Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bruichladdich Organic meets fresh waters

Bruichladdic Organic, that splendid dram, was begging to get a photoshoot by the lake. What would better work, than fresh lakes of Finland? Clear, clean waters and a warm summer day meet the Islay’s ambassador. Together they have fun and  provided a great environment for tasting.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Laphroaig enjoying the summer

Laphroaig Quater Cask and Cask Strenght 003 took quite a day off recently. I didn’t know they do like to play in the water and seek out places where you don’t usually find Uisge Beatha. But of course, you never know what you will find on the shores, so keep your eyes open. This time it was not a alligator, but something that comes from the sea and brings greetings from the Islay!
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Big Peat takes a vacation by the waters

When walking on the shores of the lakes deep inside Finland, you never know what you’re going to find out there!


That iconic character knows how to relax, and enjoy the summer!


The time looses it’s meaning and seconds turn into minutes, into hours and into vacation.



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Something about world of the spice and smoke

I kept on walking the journey, which took me deeper and deeper into world of tastes. There has been many occasion, since the strawberry stop, that had stopped me to stare the moon and wonder what’s next. How would this and that cope with those delicious ingredients? Eventually, I took the right turn and dived deep into the bog with something I had stolen from the shamans. No, no mushrooms but something we at the mansion use often to give our food some meaning. Garlic, jalapeno and chili.

For this journey, I chose three smoking and smoldering drams: Lagavulin 12 yo Cask Strength 2009, the Ultimate Caol Ila 2000 Cask Strengh single cask and Ardbeg Corryvreckan. All strong and wielding the steel of powerness. These drams hack, slash and take you to the outer limits. Especially Caol Ila, which is very potent (63.7%), takes you to the another plane of existence.

The Garlic
The first encounter was with garlic, enhanced with herbal spells. Lagavulin was perfect and their both tastes got a boost. Smoke and garlic work so well together, while keeping vampire’s off your neck. Caol Ila was strong in taste, even so much that it somewhat shadowed garlic. They do work together, but as a pointy stick. You get the first impression, then the overwhelming magic fills your nerves – and if you are a nightwalker you will flee with awe. Not bad, but with this dram you won’t taste anything of the food and garlic..

The last was one of my favorite Uisge Beathas. The Ardbeg Corryvreckan. Filled with peat, smoke and tar I expected garlic to be blown away. And I was not wrong. Like Lagavulin, Ardbeg complemented garlic with wondrous tales and beautiful poems.

I must say, that if you are looking for a drink to go along with food that has a lots of garlic in it, you might want to consider Ardbeg or Lagavulin to go with it. Overall, I dare to say that peatsmoke does go very well with garlic.

The Chili

Next was the test of strength with chili and jalapeno. I don’t know what chili it was, but something that we had at home and it is handled with care. Strong spice, none the less. I served myself jalapenos and chili, finding the ultimate border with both of them. Jalapeno is usually found on Mexican food, but we tend to use them a lot on many servings.

Lagavulin works, as expected, with jalapenos nicely. It burns somewhat, but in a good way. Taking it with chili, will bring some sweat to your skin – along with fiery sensation on your tongue. But unlike I feared, it is a not a Drawmij’s Instant Death. Instead, these two fighters work together and face a force far greater they could do together.

Caol Ila gives no mercy and will cut you into small pieces. Since I had already tasted the Lagavulin and chili, this is a real killer. Jalapeno + chili accompanied by Lagavulin and then jalapeno and Caol Ila it gets you to hell and then to very high euphoria. Caol Ila’s demeanor and intimidation do create new worlds. After a while, the peak withers away but there is still strong battle going on. Recommended only for those seeking how to break the sense-limit. Funny is that was just the jalapeno. Taking some chili on top of it, did not create the dragon’s all-devouring breath I feared. Yes, the taste and sensation is very strong but with a successful saving throw you can take it and experience the bliss.

Finally the everswirling maelstrom of Corryvreckan. First, with jalapeno you don’t get anything extreme. It is like they are meant together. After the first sip, if you wait, you will get the real taste and burn. With chili, note that this tasting is done by one sitting, you get the dragon’s breath. Ardbeg does boost the experience, gets tears into your eyes and takes you to a trip across all levels of Abyss and Elysium. Tears of pleasure, tears of pain and burn. Smoke fills your eyes and lips can start a forest fire if you just bend low and kiss the tree's root.  I was flying and plowing at the same time.

The End game

Well, now that some of the tears have gone there is time for the analysis. I make it short. If you want to enchant the taste of chili, use smoke whisky. The thin line is somewhere at 60%. Caol Ila will send you deep down, while Lagavulin can be much more gentle. Ardbeg gets stronger as time passes, so Corryvreckan is an excellent sensation bringer.

Next time I offer spicy or highly garlic food to my friends, they will have to drink a dram of peatsmoke with it.  Saying no is not allowed, or they will end up hungry and thirsty.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Take your Islay Time

Calm morning, sun shining and Eurasian Crane´s screech wake you up. Get out of the tent, smell the moist morning and take a dive into lake water. Blue, chilly and refreshing. Where to today, which path to choose. You might just delay and let time decide for you. Grab a book, read, swim and sleep. In the passing of time, there are no hours and minutes. The time has lost its meaning. You might as well relax and enjoy the summer.

It is usually difficult to find the right whisky during the hottest summer. I rather choose the chilly sparkling wine or a cold beer. But when the night turns in and temperature falls, you can find your tongue missing some familiar tastes.

In case full single malts are still too much, or you are sitting with friends by the fire, you might want to look at those blends or vattings. One of blends is this mysterious Islay Time. Very much smoke, nicely peaty and comes with a Viking character. It wields a heavy sword and handles it’s shield. You might have encountered some of these if you dug deep at the famous Ardbog moors.

I’d say there is a lots of Caol Ila in this one. Most likely Ardbeg as well. This is surprisingly good for a blended whisky. Just a perfect drink for sitting, chattering and sharing with larger doses.
During the summer, there are lots of flies too. They don't seem to be interested by this dram. And if they would - it would not matter since this is 40% strong. Horse-flies however, do prefer dark beer for a swimming pool.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Whisky experiments: strawberries

Since it is the summer and during this season strawberries are at their best, it is the reason to experiment a bit. For those, who are impatient: don’t do it.

I’ve been always keen to try out new tastes, when it comes to whisky. So far this journey is just beginning, but hopefully I can share some results as time passes by. I see no reason, why there would not be a good combinations of various whisky and food.

Strawberries.. They are very sweet and there is a very fresh taste when they are at their best. In this case, those were picked on the same day as tasted, and they were also organically produced.

I gave a few different styles of whisky a chance:

  • 20130706-20130706142531-IMG_9821_smallSpringbank 14yo single cask. This was a very much sherry flavored dram, but I must say this combination did not work out at all. It was all very bitter and tastes conflicted on the elemental level.
  • Highland Park 16yo. Similar experience, than with Springbank 14. Sherry and strawberries just don’t work.
  • Ardbeg Galileo. Perhaps Marsala wine would help? Perhaps a bit, but not much. I didn’t try combination with dark chocolate and strawberries, but I suspect it might just do the trick with Galileo.
  • Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2006. Nope, didn’t work. The summery taste of Barley was lost and the result was a conflict again. Not that unpleasant, but not a good one either. No luck here.
  • Benromach Peat Smoke. This was almost a ok mix. But still, I would not offer this to anybody as a delicacy. Peat did work out a lot better than sherry, however.
  • Wasmund’s bourbon. This actually worked out the best. Strong tastes, but from a different world helped out. The result was much more in alignment with strawberries, than it was when tasting a Scotch whisky.

The result is.. Unless you really want to – strawberries and whisky are not a taste that go together as raw elements. Bourbons however, might do the trick to some level but it was not nearly as good as mixing strawberries with a sparkling wine. But I will continue experimenting, and check out if – by a cosmic chance of the vast universe  - some tastes do actually lock in to each other like tar to your favored cloth.

Summer continues! Slainté!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Kilchoman Whisky news

100_Islay_3rd_Hi_Red_Cap[1]Kilchoman Distillery has been busy. 15th of July they will release 100% Islay 3rd Edition, batch is limited to 10 000 bottles. It is a vatting of four and five year old fresh bourbon casks. You should expect delicate and floral nose of soft fruits and pear drops which explodes with peat smoke in the mouth. Picture by Kilchoman.

I enjoyed earlier 100% Islay editions, especially the 2nd edition hit the right smoke receptors in my mouth. Somehow, I don’t think this would do any less effect. Kilchoman has been developing their whisky into better and better all the time, at least on my Glencairn.

Also, they have upcoming releases in 2013 Autumn

  • Club Release
  • 2007 Vintage

Monday, July 1, 2013

Laphroaig QA Cask hands out an easy experience

Like a sunny and warm summer day. You swim in a lake, that has pleasant and clear waters. Occasional cold stream refreshes your feet and you dive deep to feel it more. There are dragonflies catching their prey, a duck and it’s eight ducklings swimming near a shore. Seldom clouds, but no fear of changing weather. It feels like a vacation, on which I am right now. But occasionally, there is a need to get back to the laptop and tell about a whisky, that suits the day.


Laphroag QA had evaded me for a while, and I accidentally found this on a ferry – this is a travel retail exclusive bottling. The tube inlays “a second maturation in fresh, un-charred American white oak (Quercus Alba) casks. “. QA stands, as you might now guess, for Quercus Alba. But this would be a perfect gift, because of it’s name, for Quality Assurance team night.

The nose contains the Laphroaig family characteristics. There is the fenol medical part, which has made Laphroaig very famous – liked or not. Some smoke, some sweetness. This is the cold stream in the lake, there is more body and character. There is the nasty temper, you want to wake up with control.

The first sip is both a strong and pale. There is (now that the bottle has been couple of weeks open..) Laphroaig medicine taste with some smoke. Then there is sweetness and spiciness too. But in the middle it feels a bit like you’ve taste the lake water or accidentally poured water into your Glencairn instead of Aalto (water glass).. At the end the strong protagonist returns and saves the day, after a gloomy dark cloud of water that poured it’s weak performance on QA.

The taste does not linger too long, but there is some to chatter about.

QA is an interesting package. At first, I was not impressed at all. It felt too watered. Later on, when the bottle gained some air and my tongue got more used to it… there was a positive change. Now I feel, it is  complex, yes, and it is Laphroaig. It does not take you to the Northern fury, but instead to blue lakes of warm waters and pleasant experiences. It is a nice Uisge Beatha to experience, easy and cleanly flavored. You don’t have to be the pro to understand and value this one, but even with years of tasting – it does give you something to think about. It does not break records, it does not stand on a high cliff alone and scream about ruling the world. But it does well with a group, or with some campfire. It is a great member of it’s team in a tasting. And would be a nice gift for anyone who is interested of Islay drams.