Tag Archives: Black Art

Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Oct. 20.

Two Drams

Two Drams ~  Bruichladdich Black Art 3  and Ardbeg 10 year old.

What makes a good dram? Is this a different question than what makes a dram good for you?

Yes, I think it is.

We can talk about whisky the way we talk about art.

There is good art and bad art, and there is art you like ~  if you happen to like good art then you can feel very smug.   

It can be the same with whisky. There are good drams and bad drams and there are drams you like (the smugness adage applies…..)

There are many debates over the criteria we use to evaluate what constitutes good art. But I haven’t heard many discussions about the  criteria we use to evaluate a good dram.

We take the criteria we use to evaluate a good dram for granted. We say this is a good dram, that is a good dram. We discuss the dram. But we have already implicitly agreed on what are good elements. We don’t often discuss our how we decided on our premise.

We say that a good dram must be balanced, I agree.  However, we tend to perceive of balance in predominately one way:  as an unfolding of notes and tastes through a duration in time.

 A good dram is usually perceived of as a finely tuned intellectual chess game of a dram. It is conceived of as a journey where the dram unfolds like a musical score, with layers and repetitions, and agreeable harmonising of tastes and notes in a controlled, timely way. A dram like the SMWS’s Audrey Hepburn in a ball gown.

A dram like  Ardbeg 10 years old.


I agree with this.

However, should good balance be perceived only as controlled unfolding in length over time?  Why can’t balance be given status and value in another continuum?

If we take it for granted that our perception of the structure of a good dram is like the above, then we automatically assume that a whisky not fulfilling this criteria is less good ~ it becomes, by default, a bad whisky.

 It is a question of thinking differently, ~ for example, most people say that the opposite of LOVE is HATE, but others, due to their perception of things, say that the opposite of LOVE is INDIFFERENCE.

Who is to say which perception is superior, and when is authority bestowed upon one’s assumption that their way is the best?

The point of all this  ‘assuming’ and ‘loving or hating’,  is to make a case in point with the whiskies of Bruichladdich Black Art and Ardbeg 10 year old.

By looking at things in a different way, the balance of Black Art can be seen to be equivalent to that of Ardbeg 10 year old.

The huge nose and taste of Black Art creates such an enormous sensation that if carried on for a long time could be too much, too over whelming. Drinking this is like diving naked off the high board into a swimming pool of velvet. One has a great initial sensate experience. One is engulfed in sensation.

The Ardbeg is not like that. The Ardbeg is a beautifully controlled journey, with the sensations unfolding harmonically through time.

But who can say which experience is superior? In one expression the experience unfolds through time, in the other the experience occurs all at once.

The point is that both drams can be seen as well balanced ~  for what is given.  The Black Art gives the 100% all in one go, the Ardbeg rolls it out a % at a time. The balance is inherent in the EVENT of the drink. You can’t have a one hundred percent experience going on for a few seconds otherwise it wouldn’t be 100%.

In Black Art we experience 360 degrees of sensation immediately. In Ardbeg 10 year old, we experience the 360 degrees as a linear journey.

Do we only regard a dram as good if it fulfils a defined structure? When and who elevated the specific architecture of one dram over another?

Drinking whisky is about the pleasure of the experience. When did we decide that pleasure drunk in one way is superior to that of pleasure drunk in another?

This does not mean that all drams are created equal ~ they are not, some are very good and some can be bad.

 But thinking about the structure of a dram and ones unacknowledged assumptions is certainly a good point for discussion when next partaking of the water of life!




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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Apr. 23.

Women @ the whiskylounge London Whisky Fest


Whisky for Girls enjoyed our time at the London Whisky Fest. We met lots of great people  and drank lots of great drams.

I was on a Women & Whisky panel with the wide eyed expert from Jameson, Dierdra McBeth,  the power keg  Helen Stewart from Scotch Malt Whisky Society and the workshop was hosted by the elegant Alwynne Gwilt from Miss Whisky.

Before the panel began I wandered around the hall speaking with some of the women who had come along to the festival itself.

Whisky for Girls wanted to know more about the London ladies whisky demographic! 

First off I met with Melanie and Mona, both from London. 

Mona is on the left.  

I asked them if they had tried whisky before.

~ Yes, both were whisky drinkers. Melanie had been introduced to whisky by her father and Mona was introduced by her friends – namely Melanie!  Mona has been drinking whisky for about 3/4 years. She likes a Jameson with ginger ale, or ice and water. Melanie has been drinking whisky for ages and likes Chivas Regal for everyday and Laphroaig for special occasions!

How impressive that the first women I spoke with were so knowledgeable about, and drinkers of, the uisge beatha! 

Next off I spotted a glamorous group of four friends in the corner. They were like the girls from Sex and the City!

 From the left the girls are ~ Ameera, Melanie, Mary Ann and Christolene. They were mostly beginners, but Melanie has some experience of whisky because her Dad drinks it ( there is a theme here somewhere….)

For Mary Ann it was her first experience and Christolene described herself as a novice. They had come along as the festival had been on a special deal offer and they thought it would be a good day out, something new to try.

I told them I was on the Women and Whisky panel running later in the day, and that  I had a lovely bottle of deep rose coloured whisky called Black Art with me ~ and lo and behold Ameera and Melanie turned up at the workshop to try it! It was lovely to see them. Also, the lovely partner of the London Distillery Co. turned up. Thanks girls, I hope you enjoyed the drams we showcased  (which were Redbreast from Jameson, Black Art from Bruichladdich and Audrey Hepburn in a ball gown from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society)

Next along I met a wonderfully unusual lady called Kate Dicey. SHE had dragged her partner/husband Alan to the event ~  not that he was complaining!

Kate Dicey lives in Kent but has Scottish blood. She is from a Scottish family.

She has been drinking whisky for forty years ~ an inspiration to us all!! She drinks whisky at home and away, prefers the grain over the grape and her favourite dram is a Caol Ila cask strength 25 years.

And she runs a wonderful costume making business for amazing hats, bridal wear, historical & fantasy clothing,  and it’s called Jolly Dicey.

Here is the link     www.jollydicey.co.uk  

The business tagline is  Costumiers to the Discerning ~ 

I’ve decided to paraphrase it,  and call Whisky for Girls ~ Draming for the Discerning!

Slainte to all the amazing ladies who turned up for the event. I wish I had time to have spoken with everyone ~ but I think time in London goes faster than time in Islay.

Never mind, we will see you at the next whisky festival ~ where ever it is.


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