Tag Archives: 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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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Nov. 05.

Terroir ~ in Gaelic, is Anam an Fhearainn ~ Soul of the Land

Favours Galen & Ling

 

Barley grown in a field in Bridgend, Islay in 2013

TERROIR : of the land

Anyone who thinks there is no such thing as terroir misses understanding themselves and our world.  Barley, water, peat, yeast, copper, people ~all come from the land.

In making whisky ~ everything is provided by the earth, by nature herself ~ barley, earth to grow it in, people to sow it, tend and harvest it, water to soak it and let it germinate, yeast to react with the sweet barley water, wooden wash backs to ferment the wash in, copper stills to distil the wash and spirit in, peat to burn to toast the barley ~ all from Mother Nature. 

Stone built warehouses to keep the drams in, wooden casks for maturing whisky made from oak trees from all over the world, glass made with sand from ground down stones and shells for the bottles, and paper made from trees for labels and packaging. The people required at every step of the way, their skills, their attitudes, their passions and compassions ~ all from Mother Nature.

The weather conditions and geology which influence flora and fauna, which in their balanced relationship with each other made a perfect location for people to farm there ~ eg  Kilchoman, Lagavulin, Laphroaig.

Because they farmed there they grew barley. When they harvested they had grain for making flour, animal feed, to plant again the following year, and to make whisky.  People chose land that was fit for purpose. Their lives grew out of what was there. They were shaped by that land, and in turn produced that which was shaped by the land and the people of that land engaging in an interactive, reciprocal relationship.  Their society was formed by their habits in that land. Their interaction with that specific landscape and animals therein shaped how their language became, what food they ate, what they drank. 

So, concisely;  the geography, geology, flora and fauna created what would happen there; what settlements, what habits of human behaviour, what language, what skill sets, what creativity.

Next, the distilleries became bigger than the farms. There were piers where puffers brought coal for the fires to heat the stills, bringing casks to store whisky (in those days people made whisky from the outset) taking excess whisky away, bringing in extra barley; the moving and shaking of that place.

Each area created a different whisky as each area had different sets of characteristics ~ the characteristics were in the people, too; the habits they had in distilling, their traditions and customs of living, the specific skills they had, the shape of their buildings, where they were located in the landscape. The weather they received influenced what clothes they made, what food they ate, what they drank, when their streams went dry, where was best to store grain, the particular time things were done. All these particulars are shaped by the landscape in which they take place. And all these particulars allow the spirit of a landscape to produce something unique. The energies specific to a landscape produce things unique to that area.  This is what is meant by terroir.  In Gaelic, we call it

Anam an Fhearainn ~ Soul of the Land.

 We believe Anam an Fhearainn matters  

~ not just in whisky: it matters in EVERYTHING.

Pronounciation : Anam an yerr-ane   ~  Anam (as in Adam)  ane (as in plane)

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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!

Slainte!

 

 

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