If it hadn’t been for the Coronavirus I would have been out and about this weekend, warming up for the Islay walking week in a week’s time. But obviously neither of that is happening or will happen. So I thought I should have at least some treat. During my last shopping trip I decided to raid the Easter egg aisle even though the chocolate is vastly overpriced in comparison to a normal bar of the same chocolate. But I found something I thought a bit different. Yesterday evening I decided to let some of my Twitter followers pick which one of two Bruichladdich valinches I should open. Here’s the outcome, here’s what I enjoyed today:
The whisky is a Bruichladdich Port Charlotte heavily peated Islay single malt, SHC: 01, 2006. Cask 2134, first fill sherry. Distilled 4/Oct/2006, aged 11 years. My bottle is number 918 of 1,134.
The chocolate is a “single origin dark chocolate teardrop”. Or to be precise, “an intense dark chocolate decorated egg in a golden shimmer using Fino De Aroma cocoa beans sourced from Colombia”.
I’m not going to bore you with tasting notes, my taste buds aren’t developed enough to do much good there. But I can say the whisky tastes fantastic, nice and fiery (that’s as far as I go). The chocolate is nice as well, although I didn’t taste anything different with the golden shimmer (which if I interpret the ingredients list correctly isn’t real gold anyway, but Iron Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. Sorry to disappoint you on that side).
Oh, and for those of you interested in the result of the poll, the SHC won with 17 votes out of 29. If I remember correctly it had an even higher lead earlier on, but the VOC pulled back a bit in the later stages (the poll was open for about 13-14 hours). I haven’t decided when yet, but there’s a good chance the VOC will also be opened at some point during or shortly after the lockdown.
The cousin of a friend of mine has an uncle who works in the White House who has a colleague who has access to the innermost circle of the American president. From him we’ve just learned about this most fascinating development:
Donald Trump is planning to buy Islay. All of it. The whole island.
Remember the story about Donald Trump wanting to buy Greenland? As you probably know that plan failed. So now Trump has set his sights elsewhere. And picked Islay. In a secret transcript Trump says:
Islay is such a tremendous island, it has the bestest whiskey in the whole world, Americans love it. Islay is hugely popular! When there’s a feature about Islay on the TV the ratings go up in England, it’s bigger than a Premier League game or Dance Off!! Amazing!!! So I’m going to buy it for America.
secret White House transcript
Trump is understood to have reached out to the Scottish and British government to negotiate the deal, believed to be worth in the trillions if Trump is successful with his outrageous bid. Trump also said:
This will be an amazing deal we will offer Scotchland. And once we’ve completed it I will proclaim my beautiful daughter Ivanka as the first queen of Islay. We will also introduce the proper spelling of whiskey to Islay and teach everyone how to best enjoy a stiff Islay scotch, with a nice big lump of fresh Alaskan ice!
secret White House transcript
This will certainly be a developing story to watch…..
Happy New Year! The new decade is under way, although some things haven’t changed: Same as the last two decades or so I’m starting my new year with a brunch with an Islay single malt while listening to the New Year’s Concert from Vienna. Here’s what I’m eating and drinking today:
This is what is (or as I’m writing this mostly was) on the table:
I’m not entirely sure how long I’ve had this bottle, but as it was distilled in 2003 and according to the label aged for 14 years I must have filled and bought it some time in 2017. It is cask no 917, a bourbon barrel, distilled 15/Oct/2003. My bottle is no 221 of 323, bottled at 56.8%.
May be a slightly unusual combination, but this is what I’m enjoying on Christmas Eve 2019: A Laphroaig Càirdeas Triple Wood with some Hickory Smoked Nuts (Almonds, Cashew and Macadamia). Just because I can and because I like it.
And that is pretty much all for tonight. Only thing left to say is: Merry Christmas to you, your family and friends and whoever you’re celebrating with!
Happy New Year! Regular readers might remember that I kind of have a New Year’s tradition, listening to the New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna with a wee dram of Islay single malt whisky. Last years I had some whisky chocolate nibs, this year I decided to have some smoked salmon on fresh home made bread. Earlier today I made some fresh bread (a hemp hearts and walnuts wholemeal bread) which I’m now eating with some smoked salmon:
The whisky is the Laphroaig 10yo cask strength batch 04, which I had opened for my 10 years Twitter milestone (with New Year’s Day in mind). A rather lovely dram, going down very nicely while the Radetzky-Marsch is playing as I type this.
Earlier today a wee blue bird told me (not sure if this qualifies as a bad pun?) it’s 10 years ago today that I joined Twitter, of course using the handle @islayblog (although my name shows as Armin, as I tweet as me, a human being). A decade of squeezing a post into 140 characters (or more recently writing 280 characters). Naturally I sent out a quick tweet, promising a celebratory dram later on:
Now it’s time for said dram, I decided to open a special bottle (also keeping in mind that New Year is approaching rapidly and I need something nice for that): From my Islay shelf I picked a Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength, batch 004, Jan.12. Here’s the proof:
A lot has happened in those 10 years. According to Twitter I’ve posted 33,838 tweets so far (probably a few more by the time you read this). Apparently I have just under 3,000 people following me now (I hope not too many of them are bots). Quite a few of you I’ve met personally, others I only know from Twitter (and sometimes other social networks), but we’ve still had many helpful, interesting, funny and more exchanges. Others I don’t really know yet, but I hope we’ll bump into each other one day. I’ve learned quite a few things on Twitter, found out information, had a lot of fun and more. I hope I could give some of that back, give those who follow me or communicate with me something to enjoy, something they found helpful or something that inspired them. Or just something to laugh.
With that I’ll finish for now, time for another dram. And another tweet.
From my recent Islay visit I returned with a quite large souvenir which is now hanging on one of my walls. A few weeks ago Pat Farrington announced on Facebook that she had some maps of Islay, Jura and Colonsay in Gaelic for sale. I contacted her that I was interested and if I could pick one up during my Islay visit in November (they were sold pick up / delivery on Islay only).
We agreed to meet in Bowmore, where £10 and in return the map changed hands. From Bowmore I drove over to Islay House Square, where I dropped it off at Islay Studios to be framed. Mark had mentioned that they had framed another copy, I decided to do the same to keep it in prime condition and make it easier to hang up. I picked a light coloured wood as most of my furniture is pine and I wanted them to go together.
Here’s how it looks with the map hanging above my ‘Islay Shelf’ (where I keep my Islay single malts, my Islay books and various souvenirs):
I’m very happy how it turned out, I think it fits very well above the shelf. The map looks very nice in the frame, it covers many places including villages, hills, mountains, lochs and more. Of course all in Gaelic, as that’s the whole point of the map. The speech bubble is a lamp (hence the cable), but it didn’t look very nice switched on for a picture, so I turned it off (it looks very nice otherwise and is lit while I’m typing this).
Something a bit different today. Something slightly unexpected. There’s quite a bit of talk about ‘YouTubers’ these days, how they become successful, that a lot of young people have aspirations to become a famous ‘YouTuber’ and more. In any case, it’s hard work, very hard work (and probably a bit of luck) to achieve that goal. I don’t follow many of them (among other things because I have very little to no interest in video gaming or gossip or fashion, which many of them seem to cover). One of the few I do follow and watch quite regularly is Tom Scott (website, YouTube channel). He covers a variety of interesting things incl his probably most popular series ‘Things You Might Not Know’.
So what does all this have to do with Islay and Jura?
Well, earlier this week Tom started a three part series titled ‘How To Be Popular On The Internet’ (Part 1, part 2). Watching part 1 the start is on a rainy Scottish island. Somehow (don’t ask me how, it was just a hunch) I had a feeling I knew this place. So I did some digging. Looking at this picture on his Instagram account I became even more convinced he would end up on Jura with a view over the Sound of Islay and Caol Ila in the distance. But what would this have to do with ‘How To Be Popular On The Internet’? George Orwell’s 1984 came to mind, but didn’t really make sense. Then I thought of the KLF, their book ‘The Manual’ and that they burned £1,000,000 on Jura. Which kind of made sense for this series.
Part 2 didn’t provide the answer, it was all set on the sleeper train to Scotland. Today part 3 came out and gave the answer:
I don’t know if Tom only visited Jura for long enough to film the video or if he also learned more about Jura (and Islay) while he was there. I should think there are a number of things he could use for his ‘Things You Might Not Know’ series, like the Corryvreckan whirlpool (once considered unnavigable) or the Round Church in Bowmore (to my knowledge there are only a handful of round churches in the UK). Unfortunately the wave power station on the Rhinns of Islay is now gone, I think he would have found that quite interesting.
This is a post I wanted to write almost a month ago, unfortunately then my leg injury got in the way. Recovery is now well under way (this morning I walked 3 kilometres in I think just over half an hour) and I think I can allow myself a wee dram tonight. With that over to the real topic, one of the many factors which brought me to Islay and made me fall in love with it:
Earlier this year I came across my original Friends of Laphroaig certificate. I bought my first bottle of Laphroaig whisky (the standard 10yo, an expression I still enjoy regularly) in early 1998 and duly sent in my claim for my square foot of Islay. A few weeks later my certificate arrived. Iain Henderson was the distillery manager back then (he retired in 2002), so it is signed by him.
A few months later, on a rather wet August morning, I arrived on Islay for my first visit. The first distillery I visited was of course Laphroaig. There was no visitor centre back then, as far as I can remember I found the way to the reception where someone welcomed me and found a miniature bottle for my annual rent for me.
All of this is now 20 years ago (or will soon be), so with a month delay I’m going to open a bottle of Laphroaig Cairdeas tonight for a wee dram to celebrate being a Friend of Laphroaig for 20 years.