Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ritual Holiday Rantings

So, it's that time of year again. Yup, now that we've all stuffed ourselves silly on turkey, stuffing and pie, it's onto the next batch of holidays.  The Winter Holidays.  There's lots of them, but typically (and pretty much exclusively here) it is advertised as Christmas.  And it habitually causes me no end of trouble.

There are several arguments that tend to appear. One is about "taking the Christ out of Christmas", and I think it has several variations. In order not to have to decorate for ALL the winter holidays, lots of places justify putting up a tree because "it isn't Christian, really. it's Pagan". Then there is the annoyance from some at being wished "Happy Holidays" instead of a "Merry Christmas".  Both arguments, in my opinion, are trite and, well, pathetic.  A big ol' fir tree, covered in tinsel and shiny lights is a time-honored symbol of, yep, you guessed it, Christmas.  Was it borrowed and adapted from other, older traditions. Of course it was! But it has been incorporated into the celebration of a Christian holiday.  If people choose to put up a tree who aren't Christian, great. They're pretty. It does not mean everyone else accepts it as a symbol of their own holidays.  As for "Happy Holidays", if you're insulted by that, get over yourselves. I can't tell by LOOKING at most people what their faith is, so how am I supposed to know what you celebrate? It isn't meant as an insult, but as a nice way to be generic about the season. Smile, say "thank you".

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Dram Review

And we're back!  Thanks to the lovely people at Master of Malt, I received a lovely box of 5 dram samples. Four whiskies and one rum!
Cragganmore 20

Whisky the first: Cragganmore 20 Year Old 1991 Single Cask.

This little Speyside beauty is a MoM bottling, and comes in at just over 108 proof. The first thing that came to mind as I sipped was "SWEET"!! I wracked my brain trying to nail down why I was thinking that someone slipped a dessert into my whisky glass, but kept on tasting. Yep, there it was, a delightful vanilla custard taste. Like a slightly spiced vanilla pudding, there in my glass.

As I taste everything neat, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the stronger whiskies. Not in this case. Totally drinkable, and the alcohol content just brings a nice warmth to the dessert flavors. Yum.

Dailuaine 27

Whisky the second: Master of Malt Dailuaine 27 Year Old.

Another MoM bottling of a Speyside whisky, this one was distilled and put into a refill sherry hogshead when I was 8 years old. The end result was another dessert in my whisky glass!! Ohboy! Coming in at just over 107 proof, this whisky brings all the lovely wintery spices to the table. Gingerbread, honey, vanilla, and more.

In general, this one was similar to the Cragganmore. A sweet malt, yet it had a lot more spice. Perfect for these upcoming cool autumnal nights.

Dalmore 14

Whisky the third: Master of Malt Dalmore 14 Year Old 1996 Single Cask.

From Speyside to the Highlands, this time MoM got their mitts on a hogshead from Dalmore. This 14 year old is bottled at cask-strength, a whopping 111 proof.  And boy, can you taste it! This one is a bit boozy, malty, and spicy.  Another good winter warmer, but definitely not for the faint of heart (or palate)!

If you're in the mood for a really nice "sippin' whisky" to get you through the cold winter months, this surely is one to try. Or at least put on your wish list for Hanukkah or Christmas (or winter holiday of choice).

North British 20

Whisky the fourth: North British 20 Year Old 1991 Single Cask.

Next, we're down to the Lowlands of Scotland. MoM nabbed a cask of this bourbon-casked grain whisky. Yep, it's a grain whisky but it drinks like a bourbon. This indeed makes me happy.

Coming in at the strongest of the set, this one packs a wallop at 112 proof. But it's sweet! And spicy! And bourbon-y!  Wait, it's whisky, not bourbon. Oh heck, who cares? It tastes great and is full of happy little flavors. Those folks in Edinburgh have done themselves proud.  I think I'll put this on my OWN Hanukkah list..

Now, I was happy with the latest bottlings from Master of Malt, and there was one more to try. Staring at me from the little label was the face of Ron Jeremy. Um. WHAT? Yes, folks, it's the rum you were waiting for..

the adult rum!

Ron de Jeremy, the adult rum.

As a rule, I don't like rum. There was an unfortunate tasting of a glass of coke when I was younger... a glass of coke that had RUM in it! I was caught unawares and put off the taste. In my later years I was able to drink rum only when masked by lovely fruit juices (hello Planters Punch!!), but I had never actually enjoyed the taste itself.

So there I was, staring at the tiny face of Ron Jeremy, unable to pawn off the sample to my Dad for a tasting.  So I sacrificed my tastebuds, poured the dram into my whisky glass and took a sniff.  Hm...not bad. Rather spicy and fruity.

On to the tasting. At a fairly standard 80 proof, I wasn't worried about getting  overpowered by booze. A very SMALL sip. Well, that wasn't scary. Actually, it was rather nice.  Smooth, spicy and fruit. Not overly sweet. I was impressed!

This rum is very drinkable straight.  I can't comment on how it compares to other rums, as I have never sampled them straight! However, if you don't like rum, give this one a try. You might be as surprised as I was!

(really hard to get through that one without all the jokes..)

Well, that's the end of the box of samples.  Hopefully I will get more soon!  Leave a comment and say hi!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


As promised, but maybe a little late, is another short and sweet whisky review!  A while back I ordered a bottle of Smokehead Whisky, a single malt from Ian MacLeod (of the clan MacLeod, no doubt).

The Smokehead!!
Now, I decided to take my time with this one.  Instead of just taking a sample taste and blogging right away, I kept it around and had it as my evening dram.  Ok, let's get was more likely 2 fingers or so, not just one. Who can drink just one?

So back to the whisky.  It's an Islay malt, and nice and peaty. And smokey. Very very smokey.  The first taste slams you hard. Holy cow. Was it going to be TOO strong?  Thankfully, at only 86 proof there wasn't an underlying sting of "too much booze" to overpower.

Back for the second taste. Ok, much better. The peat and smoke, although strong, mellow out a bit once you know what to expect. And it gets really tasty.

It might look like a gimmicky whisky, not worth your time and/or money.  But it isn't a gimmick.  It is a well-crafted single malt to blow the pants off you! Rather like those old cartoons with the smoke pouring out of the ears, this one is a mind-blower.

If you're in the mood for something new, something to keep you a bit warm through the upcoming Fall and Winter months, give this a try! Go on, it's easy... just click on that link.  However, if you need something now, click on that other link.. the Master of Malt one. See it? Right over to the right of this post. I think I bought the last bottle of Smokehead until stocks are renewed..

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Few Wee Drams

It's that time again.  Well, actually, it's well past that time, as I finished my samples from Master of Malt a while ago. They deserve a review, Jessica-style!

Highland Park 13 Year
First up is the Master of Malt bottling of Highland Park's 13 Year Old Single Cask.  Coming in at a healthy 114-proof (57% abv), this one's not to be taken lightly.  If you've read any of my other reviews, I am not one to linger on confusing tasting notes.  You can easily read this online if you follow the link!  However, this little number is aged in bourbon casks and we all know I have a certain fondness for bourbons! So, 13 years after hitting the casks, this little number comes out warm, sweet, and slightly smoky. Yum. Yum. Yum!  And best of all, no water needed! Although it's cask-strength, it's not over-powering!

Caol Ila 30 Year
And on to the Master of Malt Caol Ila 30 Year Old Single Cask.  Man, oh man!  Distilled when I was a wee lass of 5, scampering around the streets of Miami, it emerges with some serious punch! Slightly stronger than the Highland Park, at 57.4% abv, it still isn't too boozy. However, it's full of flavor..spicy, a bit fruity and vanilla-y, and loads of good smoke!  A total winner.  A bit hard on the wallet, but a wee sample would make a great little treat!

As always, simply follow the links to get your own.  And...many thanks to the very very kind folks at Master of Malt for letting me try these lovely whiskies!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Murphy's Law

Or you local people might call it "Sod's Law".  There have been many corollaries over the years, but in the end, if something can go wrong, it will.  It's all about timing.  So, my husband is working overseas for a while. We accepted this, made the decision, and forged ahead.  Living apart is nothing new to us, and with the Internet and free phone calls, it's not as bad as it might seem.

Everyone keeps asking me, "When is he going to visit?" as if he is going to come racing home every weekend, simply to spend less than 2 days here.  Not being funny, but that's a bit unrealistic considering the travel arrangements, not to mention costs.  We figured we'd just wait to see when his schedule allowed a bit of vacation time, and go with that.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review: Island Whisky

A while back I made it through another Master of Malt dram sampler set.  This time it was the Island Whisky one, and a rather tasty one indeed!

Island Whisky Set
First of all, anyone who has tasted a few Scotch whiskies has probably discovered that they're all very different, even within the same region! Maybe you like one particular style, but have no idea how to branch out. And, let's face it, the guy behind the counter in your local liquor store will either know nothing, or try to sell you the most expensive thing he's got.  If you don't like it you're likely stuck with the bottle taking up space in your pantry, gathering dust.

So, when my parents sent me this set for Hanukkah, I was quite happy that I could experiment a bit!  The Highland Park 25 Year Old and the Tobermory 14 Year Old were the most mellow, without being too boozy.  I never like when the alcohol overpowers the flavor.  The MoM Arran 12 Year Old and the Jura 16 Year Old were a bit more flavorful, but my favorite had to be the Talisker 57〫North. It's  nice and powerful; a bit peaty with some sweet and smoke thrown in for good measure.

The only downside? I didn't have any more...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Whisky Bitters

I recently got my paws on a bottle of Master of Malt's new whisky bitters.  I immediately went off in search of simple recipes and came across the classic Manhattan and Old Fashion.  Easy to make, and I already had the basic ingredients!  I decided to make my Old Fashion without the addition of any soda water, or tonic, but just a few teaspoons of simple syrup, a healthy dose of bitters, ice (3 cubes), and a good shot of whiskey.  I think it was The Irishman. I also left out those pesky garnishes as I am not fond of maraschino cherries and I was out of oranges after mulling cider.
The Bitters!

One word. YUM.

Several words. Sweet, spicy-cinnamon and nutmeg, slightly fruity.

The flavors are wintery and not remotely "bitter".  A few drops will even give a bit of a kick to any regular whisky, if you're so inclined.  However, if you think it's sacrilegious, stick to adding the bitters to cocktails.  You won't be sorry.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Review: The Bourbons

Thanks to a nefarious little promotion by the good folks at Master of Malt, I found myself in the possession of neat little boxes containing 5 drams of whisky.  Encouraged by the hopes of perhaps winning a free Gold membership in their new Dram Club, I ordered a tasting set. For my first, I chose from my home country and got bourbons.

The Bourbons!
Now, don't be fooled into thinking that I consider Jack Daniels to be a good bourbon. It's not. It's Tennessee Whiskey, and I don't really like it. I like GOOD bourbons. You know...the expensive ones.  But as they're wicked hard to get over here (the only shop locally that had any stopped stocking them), I figured the "try before you buy" option was pretty great, and merrily justified it by hoping I might just win the contest.

So what's in the box?