A Bright, Figgy Treat from Campbeltown
“Whisky from the Whiskiest Place in the World” – Glen Scotia’s Victoriana is a dangerously lovely and easy sipper. Coming in at cask strength, it drinks as if the ABV was MUCH lower.
Louisiana is the epicenter of some of the best food in the world. Our rich waters and fertile lands yield bountiful resources for delectable creations.
One of my favorite Louisiana dishes is the Char-grilled Oysters at Drago’s in Metairie (a suburb of New Orleans). Loaded with butter, garlic and Parmesan cheese, these oysters are the epitome of Louisiana cuisine. Veteran cooks hand shuck and char-grill these salty gems in front of your eyes at the restaurant’s oyster bar. Lightly toasted French bread sits alongside to soak up all that buttery goodness left behind in the shell. Hungry yet?
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to add a bit of Islay single malt – to infuse some peaty, smokey flavors to compliment the brine of the oyster. Next time I go to Drago’s I’ll be sure to take a pipette and order a dram. But I’m impatient so this calls for an experiment.
It may be a “Highland malt in the Speyside way”- but the Glenfarclas 17 year old is far more than a sherry bomb. Made exclusively for US, Japan and Sweden markets, the expression delivers a beautiful balance of sweet and spice – and here’s a hint… it’s very nice.
Why do we hang onto bottles, leaving them sitting on the shelf, unopened? I must confess that I’ve had this bottle for more than a year but never made time to open it. I didn’t mean to neglect it. Maybe I had a case of “SQUIRREL! syndrome” and other shiny bottlings caught my attention.
As I look at the full bottles gracing the shelves of my bar, it seems I may have a slight hoarding issue. I’m certainly no collector. But more are unopened than ready to pour. Perhaps some self discovery is in order with a dram or two of Arran 14 to ponder why.
I’ll be the first to admit I live a charmed life. Fortunate. Blessed. Lucky. I’m thankful for my supportive and loving husband, dear family, sweet dogs, crazy friends, a fulfilling job, and safe and comfortable home.
But I also believe we make our own luck. To do that, one must take a chance or calculated risk, often against heavy odds. When I submitted my essay for a competition to win a week at The Islay Whisky Academy, I didn’t get my hopes up, especially after finding out there were 80 other applicants. But by at least trying – taking the risk, I had a shot.
What comes to mind when you hear the term “complex whisky?” I’ve heard some whisky folks describe a scotch as “complex” only if it has a litany of strong “in your face” layers from different flavor profiles. One person even told me only heavily peated whiskies or sherry bombs could be considered complex and that a “plain Highland whisky could never rank as a complex expression.” I just smiled and told him that I absolutely disagreed.
Fact: there are complex whiskies from each region, including this Highland malt – AnCnoc 12.
Value means different things to different people. For me, perceived value in whisky is a correlation of taste, price and experience. Unless you have sampled something beforehand or gotten a recommendation from a reviewer or friend, price is the only attribute that is known BEFORE buying a bottle. Just going by price alone won’t guarantee the best value.
I want to get my money’s worth from anything I buy, including whisky. The taste must be enjoyable and pleasing. It gets a little tricky when it comes to the value of my experience – the esoteric moment of sampling the whisky. These are the moments where I ponder the complexity, depth and overall impression. Again, this is different for everyone but my experience with the whisky is a big part of how I value it. The final verdict is when all three come together. Then, I’m happy.
Is there redemption for a whisky that just didn’t do it for you at the first taste? That initial sip may be unexpected or disappointing. Do you write it off as bad or allow yourself and the whisky another chance for another day? Maybe you apply the baseball rule: give it three separate tastings before deciding its fate. And if it still comes up short than it’s “three sips and you’re out!” How many shots do you give an initially disappointing whisky before declaring, “That XYZ whisky is not good at all.” and never bother with it again?
Below is my review of such a bottle: Glenfiddich 18 Year Small Batch Reserve. It is a bottle that I had to give a second chance and in doing so, I learned a lot about the whisky and myself. Don’t automatically think I panned it. You can skip to the tasting notes or better yet, come along with me on my journey of understanding why we need to be fair to the whisky.
The Battle of Culloden was on this day, April 16th, 1746.
My trip to Scotland in 2016 gave me precious memories and adventures for which I’m so thankful. My experience at Culloden, by far and beyond any distillery, castle, loch, island or mountainside – has stayed with me. I’ll never forget being on the battlefield with all those lost souls.
… from the Culloden Visitors Centre, part of the National Trust of Scotland.
Forty years ago, Bunnahabhain introduced its 12 year old expression. It’s been pleasing palates and winning awards since the first dram was served. This is not your stereotypical Islay – peaty, heavy and in your face. No – this is a gentle dram, an easy sipper. After almost a half century, I believe those folks at Bunna are on to something.
In 1979, the world was a different place. There were no blogs, text messages or social media. Computers were for the space program or enormous companies. Disco, leisure suits and Farrah Fawcett hair-dos were all the rage. We didn’t walk around with our face in a phone because it was permanently affixed to the wall. Yet on a small island off the west coast of Scotland, a remote distillery presented its 12 year old whisky – the same cornerstone of their core range we can enjoy today.
Where in my last post I was lamenting the discontinuance of a favorite bottle, Bunnahabhain has consistently produced a version of this whisky going on four decades. That speaks volumes to the integrity and quality of Bunnahabhain’s craft.