I became more or less seriously interested in whisky and everything around whisky in the autumn of 2014 when a trail running friend and I visited the Glenkinchie distillery south of Edinburgh. We planned a weekend filled with trail running in the Pentland Hills and around Arthurs Seat, but in that weekend we both became whisky “believers”. We truly believed, from that moment, that the Glenkinchie whisky we tasted was “heaven on earth”.
The whisky tasting this month featured whiskies from two distilleries owned by the Ian Macleod organisation. There was an initial introduction by Bruce Borthwick representing the distillery owners. Bruce showed us the bottles which would be used in the tasting and gave us some basic background regarding the whiskies on the show.
We started with a blended malt whisky, “The Feathery.” This is blended using sherry casks and has the distinctive sweetness associated with this. The name refers to an early form of golf ball comprised of leather stuffed with feathers. A nice starter dram to get the evening underway!
I learned about legislation and how this is different from continent to continent. It helps to understand the legal limitations that are set to Whisky and Whiskey. It helps to understand how this legislation limits the flavours that are able to be produced by American and Scottish producers. It helps to understand the economics of reused casks from the USA and how this limits the Scotch Whisky Industry. This is a partly self-chosen limitation based on available of reasonably priced casks.
The morning of Friday 17 November, dawned cloudily, but also chilly, as we made our way into Edinburgh and the Abbey Whisky Bar. On arrival at 8:30 am, we all had a nice bacon roll and coffee served by the owner Steve.
The mini-bus arrived and fifteen of us took a seat for the trip North to Aberfeldy. The first problem being to get out of the city! Not a small achievement with the seemingly everlasting roadworks everywhere. Eventually, we crossed the new “Saltire Bridge” and drove over into Fife. As the miles rolled by the scenery changed from rolling hills to a high hill with deep glens with lots of forests as we made our way into Perthshire.
The time passed quickly and soon we arrived at Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery.
Wednesday, October 25, featured the regular whisky tasting at the Abbey. This time there was a new twist as this was to be a “blind tasting”. The abilities, or lack of them, of the Whisky Group members, would be tested by trying to identify five whiskies without being told the name of each. In October the presentation was given by Mark Davidson of Royal Mile Whiskies on the High Street.
Having had a nice meal consisting of an Applewood cheeseburger, salad and chips followed by a lemon cheesecake I felt up to the challenge. So onto the tasting itself.
Looking across the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Arran from the Ayrshire mainland on a clear day fascinated me as a child. Trips to Arran with my family and school excursions felt like I was a million miles away from anywhere.
On a rare Scottish sunny day, the Isle of Arran resembles the Caribbean with palm trees dotted around and blue shimmering seas at every turn. Arran is an Island I had grown to love and that love affair has never ended. It has only got stronger since the Isle of Arran Distillers were born.
“A while ago… well let’s be honest months ago (25.11.16) I said I would write a piece about me for someone. An introduction to Smiley Smoggy. Well as it turns out it’s now an introduction to Sarah – iheartwhisky aka Smiley Smoggy.
So who am I? I’m a 23 year old (on the inside) parcelled up as a 46 year old. But age is just a number isn’t it? I’m always a firm believer that it’s what’s inside that counts. I live in Scotland now and have done since the very early 80’s yet I started off life living in a small town on the coast of North East England, having been born in Middlesbrough. This is where the smoggy part of me comes from. The smiley part? Well it’s better to smile than frown.
Before the discovery of ageing in Sherry barrels, whisky was consumed by the Scots as it came out of the pot still, a transparent liquid like water, rough and strong, “the spirit”. This was how it had traditionally been consumed, almost as if it was a medicine. Until then, whisky had no market outside its natural boundaries, because it was a drink too strong, associated with peasants and shepherds, and far removed from the refined tastes of British knights who for centuries had consumed large quantities of the wide range of Wines of Sherry, full of nuances, colours and flavours, in their noble mansions or in the elegant knights clubs that dotted the whole British empire.
The coincidence in time of two historical circumstances, probably fruit of chance, made that the use of barrels that have previously contained Sherry wines give meaning to whisky as we know it today.
Once upon a time… just kidding!
It’s a familiar story really, two lads decided to drum up a few friends to start their own whisky tasting club ‘Real Men Drink Whisky’. Besides sharing and discussing their private collections with each other, they also attended organised whisky tastings. This is were the ball started rolling and things got a bit different…
Hello. My name’s Ben Bowers. It’s nice to meet you.
Kairi and Vaughn are the sort of friends that you joke about as parents – they’re inseperable, they set each other off, they’ll probably spend the rest of their lives together . My wife and I always wanted our daughter to marry a blue-eyed American boy – Vaughn’s mum Rebecca is from the US, so it’s close enough for us.
When Rebecca was pregnant with Vaughn, she and her husband Simeon discovered their son already had problems with the development of his heart.
Vaughn was born with a hole in his heart and just five days later had open heart surgery – the first of three he had to endure before he had even celebrated his first birthday after further complications were found.