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Post 22 Jan 2014, 12:43 pm

Just a shout out to Bowmore for sponsoring the Banff Film Festival. I went last night and I have to say it is a real highlight to the year to see people of all ages having such great and different adventures. It's likely not too late yet to catch the tour coming through your area.

If I ever get around to summiting Rainier I'll make sure to have some Bowmore in my hip flask. (Probably not going to happen but we can always dream, frankly I've not even got around to owning a hip flask)
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Post 22 Jan 2014, 1:27 pm

I "summited" Whiteface Mountain here in New York (Lake Placid's Mountain, new yorks 5th highest peak)
But that wasn't too tough a drive! (yes, you can drive to the top)
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Post 25 Jan 2014, 11:31 am

Archduke Russell John wrote:I was an Irish Whiskey drinker at reenactments back in the day but my stomach can't handle it any more Back when I did drink it, Tullamore Dew was the everyday bottle for around the campfire. Then we would get something a little more upscale for special occasions.

I like Rum as a mixer but not so much neat. Same issue with the stomach can't really handle the harder spirits any more. I like Calico Jack's Spiced and the Admiral Nelson line is pretty good as well.

Heaven Hill makes Admiral Nelson, they also make an amazing 12yo bourbon Elijah Craig which I think is the best bourbon money can buy on a dollar to quality comparison. At $27 a bottle it is right on with Tullamore Dew price wise. Now obviously the Irish Whiskeys are popular because they are gentle on the palate so it would be silly to compare.

And when you consider that bourbon is aged in new casks rather than old ones like scotch the 12yo does give quite a wallop of flavor.

(This of course is not really directed at Archduke as he made clear his stomach isn't interested in neat whiskeys)
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Post 26 Mar 2014, 8:14 pm

Guide to Scotch Whisky

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Post 27 Mar 2014, 1:01 pm

One of the whiskies in that photo, Glen Moray, is actually just a cheap supermarket own brand that you can pick up for less than 20 quid a bottle. In fairness it's pretty decent though, if you like Speyside whiskies. I prefer the Islays myself.
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Post 27 Mar 2014, 1:46 pm

What's the point anymore in scotch being aged in used casks rather than new ones? Isn't the benefits of aging a result of how new the cask is and the ratio of volume to surface area of the barrel?

For instance Maker's Mark averages 6 years to maturation, whereas scotch uses the spent barrel and then takes 10-12 years for it's baseline reputable single malts.

In the age of such high global demand for scotch, why not bring the needed aging time down?
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Post 27 Mar 2014, 2:15 pm

It's not that easy though is it ? If they start trying to market a 6 yr old scotch as being just the same as the 10yr old used to be then it diminishes the brand image. Besides which, there probably are all kinds of reasons that proper whisky buffs could tell you.
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Post 28 Mar 2014, 12:46 pm

Neal Anderth wrote:What's the point anymore in scotch being aged in used casks rather than new ones? Isn't the benefits of aging a result of how new the cask is and the ratio of volume to surface area of the barrel?

For instance Maker's Mark averages 6 years to maturation, whereas scotch uses the spent barrel and then takes 10-12 years for it's baseline reputable single malts.

In the age of such high global demand for scotch, why not bring the needed aging time down?
Aged casks have a more complex set of flavours, deriving from the previous contents. Thus scotches tend to have a more complex pattern on the palette than a bourbon.

As for the time, you could just as easily ask why wait 6 years for a bourbon when you could drink moonshine straight from the still.

You can definitely taste the difference between a 12yo and a 18yo scotch.
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Post 28 Mar 2014, 3:06 pm

I came across this piece from Bruichladdich on the matter, also includes the relevant war history Redscapers demand:

It took 3,400 oak trees to build one 74 gun ship-of-the- line. The strain on 17th century French forests was considerable. In 1669 Louis XIV's finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, did what the British should have done; he expanded and reorganized France's woodland, planting only the best and strongest oak suitable for building a navy to fight the British. This legacy was built on by Napoleon, who banned all tree felling (without authority) in 1803, and three years later decreed that only trees more than 150 years old could be felled, and replaced with a new oak. Thanks to this far-sighted forest management policy (and steel-plated warships and entente cordiale) France’s forests now produce the world’s finest oak destined for more culturally acceptable uses than warships - the planet’s greatest winemakers.

In 1920, George Saintsbury, the celebrated writer and gastronome wrote: “I have noticed, in the forty-five years since I began to study whisky, that the general style of most if not all kinds has changed... The older whiskies were darker in colour, from being kept in golden Sherry or Madeira casks, rather sweeter in taste, and rather heavier in texture; the newer are lighter in both the first and the last aspect, and much drier in taste.”

This observation heralded the changeover from European to American oak with the introduction of Bourbon barrels - with their tyloses.

The Bourbon barrel is made from Quercus alba or white oak, commonly known as American oak. It is accepted practice to use trees that are over 90 years old. The cellular structure contains bubble-like cell structures - the tyloses - that bulge into the cavities of the xylem, the tube of moisture-conducting cells, blocking water movement. These tyloses make the wood particularly watertight, even with thinner staves, and perfect for mechanized barrel-making. The dominance of hand coopered European oak casks lasted until the beginning of the twentieth century before the United States took over with machine-produced casks on a scale never before seen.

Bourbon distillers deliberately sought very dark colours, high levels of vanilla and caramel flavours that maize-distilled spirit draws out from heavily charred, newly felled, white oak barrels. After prohibition, in 1935, this long established, exclusively new oak custom was made federal law: thanks to the powerful Coopers Union the law now says that bourbon casks can be used once only. Being cheap and readily available they were eagerly snapped up by voracious Scottish distillers.

The rapid escalation of the use of Bourbon barrels coincided with the weakening in popularity of Sherry, Port and Madeira. The use of Sherry butts fell further with the outlawing of bulk shipments from Spain to the UK in 1981. Today, around 97% of all Scotch whisky is maturing in American oak.

As ex-bourbon cask prices rise owing to the increasing demands of the Scotch whisky industry, the price differential between second-hand and virgin American oak barrels has fallen. This may mean that in future distillers could be obliged to use new oak casks, increasing the potential for the ‘Bourbonisation’ of Scotch whisky. We must remain vigilant in the face of that, and also reject the alternatives of using old tired wood, or allowing oak chips, or essence, both of which are happily currently illegal.

Or could premium quality French oak be back on the menu again as it was in the nineteenth century? As far as whisky is concerned, if the nineteenth century was Europe’s era for oak, then like world history, the twentieth century has belonged to America. American oak, with its simpler, vanilla and caramel influences, has been a benign force for good.

The history and politics of Bourbon has been mutually beneficial for both Bourbon and Scotch distillers. A very positive relationship between two of the world's greatest spirit styles.


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Post 28 Mar 2014, 3:38 pm

It took 3,400 oak trees to build one 74 gun ship-of-the- line. The strain on 17th century French forests was considerable. In 1669 Louis XIV's finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, did what the British should have done; he expanded and reorganized France's woodland, planting only the best and strongest oak suitable for building a navy to fight the British.


We didn't need to do that because we got all our timber from America, just like our whisky barrels.
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Post 30 Mar 2014, 7:04 am

Sassenach wrote:
It took 3,400 oak trees to build one 74 gun ship-of-the- line. The strain on 17th century French forests was considerable. In 1669 Louis XIV's finance minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, did what the British should have done; he expanded and reorganized France's woodland, planting only the best and strongest oak suitable for building a navy to fight the British.


We didn't need to do that because we got all our timber from America, just like our whisky barrels.
Well, actually we got more from the Baltic trade routes at the time, aided by our dominance of the North Sea, but as that subsided we did import more from North America (especially a hundred years late when we took control of French Canada). Also, we'd had a major oak and other hardwood planting expansion under the Tudors that helped. We were increasing our use of land for agriculture, and so domestic timber production would have encroached on that.

When it comes to the difference between bourbon and scotch, the point is that bourbon is only bourbon if it uses a new fired barrel (and so the caramel flavour and colour is largely extracted from the burnt timber rather than from additives), whereas scotch does not need to be. You can get 3yo scotch, but I would not recommend it. The climate is Scotland is also cooler than in Tennessee and Kentucky, and so maturing takes longer there (contrast with Caribbean rums that take only about 3-5 years to become very mature in the right casks).

Also, one of the reasons for the demand for scotch is its craft nature and low availability. If you speed it up, it won't be the same.
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Post 01 Apr 2014, 10:41 pm

Tacky enough to ruin Johnnie Walker Blue Label
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Post 18 May 2014, 12:31 pm

My boss has a bottle of something called Pimms No.1 and he asked me if it was any good. I have never heard of it so I thought I would ask on here.

So has anybody every heard of it, what type of liqueur is it? Is it a mixer or neat/rocks drink?
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Post 19 May 2014, 12:04 am

Pimms is for mixing - it is a 'fruit cup' liqueur, and not really made for neat drinking. It makes a quintessentially English long summer drink. Pimms, ice, clear lemonade (Sprite style), and slices of fruit & cucumber and a sprig of mint.

Enjoy with Wimbledon Tennis.
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Post 19 May 2014, 7:24 pm

danivon wrote:Pimms is for mixing - it is a 'fruit cup' liqueur, and not really made for neat drinking. It makes a quintessentially English long summer drink. Pimms, ice, clear lemonade (Sprite style), and slices of fruit & cucumber and a sprig of mint.

Enjoy with Wimbledon Tennis.



Thanks Dan.