Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things


April 2013

Bowmore’s Ultimate Outdoor Adventure winner!

Is ME! Technically there are two winners and I somehow found favor by the Whisky gods! I’ve been keeping this under my hat for months now but next week I will literally be going on the trip of a lifetime.

It was a dreary December morning when I woke up to an email from Morrison Bowmore to congratulate me, it was a bit surreal. I’m a firm believer in the adage of “too good to be true” and it has taken me awhile to accept this amazing gift.

I will be putting out as much data as possible about this trip in this blog in a couple of weeks. There will likely be extensive photography, including a lot of nature shots.

As a bonus, I will be stopping in on Auchentoshan in Glasgow also and I look forward to the opportunity. I wish you all could come with me but I’m going to have to pack quite a lot of outdoor gear so there may not be enough room to put you in my luggage.

Anyhow, just wanted to put it out there because many people entered this contest and a special thanks to all the bloggers who promoted the event because that is how I found out.


Whisky Guild River Cruise in Washington D.C. 2013


There are certain places you expect a tasting, of any kind, to be held at. Nice hotels, private clubs, resorts, etc… The Whisky Guild hosts tastings on boats. In Washington D.C. they use a fairly large vessel that comfortably holds hundreds of people. There are two tickets, a VIP which pre-boards an hour early and then a regular attendee. The tickets include a dinner and quite a lot of whisky. The boat really does it for me honestly, I just love boats and drinking on a boat seems as natural as breathing to me. I go with the VIP because I’m always hoping something rare or special shows up from one of the distributors and being an hour ahead of the regular crowd has its benefits.

Well, I think that all boarding early this year got me was more whisky. Problem? No, well, yes, it’s not like there is a lack of whisky on this boat!
I was a little disheartened, though I knew ahead of time, that there wouldn’t be any rare whisky there. There was some very nice people there though. The Highland Park table featured very good whisky and great camaraderie. The “rock star” table for me was the one with Ewan Morgan of Diageo. Ewan is an Ambassador for Diageo North America and was a great conversationalist despite being tired from travels and two big shows that had taken him back and forth from East coast to West Coast.20130417-204333.jpg
Unfortunately this event happens after two weeks of big shows in the States and many of the distributors do not send their “A” team. I’m referring to the Brand Ambassadors who are the foremost experts on their products. Also, many notable brands just didn’t show up.
I should say that I was surprised at the amount of American whiskies on the boat. I always thought this to be a scotch whisky event but this year I swear 30-40% of the exhibitors were there with American whiskies. I think they were rather surprised themselves, I do believe the buzz was primarily at the Scotch whisky tables. I came away with two great impressions from whisky that I have not had prior to the event. First I met the Single Cask Nation. You can check them out, I really liked their offerings and have seen much press about them as well as a blog they run.
The star whisky of the night was from Bruichladdich. It was the Black Arts offering, aged 22 years, it was the most delicate, sophisticated and “special” dram of my evening. I had already enjoyed a bit of whisky before I’d arrived at a table that had the offering on it, and it still made a very big impression on my palate. I will be seeking this one out! It is a 22-year-old Oak aged beauty!

20130417-204458.jpgWell, I enjoyed the cruise, I just wish it could be on the weekend, this middle of the week stuff kills me! See you next year?




McClelland’s Single Malt Lowland Scotch Whisky

Today was the nicest day in the Washington D.C. area since the alleged Spring season had begun. We have had, much like the UK, a very frigid beginning to spring this year and it was nice to finally have a warm spring-like day. I knew it felt like spring because I all of a sudden was craving a Lowland’s whisky. Slight problem though, I finished off my bottle of Auchentoshan Classic a week ago! Off to the whisky store!
So as I go up and down the Scotch whisky aisle (which is much too small and has Irish whiskey in it also) I was pained to see that overwhelming evidence that there just is not enough Lowland’s whisky produced or distributed these days. Thanks to McClelland’s, subsidiary of MorrisonBowmore Distillers of Glasgow, I was able to pick up a Lowland’s whisky for a very reasonable cost.

DSC_6556The analytic side of my brain started to race, I started to think maybe this is heavily influenced or even derived from Auchentoshan stock? Well, I’ll say this, it’s at the very least a cousin of Auch’s Classic! Most importantly, this is exactly the whisky I was looking for today and with warmer weather I really look for Lowland whisky because it just seems to be a great summer whisky. In short, this is a wonderfully tasting whisky and I will have a good stock of this throughout the season. If you are looking for a Scotch whisky to have in your bar or would like to enter the world of single malt scotch, this would be a good place to start.

The distiller’s tasting notes are as follows:

Nose – Fresh nutmeg & ginger, tangerine zest

Palate – Sweet perfume of roses & lavender

Body – Light, fresh and smooth

Finish – Mouth coating oiliness

I have to concur with their notes, especially the “body.” It is a very clean, crisp and enjoyable dram.

So, Cheers!, and please go out and buy some Lowland whisky! Maybe Diageo will build a distillery there!

Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky – the whisky that started my journey


No, this is not a message about drunk driving, nor do I support drinking while driving. But if you haven’t watched the movie The Silencers starring Dean Martin, you are missing the greatest Ballantine’s advertisement that probably ever ran in 1966. Dean and Stella Stevens are en route and Dean activates his “car bar” which brings out a nice assortment of Ballantine’s whisky. I’m a big Dean Martin fan but the point of this post is the whisky itself.


About ten years ago at a friendly gathering I was offered up the usual “what would you like to drink?” by gracious hosts. The gentleman was an avid scotch whisky drinker. At the time I was strictly a clear whisky guy. I’d drink vodka and gin and occasionally bourbon. My last encounter with scotch whisky was many years ago in college and I didn’t think I would ever enjoy scotch whisky.

The gentleman said to try it with ice, just three cubes, and the rest is history. From Ballantine’s I jumped around and ran the usual Johnny Walker/Dewars route common in The States. Then I started playing with single malts and away I went.

So Ballantine’s is a pillar of the scotch whisky world. It is no push over and has carried plenty of awards. I haven’t had anything but the entry “Finest” so I cannot speak to the 12 year and up. I have heard many scotch enthusiast describe the 30 year as amazing. In America, we typically have easy access to Ballantine’s Finest at a very reasonable price and it’s in my hands as I type! (but I’m not driving)

The notes from Ballantine:


Soft, elegant, heather honey aromas with a hint of spice.


Well balanced subtle flavours with tones of milk chocolate, red apple and vanilla.




Soft, sweet and complex.


A light gold.


The sophisticated after-taste gives a fresh, floral and rounded glow.

Just pass on the “car bar!”


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