As I eluded to yesterday, today marks the start of a new chapter in my life, even though I don’t know yet where it will lead me. All I know is that over the coming weeks I’ll be looking for new career opportunities, while also aiming to use the opportunity for a few other changes. But at the same time there are some constants, including my love for Islay and some annual rituals/traditions:
This morning I got up early and left for my morning walk before dawn, on the return leg I saw a lovely colourful New Year’s day first dawn of the year sky over one of the West Berkshire fields I pass on my route. When I returned home I got the oven going for some fresh “New Year’s Day bread”, one Hemp Hearts bread and one fruit bread. Then it was time for one of my New Year’s Day traditions (mentioned on this blog before eg in 2020 and in 2018), the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna with a dram of Islay single malt whisky and my New Year’s Day brunch.
The whisky is the same as for Christmas, the Kilchoman Single Cask 11 Years Old Bourbon Cask. The brunch is the aforementioned Hemp Hearts bread, scrambled eggs and some smoked salmon. The salmon “slowly smoked for 12 hours over oak & whisky cask chippings”, so I’m imagining they were Islay whisky cask chippings.
The concert has now reached the encores with the famous Blue Danube, so I’m going to finish now and wish you all a happy and healthy New Year 2022!
Merry Christmas! After a busy and eventful year (including my first visit to Islay after 22 months due to the pandemic, but also some less positive events, more about that some other time) it’s time for a break and briefly winding down. It’s Christmas after all. On Christmas eve I started with a few drams of the Fèis Ile 2021 Mòine Bordeaux Finish 2013 (and a pizza with a Jarl from Fyne Ales). After tonight’s Christmas Day food (burgers and beers from Harviestoun) I opened a new bottle, my Christmas Islay whisky for 2021, a Kilchoman 11 years old Bourbon cask matured single cask release:
My bottle is nr 53 of 197, cask 222/2010, distilled 22/Apr/2010 (only notice that now, but it has some significance to me) and bottled 2/Aug/2021. And of course it’s rather nice.
With it I’m having some Haggis Spice Dark Chocolate, made by Edinburgh based COCO Chocolatier for Kilchoman. A bit of an unusual taste, but I like it. Sent some to my sister in Germany, not sure if she’s tried it yet.
The music over this Christmas is mainly coming from my ever growing Bad Mood Blaster playlist (as of writing this 179 songs, over 5 hours of my favourite music). Admittedly nothing directly Islay related, apart from that I listened to it on my drives to/from Islay and while driving on Islay. Or in the cottage.
With that Christmas Day 2021 is coming to an end, enjoy Boxing Day (and if you’re in the UK the upcoming two days bank holiday. Apologies to my continental friends, who to my knowledge either have to work or take holidays).
Settling down for a relaxing evening with a nice Islay dram or two after a busy day off the day job, busy as I was moving furniture and building a new desk from the Swedish furniture store (I now have a fancy sitting/standing desk which can be height adjusted with wizzy electric motors). But that’s not what this post is about, this post is about some of my favourite whisky glasses, these here:
I’m not entirely sure what they are “officially” called, I call them the wobbly whisky glasses. Their bottom isn’t flat, no, it’s round, so when you set them down they wobble around, but through some clever design and a low centre of gravity they don’t fall over. Pure genius.
The one on the right is the old one, the original one. I bought that well over a decade ago, probably closer to 15 years ago. Unfortunately it’s the last one I’ve got, as the second one I had unfortunately broke a few weeks ago. Luckily I’ve now got a very worthy replacement (two actually, as I bought two during my most recent Islay visit in October 2021), the one in the centre. The design is slightly different, it’s even rounder and slightly bigger, but the most important part is just the same, the wobbly bottom.
The whisky with it is a lovely dram, the Fèis Ile 2021 Mòine Bordeaux Finish 2013, also bought during my recent visit in October 2021 with some expert help by my favourite “rubbish birder”, video weather reporter and tour guide extraordinaire (I assume you now all know who I’m talking about).
During my after work internet surfing I came across an interesting video, which then led to another video and also a blog post with more background. So I thought I might as well share it with you as well. As the title says, it’s about paddleboarding, a very popular sport these days, and as in this case it took place on Islay there was also some whisky involved. Let’s start with the second video I found, Meaghan and Neal’s adventures on Islay and Jura:
The other video (the one I came across first) just focuses on Claggain Bay and their paddleboarding there:
From what I’ve heard it’s been a lovely sunny day on Islay today while it’s been mostly cloudy with quite a lot of rain in West Berkshire where I am. Still, I managed to get in a 10 miles exercise walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal in 2 hours, 28 minutes and 55 seconds. As a reward I’m treating myself to an Islay and Scotland treat tonight:
One of my Islay standards, the good old trusted Laphroaig 10 yo. Together with some Scottish strawberries (from Angus if I remember correctly). What’s your treat tonight?
Happy Easter 2021 (even if it’s a bit late). Had a nice afternoon walk in the sun in West Berkshire earlier, spotting around 30 Mute Swans in a field as well as several Red Kite along my route, which was a mixture of well known (to me) paths and a new path I hadn’t been on before. Now, about 45 minutes after sunset and with the last light of the gloaming slowly fading away, it’s time for a well deserved Islay Easter dram and some chocolate:
I picked the Bruichladdich distillery Port Charlotte MRC: 01 2010, one of my favourite Islay single malts. The “standard” Port Charlotte 10yo is one of my regular go to Islay whiskies, this one I think is the even better (and unfortunately pricier) version for special days.
For the chocolate I’m treating myself to a Lindt Lindor dark chocolate 70% minimum Easter egg with some dark chocolate truffles. While on a chocolate per ££££ basis these Easter eggs are a bit of a rip off compared to regular chocolate bars there is something strangely satisfying about breaking up a chocolate Easter egg and eating the crumbled chocolate, so it’s something I’m treating myself to once (or twice, Christmas is similar) a year.
I hope you’re having a nice Easter with whisky, chocolate and Easter walks in the sunshine. What’s your treat this Easter?
As I’m starting a long weekend, a belated bank holiday weekend, this evening (taking a day in lieu after having to work on the August bank holiday Monday) I thought this is a good time to enjoy a special beer:
While not the type of beer I usually drink (I prefer Golden Ales and Pale Ales) I quite like this one. It has a nice smoky taste, but it’s not overpowering to me. Just the right amount. A bit heavier than the beers I usually drink, but again not too much. I think I’ve got five cans left (minimum as well as maximum purchase was two boxes of four cans), I’ll enjoy them slowly over the coming weeks or even months.
Just enjoying a wee dram of Laphroaig Cask Strength (Batch 009) Islay single malt after a few Scottish real ales (from Drygate, Harviestoun and Fyne Ales. Unfortunately Islay Ales don’t ship to the mainland at the moment) earlier. So there’s nothing better than watching a nice video from an Islay visit with plenty distillery tours in December 2019:
I hope you’ll enjoy the video as well, maybe with a wee dram or two?
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.
An Gleann was founded by Jane Mitchell almost 15 years ago as a small cottage business on the Rhinns of Islay a couple of miles outside of Port Charlotte on the road to Portnahaven. As the name says, they make tablet, a Scottish speciality. Being on Islay there’s of course a connection to the famous Islay whisky with the Whisky Connoisseur series. I hope you’ll find something you like.