Over the years I’ve very much become a city dweller – in a few months time I tip over into having lived in London for over half of my life. With that comes a specific hole in my otherwise huge list of talents: I don’t know how to drive. As such my recent sojourn in Scotland has been full of buses and trains, and my distillery visits have been selected around a restriction of using public transport. Pleasingly I was finally able to make it to one of the easiest distilleries to get to by train – Dalmore.
One of the lovely things about the whisky industry is that you get to meet people spread all over the world. My semi-frequent visits north of the border mean that I know a bunch of people around Edinburgh and one of those is Mark Davidson of Cadenhead’s, my travelling companion for the 2013 Victoria Whisky Festival.
He runs the Jolly Toper whisky tastings in Edinburgh, and I’ve been annoyingly good at missing them whenever I visit. However, with my biannual pilgrimage to my family’s timeshare cottage in Aviemore on the horizon I decided to start my journey north a few days early and stop in at a charity tasting that Mark was running.
The recent NAS mini-furore has inspired a bunch of bloggers, with the EWB post that kicked things off picking up a response from me, Oliver Klimek over on Dramming, Cask Strength, Gal and also my usually silent chum Jason B Standing. However, it’s also pulled out an anonymous post from the travel retail sector that appeared on Gal’s blog and now this – another anonymous post.
An acquaintance of mine who produces NAS bottlings pinged me and asked if I’d mind posting up some thoughts. It’s a rather different take to most of the other comments. Take it away mystery guest poster…
Before we start, go and have a read of Lucasz’s post over on the Edinburgh Whisky Blog. I’ll wait. Now, a clarification before I begin – I agree with pretty much everything he says, and rather like the piece. However, it’s written from the opposite end of the positivity spectrum to where my brain sits. Scarily, for those who know me, I’m generally an optimist, and that optimism spills over into the world of whisky. So, as a companion piece rather than a response to Lucasz’s post – A Defence of No Age Statement Whiskies. Well, sort of…
One of the annoying things about the prolific nature of BrewDog’s releases is that they happen with just about the exact required regularity to fit in with my beer drinking schedule. Almost every time they send out a new email announcing their latest minor variant on a previous beer, collaboration or rerelease of something they made a few years back and which is now remembered with fondness, I’ve just finished my last stack of beers from them and there’s a hole in my cupboard ready to be filled with a shareholder-priced pile of Punk IPA. However, my latest order was quite large (thanks to a sale) and the latest email fell upon a full cupboard and was, at first, sadly sent to the trash folder.
Fortunately, I now have a BrewDog bar down the road. One that does beers for take-away with a discount. A discount that means it’s just about cheaper to buy two bottles from the bar rather than online, if you include postage. Although only just. So, Step forward the latest beer from the Hello My Name is… range - Hello My Name is Vladimir.
It’s not usually done to return to one’s failures as a blogger. Especially if that failure involves a beer that you didn’t really like all that much. However, it’s not every day that I find a new can of Polish lager in the corner shop and the part of my brain that craves fizzy beer from a tin kicked me into action. Sat beside the green cans of Żubr, the Polish one rather than its blue-canned Czech relative that I was schooled on by Polish commenters, was a new, brown and gold version - Żubr Ciemnozłoty.
One of my favourite Whisky Squad sessions that I’ve run was Old and New, an evening of comparing old version of whiskies with their most recent incarnations. I liked it so much that I pestered Jason into letting me do another one, which took place a couple of weeks ago. It went pretty well, with an overly funky Bowmore Darkest causing a serious split in the room, and Aberlour 12 from the 1980s and present day both being appreciated. However, the first pair of drams I did were a bit of a cheat – Black Bottle from 2013 and Black Bottle from 2013…
Important public service announcement – tickets to Dramboree 2014 are now on sale. To ignore all of the further wiffle in this post just click here to go to the ticket buying page. If you’re still here, well done. Are you sitting comfortably? If so, then I’ll begin…
The last year has gone alarmingly quickly. 365 days ago I was in Canada preparing for a day of whisky tasting at the Victoria Whisky Festival and today I’ve been buying trousers and changing phone contracts. Needless to say that I’ve been rather jealous of those who made it over to Victoria this year, but their tweets and Facebook posts have also given me a kick to try some more whisky. So, I sat down with a couple of samples that I received from the folks at Diageo – the Friends of the Classic Malts exclusive Royal Lochnagar and Talisker Triple Matured whiskies.
Sometimes you need to put your money where your mouth is. I write a lot about whisky at work but don’t get to taste all of it. Every now and again a bottle comes up that we don’t have samples of that I’m fairly sure is going to be good. I read around, I talk to people, I try to work out if I’m going to be right, but sometimes I have to get my wallet out and actually buy a bottle to find out what it’s like.
‘Unfortunately’ this happens with alarming frequency.
So, after the boss pointed out a recently released whisky that he thought I might like, it went on my wishlist and I finally gave in last week, although not before telling other people about it on the work blog. The whisky in question is Glen Garioch 1999.