Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Mar. 29.

LOVE WHISKY? TASTING

Whisky for Girls hosted a LOVE WHISKY TASTING in Colonsay for Grace & Keir of ‘THE DRESS’ fame, and their wedding guests.

Grace & Keir (1024x681)

That night, there was no hint of the ensuing media tumult  ~  ‘was ‘THE DRESS’ worn to the wedding by Grace’s Mum, white and gold, or was it blue and black?’ they were only concerned with the drams they were about to taste…..

Two things I can tell you ~ 

1)  The drams we tried were GOLD 

2) The Dress is blue and black!

This future furore aside, we had one of the best tastings ever. It was so informal and so much fun.

Many of the guests had never tasted whisky before ~ but, said they will drink it in future…..!

The drams we had were:

BRUICHLADDICH SCOTTISH BARLEY

50% abv  with no age. A pale summer sun in colour.  This is a young, fresh, light dram. A lunchtime or early afternoon dram. No peat in the Bruichladdich range. A bit citrus, slightly malty, oranges. Very soft. Only in Bourbon cask.  Another time it would be good to try the Scottish, Bere & Islay Barley whiskies all at same time and taste the subtle differences. Short Finish.

BUNNAHABHAINN 12 YO

46.3% abv, a fruity, nutty dram. More oily than the Bruichladdich with a tiny edge of smokey brine. Fruitcake, fudge and a hint of Christmas tangerines. Sweet and warm. This would be a late afternoon dram. Medium Finish.

ARDBEG UIGEADAIL

54.2% abv luscious, raisiny, smokey. A mix of new bourbon and old sherry casks. The sherry casks used to be the old Ardbeg ones from the past, but they are getting younger now. This dram is heavier and ‘meatier’ than the first two. Honey, treacle, walnuts, pine needles. It feels like you can chew it! Longer Finish.

KILCHOMAN MACHIR BAY

46% abv A vatting of 5 & 6 YO bourbon & Oloroso sherry casks. Vatting means the malt whisky from these casks has been poured together, then bottled. It tastes summery and peaty with fruitiness and vanilla tones. The length of the finish is in between the Bunnahabhain and the Uigeadail.

LAPHROAIG SELECT

40% abv This is a very interesting dram. It has been created by Laphroaig to be an introduction to it’s own style.  It is Laphroaig without the strong character. Think of ‘Rocky’ in his youth, and think of him now…… this is the difference between Laphroaig and Laphroaig Select. Everyone is making whisky like this now. We have Bowmore Small Batch, Glenrothes Vintage Reserve. And the interesting thing is that they say the customers chose it! I am sorry that customers want to dumb down the character of Laphroaig. But if you approach it as a whisky in it’s own right, it is a palatable, smokey, peatey dram that is sweet. It has a finish about the length of the Bunnahabhain, and would be an early evening dram.

 The favourite dram of the evening was the Ardbeg Uigeadail.

Whisky for Girls wish Grace & Keir all the best for their life together.

A shared love of whisky is a good bond for any couple to have!

Slàinte!

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Just to test you ~ before and after your next dram, checkout ‘the dress’ and tell us what colours you see……

The Dress

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Mar. 16.

#BWSA ~ Cheese Making & Whisky Making are the same (sort of….)

Searching in the rain for Sgriob-ruadh Farm, home of Isle of Mull Cheese, I took a lift from Chris, who turns out to be the owner of the place.

ChrisMull Cheese Farm (540x960)Sgiob ruadh Farm (1024x710)

They make Whisky Cheese, amongst others, and a more natural, harmonious pairing one is hard pushed to find.

This place is eco friendly and self sustaining. It runs by itself, for itself, in a very old fashioned, completely up-to-date, circle of life, sustainable way.

Circle of Energy (783x1024)

They feed their herd of 130 Ayrshire cows draff from Tobermory Distillery.  They milk 100 cows at a time, twice a day, every day of the year.  They make cheese 3-5 times a week, so the milk must be stored.

The milk comes out the cows’ udders at 32°  C, but needs to be stored at 5 ° C. The heat difference is stored in the water of a swimming pool at the farm, which is available for guests to use.

How excellent is this? Swim in a pool heated by cows milk ~ Cleopatra was never in it…..

The process begins by adding cheese culture to the milk to boost it’s natural bacteria, rennet is also added to encourage curdling. It then separates into curds and whey.

The whey is used as food for the pigs, but Chris has a new plan involving Juniper and distilling…….

Cheese makingSleeping Cheese (1024x681)Awake 7

The curds are kept and salt is added for preserving. It is squeezed into buckets and pressed for two days. Muslin and Cheesecloth bandages are wrapped on and the cheese is pressed for another day. What comes out at the end is a Truckle of Cheese. It takes 270 ltrs of milk to make a 26 kg Truckle of Cheese.

Only ‘keeping’ cheese is pressed. The magic of cheese, as of whisky, is that it is a living product. Very minute changes in the recipe can make a huge difference to the cheese/whisky at the end.

The cheese is dipped in scalding hot water to form a skin around it to seal it. It is also wrapped in two layers of muslin. It is stored on wooden shelves in a cellar for up to 18 months. 

Each cheese is turned every two weeks, the temperature in the cheese cellar needs to be between 12° -15° and there must be constant air movement. The cheeses go throught different stages and need to be closely monitored and cared for, the same way we look after our whisky casks.

Warehouse Creamery (1024x945)Sleeping Cheese 4 (1024x897)Sleeping Cheese 2 (1024x681)

When a truckle is first stored it weights around 26Kg, but over time the moisture evaporates,  at the end it weights 25 kg. A cheese can lose up to 2% moisture in a year. This loss is similar to whisky casks stored in a warehouse ~  we call this ‘The Angels’ Share’.

Whisky making was traditionally done on farms, as part of the circle of life. An excess of good grass in the summer translates to much milk, and so this is stored in cheese. An excess of barley translates to creation of malt which is then used to make uisge beatha ~ whisky.

Cheese

Visiting the Mull Cheese Farm Sgriob-ruadh (red furrow) reminds me of the ways of the past, when whisky making was a natural part of life, not the commercial leviathan it has become.

I hope  we will see a return to very small stills and people making uisge beatha for domestic consumption ~ similar to cider making in Somerset.

 That my visit to Sgriob-ruadh has re enforced my domestic stills philosophy is strangely fitting, considering Chris Reade told me that she and her husband came to Mull from Somerset….

Slainte!

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009