Happy New Year 2023! By the time I post this the concert will be over and the food will be all gone, but it’s “same procedure as every year” (my German readers will understand, I think some others might as well now). As I’ve been doing for many years now I’ve been out for a New Year’s morning walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal, followed by Neujahrskonzert from Vienna with my New Year’s Day brunch and a dram or two of Islay single malt whisky:
The Islay whisky of course is the Laddie Origins I opened yesterday. The food was similar to previous offerings, scrambled eggs with roasted garlic pepper and spring onions, smoked salmon, sausages and homemade poppy seed rolls.
My sister Imke and her horse Brioso kind of joined in (can you spot them?), they and a few human and equine friends “celebrated” the New Year last night.
So there we are, 2022 is coming to an end, 2023 will come in shortly. Time for a last pick of Islay single malt whisky for this festive season. Decided to go with something special, something I hadn’t really expected to own and drink. After all there are only 3,000 bottles of it. Below is my very own bottle of it:
This is my bottle of the Bruichladdich Laddie Origins Fèis Ìle 2021. It is bottle 2,669 of 3,000 bottles produced.
If you think back this was during the Covid pandemic (not something we like to think back to, but still), when Fèis Ìle was a virtual festival. Around that time Bruichladdich had a monthly ballot to buy a bottle of their “valinch single cask” (as nobody could visit the distillery to fill a bottle). I had entered the ballot every month, but hadn’t been successful once. So when they opened a ballot for the festival I submitted my entry without much hope, thinking this will be majorly oversubscribed and I don’t stand a chance.
And yet to my surprise a few weeks later an email arrived in my inbox that my submission had been successful and I was a winner. Soon after the bottle arrived and 18 months later I’ve now decided to open it.
I’m enjoying a few drams of it tonight (and it is indeed a lovely dram I think, a worthy festival bottling) and will enjoy a few more tomorrow on New Year’s Day. Regular readers of this blog will know my routine for New Year’s Day: A walk along the canal in the morning. Then the New Year’s Day concert from Vienna while enjoying a nice brunch with scrambled eggs, sausages, smoked salmon and of course the already mentioned few drams. Another walk in the afternoon to a local pub for a New Year’s pint.
And on that note I’m signing off for today and this year, good night, see you in the new year!
This post left me with a decision to make, which category to pick? Same as the two previous posts it mentions an Islay whisky, in addition it also features a new Islay video (even though you need to read all the way to the end to find it). In the end I decided to go with the Islay video option. So what have I been up to on Christmas Day?
Well, less than I had originally planned. I stayed up later last night than I had originally planned, leading to me sleeping in this morning. When I finally got up it rained quite heavily, so in the end I decided to skip my walk today and just take it easy at home. I relaxed, ate a lot of chocolate, Lebkuchen and food like that. Also some Chipolata sausages and rolls baked yesterday. And tea. And hot chocolate.
For my tea I has some nice beef steaks with garlic butter as planned. With them I enjoyed a bottle of the Innis & Gunn Laphroaig Islay whisky cask real ale (something I thought I had blogged about already, but it seems I haven’t). Followed by some chocolate cheesecake.
Then of course there’s today’s Islay whisky. I decided to go with the distillery I was tending towards when thinking about it last night and picked the Laphroaig Càirdeas 2022 Warehouse 1 as my Christmas Day Islay single malt. As regular readers might remember Laphroaig was my first love and remains one of my go to Islay whiskies. It doesn’t disappoint and for me it’s a great choice as my Christmas Day dram.
But there’s still a new Islay video to come. The footage as such is a bit older, from November 2015 to be precise, but at the same time it also reminded me of my most recent Islay visit in November 2022. While I had sunny spell there was also plenty rain and wind, which this video is about:
I recommend to watch it in full screen on a larger display/monitor, you’ll get to see much more of the rain coming down on the beach. In the second part of the video you get to see the beach on the move, I hope the footage gives a feel of a windy day on Kilchoman beach.
That’s all for today. Not sure yet what I’ll do tomorrow, but if the weather is nice I’m hoping to get out somewhere in West Berkshire or north Hampshire. There will probably also be a Boxing Day Islay single malt whisky (after the fish I’ve got on the menu for tea tomorrow).
As mentioned in last night’s post about my Pre Christmas Eve Islay Single Malt Whisky 2022 I’m aiming to enjoy this long Christmas weekend, among other things with some good food and drink. I had outlined my plans for today, although it turned out they changed a bit as the day went on. Not that it mattered as most of what I had planned did still happen, just a bit different.
I did get up reasonably early as planned to get ready for my walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal. Just as I was getting out of bed I received a message from my sister to take my headphones with me on my walk. Turned out she was back home earlier than expected and we were able to have our call while I was walking, something we’ve done several times before. While the weather wasn’t as good as I had hoped it was still a very nice walk, some low mist rising from the fields and the canal, providing a nice and calm atmosphere. I walked 8.37 miles in 2h 13m 07s according to my fitness tracker, all the time talking with my sister.
After returning home I enjoyed a relaxing breakfast (fruit bread, tea, chocolate porridge) before getting under the shower. This was followed by a bit of relaxing, surfing the interwebs before starting my baking and enjoying a good lunch of cheese, bread, grapes and red wine. For the baking I started with some rolls and then made two wholemeal breads, one with hemp hearts and one with almonds. While the baking was moving along I also enjoyed another hot chocolate with rum with some dark chocolate Lebkuchen later during the afternoon.
For my tea I enjoyed the Wagyu burger on the freshly baked rolls as planned, washed down with the Fynes Ales Superior Pale Ale. Both were delicious as expected. After some chocolate cheesecake it was time to move on to the real topic of this post and the star of the evening:
For tonight’s Islay whisky I picked the Kilchoman distillery Limited Casado Edition, which I had picked up at the distillery during my recent visit in November 2022:
Casado (Portuguese for marriage) is matured in fresh bourbon barrels for 6 years before 38 casks were married together for 2 years in two 6,000 litre Portuguese red wine vats.
I decided to buy it without tasting it, mainly because I had very much enjoyed wine cask editions from several other Islay distilleries before. It turned out a risk well worth taking for me. I’m no whisky expert and won’t bother with from me pointless tasting notes, all I can say is that I very much like it. That’s all that matters to me.
For tomorrow I have no major plans just yet. I will go out for a walk along the canal at some point in the morning. After that I’m thinking of a nice brunch of some sort. Then some relaxing and if I can get my act together possibly some video editing and in best case publishing, so you’ve got something to watch on your new gadgets if you get any. But no promises. And in the evening I’m planning to have some nice beef steaks with garlic butter. Followed by a Christmas Day Islay whisky. Again I haven’t decided yet which one. but there’s a good chance it will be from my favourite distillery on the south coast. Regular readers will know what that means.
After a long busy year I’m aiming to really enjoy the long Christmas weekend. I started the weekend with an afternoon off work, which I used to blog about a chat about Islay with ChatGPT, a nice walk in the afternoon sun along the Kennet and Avon Canal and a nice hot chocolate with rum (unfortunately no Islay rum, haven’t got any of that yet) with some dark chocolate Lebkuchen.
For this evening I picked the Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2012 (sorry, no link to it, as I can’t find it on the Bruichladdich website. Can only find the 2013 version). As usual a very nice dram, very enjoyable. With them I had something smoky, the Tesco Finest Hickory Smoked Nut Selection. Thought that was an interesting combination.
Soon I’ll be off to be bed to get some sleep to be fit for my plans tomorrow:
In the morning I’m planning a long walk along the Kennet and Avon canal, depending on how nice (or not) the weather is I’m thinking of at least 3.5 miles, possibly 4-5 miles, going west (meaning a total of 7-10). Around lunchtime I’ll speak with my sister for an hour or so via Skype (yes, we’re still using Skype). Then it will be time for some baking in the afternoon, rolls and bread. For Christmas Eve I’ll have Wagyu burgers and a bottle of Fyne Ales Superior. The evening will then be finished with a Christmas Eve Islay single malt. I haven’t decided yet which one, so you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see what I picked.
Recently I’ve read a few articles and watched a few videos about images and pictures created by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Some were really impressive and there are concerns about the AI software replacing human illustrators and designers. So I thought I’ll give it a try and put some of online AI image generators to the test and find out how much they know about Islay. The AI image generators ask you to enter a text description of the image you’re after and then go away and generate the image(s):
The description I usually used was “whisky distilleries on the island of Islay in Scotland”. I thought that should give the AI enough pointers to work with, the terms whisky, distilleries, island, Scotland and of course Islay.
As you might expect several of the generators came up with a variety of white washed buildings, often in a coastal setting. What surprised me a bit were the strangely shaped chimneys (?) some included. Was the AI merging the shape of a still with a chimney?
However, not all generators went for the white washed buildings, some had different ideas. I found this one quite interesting, I wonder if the design was somehow “inspired” by the big windows at Caol Ila?
Yet the same AI image generator also came up with a more traditional white washed building. With a strange chimney or lighthouse (not sure what that’s supposed to be?) on the roof for good measure:
Another one came up with what reminded me of a farm distillery, although it also has some strange chimney/lighthouse/church like tower. At least the surrounding landscape is looking vaguely Islayish:
And then it started to turn a bit weird. I get the vaguely coastal landscape. I get the vaguely distillery like buildings. But what is that thing on the top of the sunset painted buildings with some weird word on the side?
To close another picture from the same AI. In a way I somehow like it, although I only understand it partially. I kind of like the mixture of weathered buildings combined with what I think is a dram of whisky. But what on earth is that building on the left?
I hope you found these pictures interesting, fascinating, confusing, disturbing, inspiring, funny or some other term I forgot. Please let me know in the comments what you thought of the pictures, did you like them, which were your favourites, do you think AI images will be a success or any thoughts you have.
Exciting and exclusive news for Islay whisky lovers and in particular whisky collectors today: In addition to actual bottles from the established distilleries you can soon start collecting virtual NFW bottles from Islay’s first NFID! The future of whisky collecting has arrived….
The brand new distillery is called AFIW™ Distillery (Not sure what AFIW™ stands for and how it is pronounced, I believe the name might be of Gaelic origin?) and will be completely located in the Cloud, meaning no impact on Islay’s creaking roads and other infrastructure.
So how will it all work?
Launched today you can either buy a limited NFW cask or a limited NFW bottle future. The first NFW casks will be calculated today using the extremely secure 512 byte P.E.A.T. (Petaflop Excentric Algorithmic Triangulation) method also used in AlbaCoin. The casks will then be aged for a minimum of 3 years (usually longer, 10 years or more) using the innovative new Blockaging technology.
Each cask is of course unique and the information is recorded in the Blockchain. Once the cask has aged for the time specified in the Blockaging (pronounced block-aging) token it can be bottled into individual virtual bottles, again each bottle is numbered and recorded in the Blockchain. The value of a cask (NFWC) and/or bottle (NFWB) will of course depend on their rarity. There will be some varieties where only one single cask will be generated (and subsequently a limited number of bottles). These will of course be more valuable than varieties with multiple casks and therefore more bottles.
Each bottling will have dedicated NFW bottle token virtual artwork, so that you’ve got something to look at while reading the virtual tasting notes. Meaning you can taste your rare and expensive collection virtually, unlike your real collectors bottles which are locked away in a safe.
This all sounds very fascinating, finally the future has arrived for the avid Islay whisky collector! Experts are predicting a brisk trade with significant value gains for both NFWCs and NFWBs.
Will you be investing in NFW from AFIW™ Distillery, the first NFID?
Feels like I’m on a roll, the third new Islay video in as many weeks. This week I’m taking you to the south coast of Islay, to Ardbeg. Here we spend 8 minutes just outside the distillery at the coast, all in glorious 360°. Meaning you can look whichever direction you want, left, right, up and down. Just grab the viewport with your mouse (or finger) and move around in the video. The first five minutes we spend on the pier at Ardbeg, provided you look in the right direction you can spot a group from Kayak Wild Islay passing by. The remaining three minutes we spend on the small hillock above the outdoor cask storage. I hope you’ll enjoy the Ardbeg coast in 360°:
This is the fourth video in my Islay in 360° collection, I think with the remaining footage I still have I should be able to add at least one but hopefully two more videos. Quite confident about a Saligo Bay sunset one and possibly a Port Charlotte coast video. What do you think about 360° videos, do you like them or do you prefer ‘old style’ videos?
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).