Whisky Review: Old Pulteney 12 Year Old

Dry January is over. The blog is back, after a hiatus of four and a half years.

So to celebrate, my brother Alex and I decided to taste two whiskies in one evening. Two very different whiskies. By the toss of an entirely non-existent coin, the Old Pulteney was the first out of the Monk’s Bench.

This bottle is the younger sister of my brother’s favourite, the 21 year old. So although we tried to be analytical and sensible about the reviews we did that night, we may not have been as successful as we’d hoped. Ahem.

Alex: Very nice colour, you could argue it flatters to deceive, almost.

Oliver: Very poetic! I know what you mean, it does look like a very light whisky, but it’s got loads of flavour.

Alex: But it deceives in that you see the colour, and you get the bottle and think “That’s going to be grade A, premium quality,” and then you drink it and its quite raw.

Generally from whiskies, I like the hit and the taste and sweetness of sherry, which this one definitely has. And it was only £30, I couldn’t believe it.

Oliver: Usually with whisky that pale, as you said you’d expect not a lot of flavour, but this has loads at the front of the mouth, but it’s not got a lot at the back either, so there’s no whisky face!

Alex: I first had this as a 21 year old, which was so good I had to work back down through the 17 to the 12.

Oliver: Well that’s why I stopped drinking whisky for a while and blogging about it. That 40 year old Bunnahabhain spoiled me for younger whiskies. They were just poor by comparison.

Alex: Yup, once you step up a ladder it’s hard to go down again. I was told that by a wine merchant when I first started buying wine, I thought damn, now I’ll always have to pay £20 for a bottle!

And with that our conversation turned to two future blogs and the cards on the table.

All told, though, the 12 year old Old Pulteney is a good whisky. Not as good as the 21, but you wouldn’t expect it to be. Its pale gold colour and light aroma is deceptive of the flavour. Strong, sweet, deep and focussed on the front of the mouth, making this (as we discovered) a very drinkable addition to the collection.

Old Pulteney 12

Old Pulteney 12 year old

What kept me?

I stopped blogging. Life’s been busy.

I’ve been establishing myself in a new clinic, the kids have been at a stage in life where they’ve had more of my attention, I’ve played a lot more golf (not that you’d notice an improvement), I’ve blogged elsewhere about other things, established other social media, developed an area of special interest within osteopathy….

These are the excuses I’ve made to myself for why I’ve not blogged.

But I’m back. My Christmas and New Year have been generous. So along with some osteopathic and healthcare content, I’m blogging again. Some posts already written, others waiting in their bottles.


In Praise Of Rocky Balboa

Some call the Rocky movies cheesy, predictable, formulaic. And, sure, they are.

When I tweet about them I always say that whichever one I’m watching is “The worst Rocky movie – except all the others.” And, sure, it is.

But the truth is the movies are great. The story is fun, the soundtrack is magnificent, the action is thrilling. They’re about overcoming the odds, never giving up, fighting for what’s important. The metaphor is clunky, but whether it’s fighting for recognition, love, respect, pride, friendship or to prove something to yourself, that’s what the movie is about. Not a dubiously refereed boxing match.

And for all the reliability of the formula, Stallone writes a great script: nuance, subplots, pathos and inspiring speech. When the unknown writer was hawking the script in the early 70s, it was turned down by several studios because [spoiler alert] Rocky didn’t win the fight. Those studios didn’t get it: it wasn’t about the fight, it was about taking your chance, doing your best. And it was a love story. Yo, Adrian.

People don’t watch the films because they think they’re about boxing. The people who do are missing out.

Not many film series can run for 6 films over 30 years, keep to their roots and get better each time. Look at Elm Street: same formula, increasingly rubbish. Look at Zombie flicks: successful ones have to reinvent.

And from an 8 year old movie, we’re beginning to recognise Rocky’s speech to his son as one of film’s great inspirational speeches. It’s about time we started recognising the rest of the movies as greats too.

Linkedin’s New Year Resolution

Here’s the resolution I’d like from LinkedIn. It’s very simple. LinkedIn likes to allow people to view profiles anonymously. They give lots of good reasons why someone might want to do that: recruiters who want to check out potential leads, HR managers who want to investigate job applicants. Both these might want to not raise your awareness or hopes.
Okay, fine. But it doesn’t take much to think of negative, nefarious reasons someone might want to hide behind a veil of anonymity.
About 40% of views on my profile are anonymous. Many are repeat visitors (there is a way to tell that much). Who is so interested in me, yet so unwilling to let me know they are?
I don’t mind who looks at my profile, but I find it rude, frankly, to do it anonymously. It’s like meeting me at a party, asking all about me, and then refusing to even tell me your name when I ask.
You don’t want to tell people your name? Don’t want to tell them you’re looking? Fine, that’s your prerogative. But I should be able to deprive you of your opportunity to find out about me. As I would if you were so rude at a party.

So, LinkedIn, let me selectively block all anonymous views. That shouldn’t be difficult, and should be just as much my prerogative as anonymous viewing is theirs. There can be no valid reason for refusing.

Until then, if you’re an anonymous viewer, I’d invite you to consider your manners when viewing me. Or simply not to view me at all, thank you.

Christmas Tradition

Posting this at Christmas is a tradition.
So Merry Christmas to all I’ve known, and all who’ve known me.

Whisky Gift Guide

December is here, and that means you’ll be thinking about presents. Not necessarily for me, although that would be nice. But you know someone who’d like a bottle of whisky. No, you do.

No whisky lover, none of them, want to get a novelty hip flask, okay?

So what should you get them? Bells, Teachers or Johnnie Walker? Well you could if they’re alcoholics and don’t really care what they’re drinking, so long as they’re drinking. Or they have always expressed a particular liking for cheap blends. Or you could show them that you gave it a little thought.

If you’re thinking if a bottle of whisky, but want to spend less than £20, don’t. But between £20-30 there are lots of good standard 8-12 year old bottles. What would I like to open? Glad you asked….

Up to £30

Perfect for someone who’s really helped you out this year. A teacher for example. Or maybe your osteopath, (cough). Let me point you to a 16 year old Lagavulin. Easily available, but not something you’d have chosen just because you saw it during an ad break. Usually found at £30, if you keep your eyes open it’ll often be had for £25.


For around £35 you can pick up my favourite 12 year old: Bunnahabhain. If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll know its merit well. I’ve seen it sold for as much as £55. If you see that, leave the shop.

If you want to spend that much: Thank you. Try finding a Bunnahabhain Ceobanach. It’ll make the lucky recipient think you’ve really done your homework. (And I’m dying to review it!)


You want to spend more? What, is it for your new girlfriend’s dad? If you like you could try an 18yr old Highland Park at £75-90. He’s going to hate you anyway, but at least he’ll love the scotch.
Top end of this price bracket, though and you could get a 21yr old Balvenie matured in Port Wood. He’ll hate you even more, simply because now he’ll feel so mean spirited to hate you at all. We’ve all been there.

Pushing the boat out

Unless you have more money than sense, you really shouldn’t spend more than £150 on a bottle of whisky for anyone but yourself, unless you already know it’s a favourite. So you’re off the hook spending more than that.

Merry Christmas. Mine will be if people get the hint.

Mmm, I wonder what it is!

Mmm, I wonder what it is!

Sleep and Insomnia

I love a good sleep. Going to bed after a successful but tiring day, and waking up the next morning after a solid night’s sleep feeling refreshed. I also like getting around a golf course in under 90, but that rarely happens either.

I’m a lifelong insomniac. Why am I so crap at something most people can do with their eyes closed? I spend my nights not blissfully drifting through the soft mist of the subconscious in the arms of Hypnos, but staring through the dark at the ceiling.

This has happened throughout my life. Every couple of weeks or so I simply lose a whole night of sleep. It’s like the opposite of jet lag. But I’m so used to losing a night now and then that you’d never guess the next day. After a lifetime of this, I just don’t need to sleep every night like ‘normal’ people.

Some people blame their wakefulness on worrying through the night, trying to work out what went wrong in this situation or how they could have done better in that one. A case of The Night Will Always Win. I’ve had my fair share of that, but not recently. That’s not for proper insomniacs, that’s for worriers. Not me: Life’s pretty good, and I get up in the mornings eager to get started. I’m taking this week off and looking after the children because it’s their half term and so my biggest worry is how much of a mess they’ll make in the kitchen and living room of Castle Vass. (Answer: it may be easier to rebuild than tidy up).

So I didn’t spend last night taken by sleep demons any more than I was taken by sleep gods. No, proper insomnia is when you don’t have any real problems, except you can’t sleep.

The best sleep I’ve had in the last 24 hours was the 45 minutes after giving the children breakfast, and I curled up in my dressing gown on the edge of the bed accompanied by the great “big furred” lump of feline I still laughingly call a kitten, before my eldest brought me a cup of tea. What a star.

Goodbye Twitter

@Anthropith twitter passed away quietly.

Apart from a few fledgeling months in the first part of 2009, @anthropith was always very much for one thing. After a few years of good service, it lost that purpose. With that gone, it gradually declined into raving obsolescence. It’s private partner, @JVonHogflume was hacked in early 2013, and since then they and other feeds were both bothered by repeated intrusions.

@anthropith fought the decline bravely, but frankly, the bother wasn’t worth the return and it was laid to rest, to join its long departed equally unlamented Facebook brother.

It is survived by other social media: The new @ollieopath twitter, LinkedInPinterest and Instagram.

Gone, not missed. No flowers, just like you asked.

The CCTV Myth

CCTV prevents crime.

That’s the justification. After all, if you’re being watched you’ll behave, won’t you? And if you know all the bad guys are being watched, you know you’re safe, don’t you?

But it’s a myth. It’s simply nonsense.

Want my evidence? How many times have you heard on the news “The police are examining CCTV footage for clues,” or “The [criminal] was caught with the help of CCTV,” Or something similar? Think of all that footage on Crimewatch, Police Camera Action! or YouTube of people robbing shops, mugging people or driving too fast. The truth is that CCTV has become so ubiquitous that it’s either ignored or assumed to be a dummy camera. Criminals will still commit crime right in front of a real camera for us all to see. That’s just what happened every time you see the footage, or the police are examining the footage. Every time. What was preventative about that?

So does CCTV achieve anything?

What CCTV does do very effectively is give people a false sense of security. I wonder how many times people have said something like: “Of course it’s okay to take that shortcut at 1am, theres a CCTV camera covering the car park, no one will attack/mug/rape me in front of that.” Shortly before the police have to examine the footage?

Famously, we have more CCTV in the UK than any other country except China. What is its outcome? A detective force that is reliant upon it for their work, rather than on traditional detective work. We have a traffic police focussed primarily on speeding, because that’s what GATSO’s detect, rather than on the greater problem of bad driving. We have a population wandering around in a fog of false security.

But we still have crime. Right before our (electric) eyes.


[Originally posted on Fifth Donkey]

Sweetie Review: Refreshers Revisited

In June last year, I reviewed Refreshers. Having rediscovered them, they’ve made regular (if infrequent) appearances in my desk’s sweetie dish. They don’t last long.

But today, having not had them for a couple of weeks, I made a frightful discovery on the shelves of Mr McNobby’s shop: The little sugar temptresses have changed. The first clue is the packet. It’s no longer a paper roll around a foil wrap. It’s all paper, folded over at the ends. Boo Hiss. What’s worse – and this is the real shocker – the tube is narrower. Imperceptibly narrower, but narrower all the same. Yes, the little sweeties are slightly smaller. Massive Boo Hiss.

On closer inspection, this is because they’re now made by a company called ‘Candy Land’. Have the Americans bought out refreshers?

Will I stop buying them? Of course not, they taste exactly the same.

All Sweetie Reviews >>

All Reviews >>