Tag Archives: Islay Malt Whisky

Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Nov. 25.

PORTRAIT OF A WHISKY LOVER

What makes someone who has never been to Islay, far less to Bruichladdich, get themselves a  Bruichladdich tattoo? Derek Mather of Artisan Restaurant in Wishaw is the very man to ask.

photo of Derek Mather

DEREK MATHER  ~ whisky lover from Old Kilpatrick,  living in Carstairs  ~  but, not in the hospital facility  (even though his wife, Fiona, says he should be!)  has upwards of 1,700 good whiskies to offer diners at his restaurant.

Derek worked in numerous Scottish restaurants and was frustrated at the whisky being offered to people ~ generic brand names that didn’t in any way showcase the range and depth of fantastic whisky produced in Scotland ~ or indeed in other countries. So, Derek, and his wife Fiona, decided to open Artisan Restaurant. A restaurant where people can sample the best of Scottish food

Octomore Beef

(~ beef from Octomore farm in Islay, Octomore is where the water comes from for Bruichladdich Distillery) ~ and drink it with the best of Scottish whisky ~  the sauce is made with Black Art!

  Derek said, ‘some of our whiskies are expensive, but most of them are very affordable. Well, I think they are, and I have been told by many people who go out drinking in Glasgow and Edinburgh that my whiskies are fantastic value as they have paid a lot more for them in the big cities.’

If Bruichladdich are the progressive Hebridean Distillers ~  Derek is the progressive Lowland restuarateur! His connection with Bruichladdich goes even further than just having 300 of their bottles in his living collection ~ Derek sports a personally designed Bruichladdich tattoo.

DEREK MATHER TATTOO

When the distillery staff came to Artisan and saw Derek’s tattoo ~ and his Bruichladdich whisky collection, they dubbed him the Maddie Laddie Collector. I asked him what is so special for him about Bruichladdich. Derek said, ‘Because they released so many quirky bottles when they reopened in 2001 and continued the trend throughout the next ten years, they weren’t afraid to try something different!’

Derek told me his love for whisky stems for his love of all things Scottish ~  it helped that his father gave him a bottle of Glenfiddich for his 18th.

One of the things that draws Derek to whisky is the passion and dedication that goes into crafting a bottle ~ not to mention drinking one! He likes the way whisky is created differently depending on cask, length of maturation, region.

GlenmorangiePort Charlotte

In Artisan, Derek offers guests great whiskies from around the globe, but his heart is with Scotch whisky ~ and who can blame him! He told me he drinks Islays on cold days and Speysides and Highlands on warmer days ~ needless to say he drinks many more Islays!

The best bottle Derek has in his collection is a secret dram ~ it is a very rare Bruichladdich ~ and he is not at liberty to tell exactly what………

Derek wishes he still had a bottle of the ‘Rare Malts ~ a Clynelish 24 yo ~  a stunning dram.’  The oldest dram he holds at present is a 46 yo Invergordon and the youngest they have are a couple of 3 year olds ~ one being Bruichladdich X4 +3, a very fresh tasting young dram.

 The most popular  with the customers are Highland and Speyside whiskies like Balvenie, Macallan and Glendronach. More women are coming into Artisan to dine and becoming adventurous when it comes to drinking whisky. People are asked what flavours they like, then, a whisky is sourced for them from the prestigious collection.

Sounds to me like an excellent night out ~ 

ARTISAN WITH WHISKYDerek Mather Photo

 

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Nov. 01.

First Whisky & Rum Festival in Graz, Austria

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) island whisky tasting ~ 

On Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 October 2013, Graz city in Austria was host to the first Whisky & Rum Festival. Presented by Dr. Bottle Scaria with assistance from The Islay Whisky Chapter Austria and various esteemed organisations.

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) were invited to host a Whisky Tasting of Islay/island malts. Ostensibly the event was for women, but  guys were welcome, too!

How cool is this!!Getting ready to DRAM with Whisky for Girls (& Guys!0Islay Whisky Chapter & WfG

We had a selection of 6 drams ~

In order of tasting ~

KILCHOMAN 100 % ISLAY 3 rd edition ~ 50% abv. Vatting of 4 & 5 yo, 20-25 ppm, light, citrus with long peaty finish. Matured in Bourbon barrels. Fresh, young, strong, well balanced open dram. Peat finish carries the freshness.

Thanks to Arran Distillery for the ARRAN 10 yo ~ 46% abv, unpeated, citrus notes ~ orange, cinnamon, peppery sparkle. The water for the distillery comes through red granite.  This is a smooth, fluffy mouthfeel with light, sparkly kick.  Nice orange oiliness and a dryness give this dram a balance with the lightness.

BUNNAHABHAIN 18 yo ~ 46.3% abv, A voluptuous dram.  Rich, silky, sweet honied dram. Sweetly nutty, slight salt tang, sherry notes of raisins, then toffee, a bit spicey and dryly woody with a sweet sherry finish. A lovely warm rolling dram.

ARBEG CORRYVRECKAN ~ 57.1% abv. 50 ppm. Rich, heavy, peaty dram ~ tarry notes, bit of chocolate, creosote, brown sugar. Very fruity and rich with the power of the peat and the tar to balance it. Matured in American and French oak casks.  Also, as this dram is cask strength the alcohol level is carried by the power of the flavours. A smokey length with salt and a hint of blueberries coming in from the side. 

DSCF6472

LAPHROAIG 10 yo CASK STRENGTH Batch 005 ~ Thanks to Laphroaig Distillery for giving us this dram to taste ~ 57.2% abv, this lovely, heavy, oily, peaty, fruity, sparkling dram carries the cask strength beautifully. Salty, seaweed with peat and rich warm fruity notes and flavours. A lovely rolling dram of Islay’s shores. A long smokey rich finish.

BOWMORE DARKEST 15 yo ~ 43% abv, the lowest alcohol by volume of the tasting ~ 12 years in Bourbon casks then 3 years in Oloroso sherry casks give this dram a sweet, raisins & chocolate taste balanced by the signature Bowmore smoke. This has a long finish and is a lighter but still robust dram. This is the material equivalent of  patterned velvet to the  brocade of the Laphroaig.

We tasted the drams without water, with water, and then, with chocolate ~ just delicious!

This is the first festival of it’s kind held in Graz. And it was very successful ~ we were even on the Austrian TV news!

There were chocolate makers, kilt makers, whisky makers, cigar makers ~ I liked this festival as it was pro active ~ there were many people here who produce their own product, not just selling something that others had made. Also, there were singers, dancers and pipers ~ 

One of the pipers is a lady called Romana Brunner.

Pipers at Graz

She is the Pipe Major of the Carinthian Pipes & Drums. Romana is a music teacher and in 2009 she travelled to Uist in the Western Isles,  and lived there for a year, being taught to play the pipes by Iain McDonald.  Iain McDonald and his brothers were good friends of the late A.S. Macneill, who helped found the National Piping Centre in Glasgow, Scotland ; ~  and A.S. Macneill is my uncle from Oransay ~ how cool is that?

Never mind seven degrees of separation between each of us in the world ~ in the Scottish/Piping/Whisky world it is reduced to TWO degrees of separation between us!

Manfred

Thank you to Manfred Wizsy of Islay Whisky Chapter for arranging for Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) to come to Austria. We had a wonderful time, met some wonderful people, heard some wonderful singing & music ~  and drank some wonderful whisky ~ we will return……

SLÁINTE! 

Me and the Austrian Team!

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) and the Austrian Team

Best sign of the day!

Best sign of the day!

Schematic

Hand drawn schematic of whisky making process for guests at Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) tasting…..

Black Bottle New

Supporting the new Black Bottle

Haggis on the menu

Haggis on the menu for the festival

Musicians at Graz

The Austrian band who sounded Celtic…

Myself and Mario

Myself and Mario from The Pot Still, and Alexander.

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Oct. 22.

DRINK WHISKY, SPEAK GAELIC

UISGE BEATHA  ~ water of life ~ whisky

Whisky for Girls Whisky Wheel

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 Cuibhle Blaise or Cuibhle Bhlas ~ FLAVOUR WHEEL 

 duilleagach ~ LEAFY 

 flùranach ~ FLORAL 

 measach ~ FRUITY 

 cùbhraidh ~ FRAGRANT 

 leathair ~LEATHERY  

 mar thombaca ~ TOBACCO 

 toit – fhiodha ~ WOOD-SMOKE 

 ioc-shlàinteach ~ MEDICINAL 

 ròiseideach ~ RESINOUS 

 giuthasach ~ PINE 

 bhanillan or mar bhanilla ~ VANILLIN 

 mil ~ HONEY 

 ìmeach or mar ìm ~ BUTTERY 

 cnòthach ~ NUTTY 

 rubaireach ~ RUBBERY 

 mar fhèoil ~ MEATY 

**********************************************

SULPHURY ~ mar phronnasg

OIL-ASSOCIATED ~ co-cheangailte ri ola

SWEET TASTE ~ blas milis

WOOD ASSOCIATED ~ co-cheangailte ri fiodh

PHENOLS ~ phionoil

FEINTS ~ pheintean

ESTERS ~ eastaran

ALDEHYDES ~ aldehaidean

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 next week we will have a  video SAYING/PRONOUNCING them whilst doing a tasting..………. 

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Aug. 21.

Still Games from Bruichladdich

When Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) saw the new Valinch from Bruichladdich, we knew we had to get a bottle……

Still Games

As usual the Bruichladdich Team are on good witty form with this offering ~

Still Game is a Scottish Television show which is extremely funny ~ http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/tv/chewinthefat/jack_and_victor/still_game/

http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/still_game/episodes/

Jack and Victor, the main characters, are  two Glaswegian pensioners going about their lives and getting into scrapes.

Calling the Valinch Cask  ‘Still Games’ is witty on so many levels ~ McEwan and McGillivray are still game, Still Games are  what is needed to make a whisky…….

Seeing Jim McEwan and Duncan McGillivray in the style of  Jack and Victor gives the locals such a good laugh, because they are both great comedy duos ~

It is heart warming that these two Islay men ~ icons of the whisky world, have the humour and the self confidence to create this joke involving themselves and icons of the comedy world ~ (some may say it is difficult to know which icons are which…..)

On Friday August 16, Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) took ourselves off  to Bruichladdich to fill a bottle of the Still Games golden nectar.

video of cask filling  ~     http://youtu.be/vvbmiJU53Oc

This dram is 10 years matured in a Port Cask and comes in at 62.2% alcohol by volume ~ so plenty dram for your buck!

The Valinch series from Bruichladdich are individual casks from which members of the public can come into the distillery  and hand fill a 500ml bottle.  My bottle is number 131 out of 450 bottles  from the Still Games cask.

This individual bottling is available until the cask is drained,  then a  different one is brought in and set up for hand filling.  These bottlings are exclusive to the distillery and are not available for general release.

This means you must come to Bruichladdich and fill them yourselves!

Amy worked as a tour guide over the summer before heading off to Jordanhill College to do teacher training ~ she got her own Still Game bottle ~ even more exclusive than mine…..

Her bottle has a picture of herself and apprentice blender, Adam Hannett on it ~ and was signed by everyone in the distillery ~

Amy's Still Games BottleAmy's Bottle

 This is a very strong, dryish dram. I bought it on spec because I loved the wit of the name ~ I haven’t even tasted it…..

So, tasting notes are welome!

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) had a great time, thanks to Raymondo for taking our video and for looking after us so well, and thanks to all at Bruichladdich for your wit ~ greatly appreciated in these days of such troubles in the world.

We look forward to the next Valinch cask, and hope the name and label makes us laugh as much as this one has ~ it is true what they say:

~ wit sells…….!

http://youtu.be/RGY0GNhT3ys

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Jun. 14.

A Close Encounter with Malt Whisky

 

 

Gold, amber, copper, silk, velvet …..

some of the words heard frequently at the Islay and Jura Whisky Festival ~ eight days, nine malt whisky distilleries, dozens of drams.

The Isle of Islay, off the West coast of Scotland, during the last week of May every year, is the place to be.

The Feis Ile agus Diura began as a celebration of the music and malts of the islands, and quickly became appropriated by the distilleries as their week. Each distillery hosts an open day. Visitors participate in whisky master classes, food and whisky pairings, barbecues, boat trips, and talks and tastings by blenders, managers and warehouse keepers. Music; local and otherwise, is played through out the day and nights, and dozens of delicious malt whisky expressions are sampled, analysed, discussed and enjoyed.

Many visitors return year after year. Friends are made with people from other countries, with people from Islay,  distillery workers are greeted like long lost relatives. Visitors feel a sense of belonging to their favourite distillery. There are clubs the guests can join. One of the distilleries gives club members a square foot of distillery land. Visitors build miniature wooden houses, and plant trees and flags, on their squares.

This year the sunshine pouring from the sky matched the liquid sunshine poured into the countless glasses held by visitors from Germany, Holland, America, New Zealand, to name but a few.

Islay has a population of around four thousand, Jura has a population of around one hundred and twenty. During festival week these figures more than treble, and unless you have booked accommodation well in advance, you’ll not get a bed for love nor money.

 

Islay is called ‘The Queen of the Hebrides’, she is also named ‘The Whisky Isle’. Islay is a bewitching, fertile island, the most southern of the Westen Isles, being found twenty two nautical miles from Ireland.  Her seven established distilleries hug the sometimes rugged coastline, and, Kilchoman, the new built farm distillery is about a mile inland.  In Islay, at any given time, it is impossible to be further than a handful of miles from the sea.

The neighbouring island of Jura is rugged, with the western side of the island being beautifully uninhabited. Jura has her distillery in the village of Craighouse, where one will also find the village shop, post office and hotel.

Ileachs (collective noun Ilich) ~ people from Islay, say that the only inhospitable thing about Jura is the midges ~ one Islay girl is quoted as saying: ‘the midges in Jura wear tackety boots!’

Jura whisky has a style of it’s own, being distinctly different from the characteristically more ‘peated’ Islays. The generic brand, Islay Malt Whisky, is famous the world over. Whisky lovers and enthusiast flock to the islands each year to purchase the limited edition Festival Bottles.  People even queue over night to ensure a purchase.  Locals are bemused and amused by the enthusiasts, and in measure respectful and scornful of the avid collectors who appear sometimes to have more money than sense.

The whisky is old, new, fresh, fruity, peaty, golden and plentiful. Anyone who says they don’t like whisky hasn’t yet found their dram.

In the past, whisky could be rough, coarse, and perceived as a man’s drink. Now, it is sophisticated, classy, complex, and a sensate experience enjoyed in equal measure by both sexes. Indeed, one Islay distillery boasts that they produce, ‘The world’s sexiest whisky!’

The week of the Islay and Jura Whisky Festival is an occasion to immerse oneself in malt ~ literally. The air around one smells of vanilla, spice, peat smoke, fruitcake. The liquid one drinks is velvet smooth with a short finish, dry with an amazing complexity, strong, light, soft and as varied and different as the dozens of people around you sharing the experience.

Some people call this liquid and this experience:

 Malt Whisky.

The Ilich have a better name for it ~

 they call it the Water of Life ~ they call it Uisge Beatha.

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