Tag Archives: Women and Whisky

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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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
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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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Jul. 18.

Whisky for Girls Cask on Islay Whisky Lorry

 Whisky for Girls are very excited to have their own display cask on a restored Albion Cheiftain lorry  ~ now the Islay Whisky Lorry ~ owned by Mr Duffie MacNeill, a retired business man from Islay.

 

The lorry was built in 1950 and Duffie bought it in Preston from Terry Bullas, who lovingly restored it.

These Albion Cheiftain lorries were used for haulage in Islay by the Co operative Society. Duffie remembers when the Co op garages were in Shore Street, Bowmore and his brother and Neil Johnston were drivers. This lorry has been restored in the original Co op colours. It was repainted by WH Malcolm and all the sign writing was done by hand in the traditional way by Mr J F Rippey.

These lorries were common sights in and about the Islay distilleries in the past.  When Duffie brought this restored lorry back to Islay in April  this year he decided to furnish the lorry with display casks from all the distilleries. The distilleries provided the casks, some stencilled them, and some were done by Duffie’s wife Roberta. There is even one  with the original stencil from Port Ellen Distillery. Douglas MacTaggart found the stencil his father had and he and Duffie inked up a cask with it.

I was delighted when Duffie asked  if Whisky for Girls would like to have our own cask on the lorry.

Lewis Boyd and Scott Shaw  supplied me with Bowmore Distillery stencils and Duffie and I set to work today making the cask ready for it’s place on the lorry.

I thought one end of the cask looked better than the other as I made a better job of the stencilling as I got nearer the end! 

We displayed my cask beside the Bowmore one as they were kind enough to help Whisky for Girls out with the stencil.

It was great fun to do, then we rolled the cask up a ladder onto the lorry.

Duffie put a rope net over the barrels just incase, although they are all firmly attached to the lorry.

You can see the ink stained hands as I display the finished cask!

Duffie is taking the lorry to the mainland this weekend to take part in a famous road run called ‘Gang Warily’ in memory of Peter Drummond.   http://www.albion-trust.org.uk/events-calendar 

Last year the rally had around 40 vehicles taking  part, this year there maybe more. The route is about 60 miles long and takes in Dalkeith and Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway to name but a few places.

If you are driving on mainland Scotland this weekend, look out for Duffie from Islay’s lorry with a display cask from all the Islay distilleries ~ and, also, the Whisky for Girls cask!

The Whisky for Girls Cask is now a permanent part of the display on the lorry.

Duffie told Whisky for Girls he is happy to realise his long term ambition of owning one of these old lorries, and bringing home a piece of Islay’s history.

We hope in the very far future people will look back on Whisky for Girls as a part of Islay’s herstory and be pleased to see our cask on the whisky lorry along with the other  famous brands!

Thank you so much to Duffie for his support and to Scott and Lewis and the boys from Bowmore Distillery for their help.

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