Flavored whisk(e)y? Flavorless whisk(e)y?

A few weeks ago I stumbled across the following in a magazine advert: “There’s straight whiskey and then there’s whiskey good enough to drink straight.” The first thing I noticed was that the “good enough to drink straight” had ice floating in it. So much for straight. Then I noticed the whiskey is caramel flavored. Huh? Even more odd (to my way of thinking) is a blueberry flavored whiskey. Double-”huh”?

Even further back in time I came across an advert (I believe in an airline magazine) extolling the virtues of “new make”, “white whisk(e)y”, etc. The virtue being that because the whisk(e)y had not been aged in a cask it could be flavored with whatever you chose and drunk as a cocktail.

At the Bruichladdich distillery during the Feis Ile 2009, I was convinced to try a quadruple distilled new make called X4. As I recall it had no great distinction, only that it was something different to try.

Hence, I have concluded that if you need your whisky to taste like a SugarDaddy, SugarBaby, Sticky Toffee Pudding, or small-blue-fruit, perhaps you need to improve your quality of drink. And if you want your whisky to taste like nothing so you can make it taste like something else, why not stick to drinking flavored water? Of course this assumes you are drinking for the taste, not to get pished.

Slainte !!!

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Leann (beer) at the Maine Highland Games

My wife and I attended the Maine Highland Games this past Saturday. Always on the lookout for an untried Scottish beverage, and it being about the first “attraction” upon entering the games, I stopped at the beer tent. Needless to say, I was rather stunned:

Whit's for sale at the leann tent

Leann at the Maine Highland Games Leann (beer) tent

The watermark is from a different blog that I keep: Oor Alba Blog.

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It’s the age of the content, not the container

This entry prompted by a non-whisk(e)y forum “discussion”. One of the comments was that a bottle of 21YO MacAllan had been sitting, opened, for more than 3 years so now it was more like 25 years old. I pointed out that it was still only a 21YO MacAllan because the whisky, unlike wine, does not continue to age in the bottle.

Then there are the cases of Shackleton Whisky found in the Antarctic. The whisky is nowhere near 100YO, but the bottles are so what the world has is 100 year old bottles of whisky, not bottles of 100 year old whisky.

Slainte !!!

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Westering Home

Concurrent with our newly launched “Scotch Whisky Journey”, I began to research distilleries, etc. so I’d have some idea of what I was doing, and what I was seeking. One of the first places I read about was Islay. If I recall correctly what I read was that Islay whisky was very peaty, smokey, strong, loved or hated; I had to try it. I loved it from the first sip. We, mo bhean (my wife) and I, have visited and tried whisky from all of the distilleries; Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Bunnahabhain,  and Caol Ila.

One thing to make clear is that not all Islay whisky is the smoke/peat monster of legend. Bunnahabhain in particular is very mild. Bruichladdich also can be very mild, but under the guidance of Jim McEwan they have produced some extraordinarily peaty whisky; e.g. Octomore.  At the same time, “standard” Ardbeg, and Laphroaig are peaty/smokey enough to offput many. Heck, I’ve even known folks to be put off by Lagavulin.

Eventually, after we’d tried all the Islay whisky available to us locally my wife and I made a trip to Islay and blogged the adventure: First post to OorAlbaBlog. There we heard, and saw, Norma Munro performe the song for which this blog entry is named: Westering Home. I’ve embedded links to the song lyric, and her singing (at a different performance from that which we saw). Westering Home lyric and Norma Munro singing Westering Home While visiting Islay, we were able to sample some drams that were, and are, not available to us at home. And we made several friends with whom we have remained in contact, and have visited during further voyages to Scotland.

In summation, and closing, this entry; if you’ve not tried Islay whisky, I urge and implore you to do so. Start with Bunna, then perhaps Bruichladdich. Follow those with Caol Ila, Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg. I have not drunk enough Kilchoman, although what I did have (courtesy my friend Gordon Campbell, at his house in Duntocher) was very nice, to be able to accurately place it in my continuum-recommendation. As for Bowmore, it’s the one Islay to which I have not (yet?) warmed; although I did try, when it was recommended, a particularly interesting Bowmore that rewarded me with a wee taste of grapefruit upon first drawing it into my mouth.

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Anns an toiseach

Long ago I drank Dewar’s. Then I stopped drinking liquor. In 1999 my wife and I
were given a bottle of Glenlivet, 12YO, as a “going away” present from our landlady, who
owned a liquor store. Some time after that my wife and I began our whisky journey through Scotland. We were and are limited by availability/selection and now, especially, finances.
Still I can share the past and hopefully, by the time I have caught up to “now”, our finances and the availability will have improved.

Slainte !!!

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