Enjoying Scotch Whisky and a few other things


Spirits and Food

Macallan 22 yr (1988) Cask Strength Signatory collection tasting

I’ve just had a very awesome tasting! Unfortunately, this expression seems to be sold out, everywhere. I got the sample from Masters of Malt of Scotland but they appear to be out of the full bottle. But I must say a few words on this Macallan. The last Macallan I tasted that left a grand impression on me was the Masters of Photography sample given to me by Jay Liddell at the Nth event. Also at that event the 21 year fine oak was in a chocolates and whisky class and I remember the 21 being a massive hit with everyone.

This 22yr is no slouch! I had just tasted a 33yr Glenrothes, which I will write on later, and while it was complex and a bit hot, this Macallan came in like the 21yr, a smooth operator.

The 22yr nosing was very elegant. Not so much complex. Some fresh oak? Maybe some grass. Very nice.
Taste wise, mmmm, mmmm, mmm, ummmhmmm, (I’m listening to my recorded notes) oh, ho, ho, that’s good, oh my goodness. Like a nice pat of butter with a slight bit of pepper, a dusting, just perfect! Rounded, elegant, literally as on the tip of my tongue, a very toffee expression.

One reviewer called this oily and a dry finish. I will go with that. Not very heavy to me, but somewhat oily. I did notice a dry finish on the top of the tongue.

Nevermind the details! If you have this expression, count yourself lucky. If you get the opportunity to taste it or buy it, go for it!


Host a whisky tasting. A “how-to” WIRED wiki article

Some good guidance on starting tastings with friends. I will be using some of this! Link follows:

Ligero, Seco, Volado? Cigar smoker? An education awaits!

A recent trip to a Tobacco shop in Northern Virginia became an educational event for me. I’ve smoked cigars for years and have never fully understood the differences in cigars beyond size, color, etc….. My trip to Leesburg Cigar & Pipe was one done somewhat reluctantly and turned into a damn good decision.

Reluctant? Well, I was hoping to go there during the Rocky Patel event which was being held at 3:00p.m. and I was tied to an earlier appointment that couldn’t be moved during that time frame. The General Manager, Bill White, informed me that the vendor wasn’t showing up until then with supplies so the sale could not start until then.

Somewhat disheartened, I did what most everyone does, head towards the humidor for “the sweep.” I call it the sweep because it’s what I always do. I start left or right, depending on configuration of the humidor and look at the products. I’m not really tied to one brand, though I do like Rocky Patel products (this store has its own house-brand which is made by Rocky). While doing my sweep Bill came in and offered me a basket since I had two handfuls of sticks. I then started asking him to give me some information on each of the products I’d picked out. This led to a discussion of my love of Scotch and “The Scotch Life” blog. Since he saw that I was more of a connoisseur, his words, than a simple consumer he gave me an education in the tobacco leaf plant. Finally, some useful information. I told him that while developing my palate on various scotch whisky’s, there are more than you think!, and I likewise wanted to develop my palate for cigars. I’ve often been asked by friends what wines to choose with food, I find this easy, but do not have that kind of knowledge or developed opinion when it comes to pairing whisky and cigars or whisky and food.

Bill educated me on the differences of the leaf types, Ligero, Seco, and Volado. The effects of nicotine and flavor with each type is very different and if you care about taste, you will want to understand the differences. A simple Google search led me to this page that does, on the surface, a very good job at describing the differences and architecture of a cigar. One aspect that hit home was that the Ligero leaf, which is the top leaf of the plant is the spiciest, and more flavorful of all of the leafs. The bottom leaf, Volado, tends to be popular with the Macanudo crowd and others that prefer a less flavorful experience. This knowledge can help you from picking a cigar that isn’t going to agree with you and therefore not giving you the experience you are looking for. I personally like flavor, but there are times I want an uneventful smoke. I do like variety and it makes me appreciate the art of cigar making much more. The same can be said for Scotch.

Well, I walked out with a handful of cigars, like I needed more! And more importantly walked out better educated on the craft of cigar making. I will try in the future to get some more comprehensive links and information to share. I intend on making a chart of cigars and what whisky and food to pair with them.

So please, do frequent your local cigar shops and don’t be afraid to quiz them on their knowledge of the products. If you do not find the kind of education I came across then go to another one! A local tobacco shop shouldn’t be just a retail outlet but an educator in my opinion.

Light ’em up!

Pairing: Famous Grouse with Top Sirloin Steak, flavored rice

Riding home today I was thinking I need to pair some food and whisky tonight. After my last post with The Glenrothes Select Reserve and rockfish, which @TheGlenrothes wanted to have more information, I thought I’d give a little more detail on the fish. Rockfish are a common fish, close to shore and are similar to bass in structure and taste. This is a popular fish in Asia and is gaining popularity in America. I have always found the fish pleasing, and easy to cook. It is usually cheaper than other premium fish also. I cook fish usually the same way every time. I usually heat up a griddle with some vegetable oil of the healthy variety and season the fish with either a sea salt mix or a mix that is popular in New Orleans called Zatarain’s. On this occasion I used Zatarain’s lightly on the fish and it gives it a nice little kick. It was a nice combination with sweet potato.

So tonight I swept by one of my grocers and picked up a top sirloin steak that was on sale and had been well seasoned with green pepper, black pepper and other unidentifiable seasonings. Anyhow, I grilled it outside on the gas grill for roughly 8-10 minutes on no more than 300 Fahrenheit, which gave me a nice medium rare steak. I tossed some rice with broccoli in the microwave and steamed it.

As for the whisky, I was bent on using Lagavulin but at the last-minute switched to The Famous Grouse. Now, this is, as I understand it, the most popular whisky in Scotland. In the liquor store it is displayed and marketed to where one would believe this is a slightly inferior product. I had a dram of it in Las Vegas in a chocolate pairing class (will write about later) and was quite surprised with how well a product it was.

Tonight was no exception. Wait, let me back up. I poured a generous dram of it while I was cooking and though I did not have the proper nosing glass did pick up on a sweet candy like smell. Sweet, maybe syrup. Anyhow, tasting it was only confirming the nose and maybe some light oak coming through. I enjoyed the texture. Slightly silky and very well-rounded. Smooth, but not creamy.

After I set the glass down it swirled and left perfect legs dripping down the glass like it had rehearsed it before. I did add some water to it later and the nose diminished but the texture turned slightly more creamy.

The pairing balanced well. I felt that neither the steak or the whisky were fighting or negating each others existence. I found the pairing pleasing, nothing to WOW about but certainly satisfying. If I were smoking a cigar tonight I would go for a medium wrapper, I think a Connecticut wrapper would be too light but a maduro too much.

The finish of the two, plus the rice and veggies, left a toasty caramel with sautéed mushrooms impression with me.

So, go out and get yourself some steak, some Famous Grouse and enjoy! And if you are unsure of the cigar choice, go for a medium blend and I think you will have a pleasing experience.




Pairing: The Glenrothes with Rockfish and sweet potato, perfecto!

I recently sampled the Glenrothes line and was very pleased. Although I had many vintages then, I’m not so lucky here in Virginia, less selection no doubt. But the Select Reserve was on sale so I bought it. I checked the company’s website and watched a video about the Select Reserve, in a nutshell it is supposed to represent the soul of The Glenrothes.

I really love the bottle, short and squatty, which just looks like a jug that wants to be your friend and used frequently! Also, in a pinch taken to a white linen affair. The tasting notes are on the front and are quite accurate to my taste. They are “ripe fruits, citrus, vanilla, hints of spice.” I’d say they know their product. Cannot add much to help.

So I picked up some fresh pacific rockfish and a sweet potato. Yes, the meal was delicious, but what I did not know is that I had selected a perfect single malt scotch whiskey to pair with it. The nose of the select reserve is so pleasing and the citrus vanilla complemented the sweet potato so well. It was so perfect I just had to write about it. Well, go pick up some Select Reserve and sweet potatoes and enjoy!

Whisky Chef – Single Malt TV

Whisky Chef – Lagavulin & Scallops (via SingleMaltTv)

Tour De Gall Culture:

Link: Tour De Gall Culture:

I found this article to be very true and hysterical. Please heed the advice on the size of snails and what restaurant to avoid in Paris.

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