness.

I am very much impressed.

Background: Think I have tried standard Powers before in a pub, but I’ve not had much experience with it. This is a single pot still whiskey – which if I understand right means it is from a single distillery, and uses a pot still in a similar manner to Scottish malt whisky, but it can use unmalted barley, or even in small amounts other cereal grains in the mash. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and I put on B. Dolan – House Of Bee’s Vol 2 while drinking. I love the track “Which Side Are You On?” and in general it is a great album. Also, this is my first set of notes done in 2019! Woo, happy new year!

Aberfeldy: 12 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 40% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold with fast streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Soft lime. Grain fields. Alcohol air. Soft toffee. Apples. Water lightens everything.

Body: Smooth. Quicksilver alcohol notes. Soft lime sorbet. Malt chocolate. Floral. Fudge. Water adds soft vanilla, more fudge and walnuts.

Finish: Nutty. Light charred oak. Malt chocolate air. Malt biscuits. Fudge. Water adds more nuts, bitter chocolate, honey and grain field air.

Conclusion:This feels like a kind of middle of the road Highland malt. Which is possibly appropriate considering it is predominantly used in the popular, but actually not bad Dewars blended whisky.

Now it being middle of the road is not exactly high praise, but neither is it a massive insult, it is just there is little to surprise you here. Initially the alcohol is a tad present, holding back some of the notes from showing themselves, but already you have a gentle but solid sweet backing of malt chocolate and toffee. An element that only becomes more gentle, yet also more obvious as water is added and the alcohol touch recedes.

What build upon this base is a floral air and a solid nutty character which is what gives it its main flavour – around that light green fruit notes work at the edges, especially when tried neat, but the nuttiness is what stays when ever other element has faded away.

It is slightly alcohol rough neat, and never really showy – it is offensive but shows the main highland characteristics solidly. It isn’t bad, but I cannot really recommend it as there are so very, very more interesting whiskies out there.

Background: I went to the Aberfeldy distillery back in my early whisky note taking days, quite a fun place, aimed at a more touristy front and concentrating more on its Dewars blended whisky than the single malt, but I did get to try a decent range of their whisky at a tasting there. Then I don’t think I have tried it again until now – after seeing it at The Star Inn I decided to give it another go. I have expanded my range massively since then so I wondered how it would hold up. Was nice to have a bit of shade and a spare moment to drink this as I had an otherwise busy day, so the break was welcome. The Star has a nice whisky selection – nothing too unusual, but a fair decent range, and some good cask ales. Think I may have to get back into the habit of sticking my head in every now and then to do notes.

that-boutique-y-whisky-company-laphroaig-12-year-old
That Boutique-y Whisky Company: Laphroaig 12 Year Old (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 52.4% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear and light, just slightly gold touched, spirit.

Viscosity: Slow thick streaks.

Nose: Quite creamy. Slight lemon. Orange crème. Butterscotch. Very light medicinal. Water makes slightly salty.

Body: Lightly salty. Some alcohol presence. Water makes creamier. Chocolate toffee eclair sweets. More medicinal and light custard sweetness. Light lemon meringue.

Finish: Dry peat intensity. Light grapefruit. Malt chocolate drinks. Water adds caramel and cream. Light lemon sorbet air. Light beef slices. Salted notes. Shredded wheat and honey.

Conclusion:An easy going Laphroaig? Kind of, yes, but with a sting in the tail. Spoiler – in a shock twist it is not the high alcohol level that gives the punch that provides the sting in the tail. In fact for the abv it is remarkably easy going, and while you only get a few of the notes neat, it only needs a tiny amount of water to start opening it up.

This is a mix of three definite, and distinct styles. There is the expected, though lighter than usual, medical, salty, salted rocks and such like notes that makes up the traditional Laphroaig elements- much more subtly used than normal though. The second string is a heavy twist on a note that can sometimes be seen in Laphroaig – lemon. Here it is far from normal – creamy, between lemon sorbet and lemon meringue, but now bringing light grapefruit and orange fruitiness that nigh unheard of from the distillery. It actually reminds me of traditional lemonade at times, that odd mix of flavours. Third and final is the chocolate caramel sweetness – there is normally a sweetness in Laphroaig backing everything but never as ramped up and thick as it is here.

Together it is only just recognisable as Laphroaig – until that sting in the tail – that being a peat punch pounding out in the finish; Finally stamping the Islay styling home.

Over time the more beefy, peaty notes rise up, more towards the standard ,expected notes- so by the end if feels like a more traditional expression, but enhanced by all that additional creaminess, sweetness and fruitiness.

Oft I have seen the expressions from the big Booming Islay distilleries mocked for the impression that they all taste the same. This shows this as the lie it is and slays the concept – this is recognisable, but different and delicious.

Background: After my last notes at the Hideout, I resolved to go back and try this. A rare independent Laphroaig bottling, with a cool Back To The Future inspired label. That Boutique-y Whisky Company always has cool, cartoon labelling which I dig. Apparently the people on the label are the winners of a contest. This is one of 421 bottles. While I do not control the music when in public, The Cranberries : Zombie came on while doing these notes, which was pretty nice.

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Glenrothes 2001

Glenrothes: 2001 (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Slightly bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Very slow but comes down as a sheet.

Nose: Black cherry. Black forest gateaux. Forest fruits. Honey. Brambles. Caramel shortbread. Creamy chocolate. Thick and slightly musky. Water adds custards slices and slight pepper.

Body: Thick and syrupy. Golden syrup. Strong alcohol. Blueberry pie. Woody oak influence. Slight tannins. Water makes smoother – vanilla custard on blueberry. Red cherries and slight apples. Toffee. Malt drinks and whipped cream.

Finish: Wood. Toffee and honey. Slight gooseberry. Slight tannins. Water makes for forest fruit, light musty smoke. Slight musty air and charring. Malt drinks and slight bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: This is such a fruity whisky – with very natural feeling fruitiness. It feels like a mashed up barrel of dark fruit; There is that musty air, and a feel akin to that hairy fuzz you get on berries. Then sweetens so it is like deep amounts of forest fruit coated in golden syrup.

Not all of that is immediately evident – the aroma does give a good show, but on sipping it is a bit alcohol heavy resulting on a drier, less open whisky. Water is what brings out all the dark fruit you were promised – now smoothly delivered, with a whisky that feels dark in all things. From slight charring, malt drinks and slight bitter chocolate it all gives that coherent, complementary imagery. With the creamy notes it all comes together like a black-forest gateaux – the whisky. A very nice look, with just a few hints towards the brighter, shaper green fruit to freshen it up.

With water it is very luxurious, thick, creamy and filled with flavour. It plays in the same realm as the Dalmore whiskies for flavour. Always a good thing to be compared to in my opinion. It is very much worth trying – it doesn’t quite have the unique twist to be one of my favourites and a must try. However it is about as good as a whisky can be without reaching that level.

It is a dark alcohol dessert for delectation in decadent environs. Treat yourself with this one.

Background: Glenrothes have always been an odd one – the vast majority of their output I have seen has been vintage based names, rather than list by age. An interesting habit. In this case I am fairly sure I tried the 2001 at one of Independent Spirit’s tasting sessions. But I was quite drunk on whisky so I am not 100% sure. Any which way The Tasting Rooms had this 100ml bottling of it, so I decided to grab it and see if it was the tasty one from my memories. Drunk while listening to the Black Lagoon anime OST for a mix of light relaxing and high octane background music

The Old Malt Cask Blair Athol 12 year

The Old Malt Cask: Blair Athol: 12 Year (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 50% ABV)

Visual: Grain, fairly light coloured.

Viscosity: A few, quite fast medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Heather. Honey. Lightly waxy. Light herbal tea and mint leaves. Vanilla. Sugared almonds. Water adds wet oak.

Body: Honey and custard slices. Warming and lightly oaken. Cake sponge. Smooth. Sugared almonds. Water makes golden syrup and more nutty. More water adds apricot and more custard slices.

Finish: Malt drinks. Wood shavings. Slightly dry. Light peppery. Light waxy. Vanilla toffee. Honey. Water makes sugared almonds come out and light strawberry. More water orange crème and light menthol notes.

Conclusion: I will not hold Bells again this, I will not hold Bells against this. I will not hold Bells against this. Yep, as mentioned in the background, it is time for me to take on a single malt take on one of the main components of Bells whisky. I am not a fan of Bells whisky. Anyway, this is nicely smooth, especial for a 50% abv whisky. Frankly, I have had far weaker whisky burn far stronger on sipping. Good job. This also has a very familiar, general, whisky character. It is probably due to the fact that it used in one of the most common blends, that it seems very familiar even here in the single malt form. However here it has none of the roughness, just feels very typical of what you would expect when you hear the word “whisky”.

The flavours call to mind a sweeter take on a Strathisla. It has a similar nutty character which I appreciate, but here it is a bit more easy going, and a bit smoother – with notes of honey and vanilla custard building the sweetness up.

It all hangs together very well, a solid flavour set that matches light apricot fruit. Mixed sweetness, light peppiness and good nuttiness. Nothing too unusual but very smoothly done, and the flavours back each other up very well.

On top of that, let’s face it, it only seems slightly generic as Bells is often many people’s first, terrible, experience of whisky. It is well known and so will seem familiar. If this stood in the palce of Bells as a standard dram I would have no complaints at all.

A genuinely solid dram, nothing unusual, but very nicely done. Another good whisky for anyone who wants to try a good whisky that shows what the base characteristics of whisky should be.

Background: Normally I try to support the smaller local shops, however this is an exception. One of the branches of “The Whisky Shop” opened in Bath a while back, so I poked my nose in and noticed they had this smaller bottle of Blair Athol. A whisky I have tried a few times, and in fact visited the distillery, but have never done notes of. So I decided to grab a bottle to fill in the gap in my blog’s notes. Anyway, this, as mentioned in the main body, is one of the main single malts used in the Bells blend. This particular one was distilled 2012 and put in the bottle 2014. Aged in a refill hogshead this is non chill filtered. I think that covers it. Drunk while listening to Clonic Earth again, that is one odd mix of white noise, haunting atmosphere and unnerving sound.

Strathisla 12 Year

Strathisla: 12 Year (Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky: 12 Years: 40% ABV)

Visual: Apricot touched bronze.

Viscosity: A mix of fast thick streaks and a couple of slower ones.

Nose: Honey. Sugared almonds. Alcohol. Heather. Perfume. Water adds wood dust and cinder toffee.

Body: Peach syrup. Alcohol. Walnut clusters. Honey. Roasted nuts. Charred oak. Water adds apples, cinder toffee, treacle and praline.

Finish: Perfume. Nuts. Alcohol. Charred oak. Dried apricot fruit sugars. Malt chocolate. Water makes treacle, liquorice, cinder toffee and custard.

Conclusion: Well, it’s been a while since I danced with a Strathisla, let’s see how well I remember the steps.

It is sweeter than I remember, brings a real thick honey set of notes that make up the base of this dance – it is also surprisingly alcohol touched for a 40% abv whisky that has racked up 12 years in the oak.

Initially this seemed less nutty than I remember – for me that nuttiness has always been the predominant element of my Strathisla memories. However a touch of water, as well as dimming the alcohol fire, also brings out a sweet nutty and praline mix of notes that settles in as a second line of flavour attack…dance steps. I think I may have lost track of my metaphors.

Anyway, pre water there are some rough charred notes, but they are soon smoothed out and overtaken by a darker sweetness that the water comes out – more liquorice and treacle notes amongst the honey.

It definitely pushes heavy the stereotypical but hard to define “whisky” character, albeit with more emphasis on the aforementioned notes. The speyside fruitiness is less noticeable, but shows as a light apple and apricot notes if you add just the exact right amount of water.

I’m still a fan, and Strathisla definitely holds a warm place in my heart due to my history with the whisky, though on a more objective level it is not as complex or subtle as many a Speyside whisky. Instead it is a solid, robust whisky that pushes a very familiar base whisky with its set of a few extra notes added as a twist to that. Still good, but not so showy.

Background: Again, many thanks to Independent Spirit for providing this bottle with a couple of doubles left in it for tasting notes purposes. They are pretty much single handedly handling my whisky reviews at this point! I grabbed a cask strength Strathisla back in my early days of doing notes, but, while I have tried the standard 12 year, I had never got around to doing notes on it. Good time to rectify that oversight then. Drunk while listening to the many Architects tracks on the youtube channel – may have to grab some of their CDs.

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