Amongst Friends

I’ve been quiet for a little while – basically, I got a new job in a new city, and with the moving and the general change of pace I haven’t felt much like writing. But last Saturday I went along to the Whisky Exchange Whisky Show, and who’d have known? Suddenly I’m inspired again! Continue reading

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Trip to Scotland 2: Electric Boogaloo

Cunningly, as soon as I got back from Islay I went gallivanting off to Fort William, to climb Ben Nevis, and then Skye, for a more general holiday. Not too much whisky, although I did try a few nice ones bottled for the Isle of Skye Brewery (whose ale, by the way, is fantastic). Anyway, back in the old homestead and ready to get typing about my original holiday.

Some cool fog at the Old Man of Storr

Some cool fog at the Old Man of Storr

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Welcome to heaven – My trip round Scotland

2015-06-03 21.37.39So I’ve just come back from a holiday in Scotland, splitting my time between Speyside and Islay, which means I’m full of things to write about. Lots of interesting people and places, but also a lot of whiskies and distilleries. Now, I’m quite into my ales as well, and when you visit a brewery, you feel like not only has the brewery grown organically from its humble beginnings, but the equipment has too. With a distillery, on the other hand, while the company itself will have its own quirks and stories, the equipment and processes are more alike than they are different. Continue reading

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The Soaper’s Choice

My great-grandmother used to put all the last slivers of bars of soap into a plastic bag and mush them together to make a new bar and eke it out a bit longer. From the tone of the anecdote my dad tells, this wasn’t generally held to be a method which produced the best soap, and it’s a method that won’t produce the best blends either. To reduce the noble and complex art of blending to simply throwing together some leftovers is frankly an insult. So I decided that’s what I’d do. Without further ado, let me announce my own blend, The Soaper’s Choice. Continue reading

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Going with the grain

The first whisky tasting I ever went to was run by a woman. It was a Laphroaig tasting, and the wonderful Patsy Christie from Maxxium came (you’ll find her doing a lot of stuff for the Macallan these days) and gave an amazing presentation that single-handedly put the distillery in my good books. So the vague status quo tag that whisky is a man’s drink – one I come across more often than I’d like – is one that’s never held water (or whisky) for me. The history of whisky is littered with women like Elizabeth Cumming and Bessie Williamson, who take most of the credit for making Cardhu and Laphroaig, respectively, what they are now. Nowadays people like Kirsteen Campbell and Rachel Barrie are driving the Scotch industry, and Liza Weisstuch and Alwynne Gwilt are doing all the writing. The women who are foremost in the industry are doing a fantastic job of overcoming the inertia of the past, and equality in female drinkers is much closer than equality in female poker players, my other hobby. Which is great, because modern poker basically involves spending hours on end staring at a computer. So much for a dinner jacket and martini… Continue reading

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Guest Post

I’ve written a guest post for my friend Ben Matthews over at LittleTipple – Ben’s a fantastic writer with an incredible knack for remembering all the little facts that make whisky so interesting. He’s also an amazing photographer, so you get pretty pictures, and not just a drab slab of text. (I promise I’ll try to put some pictures in from now on!) Anyway, both his blog and his Flickr are well worth checking out. What are you still doing here?

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How to deal with weirdoes who don’t love whisky

It came as quite a shock to me to realise that I actually like drinking on my own. One of the best evenings I’ve had in a while was spent with a couple of glasses of Octomore and a mix of Daft Punk and Gym Class Heroes. But there’s definitely something about a whisky shared that can’t be beat.

I love to have a dram with friends that wouldn’t otherwise drink a lot of whisky. There’s a tendency for people to start their journey by drinking bottom-shelf blends that aren’t really meant for drinking neat, or single malts that are aiming for drinkability rather than memorability. So I like to try to find something that creates an impression that is both lasting and pleasant. And while I know they may not entirely share my passion, I feel like I’ve feigned enough interest in philosophy and Linux over the years that they owe me one. Continue reading

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