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.

£30-60

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!)

£60-150

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!

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.

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.

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Thunder

Thunder. Don’t you just love a good thunderstorm?
Thunder is amazing, though. It’s one of nature’s great phenomena. What causes it? Lighting. It’s the sound of lightning, right? Well, sort of. As your six inch thick bolt of lightning sears from cloud to cloud, or cloud to ground, it’s hotter than the surface of the sun. So the air it passes through gets pretty hot, too. So hot in fact, that it changes its state. It breaks apart the molecules of gas into atoms, and breaks the bonds within them to form a plasma.
Just as when you boil a kettle and change water into steam and it expands, so the plasma expands, too. But it has nowhere to go, there’s all that pesky air in the way. But so dramatic are the heat and expansion, that it pushes the billions of molecules of air out if the way faster than the speed of sound.

And that’s thunder: the sonic boom of the atmosphere as it gets pushed out of the way at supersonic speed.

Awesome.

Eulogy For A Centenarian

At over 100 years old, consider the lifetime of my Great Aunt Audrey who died this evening.

She married Bill, the Reverend William Dodd, after he turned her head delivering a sermon in the convent hospital that was her work and home. They were happily married for many years as he ran his parish in Gloucestershire. He died some twenty-five to thirty years ago, as part of that five year spell in my late teens that I look back on as the great purge of their generation. Somehow she survive the purge. And survived and survived. Sadly she survived with a diminishing amount of memory.

Dementia is a cruel disease. Your personality, your life, slips away, yet life itself goes on.

What memories Auntie Audrey must have lost. The personal ones, Me, Bill, the many parishioners she cared for in lieu of the children she never had. But what of the others, the century of incredible change and history?

The Great War, the rise of communism, Spanish ‘flu, Irish partition, the rise of Nazism, the Second World War, the holocaust, the establishment of the NHS,the Abdication of a King, the death of a King, the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, The Beatles, JFK… You get the idea. If you don’t get the idea, try listening to the Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start The Fire” (a bit US orientated, but it gives a long list).

The last century has seen so much change Great Auntie Audrey left a world that bore no similarity to the one in which she was born. Tonight my family lost her, but our world has lost so much in the time she lived. Valuable things. We ought to hold on to the things we value. They may not just happen, we have to make the effort to retain them.

Remember.

My Blog Top Ten (up to date)

If I’m going to blog more regularly again (and there’s a lot to blog about), then I’m going to get all up to date with a massively self-indulgent top ten so far. So here it is in traditional reverse order…

Let’s see how that changes over the months.

Goodbye, Muhammad Ali – The Greatest

Goodbye Muhammad Ali, my hero.

I'm gonna show you how great I am.

I’m gonna show you how great I am.

It’s been a long time coming, but the King is dead.
Opponents of boxing will crow of a great man brought low by a disease caused by the sport he loved. But they will not only be flying in the face of medical evidence (many non-boxers get Parkinson’s and many boxers don’t) but they’ll be be missing the point. There are stories that show Ali was a man to be admired regardless of boxing.

Principle over expedience.

In 1967, after being World Champion for 3 years, Ali put his principles ahead of his career and refused to be conscripted to fight in Vietnam. He knew he’d be barred from the sport he loved and had given his life to. But, declaring that “No Viet Cong ever called me ‘nigger’,” he simply didn’t believe in that fight. The New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title. It’d be three years before he could box again. For all his speeches, all his goading of opponents, Ali always recognised that there were thousands of others who took the same stand.

If he hadn’t been a boxer.

During an interview, Michael Parkinson asked him what he would’ve been if he hadn’t been a boxer. Ali answered that he didn’t know, but whatever he’d have been, he’d have been the best at it. “If I’d been a garbage man, I’d have emptied more garbage cans that anyone else.” He believed that being the best was just a matter of who was most dedicated, who committed themselves most completely to the goal. Nothing was out of reach.

Ali was the greatest, not because he was a boxer, but because of his attitude to the things he did. He gave 100% to achieve his goals. Not some idiotic x-factor-esque hyperbole of “110%, Simon”, but he set a goal and focussed his endeavours on that goal. If something wouldn’t contribute to the goal, he didn’t do it. If something would, he’d give it everything he had.

That’s why as a man and an inspiration, he wasn’t diminished one iota by his Parkinson’s Disease. It was just another opponent to be vanquished with a thirty years-long rope-a-dope.

  1. Be principled.
  2. Give it 100%.

I’ll finish with one of his best known quotes. The final piece of the puzzle.

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it.
Impossible is not a fact: it’s an opinion.
Impossible is not a declaration: it’s a dare.
Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who prefer to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact: it’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration: It’s a dare. Impossible is potential, impossible is temporary, impossible is nothing.

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who prefer to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact: it’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration: It’s a dare. Impossible is potential, impossible is temporary, impossible is nothing.

Whisky Review: @HighlandPark 21 Years Old

There’s a problem with reviewing whisky. Apart from finding the time. It’s deciding what to drink, and what to review. Regular readers will know I tend to drink a few staples: Bunnahabhain (though recently less of the 12 year old, more of the Toiteach), Lagavulin and the 12 Year Old Highland Park.

But I like to break out of that, stop myself falling in a rut.

But how? The temptation is the big ticket, high price, old age single malts: the 40 year olds, the special bottlings. The problem with these is they’re priced in the many hundreds, the thousands of pounds. Which means one bottle is affordable, but what if I really like it. Like I did with the 40 Year Old Bunnahabhain? I can’t justify that sort of money on an everyday whisky. But something in the £50-150 range is usually better value than the standard, entry level (but still eminently drinkable) £25-40 range.

So the sensible way to go is up in age, from the 12 year olds to the 18/21 year olds. And where better to continue that into the new year than Highland Park, one of my permanent residents of Dad’s old Monk’s Bench?

The 21 Year Old Highland Park is right at the top of that price range, but is affordable as more than a one off buy.

As you pour, the colour is rich, warm, honey like. The aroma isn’t strong, though, you have to get your face right into your glass to really get a good waft. This malt was matured in sherry seasoned oak casks, and that comes through clearer than is usual, the flavour is good, strong, has some fruit and of course some smoke. And a nice long aftertaste that lingers long after it should.

It’s that aftertaste that’s the best part, though. Although this bottle is good, and I’d happily drink it if you were paying, ultimately it’s disappointing. The aroma isn’t rich enough, the first taste doesn’t quite grab you enough, the full flavour doesn’t quite fill your mouth enough.

It’s good, but not £150 good. I just feel that it costs a little more than it should. Bring the price down to two figures and we’ll talk again.

whisky review.HighlandPark21

Or send me a bottle of your 1970. That I’d love to review!

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A Solution

solution
səˈluːʃ(ə)n/
noun
  1. a liquid mixture in which the minor component (the solute) is uniformly distributed within the major component (the solvent)

synonyms: mixture, mix, blend, compound, suspension, tincture, infusion, emulsion, colloid, gel, fluid

So, just for the record, technically, whisky is a solution.

 

image004

Whisky Review: Talisker, 10 Years Old

I think it’s fair to say that although I’m a fan of mainland whisky, I have a particular liking for island drinks. So after the oily nightmare of Jack Daniel’s when I wanted to restore my faith in oily whiskies, it was a natural choice to turn to a youthful Talisker.

A light smoke covers a fruitiness to the aroma. It’s worth spending time on the vapours before taking a sip. wait until the sweet apply scent comes through. Then take your sip. The oil is there, but unlike the brash american, this is a light oil. Rather like the difference between petrol and virgin olive oil. In fact, taste them side by side and that’s just what comes to mind.

There’s more in the Talisker, though, again unlike the one note american. There’s a few stereotypes of a whisky – as you’d expect with a young bottling. Hints of heather, seaweed and moor come through at different times in the mouth, leaving you with a warm pepper over the tongue, stopping just at the top of the throat after you swallow.

But throughout there’s the slightly slick comfort of that virgin oil, smoothing the way.

Lovely.

whisky review.talisker

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