Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things



Auchentoshan Classic Scotch Whisky





Every now and then, you run across something in life that is so good, it must be wrong. Auchentoshan Classic may just be that for me. I’ve had this bottle for a few days, and it has been my nightly companion. It is so refreshing, crisp, and tasty that I just can’t seem to pull away from it. Auchentoshan is triple-distilled as opposed to the traditionally twice distilled scotch whisky which is standard. What comes from that process is a whisky that is real velvety, soft, and bright. It is like the first days of Spring. It makes you want to run through fields and chase cows (maybe that’s just me?)….

So what’s it like? Well, the distiller says notes of vanilla and coconut come through with some green apple. Well, I can’t argue that, in fact the coconut I really picked up on initially. The nosing is pleasant but the alcohol content really comes through even though it is only a 40% ABV dram. The flavor is an intensive citrus rush and the finish is clean. This brand reminds me of how refreshing a Lowlands whisky can be. It is really the only terrior (Lowlands) that gets me to entertain creating a mixed drink. Auchentoshan evidently thinks the same thing as they have mixed drink recipes on their website!

Being so versatile, this would make a great “first” scotch or an entry scotch whisky for someone who traditionally is a vodka or gin drinker. This would be a great bottle to stock in your bar if you can restrain yourself from constantly visiting it that is.

As far as cost, it is an affordable single-malt that I paid somewhere around $30+ USD for. I think it is a good price for a very drinkable whisky that most people will enjoy.

On another note, I just got firm plans about a visit to Auchentoshan in April. I will be going through Glasgow in route to Islay and I am very excited to visit Auchentoshan. It will be springtime, watch out cows!


West Village, bar hopping in New York City

On my recent visit to New York City I had the pleasure of being taken on a bar/restaurant tour by my friend Michelle who lives in the city. Like a lot of cities, its hard to know where the people go who “live” in that city. Typically a traveler ends up in a touristy area or an area that caters to business parks so if you are lucky you get a Chili’s or something similar to chill at.

Michelle decided to head towards her regular “go to” area and maybe try out a few new bars she had heard about but not been to. I’m always up for experimental bar hopping, why not! The area we first went into is referred to the meatpacking district which I have always heard about but never been. This is much like many areas in old cities that have been re-purposed from their historical industrial ways to a new trendy area for those seeking unique environments and expertly made drinks.

So the first bar we went to had only been open a couple of weeks but it had already created quite a buzz. Its on Gansevoort Street at 9th Ave and is called The Vinatta Project. They have an interesting wine bar set up that looks to be an elegant, grown up version of a do-it yourself bar. We were told this would eventually end up with whiskey in it! We sat at the bar and the bartender asked us what we’d like. What he meant was what kind of fresh fruit/herbs do you like and what is your favorite spirit. Well, I told him I don’t like mixed drinks but have had The Balvenie make me a drink that was delicious so if he could work out something with a Balvenie I’d give it a go. It was delicious! Tasted like dessert and I had a couple. Michelle had something with Gin and cucumbers, she said it was good but not as tasty as mine. So, two drinks, ready to hop!

I’m at a loss at what we were going to go to but she brought up a dive bar that she likes to go to. She wasn’t sure if I wanted to go but when she told me it was the real Coyote Ugly that inspired the movie, the real name is Hogs and Heifers, I was in! I love dive bars and surprisingly on a Wednesday night, plenty of NYC dwellers do also. The place was expectantly in overdrive with wall to wall people and shirtless bartenders who loved screaming through amplified megaphones. We had a ball! If you can’t have fun in a dive bar, you can’t have fun! Its at Washington Street and West 13th Street.


After that we went to 675 bar. All I can remember is that is underground. Like the basement of Batman’s cave, dark, funky, I can’t remember too much……

The next night we kicked it off with two of her friends and headed to a Mexican bar, Tortilla Flats for margaritas and some food. This was a great neighborhood type bar that reminds you of college. It’s off Washington Street in the same area but at the corner of 12th (not little 12th, that is where the Biergarten is).

From there we went on a walk, somewhere in the West Village but I could not tell you where. We popped in and out of some cool places and ended up at a place called Whitehall (which is new). We had some good drinks there and by then I was wanting anything BUT a mixed drink. We had been talking about wine so I said we should find a good wine bar. We found a place called Vin Sur Vingt, this place is awesome! Not only did the waitress, who I assumed was French, help us through the wine list she genuinely wanted to help us find something we would enjoy and kept us from haphazardly ordering. I also was hungry, and it was about 1 am or so, I do not think we had actually ate a meal so I ordered some meat and cheese appetizers and a sandwich. The food was awesome, the wine was awesome, I did not eat all the food but had a few glasses. This was probably the best find of the whole two night “bar hop” and I will plan to go there again on my return. If foursquare is accurate it is at 201 West 11th Street 7th Avenue.


So, if you find yourself in NYC but with no friends who know the city, feel free to jump in on these places, you will be entertained and most likely find something you want to drink.


Bootlegger 21 Vodka

Cigars and Scotch are naturally found in the same places in this world, but when in Davidoff of Geneva’s cigar store off Madison Avenyue the unexpected pleasure of free mixed drinks entered into the cigar lounge. After enjoying a Vodka and OJ I went outside to see what Vodka line had showed up. The Vodka was called Bootlegger 21 and was a new product out of New York. The representative is one of the partners in the upstart and was eager to tell how the Vodka had come about and where they are in entering the market. Now I know what you are thinking, vodka is vodka. And to a certain measure I agree with you. The big difference with this Bootlegger vodka is the process of how it was made. This is the closest thing to what I’d call a craft vodka. Their research led them to some very old methods on how Vodka is made and more specifically distilled. Their research, which includes old Russian techniques, involves the use of charcoal filtering which evidently is much slower and more expensive than modern methods. The product though is amazing. This vodka truly has no burn at all. And it has great natural mouth-feel which is something that is usually done with adding oils to the finished product to achieve.


I particularly find this branding interesting since my father was a bootlegger in Georgia back in the 1950’s. I really believe this is a must try vodka! Enjoy!

The Balvenie Roadshow tasting in DC at Poste

As October ushered itself into Washington D.C. so did the fall-esque weather complete with 50f temperatures and cool rain. It was only fitting to have a Scotch tasting that was originally planned for outdoors at the Poste restaurant in the heart of the city. After arriving soon enough to see the Morgan off-loaded from the truck and driven through the portal which takes you to Poste, I was in no way deterred by the mist and was genuinely happy to see this fine hand-made car take its place in the outdoor dining area that it would have to ultimately spend alone.

Though the weather was gloomy the crowd and especially the host of the evening Andrew Weir was not. Andrew has one of the best jobs in the world (excluding constant travel) and that is to be the Balvenie Ambassador for the Eastern Coast of the U.S. Unlike some reps that I have met in the whisky or cigar industry Andrew is genuinely welcoming and eager to share his knowledge of his product. I also appreciate Andrews’ unwillingness to talk bad about any competing product (which I’ve heard numerous times) and his attitude towards “you enjoy scotch how you like it, because you paid for it!”

Due to the rain the tasting was moved inside to what equates to a bar/entry to the restaurant. The noise from the main dining area was an incredibly unwelcome obstacle for any speaker but everyone there tolerated it and though Andrew merely fakes a Scottish accent we could at least understand some of what he said. Just kidding Andrew. The drams that were to be had were Balvenie’s current offerings of Doublewood 12 year, Single Barrel 15 year, and Portwood 21 year. They are three very different offerings but all very Balvenie. The Doublewood is the perfect scotch to start drinking when you are just starting your journey into scotch. I believe Andrew called it the “gateway” scotch into Balvenie. I would call it the gateway into seriously good scotch! Reportedly this is one of David Stewart’s favorite products which says a lot for a Master of 50 years. The Doublewood has spent most of its life in an American Bourbon barrel and finished up in an European Sherry cask. It is a delightful dram and one I would consider a “go-to” scotch.

The Single Cask 15 is a very different taste because it does carry the kick of a single cask. The ethanol alcohol level is a bit higher and if you like that you will like this offering. I really prefer this to the Doublewood because I do enjoy the kick. It is also different from Doublewood because it only matures in American Oak. No Sherry. So you are going to get more vanilla upfront whereas it is a bit hidden by the Sherry Oak in the Doublewood.

The Portwood 21 is good. Period. It has won several awards and in my mind is a first-rate contender with anything on the market in the premium category. It has spent time in rare Port casks that impart a deliciousness that comes across as honeyed raisins. This is the scotch you have with the Duck and Creme Brûlée. It is a bit pricey but you should experience this scotch, it can be found by the dram in your better bars.

The evening went well despite the din of the restaurant and aside from the whisky nerds (myself and one other gentleman) I believe some whisky novices were very pleased to have discovered this tasting.

As an aside, the appetizers from Poste were extremely well prepared and after the tasting I did enjoy a grass-fed cheeseburger that was actually cooked the way I ordered it, medium. It was delightful! I have found that if a nice restaurant can produce a great burger then you can be assured their other offerings are great as well. If you were wondering if you should try this restaurant out I would encourage you to do so. They also have a great selection and variety in scotch.

The evening was great and as Andrew was leaving he slipped me a gift. It really took me by surprise and was totally unexpected. Let’s just say it has something to do with a future offering and I will be tasting it this week. I have also embedded the video from Balvenie about the roadshow, it’s a great video and I hope you enjoy it, preferably with a Balvenie!


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Olivia series G, a fine smoke!

I’m smoking a series G that has been in my humidor for about 5 months now. And I’m happy to say my humidor is running perfectly these past few months! I’ve been meaning to smoke this for some time and tonight I was enjoying a rum and coke (zero) and thought these might match up well. I’d have to say the G outdid the cocktail! A very nice medium cigar with Nicaraguan leafs that I do enjoy so much! This cigar has wonderful cedar and coffee notes that really do not disappoint. It has an easy draw and produces creamy smoke, you should not be disappointed by this one.

The Ginger Martini (via Cultured Chaos)

I’m a big fan of the vodka (extra dry) martini, this sounds interesting though! Thought someone else would be also.

The Ginger Martini I mentioned in my blog yesterday that Erik and I picked up some Ginger Syrup while we were out at the Brooklyn Farmacy and, I have to say, it was one of the best purchases we've ever made in the cocktail department. We made Ginger Martinis last night and they are delicious! Here's the recipe: 1/2 oz Morris Kitchen Ginger Syrup 2 oz Vodka 1 oz lemon juice Add ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for about 10 seconds and strain into mar … Read More

via Cultured Chaos

Irish cream, what to do with it!

The last word on Irish drinks for St. Pat’s day! I have tried Baileys Irish cream before and find it more of a novelty or dessert drink honestly. I did try it as the original recipe said and did enjoy it though. I guess the original recipe calls for just adding an ounce of cream with a half ounce of Irish whiskey, add ice (in a shaker) and shake. Then enjoy. I did! I also tried the St. Brendans also which I found very nice with Bushmills Black Bush.

If you check my twitter feed you will see a link to a Canadian news source (@globeandmail) that has some other recipes for Irish cream drinks.

Cheers y’all!

And have a happy and safe Saint Patrick’s day to all!

And don’t drink and drive!!!!!!!!

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