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!

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Thoughts On Burned Bridges

Sometimes, when we move on in our lives, we lash out at the thing we’re leaving behind. It’s a childish thing to do, but there are reasons why.

Perhaps we’re so vehement because we’re still trying to convince ourselves it’s the right thing to do, when deep down we know better.
Perhaps we’re trying to make the people around us happy.
Perhaps we’re trying to make going back such a humiliating climbdown that we could never countenance yielding to the temptation.

Whatever the reason, there are the times that we feel the need to burn the bridges and trample the charred remains underfoot. We burn the bridges to stop others following us over, and we burn them to stop ourselves crossing back. And we do it because we think we’re too weak to stick to our decision, one we often know to be wrong.

But every bridge had to be built in the first place. So no bridge can ever be burned so badly that it cannot be rebuilt.

…ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough…

After such a petulant, charged departure who can say what’s the other side of the bridge you could rebuild? And isn’t it always better to build than to burn? Stronger to discover what may be waiting than to hide from the fear of it? More courageous to acknowledge the mistakes and learn from them, than to angrily pretend no fault?

If you’ve burned a bridge you should take the brave, the courageous, the strong path and rebuild it – however hard it may seem. Cross over, find out what’s there. The worst that can happen is there’s nothing for you. But how is that worse than what you have now?

It’s out of character for me to burn bridges, to turn on something in my life. As you know I often choose the path that’s harder in the short term, to secure a less stressful long term. But I’ve burned a bridge, now I’m rebuilding it. It’ll be fascinating to discover what’s on the other side.

Do It Now

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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Whisky Review: Lagavulin 37 Years Old

This was my great extravagance of the week. It was between this and a 34 year old Port Ellen.

A 37 year old Lagavulin. The 12 year old is always so reliable, that when I decided what to splash out on, this was an obvious choice. That said, it was an insane amount of money to spend on a bottle of whisky, and although it’s very, very good I wouldn’t buy a second even if I had the disposable income! I don’t suppose there are any left, anyway. The great sadness is that most people who buy one of the 1800 bottles probably won’t ever open it. What’s the point of that? If you’re going to buy a bottle – whether it’s a regular off the shelf or a special bottling, drink it (slowly, maybe – but drink it), or let someone else buy it who’s going to enjoy it as a drink, not an ornament.

I opened it. It didn’t disappoint.

37 years old is the oldest bottling Lagavulin have ever done. The distillery isn’t usually given to aged bottlings, perhaps they found an old barrel at the back. Lucky for us.

That said, it wasn’t cheap. It’s not an everyday bottle (unless you’re in a very different financial league to me!). Now I’ve bought it, it’s not so much better than the ‘everyday’ whiskies to be able to justify drinking it, apart from on special occasions. So it’s a bottle destined to be in my Monk’s Bench for years, giving up a glass or two a year.

But the idea of enjoying this for the next half decade suits me just fine. I hope it’ll have equally good (and obscenely expensive) company by then.

Ultimately, though, as good as this is I could have had ten bottles of the 25 year old Bunnahabhain for the same money. And – if I were buying again that’s what I’d have done. Sorry, Dad.

whisky review.Lagavulin37

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Whisky Review: Lagavulin 12 year old

Lagavulin was my Dad’s favourite whisky. It’s the one he most often lifted from the old Monk’s Bench when he trained me to drink whisky through my late teens and early twenties. So it’s no surprise that I inherited a love of this beautiful Islay malt.

It’s consistently in my top 3, and consistently good, even at only 12 years old. I’ll state the obvious and say I prefer the 16, the 18 and the 21 year olds. Which was a big factor in choosing my most obscenely expensive whisky of the week (review coming on Friday).

But if you’re a whisky drinker and you don’t have a bottle of Lagavulin in your Monk’s Bench (or whatever it is you keep your bottles in), then that’s a serious gap in your offering.

It’s an Islay, so it has a lovely smokey aroma, the peaty flavour you expect, but neither assault you like the heavier tones of, for instance, a Jura.

It’s eminently drinkable, you can sit washing it around in your glass as you chat, filling your head with the warm fireside, woodsmoke aroma. You can sip and let the flavour spread over your tongue and the inside of your cheeks – and just a small sip will fill your mouth with flavour. Or you can take good solid mouthfuls and swallow it down, heating your throat without any risk of pulling a whisky face (unless you’re a big girl’s blouse, of course).

The best part is in the morning, when you come downstairs, clear headed and see how little is left in the bottle. That’s how easy Lagavulin is to drink – you don’t notice how much your drinking that evening, and you don’t get reminded in the morning.

Buy. Never be without it.

whisky review.lagavilin12

 

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Whisky Review: Singleton 28 Year Old

Let’s start Anthropith’s Whisky Week with one of the three expensive bottles I bought.

The last 28 year old I had started out well, but was ultimately disappointing. One of the keys to a great bottle is duration. Is the end of the bottle just as satisfying as the first taste?

That’s not a question I can answer yet, not having finished the bottle.

But, how was it to start? Was it worth the hard-to-justify-in-advance sum of money I gambled on it? Well, the description coming up is pretentious, so I think that’s a yes.

It was ripe, with just a shadow of smoke in the smell, almost something softly citrus, even though I can’t imagine an orange grove anywhere near a scottish distillery. The light smokey aroma came through in the flavour too. Nothing citrus-y though. It was sweeter than that.

Although I’m a long way from the bottom of the bottle – and I’ll take my time drinking it, courtesy of its price – this was a very drinkable bottle. I’m told there were only 3,816 bottles drawn from the oak casks. I rather hope there’s a few left.

whisky review.Singleton28

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Anthropith’s Whisky Week

The week around the 22nd of October is a big whisky week for me. I like to buy in a few bottles – some of my favourites and some I haven’t tried before.

For one reason or another I’ve not done this for a few years, so this year I went a big, I really splashed out. Not only did I buy my favourites, I bought some expensive ones, too.

So this week, I have a Whisky Review a day. I’ll update this page as the week goes on with a contents list to add to the reviews that are already on here.

Whisky Week 2013

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Ad and Whisky Review: The Famous Grouse

An unusual whisky review from me. Famous Grouse is a blend. It’s perfectly possible to drink blends, of course, just not particularly preferable.

I’m really mentioning Famous Grouse for a couple of reasons:

Oddly, they’re running ads in July, and usually they keep their advertising for the run up to Christmas. I’ve always rather liked FG’s advertising, with the grouse prancing around with far too much pomp for its standing.

I wondered why they might be advertising now. Then was disappointed when I discovered they’ve just released a new ‘Ginger Grouse’, ginger beer. I mean, lovely for ginger beer drinkers. Crabbies are certainly doing well out of it, and I’m all for diversification.

No, I was disappointed because I was looking forward to August 12th: The Glorious 12th, the start of the game season.

There was a small part of me that was hoping the Grouse ads on the day would involve a Winchester, lead shot and an explosion of feathers.

Just me? Oh.

whisky review.grouse

 

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Do It With Passion Or Not At All

 

This shall be one of the two watchwords for this blog:

Do it with passion or not at all.

Do it with passion

Make It Simple But Significant

More watchwords I’ll try to remember:

Make It Simple But Significant.

Thanks, Don.

Simple But Significant