Sunday, 10 November 2013

Surreal Dram no 5

The eminent psychoanalyst Dr Dolittle, caresses the neck of his pet giraffe, Judas, 
& pours himself a flute of Kilchoman.

(c) Alcock 2013

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Twitter photos Oct/Nov 2013

After an exhausting, emotional, enjoyable 4 days in the North East, 

relaxing with some Yellow Sport & some Dobro action - 20.10.13

Ready to go at Mission control #TweedaleWhisky - 16.10.13

Last dram of the evening...with an added soupcon of chocolate. 

Difficult to beat a quality dram of Karuizawa : ) 06.11.13

Dram no3: I'll soon be twanging the Dobro. Competing with next door neighbours cats. 

Fast approaching "couldn't care less" 06.11.13

Totally exhausted. Couldn't make my last appointment of the day. 

Time for 1st dram since last Friday. Earned it! 06.11.13

I'm getting dressed up for tonight's MilroysTT2.

Rubber mask is on as I'll be falling flat on my face 30.10.13

Harvesting my bean seeds for next year! I'm at an age when this is an exciting evening

...more so with some Kavalan. 25.10.2013

The theme for this evening's drams is "whimsy"! Kavalan Solist, Naked Grouse, 

@BalconesWhisky 5th Anniv, Balvenie cask 7983

The opening riff from Aerosmith's 1975 Toys in the Attic 

represents how I'm feeling after my first blast of @BalconesWhisky True Blue. 

Quality. 12.10.2013

Sunrise from the office window after a superb @TWEWhiskyShow. 

I hope I didn't sleep here last night! 07.10.13

The cheeky Darach Ur in the background would be my choice...

but the others are good 05.10.13

Our house is part Victorian museum, part every child's nightmare. 

Things go bump in the night" 12.10.13

Monday, 29 July 2013

Seven Grand: Los Angeles: Part 2 - A garden of earthly delights

Location: Seven Grand 515 W.Seventh St, Second Floor, Los Angeles

Two days later, it's early evening, it's still hot, I'm making my way from my hotel to Seven Grand when I stop for something cold and non-alcoholic...a virtuous start to an unpredictable evening. I people watch near the corner of Seventh & S.Figueroa and I'm confronted by what seem like the LA equivalents of aged extras from "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" There's a psychotic on every corner, sometimes more than one, playing out surreal tableaux in which each actor tries to describe a different Hieronymous Bosch painting through the power of mime, gutteral utterances, and the exudation of noxious odours. People walk on by, trained not to notice, avoiding eye contact. The number of homeless people could be a reflection of the warmer clime but the florid nature of the behaviours seems to be some kind of testament to a failed health care system. A brief respite and then onward  I'm crossing 7th and Grand when a vagrant shouts "I like your beard white boy". He is smiling, so am I....for very different reasons I suspect.

Out of the heat and into the bar, the feel is the same. A little bit noisier, well, it is Friday. 

Elijah Craig 12yo Cask strength. 
Mama's Little Yella Pils
The mingling of bourbon/rye, ale, & a new city is a heady and intoxicating mix. Elvis blasts out of the Duke Box.....Costello that is (Watching the Detectives & then "Red Shoes"), closely followed by Bowie (not Jim...David). Am I in LA or my childhood boozer, The Blackburne Arms, Warrington, circa 1982? I don't mean that in a disparaging's fucking brilliant. 

It has taken me roughly two minutes to chill out to a fine "cucumber raita, deep blue green sea, alone on the beach, no debt, no work, enough money, nobody knows me, stranger in a strange town" kind of tranquility. The night belongs to me again, I own it. 

"Who's Pedro"  On one of the signs behind the bar informs me that he's the guy to ask if you want to know more about the whisky society
"He's our whisky guru........he's not in tonight." The conversation ends before it even took off. 

I've been here twice so I can use the term "usual" in an appropriate context! I order my usual - Knob Creek Cask strength. There's the usual sub-frenetic hubbub of early evening pool ball banter, cocktail crowd clamour, and "winding down" schemas. Punters wash up to the bar where bar staff act as breakers, serving drinks and watching the drinkers ebb away before returning as the tide rises. The bar staff are warming to their tasks. Swift shimmies and sharp slaps on steel shakers, flick of the wrist sexy swerves and come & get me movements marking the agitation of alcohol & lemon, or cucumber, or strawberry, or whatever the cocktail demands, finishing in the "art of the pour" is the ballet of the barman/mixologist.

I meet an accent to my opportunity for conversation presents itself. "That sounds like a Brit accent to me"......the evening takes on a new twist. Pat has lived in LA for a number of years (does that make him an ex-pat?). A brief conversation ensues, the "who are you, what do you do, why are you here, what do you think of LA, what do you miss about England" ice breaking checking out chatter to determine whether its worth investing more time in each other. I like Pat, he's a really nice bloke, articulate, engaging, eager to chat and willing to listen, his is a friendly face in the sea of strangers. He moves off to sit with his friend Tai. A few moments later he pops back and invites me over to join them. New connections are being forged. Tai is equally engaging, funny, interested and interesting, and a thoroughbred American - she knows LA and lives only a few blocks away.  

In drinking with Tai & Pat I suggest we recount one funny story from our respective pasts. The art of storytelling is alive and thriving in boozers around the world and I love listening to people tell quality stories that have significance and meaning for them.  We swap stories which are too long to repeat here but nonetheless, they are very funny, unique, and provide clear evidence of the value of our existence here on this beautiful/shitty planet. For the sake of brevity I'll simply include the "punchline" or "highest point" of each of the three tales without attributing them to either of the story tellers. 

Tale 1: "I just hope they put better padded rims on those Test of strength machines in Thailand!"

Tale 2: " this point I realised that not only was I at the wrong airport, but I was in the wrong country!"

Tale 3: "So all the Russian guy kept saying was "I am clean"

In the "rest room" there is a smartly dressed, African-American valet/butler/rest room guy with a smörgåsbord of lavatorial & post-lavatorial attractions (condoms, sweets, tissues, coloured pretty baubles, aftershave). This is new to me and I'm feeling uncomfortable. "Toilet/rest room protocol" is a minefield at best and I am thrown into confusion by this benign urinal confrontation. Do I say anything? If I do say anything, what do I say? What are the rules of engagement? What am I supposed to do? The one thing that I need to do is take a piss (note the American expression; in the UK we "have" a piss, in the US you "take" a piss. The former suggests ownership, the latter suggests theft, I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions). Anyway, even "doing" a piss is proving to be a challenge. It's not so much a case of "bashful bladder syndrome" but more of a case of "I'm trying to piss and there's a shop owner standing no more than 6ft away......syndrome". I wash my hands more thoroughly than I would normally do, it would be impolite not to. I am representing my country in terms of toilet hygiene. Never let it be said that the Brits are deficient in terms of urinary cleanliness. I don’t purchase anything (my level of unease is such that I barely make eye-contact), but my rye largesse is in full flow, I am Lord David of Alcock, I don't have any small change so I give him $5. 

I'm now on "whisky bar" time, where progress through the evening is measured not in terms of the clock but in terms of the shot. The lighting is set to convivial, the background hubbub feels like affirmation, the conversation, nurtured by Craig, Turkey, Grand-dad, Four Roses and Knob, builds in terms of enthusiasm, vigour, scope and sheer imaginative flair. The camaraderie is infectious, this is a transatlantic union of global significance, our discussions could make a difference not just to ourselves but to humankind in general.....and slowly, inevitably, things begin to blur, to merge, to blend, to become opaque, it is time to leave. 

I have the munchies, I need to eat. I purchase a filled bread roll that weighs more than my forearm and weave my way back to the hotel. I wake up at 07.36 in a hotel sheet sea of ham, chicken, cheese and breadcrumbs.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Seven Grand: Los Angeles - Part 1: An evening of short sentences

Location: Seven Grand 515 W.Seventh St, Second Floor, Los Angeles

Craftsman 1903 Pale ale

Knob Creek Cask Strength Bourbon 60%

A Black & White film on a small TV top left of bar, no sound, Juke box, “The girl from Ipanema” permeates the room, 20 punters, and two barmen. The sound of pool balls and conversations being struck. The beer...cold, the Creek...deep, sweet chocolate and caramel rye notes meander down my throat...escape, an escape from the oppressive heat, from the tensions that come with being alone in a sprawling city in a foreign country, from the streets punctuated with business bods and downtrods, and from the demands of having to stay focused. The decor whispers English boozer & American bar in equal measure. It's like a big old-fashioned, old English pub "snug" wrapped in speakeasy.

The whiskey list is impressive, they've even got Ardbog in here & it's only been out for three weeks!

Two guys swing alongside & order 2 old fashioned. I've still not dipped my toe into the world of cocktails, maybe one day. A waft of lemon hits me from the dexterously crafted drinks ... maybe one day. I occasionally try to strike up a conversation with the barmen who are very accommodating, but the problem is, once I've uttered my sentence, my musician deafness kicks in and I can't hear their response, so I come across as a muttering, hapless, odd Brit who's not worth spending time with! Enjoy the solitude.

I ask the barman what the procedure is regarding tipping. I suppose I want to come across as "all cutesy, folksy, quaint, British tourist" whose politeness screams out "look after me, pour drinks down my neck"! He politely explains that I could open a credit account & tip at the end, or "pay & tip as you go". I opt for the former; it seems cleaner, quicker, & less stressful. Perhaps more importantly, it would allow me to forget how much I might be spending. I reach for my wallet only to find that I've left my credit card in my hotel safe in case I get kidnapped, held hostage, caught in cross-fire, or mugged on the 800 yard route from hotel to bar (the unworldly wise, neurotic tourist screwing with my head). I come across as a muttering, hapless, odd Brit who's not worth spending time with!

This whisky/beer combo is hitting the spot. Physiologically, which spot it's hitting I have no idea...but in the head it feels good. 

"I haven't eaten today so I'll have a pint of lunch.... the O'Hara's  Irish stout", my humour goes unnoticed. I should have added “my good man” to the end of the sentence in order to provide the complete “Lord of the Manor” experience... maybe next time.

O'Hara's Irish Stout (in a Guinness glass)

Lost Spirits Leviathan 1 Cabernet Wine Barrel. 53%abv *

The phrase "good pour" has entered my mental vocabulary. There are no "measures" in here, it's at the discretion, manual dexterity, and bonhomie of the barman. The Knob Creek was a good pour. The Leviathan was also a good pour. The advantage of a good pour is a longer, more pleasurable experience with a quality drink. The disadvantage occurs when the whiskey presses your "wrong" buttons! For me, the Leviathan was a slow starter of a whiskey that gradually began to impress.

My immediate opinion of the Leviathan is that it is a marriage made in a 7/11 store, a marriage of convenience, an adolescent underachiever. The Cabernet influence is in my face demanding my attention and I don't have the time, there's too much other stuff to take in. Now this doesn't make it a bad whiskey, in my experience there aren't many bad whiskies, there are whiskies that don't meet your requirements at that particular moment, whiskies that don't match your mood, or styles/flavours of whisky that you don't like. There are those that don't work well due to their proximity to the whiskey you've just had, and so on. There are also whiskies that you need to befriend, to spend time with and appreciate at your leisure, I'm thinking that the Leviathan fits into this category. This is definitely not a bad whiskey. (I realise that I normally taste whiskey in the safe confines of my tasting space, I need to get out more! I'm running the risk of becoming a whiskey technician with a limited understanding of the totality of the whiskey experience.)

On my left, I hear a young man explaining to his new girlfriend how there are many different kinds of whiskey...bourbon, rye, Tennessee, Kentucky.. Should I correct him? I think not (this is America and he's probably packing a piece!). I don't need to look at them to know that this is a new relationship. Their conversation fluctuates between "shallow" and "über shallow" and that's absolutely how it should be. I'm sure the whiskey will massage their confidence genes, allowing them to stumble out of the shallows and flirt with "depth" before confronting the big question that has been on their minds from the moment they met.

On my right I hear a Frenchman trying to impress a Japanese woman....the conversation seems to have moved on to how you stuff geese (a "foie gras" moment if you will)! I can't wait to get home and try it out (not). It's also a new relationship........he's now talking about his mother.

A couple of minutes later, two young men (to my left) ask for tequila shots, I think the barman indicates that he doesn't have what they want, and offers them a whisky alternative. They agree, he suggests one or two possible whiskey options, they choose and agree, he double checks their choice, they agree, he comes back and asks them for $86 ...they are shocked, shamefaced, and shit themselves...they disagree...he is polite, he takes the drinks back and brings them two shots of bottom of the range, hang your head in shame, adolescent shot, puke in two hours liquor....they are happy.

It's been a while since I've turned around. 
I've not eaten for 18 hours, I'm jet-lagged, the adrenalin of the day has eaten into my reserves. Focusing on the bar and drink in front of me provides a much needed anchor.  Everything seems stable when I've only got two things to focus on. Fuck me, this Leviathan is starting to taste good, perhaps that's the secret of whiskey drinking...perseverance, it will all taste good in the end.

I'm walking back to the hotel. I'm smiling, LA seems somehow safer. A great bar, top quality whiskies, and great bar staff.

* I can't remember what cask Leviathan I was drinking (I think it was Cask 3). If you get the chance, try it!

(c) Alcock 2013

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Girvan 1964-2012 48yo (49.4% abv)

The time....1964, I was six years old, one year into infant school, and in a world where everything was big! At some point in that year, in Girvan, a million miles away, a world away from my classroom, away from Miss Tivenan (my "big" red-curly haired, scary teacher), away from the from the vast playing fields that surrounded us, away from my Dad's huge arms as he collected me from school, 

.....away from the sweet shops with their mammoth collections of jars containing Rhubarb & Custards, Barratts shrimps, Sweet tobacco, white mice, Refreshers and  gobstoppers that did just that ...stopped your gob, 

.....away from the two huge breweries that dominated our town with their weekly eruptions of malt/hop aromas... 

.....the foundations of something big were being introduced to their home for the next 48 years.....

 The Whisky Agency and The Whisky Exchange captured this dram and have delivered 487 bottles of dramlusciousness.

Nose: None of the seductive elusiveness that I've come to associate with grain whiskies. For me, much of the reward of grains lies in the delightful struggle to unlock their secrets - there's none of that here! Big sherry, bold fruits, jumbo raisins, ballsy bananas, all softened with a leathery sweet mustiness. There's oak in there but it's as though the cask has adopted a light touch, cradling, nurturing, allowing the liquid to evolve, to assert itself, to become......big. 

Palate: Fuck me that's gorgeous! An initial fire slowly fades to a warming, languorous, smoulder. The fruits remain but other "hidden delights" begin to emerge. There's orange and mint, and a "rum like" element (but rum this is most definitely not). Dark "bonfire" treacle with hints of lighter caramel, a spiciness that, as you might expect, softens a little with the addition of a few drops of’s a swirling, Jackson Pollock of a whisky. 

Finish: Long, spicy...this dram was 48 years in the making and, if I'm not careful, 48 hours in the drinking.

Overall impression: What can I say? I love it. If there are any “grain snobs” out there, stay out there! The less people that are in the know, the more there is for us. Seriously, if you can, treat yourself. It works out at just over £5 a shot...that can’t be bad can it?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Bells blend......

There are no tasting toes to accompany this entry. This is not about the taste, it is about the experience. The experience in question was the evening of my mother’s death in October last year, and the dram that I shared with my Dad in the quiet bungalow he and my mum had shared for the last 15 years of her life. They had spent the first 45 years of their married lives in the house where I had been born, a small, semi-detached house - tiny kitchen (3m x 2m), front and back room, tiny bathroom, one double bedroom, one single bedroom and a box room masquerading as a third bedroom - home to six of us. At that time it represented a monumental step up in fortune and standard of living although I wasn't aware of that at the time. Both my parents were from poor, working class roots (houses with outside toilets, no heating or hot running water), and the move to the semi was a significant one on a number of levels. 

Having spent many happy years there, the decision to move was not one that was taken lightly. In many ways it was prompted by a perceived decline in the quality of the neighbourhood, and a recognition that, with "older" age approaching and my dad's knees not being what they were, a move could provide a more suitable environment in which to enjoy their twilight years. So it was with much enthusiasm (on my mother’s part), and a high level of anxiety and uncertainty (on my dad's part), that they moved to the bungalow where my Dad now lives.

Mum's death was fairly unexpected. The illness leading up to it and the associated complications that finally took her from us, lasted about 6 weeks in all. That period had involved a number of hospital admissions, time in a council assessment home, visits to the GP, and minor alterations to the bungalow to accommodate her failing health. The merciless thread woven into the experience was the pain that she was in, a pain that didn't respond to any treatment that was fired at it, a pain that wracked her body, contorted her movement, a pain so consuming that her vocabulary during that time consisted of wincing groans interspersed with increasingly fleeting moments of lucidity and connection with those around her.

The day and evening of her passing were relatively quiet save for the normal hospital hubbub. Mum's two remaining sisters and respective husbands spent some time with her, my two sisters, their husbands, the grandchildren and myself were there for most of the day. It was clear to us that mum was not long for this world but the dilemma arose as the evening wore on - should we stay, not knowing how long she would hang on for, or should we go home and get some sleep in order to gather strength for what could be another long day? On the doctors and nurses advice we took the latter choice on the proviso that, if there was a marked deterioration, we would be called back immediately. No more than 10 minutes after arriving home the phone rang and we rushed back to the hospital (a journey of no more than 15 minutes) only to find that mum had died. 

Extract from book. Her eyes surrendered two weeks before, finally, her pious body broke, and her spirit rose through ghosted sheets, through the wrought fabric of the flimsy hospital room, down corridors filled with  "worker bee" nurses, through the potent cocktail of anguish and hope, the banal tedium of bedpans and drugs, past x-rays and "why now's?", up through the not so fab, prefab shell and into.... air....deep, crisp, clean, late evening autumnal air.....Hello God, nice to meet you after all this time". 

That she died in the presence of strangers was not an issue. To all intents and purposes she had been oblivious to her surroundings for some time. Indeed, in some ways it would have been more distressing to hear her last stertorous breaths as she finally left this world. Tears were shed, goodbyes were uttered, and Dad spent some time alone with the woman who had been his “constant” for more than 60 years.

We returned home, my sisters, their families, my Dad and I, to the bungalow that was now home for one. We talked, we were silent, we smiled, we cried, we uttered the full complement of clichés that are somehow married to discussions of loved ones recently divorced from this world, ("she was at peace in the end", "her suffering is over now", etc), we began to use the word "was" in relation to my mum. 

When a heavy silence descended on the house, after the rest of the family had left, my Dad poured two glasses of Bells Whisky. To his own glass he added copious amounts of lemonade (I remember cracking a slight smile), my own glass remained free of any contaminants. Now Bells blend is not one of my "go to" drams. Indeed, it is not a whisky that I have ever purchased. This isn't due to any inbuilt whisky snobbishness; it is simply that there are so many other drams that I prefer. This wasn't about the whisky itself, but it was about sharing a whisky with my dad at a moment that represented something greater than the sum of its parts; two men sharing a dram, a father and son trying to make some sense of a series of moments, scratching around and failing to discover, meaningful, insightful, things to say. It was as if simply hearing each other’s voices, filling the air with the noises of life, was enough to puncture holes in the powerful, pregnant silence. A couple of drams, a temporary softening of the acute sense of loss, a subtle shift into a contemplation of things beyond the immediate  - to memories of my mum as she was. Perhaps the seeds of coping were being sown at that very moment. 
Goodnight mum.....

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Ichiro's Malt Chichibu Port Pipe (54.5% abv)

Context: In terms of my "occasional reviews" posted to date, this whisky is slightly unusual. It's not a whisky that, as yet, has any special meaning for me, it doesn't have any deep felt associations, it's not yet connected to any special experiences, times, places, or why the review? In a nutshell, I got very excited about it! There were a number of reasons for this. 

Firstly, it took me by surprise. I regularly trawl the whisky databases in a vain attempt to keep abreast of what's occurring in the whisky world. Sites such as whisky intelligence; whisky whisky whisky; whisky news; whisky pages and so on, as well as many of the great blogs out there, regularly receive my time and attention. My fascination (borderline obsession) with Japanese whisky ensures that the Nonjatta site takes a regular pounding and it was on a routine trawl of Nonjatta that I saw the Port Pipe.

Secondly, having tried and really enjoyed Chichibu the First, I was keen to see how the distillery was progressing. The distillery is located in the hills of Saitama Prefecture, began production of Ichiro's Malt whisky in 2008, and is owned by Ichiro Akuto.

Thirdly, it's pink! Well that's not strictly true, there's a lot of pink on the label and on the box. Nevertheless, it's an unusual colour and it certainly created an "I'm looking at something interesting" feeling.  It's pink! Or is it? The fickle nature of colour perception never ceases to amuse and intrigue me. I've offered an interesting example of a colour illusion at the end of the review, it's intriguing stuff!

Colour: If you've read my previous review you will recognise my position that colour is a somewhat transient concept. This colour of this dram is no exception (but it's pink!). In an attempt to nail the colour to the mast (and test the persisting perception of pink) I even bought a couple of bottles of cheap Rose from the local supermarket.

From the top row (left to right): Chichibu Port Pipe, New Zealand 2010 Marlborough Rose, Oxford Landing South Australia 2012 Rose, Chichibu Port Pipe.

Middle row: Left - Port Pipe; Right - Marlborough Rose

Bottom Row: Chichibu the First, Ichiro's Malt The Final vintage of Hanyu, Ichiro's Malt Cask Strength 23 years old, Chichibu Port Pipe

I realise that there are a many, many more shades of Rose. This was not an experiment, it was simply an observation...this whisky has a light amber/pinkish hue. 

Nose: A sweet, fruity aroma with hints of Turkish delight, Baklava, nuts, honey, and....Port (it's not a blind tasting and the word is firmly cemented into my short term memory). There's a youthful element here, a slightly acidic, vinous quality. Not unpleasant by any means.

Palate: There is a warmth and roundedness to this whisky that belies its youth. At a healthy 54.5% abv and at only 4 years old you might expect a degree of simply doesn't materialise. The sweet, Port influence is evident from the outset but it doesn't dominate. There are hints of oak and rosehip.  

Finish: It has a medium length, "Rocket salad" spicy finish

My description might create the impression that this is an overpoweringly sweet whisky. This isn't the case. Yes, there is a sweetness but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is not a whisky that will blow everyone away....but I really rate it. For me, it's another bright star in the constellation of Japanese whiskies.

There are 4200 bottles available worldwide. If you get the opportunity to try it, don't hesitate.

Believe it or not!

In my student days I vividly remember the first time I encountered the Rubik's cube colour illusion. For me, it remains one of the most mind boggling and easily accessible examples of how the mind can play tricks on our perceptions of colour. The two images below are the ones I encountered all those years ago.

In the diagram on the left, the top middle and left front middle squares seem to be brown and yellow respectively. I could stare at this image for hours and still come to the same conclusion. I now know that my perception of the colours as being different is wrong! They are in fact, as the diagram on the right shows, the same colour. "Witchcraft" I hear you scream, "trick photography" you may murmur, "someone has slipped acid in my Earl Grey" you may sing loudly. There's no escaping it.....they are both brown.

For more information & a fun read, go to:

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Karuizawa 1984 (64.5% abv) Cask 4021

Context: The bottle has been on my shelves for almost 6 months. It’s a dram that I've returned to on a number of occasions, each time like visiting an old friend who always has something new and interesting to say. In terms of the memory layers that are being folded into my experience of this whisky, it is already heavily laden with power and resonance. For me, it has associations with beauty, sorrow, tranquillity and turbulence, the reasons for which can be found in a forthcoming posting - "A tale of two whiskies Part 1 Karuizawa 1984 - The spirit and the silence". Pretentious bullshit you may be thinking (and you may be right although that is not my intention) – it is what it is. At the time of writing these notes I was sat alone, late evening, no noise but for the occasional soft hum of cars.

Colour: I often find it challenging describing the colour of whisky. After all, the colour will shift in different lights, it will mutate with a tilt of the head, evolve as the volume ebbs with each sip, in many ways it is as fluid as the fluid itself. Whilst meditating on this challenge I came across a beautiful image of Mokume-gane (a Japanese alloy - burl metal) which seems to capture all the colour permutations that I was noting – bronzes, golds, coppers....they were all there. 

Legs: Like teardrops clinging to the side of the glencairn, etching an arc into the glass, viscous, slow, and deliberate.

Nose: Really subtle combinations, a complexity that makes it difficult to tease the notes apart - but..... lots of fruit, tannins, zesty, soapy lemon, Christmas cake, pink marshmallow, sherry, leather & a hint of tobacco leaf.

Mouth: Powerful, 64.5% hit but very rich, very rich indeed! Invades the mouth, coating every surface. Warm sherried cherries, (almost Kirsch like), Black Forest. Wave upon wave of sweet heat and subtle spices. Chocolate and mint notes drift in and out

Finish: Long, warm, luscious

I always feel that one hint of a quality dram lies in its capacity to be enjoyed neat at high abv levels. Whilst this whisky opens up with the addition of a few drops of water, it can be savoured at full strength. 

This whisky has power and subtlety. It is both voluptuous and indulgent. A thing of beauty.           © Alcock (2013)

Bottled by The Number One Drinks Company

Was available @whiskyexchange - now sold out : (

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Musings on Twitterthreadery No 1 (....or how Twitter makes me titter)

Ah, the joy of Twitter! Still not a phrase that trips lightly off everyone’s tongue but in my case (with the very occasional exception), Twitter has been a revelation; the breadth of contact, the scope of exploration, associating with a group of like minded individuals with an enthusiasm not just to explore the fineries of the whisky experience, but simply to connect, to share, to enjoy each other’s company without any geographical shackles, has been a hugely positive experience. The primary driver for me to become involved was to connect with fellow whisky passionistas and to deepen my knowledge of all things whisky. This remains the primary driver but I have come to enjoy those moments where I move out of the whisky domain and into other arenas. Getting to know the people behind the whisky has been (and continues to be) extremely enjoyable.

For me, the interpersonal connection is one of the most seductive elements of the Twittersphere. It is no exaggeration to say that the experience has, in some small way, strengthened my belief in the essential goodness of humanity. Yes, there are exceptions, yes, there are some thoroughly reprehensible individuals in this world, yes, I may be labelled as somewhat naive, but it is what I believe and as such, for me, it is valid. When my mum died last year I posted a short statement saying that I was raising a glass to her memory. Within minutes there were a flurry of condolences and people raising their glasses to someone they had never known. “Any excuse for a drink” I hear you cry! But for me, at that moment, I was able to forget any cynicism......and it felt good.

I may muse on the philosophical elements of the Twitter experience later but for now I simply wish to revel in the sheer diversity and “surprise journeys” that I have taken during my time on this medium.

In terms of this exploration, I will use my tweet/tweet responses to illuminate the area being addressed. I don’t feel comfortable include other tweeters’ writings without their permission and, whilst I don’t feel that they would object, to seek their permission would take an inordinate amount of time. I will include a “list of protagonists and suffice it to say that those referred to in this piece fall into the category of “twitter friends”. The snapshots that I offer do not tell the full story of their valuable and continued contribution to the whisky fabric (* see footnote).

With regard to diversity where do I begin? Twitter has transported me into my childhood, into imagined futures, into alternatives presents, into cultures that I was ignorant of, into the homes of people from all 23 corners of the globe, into their eating habits, their pastimes, their jobs etc. It all sounds somewhat voyeuristic but that’s not the feeling that I take from it. These are shared connections, information offered freely, often stimulating, generally interesting, occasionally irritating, and frequently amusing. If you don’t like what someone posts, a flick of the thumb and you can skip on ahead (digital democracy if you will).


Twitterthread no 1: “You can’t prosecute a whale for having a shit

This particular thread began with an innocuous request for information, but ended up taking the protagonists on a journey through the surreal, the slightly vulgar, elements of International law, the fashion industry, illuminations from the natural world, and questions around the logistics of faecal collection. Jon Beach (@maltwhiskybar) initiated the thread. I was immediately hooked as, coincidentally, I’d seen the object in question on a nature programme only two days earlier.

The protagonists: @whiskyrepublic; @maltwhiskybar; @OliverKlimek; @wimvlonhuijsen; @galg; @Whiskylassie

The comments in parentheses were not included in the original thread but have been added as context for this post.

Question: @maltwhiskybar There's someone in our Coffee Shop with a lump of this. It's incredibly expensive. Anybody care to guess what it is? 


triple folded omelette (good guess)

It's an animal by-product. (narrowing down the options)

It's not for eating!  (see previous comment)

Then it could be a geode  (...getting intellectual)

Methinks it comes from a whale...Ambergris perhaps  ( let’s move on)

If it can be verified as ambergris it could be worth a fair amount of money! (capitalism...filthy lucre with a nod to the need for accuracy and fairness)

He's getting it checked this week. It stinks! Really stinks! (oh dear....a change of direction is on the way!)

Some discussion as to what “ambergris” actually is ensued. There was a little debate as to whether it was whale poo, snot, puke or sperm!

It can be puke or shit. Heavily sought after in the perfume industry. Needs to be chemically ratified.     (a combination of technical information using language from the gutter, connection to a global issue, and a need for scientific rigor)
omg!? It's whale vomit??? (the horror....the horror)

Stale whale shit is dabbed on ladies faces to enhance their attractiveness! (let’s get surreal....)

Better for your face than any cucumber mask! (the surreal and the real combining to strengthen the surreal imagery)

I can't afford ambergris, I use dried squirrel shit. (What!...where’s this come from? The thread is heading South!)

I'll stick with kopy luak (back to the intellectual with clear knowledge of the natural world.)

Is kopy luak Israeli for squirrel shit? (I’m not done with exploring my squirrel shit!)

hell no. It's the shit of those Sumatran cats coffee (sounds surreal but it’s not!)

By "Sumatran Cats" do you mean hip & trendy Sumatrans?  (There’s a punster at work here, probably in his/her early 50’s with fond memories of free love and the late 60’s early 70’s)

Selling it could be a problem. Isn't this stuff essentially outlawed?  (Back to serious, filthy lucre, and the law!)

Don't think so xxxxx. You can't prosecute a whale for having a shit!  (Hello surreal, goodbye serious!)

 It's a different story with Bears in the woods!  (Interesting addition! Are we entering the realms of the philosophical?)

You could make aftershave from stale bear shit - "Grizzly - pour homme"  (Apparently not!)

Trade is supposedly prohibited due to Washington Treaty. Whale hunt etc. (But I want this to become an exploration of global trade, capitalism, the necessity for regulation in a world gone mad!)

How big would a whale "pooper scooper" have to be?  (I WANT IT TO BE SURREAL!)


The thread itself is very short when transcribed but you have to bear in mind that the “conversation” may span hours or even days, with time zones often playing a part in when people are able to contribute. As with many Twitter threads, the humour, in part, derives from the time lapses, and the point at which different protagonists pick up the thread. Sometimes it’s like the “Two Ronnies” Mastermind sketch where the contestant answers the question before last. (I'm also aware that some of you may have found this post to be completely devoid of humour, but hey ho, you can't please all the people.......)

  I first came across the term “whisky fabric” in my twitteractions with  @Whiskylassie (Johanne McInnis), valued friend and one of the most passionate of the “twitterdrami”