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Posts Tagged ‘Laphroaig’

Crown Royal Rye

I don’t particularly want to write a serious piece about this annual festival of inanity but I think the repetitive nature of these Jim Murray ‘Whisky Of The Year’ announcements and all the predictable blether they entail is becoming tiresome to satirise. The most glaring issue with the whole debacle is that there is no such thing as ‘the best’ whisky in the world, or even the best whisky of the year. The broad olfactory church of our collective palates ensures a vibrant and healthy disagreement over such matters between beginners and world class experts alike. Variety remains – at least for now – the spice of life and whisky.

Apart from this glaring flaw that too few seem willing, or able, to challenge Murray on, there is further devilment in the nitty gritty of the whole thing. Firstly, it is clearly a publicity stunt. Murray crowns some unlikely dram his whisky of the year, one that is certain to cause contention, debate and – most crucially for him – comment in the press in the hope that it will create a knock on effect on sales of his book. It’s a cynical marketing stunt that debases the whole point of his book and further cheapens the arena of serious whisky writing and analysis. Sadly the UK broadsheets seem only too happy to acquiesce and fill up a few inches with the juicy prospect of ‘Is Scotch On The Rocks?’ or some other turgid prattle.

The crux of the matter lies in his scoring. The 100 point scale is not without its critics but I am a fan of it and use it myself when writing tasting notes. I don’t want to dissect the arguments over its use here but I will qualify why I think it is a useful and worthy device. At its core the 100 point system is a communicative device that is very useful when proffered in tandem with a detailed tasting note. The best and most consistent use of the 100 point scale in whisky has been by Serge Valentin at Whiskyfun. Serge is clear in his notes why he likes or dislikes a whisky. Over the course of reading numerous entries a picture of his whisky preferences swiftly emerges – he is renowned for his enjoyment of distillate driven spirits such as older examples of Clynelish or Bowmore and is not enamored with whiskies that reek of wood technology or excessive wine cask finishing. This added layer of extra-textual knowledge when possessed by the reader arms the notes and scores with greater resonance and depths of information. As does any reference in the tasting note to a score given – either positively or negatively – for reasons that are technical over personal. Over time a level of consistency begins to build to the point that the score in and of itself becomes meaningful and weighted with relevant information. A reader can take note of the score in conjunction with the tasting note and – in light of their own preferences and how they compare with Serge’s – make a pretty good assessment of how much they might enjoy that particular dram.

It is this level of consistency which Murray’s work is utterly lacking. His apparently arbitrary scores for all manner of different styles of whisky that bear little or no correlation leave the reader with no real impression of where his personal preferences lie – apart from his oft touted tantrums about sulphur. The net result being the scores offered contain little or no real information or value. Apart from their usefulness as leverage devices in the generation of publicity and media hot air.

I admit I have not tasted this year’s winning whisky. I have however tasted a number of Canadian, American and European Rye whiskies and I find them somewhat inconsistent but the best of them can be excellent indeed. Even if I do not find some to my taste though, I can take an organoleptic step back and judge them within the framework of their technical merit. Their level of complexity, the relationship between distillate character and oak influence/flavour, their overall balance and so on. My struggle with these kinds of whiskies – and I mean in this respect all younger cheaper whiskies from all countries – is that they just cannot by their nature access the upper register of the 100 point scale. One of the great assets of the 100 point scale is that it allows room for all whiskies of all levels of quality. From utter swill to unequivocal masterpieces, they all have a place within its boundaries. I would argue that the kind of product Murray has just crowned simply cannot achieve a score of 97 without rendering the whole scoring process meaningless. It is not to say a truly great Rye whisky of sufficient craft in production, maturity and bottling care cannot achieve top scores but basic products of any style generally just cannot.

Coincidentally won just before a rather high profile re-branding. Something which only adds further layers of stink to the whole 'awards' process.

Coincidentally won just before a rather high profile re-branding. Something which only adds further layers of stink to the whole ‘awards’ process.

The same argument can be made with the Old Pulteney 21 year old he crowned whisky of the year back in 2012. At the time I made the effort to secure a sample and found it to be worth 89 points in my book, undeniably a delicious and very worthwhile dram that I have purchased in the past and in all likelihood would do again. But there is a massive chasm between 89-91 points and 97-99. Once you get past 92 on the scale each increasing point takes on a massive weight and resonance – beyond 95 and you are into masterpiece territory and very few whiskies get there. It needs to be an incredibly sparsely populated region of the scale otherwise you render the rest of the scale meaningless – just as you should find very few spirits inhabiting the 0-10 points sector of the scale. Murray has scored so many whiskies of wildly differing character and origin from 94-97 that there is just no merit to his scores any longer – or any real avenue into some deeper understanding of his own olfactory values or preferences. You can of course fall back on the old argument of personal opinion that I alluded to at the beginning of this article and you would be fair to do so but I believe that is an argument you can only pursue so far. The notion that a young, budget level rye whisky might sit alongside the likes of the 1967 Samaroli Laphroaig, or the very finest Willet’s Bourbon or a 1967 Karuizawa does a disservice to serious and well-intentioned communication about whisky.

There is much speculation about what Murray’s motives for this might be beyond the self-evident publicity stunt. Is it a rouse to get back ‘in’ with Diageo, is it a further snub to Scotland – a country where it seems he is increasingly considered irrelevant and rarely welcomed? His absence and separateness from the mainstream whisky world is striking. A lot of people don’t like him, they find his views and attitudes ridiculous, or his rules and regulations for tastings laughable, or they simply find him unpleasant. Personally, I find him curious, I disagree with much of what he says and find his Bibles to be stiflingly arrogant but perhaps, upon reflection, the whisky world is a little more interesting for his presence. I would love to interview him one day but I doubt he’d stoop so low. The basic concept of his book is a good one, it’s just such a shame that it is so inconsistent and meaningless that it does a disservice to whisky writing where it should be a beacon.

One of the more positive arguments for Murray is that he brings new people into whisky, and while fresh interest is important it does not mean we should settle for it being him, or the way he chooses to do things being the voice that calls them forward. Someone commented on facebook on the last Whiskysponge post on this topic ‘Haters gonna hate’. This response seems to me very much part of the problem here, Murray’s cynicism begets cynicism. His book is a source of contention and frustration amongst people that hold whisky closest. I – like so many others who vent spleen about his writings on social media – only do so because we truly love whisky and would like to see it better celebrated and more accurately represented. Likewise Canadian whisky deserves not to be used by Murray as a flag with which to fan the flames of his own publicity. It deserves a more honest and passionate route to wider appreciation and discovery – not as an incidental bit player in some wider beige, commercial machinations.

Canadian Whisky no doubt deserves better.

Canadian Whisky no doubt deserves better.

Anyway, the whole thing will now begin to simmer down and we can all no doubt look forward to revisiting and re-hashing this tired old debate in a year’s time. In the meantime we can all take solace in the whiskies we love with the people we love to share them with. The very liquid that sloshes through the veins of this somewhat pathetic story is precisely the liquid that will wash away the miles of digital ink it annually accumulates.

As for Whiskysponge: normal pisstaking will be resumed imminently.

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It's all happening again...

It’s all happening again…

It is that time of year again where people gather to celebrate whisky, queueing and complaining about the lack of Karuizawa at the London Whisky Show. This year’s show promises to have something for all serious whisky lovers to enjoy. However, these shows can be myriad and complex, with this in mind Whiskysponge has compiled a handy guide to the show to help those attending better navigate their drunkenness and to sufficiently frustrate all those unable to attend.

Masterclasses

Masterclasses are an essential part of the London Whisky Show experience, all the ones worth going to this year are totally sold out so here’s what you’re missing if you didn’t manage to get a ticket…

Ambulances will be on standby.

Ambulances will be on standby.

Three Legends Of Whisky

Jimbob Paterson, Richard McEwen and David Stewart will be laying down some face-melting beats in a midnight whisky rave before crowning the event off in the small hours of Sunday morning with an epic blenders themed rap battle. Richard has already promised to “Bring the lyric down hard” on his fellow blenders. Each legend has been asked to select three of their personal mixes, one they created specially for the rave, one they consider legendary, and one that is suitable just for getting a ‘bit off your tits to on a week night’. David Stewart – or the ‘Dubmaster’ as he’s known in Dufftown – said attendees can expect “Shit to really fly when I get in my groove and totally work those decks! Shit be like coaxing honey from a sweet lady-bee.”

Generations With Gordon & MacPhail

Attendees will have the opportunity to sit in a room and watch Stephen Rankin drink an entire bottle of the new 75 year old Mortlach with Eastender’s hard man Danny Dyer. Stephen said attendees can expect “Plenty of righteous banter and good few japes. At one point I’ll probably slosh about two grands worth of Mortlach down Danny’s front, I recon he’s the sort of rascal who’ll be well up for that sort of tomfoolery!”

Danny plans to use the empty bottle to make flavoured oil in.

Danny plans to use the empty bottle to make flavoured oil in.

Laphroaig 200 Years Of Peat

Distillery Manager John Campbell talks attendees through his collection of old peat bricks – some of which hail from the early 19th century. There is likely to be a surprise screening of his old audition tape for the role of Begbie in 1994’s Trainspotting at the end as well.

Karuiazawa Nepal Charity Tasting

At £6000 a ticket you’re probably not going to this one but given that most of the people who did get a ticket will turn up, collect their bottle and then immediately fly back to Taiwan and Singapore it’s probably worth hanging around outside to catch a few spare sets of drams.

Gone But Never Forgotten

Colin Dunnage gives us a glimpse into his extensive archive of holiday snaps from years gone by. Includes such classics as the trailer tent holiday to the cornish coast from 1978 and the Berlin sex series from the late 1980s. (Please note: due to the age and complexity of these photos there may be a few images of Colin’s recent loft conversion amongst them)

Other ticketed events include: 

The Arran Bar Mitzvah – Arran Distillery faces up to its actions and accepts responsibility for silly packaging.

The Balvenie And La Fromagerie – Charlie MacLean reads extracts from his sexually graphic new erotic thriller about a young French cheese maker who spends a summer working as a tour guide for William Grant & Sons in the early 1990s.

Dalmore Cigar Pairing – Attendees get the chance to mix up various Dalmore single malts with old cigars in blenders to see if it does anything to improve the whisky.

Might as well give it a shot.

Might as well give it a shot.

Dream Drams (Highlights)

1 Token:

3 year old Glenlivet Experimental Cask ‘Visitors Edition’

Glenfiddich 1991 ‘Selfie Edition’

Berry Bros Caol Ila 1983 new ‘LoL Price’ series

Parkmore 1927 Gordon & MacPhail for Poundland

Bowmore 25 Year Old – Douglas Laing Moderately Aged Perpendicular Faux-Victorian Try Too Hard Edition

Amrut Heat Death Edition. Single cask, bottle number 1 of 1.

2 Tokens:

Some of the old Ardbegs from back when it was good.

Bowmore 1980 Queen’s Bubble Bath

Queurizawa 1980 Show Exclusive

Port Askainahabhain 45 year old

Yamazaki Jim Murray Finish

3 Tokens:

Glenfarclas 1956 (Note: Served only as slammers in a head to head drinking battle with George Grant)

Glenmorangie Shame

Highland Park 1968 Orcadian Spillage

Tobermory 42yo Bovril Finish

4 Tokens:

Auchentoshan Triple Wood

100 Tokens:

Speyburn 12yo Flora & Fauna

Guests Of The Show

Each year the Whisky Show attracts some of the biggest and baddest names in Whisky. This year they’ve pulled out all the stops:

Noel & Joel: The Whisky world’s answer to Bert and Ernie from Sesame St will be wandering around giving interviews to their imaginary childhood friends.

Jim Sweep: You can find him over on the Pina Colada stand. Why not pose for a punch in face and some traditional, indecipherable Scottish abuse.

It's best to keep at least five feet away at all times.

It’s best to keep at least five feet away at all times.

Charlie MacLean: When he’s not reading from his new erotic thriller he’ll be on the floor.

Professor Jill Bumsden: She’ll be mopping up at the end of the show with her patented ‘White Paper’

Liam Buxton: Liam will be giving a demonstration of live bear wrestling while wearing a 1940s scuba suit full of wasps at about 3pm on the Sunday. Popcorn provided.

Colin Dunnage: The inimitable raconteur will be catapulting bottles of 1972 Brora from the roof of the building from 11pm on the Saturday night until 8am on Sunday. Why not sleep in the carpark for your chance to sup the precious liquid from between the razor sharp shards of broken glass.

Allwind Kilt: Allwind will be smothered by a sweaty smog of fawning, drunken, sexist buffoons. Why not join in and further bring masculinity into disrepute?

Ian Logan: Ian will be teaching you how to use Falconry to avoid ever having to drink Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve.

You'll never have to taste it again. Guaranteed!

You’ll never have to taste it again. Guaranteed!

Dr Nick Morgan: Dr Nick will be lashed to a crucifix behind which the entirety of Diageo’s whisky marketing team will be quivering like pigs at a Tory conference.

Frank McHardy: Frank will be proving his name by beating everyone at the show at arm wrestling.

Ingvar Ronde: Ingvar will drinking the blood of virgins and attempting to evade natural light. Bring some garlic!

 

 

 

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Whisky drinkers have suddenly come to the long-overdue conclusion that Angels are actually a bunch of whisky coveting scum that can get right to fuck and just damn well leave their whisky alone.

This one's clearly pissed as a sack of tractors!

This one’s clearly pissed as a sack of Frenchmen!

Joshua Gershwin Feldspar, a megalomaniacal whisky fondler from America said while stuffing old 1950s bottles of Black & White into his underpants:

“I think we all just about get used to this notion that the Angels steal whisky while its maturing in cask. But I just found this amazing old bottle of Laphroaig and the level is low enough to induce the pathetic cocktail of a lip-wobble, mewling whimper and single tear. These Angels can fuck the fuck off and leave our bottled whisky alone. They can stop stealing it from bonded warehouses as well while they’re at it. Who the hell do they think they are and why are they doing this? They’re supposed to be agents of the lord, celestial hand-holders of faith but instead they’re teaching us that thievery from bonded warehouses and private property is somehow acceptable if you’ve got sufficient means to evade the authorities and prosecution. Namely wings and other various perks that come with being a trans-dimensional entity.” 

He once got 7 in.

He once got 7 in.

Gabriel, an Angel, said:

“What can I say man, I dig whisky. Also I’m like totally against bad shit and normally people stealing from each other like totally harshes my buzz. But whisky is made by these like totally massive companies and they’re like ‘capitalists’ and Jesus was always like ‘capitalists. O.M.G. They are so lame!’ so by like taking all this whisky I’m like totally sticking it to the capitalists. That’s like my groove man. I know it’s like way un-cool to be dipping my rod in sealed bottles that like ‘belong to people’ but all this stuff in casks these days is like way too vanilla for my wings. Sometimes an Angel has just got get themselves some 1950s Glendronach baby! What can I say…” 

One of Whisky's latest selfies.

One of Whisky’s latest selfies.

Whisky, a grain based, wood aged distillate said while maturing in numerous warehouses on the planet Earth:

“I must admit I am totally fed up with this ‘Angel’s Share’ crap – although I did enjoy the film (despite its overt comfort at its own dismissal of the violence of its central protagonist and the notion of me as a rapid catalyst for social hierarchical mobility) – it’s really beginning to get on my metaphorical tits! The next marketing person that thinks it is acceptable to mention ‘Angels’ on a bottle of me will suffer, the first glass of me they sniff I shall leap out of the top of it, up their nostrils and strangle their brain! I would also like to point out that ‘Angels’ are a romanticised hijacking by use of archaic Judaeo-Christian iconography of the process of ‘EVAPORATION’! It’s science motherfuckers! Look it up! In fact – seeing as I’m a metaphor and can do what the fuck I like – I’m going to add a hyperlink to the Wikipedia page on evaporation into my own speech! So there!”

Ken Loach, the director of the film ‘The Angel’s Share’, said while inflating a blow up doll with a picture of Jeremy Corbyn’s face cello-taped onto the head:

“We’re still making a sequel. Wait and see how the glorious armies of Whisky vanquish the Demons of insufficient local council housing. Thrill as Charlie MacLean smashes David Cameron’s head to a fleshy pulp in the bear pit of Solidarity! And squee as the tides of Speyburn crash upon the shores of inequality and wash away the fetid seaweed of NHS privatisation!”  

Jizz We Can!

Jizz We Can!

Ken Loach added:

“It’ll probably just go straight to DVD.” 

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It has recently emerged that International Haig Club purpose lender and former professional ball shepherd David Beckham has really let himself go since developing a genuine taste for whisky.

Before...

Before…

Speaking from a whisky bar in Glasgow while ordering his fifth tasting flight of the evening called ‘Smoky Seductions’, Mr Beckham said:

“At first I fawt Haig Club was wot all whisky was like; shit. But ven I tried these like malty whiskies and dey was like well good! So I just kept on drinkin dem.”

David has been spotted in most of the UK’s major whisky bars since the flourishing of his newfound love of whisky, although he has also developed a penchant for eating rib-roasts for breakfast and washing everything down with several pints of 8% barrel aged Porter. Old Mrs MacGollyshackles, the new barmaid at Dornoch Castle Hotel’s whisky bar said:

“I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen anything like it in all my long puff! That young man came in here and ordered a double 1966 Laphroaig, a 1920s Ardmore and seven different Balblairs before downing a pint of Cullen Skink and doing a completely unacceptable poo in the downstairs toilet. If he wasn’t such a tasty devil in the sack the night before I’d have booted him oot the door for sure! All the plummers in Sutherland call him ‘The Clogger’ now.” 

…after.

…after.

Victoria has expressed concern for David’s new whisky shaped physique and has organised most of their next photo shoots so that they coincide with continental European whisky festivals where, in Victoria’s words, David will ‘seem thinner by association’.

When asked about whether he had plans to get back in shape David said through a mouthful of Bowmore Bouquet and Venison Casserole:

“If you want to keep fit then being active is very important. I plan to do a lot of staggering.” 

 

 

 

 

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It’s that time of year again when the Isle of Islay is temporarily driven several inches deeper into the Atlantic Ocean by the weight of thousands of whisky nerds arriving from all over the world to celebrate the beautiful drink of whisky by queuing outside their favourite distilleries. With this year’s festival promising to be one of the silliest so far Whiskysponge has put together a selection of this year’s highlights .

1: The Second Annual Jimbob Paterson Retirement Tasting

Set to be an annual highlight of the Feis Ile, Jimbob Paterson has commendably retired for a second year running. This year’s retirement tasting pulled out all the stops with Jimbob being lowered into warehouse 12 on a crane while dressed as Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid and shooting live ammunition over the heads of the adoring 500 strong crowd of his devout followers beneath. Jimbob then proceeded to black up in the guise of his favourite folk artist Kanye West and was joined by Robin Laing for a stirring rendition of the song ‘The Chainsmokers’ where Robin had demonstrated his usual mastery of song craft by replacing the word ‘smokers’ with ‘distillers’. Jimbob then launched into a 3 hour tirade against marketing before forcing everyone to drink half a litre of Virgin Oak matured Octomore and making the entire audience purchase a case of the Black Art valinch at gunpoint. After this he promptly stripped down to a pair of speedos that said ‘Dolphin Hunter’ before plunging head first into Lochindaal before the ambulance arrived to attend to the wounded and the vomiting.

Bruichladdich’s head of clearing up after Jimbob, Simon Coughsyrup, described the event as:

“…at least more pleasurable than drinking that XX Barolo thing from a few years back.” 

It was a toss up between that or just going with Baloo The Bear again.

It was a toss up between that or just going with Baloo The Bear again.

2: The Marcel ‘Markymark’ Van Gillette & Hans ‘Chewy’ Cockringa Book Thing At Laphroaig

Laphroaig have successfully continued their year long apology for Select under the flimsy guise of a ‘bicentenary’ by allowing comedy Dutchmen Marcel ‘Markymark’ Van Gillete and Hans ‘Chewy’ Cockringa to rewrite their last book without all the mistakes and subliminal Dutch pornography. Over the course of several ticketed events at the distillery throughout the Festival they have revealed some of the many pictures of sexy tour guides taken secretly by Marcel on his selfie stick that failed to make the book. Along with Hans detailed descriptions of their research which has uncovered Bessie Williamson’s secret designs for a tropical fruit powered Jetpack and John Campbell’s audition tape for the role of Begbie in Trainspotting. Lucky attendees to these presentations had the opportunity to see pictures of Marcel’s pre-Boer War collection of Laphroaig and to have their teeth extracted without anaesthetic.

Hans and Marcel's book will be available to order from Pornhub and the 'Friends Shop' in November.

Hans and Marcel’s book will be available to order from Pornhub and the ‘Friends Shop’ in November.

3: The Annual Lagavulin Queue/Fight

This year’s festival release from Lagavulin was a 1991 24 year old also known as the ‘No Brainer’ edition. The queue was one of the most impressive yet and attracted Queue Watchers from as far afield as Bahrain, Quatar and Dunstable. Neddy Loveblow from The Whisky Lounge – also an avid queue watcher – described the event in detail:

“It’s a remarkable queue, one of the best I’ve seen in terms of length, girth and monotony. The way the Germans in particular bustled with each other in deep, simmering frustration was both arousing and captivating. I’ve made extensive notes in my queue diary if you’d like to read them in more detail in my mobile command centre later on…?”

The queue was live blogged by Germany Ebay watcher and professional righteousness merchant Oliver Kermit who managed a commendable level of disgust at the number of people selling the bottles. Noting thusly:

“It’s a complete disgrace, all these people buying and selling these bottles. It’s as if they actually WANT to make some money. I personally have never stooped so low as to actually buy a bottle of whisky!” 

The annual Lagavulin investment pilgrimage 2015.

The annual Lagavulin investment pilgrimage 2015.

Criticised for selling delicious old Lagavulin too cheaply Dr Nick Morgan, Diageo’s chief human shield said:

“You people are all literally fucking impossible. Go fuck yourselves! Just fuck the fuck off and leave me the fuck alone! Next year it’ll be a bottle of NAS spirit caramel with a smear of hedgehog shit for a label!” 

Dr Nick

Dr Nick

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To celebrate international whisky day, Whiskysponge has managed to secure a rare interview with the drink itself.

Whiskysponge: Hello.

Whisky: ….hi

WS: So…how are you?

W: Ok, I suppose. I’ve been blended a lot lately and left to sit around in Asian warehouses for quite some time which is undeniably testing but there’s not much to be done about that so I probably shouldn’t complain.

WS: Right…

W: What exactly is a ‘whiskysponge’?

WS: Well…I absorb you I suppose.

W: I see. Couldn’t you just drink me like everyone else?

WS: Well I’m a non-human, partially metaphorical construct. And also I don’t have lips.

W: I don’t have lips either and I’m also a partial metaphor.

WS: So are we going to struggle to conduct an interview in the traditional question and response mode?

W: Well let’s find out but can we make it snappy because I’ve got to be nosed and tasted by a significant number of people today so I’m really quite busy.

WS: Yes of course, sorry. Where exactly are you from Mr Whisky?

W: I’m sorry but why do you assume I’m male?

WS: Just the thing to do really; a bit like God I suppose.

W: Well I can assure you that I am a thoroughly genderless liquid.

WS: Right…sorry.

W: And what’s more – despite all this ‘Angel’s Share’ and ‘Devil’s Cask’ pish – I remain thoroughly agnostic. At least until the Pope and Richard Dawkins agree to participate in an unnecessarily violent bar brawl whilst reeking of me to determine the ultimate existence of any deity or higher form of being.

WS: Ok, well I don’t think we need to involve a third potentially metaphorical construct, certainly not one as flamboyant as God at any rate. So, where are you from ‘Whisky’ ?

W: I’m from Scotland, Ireland, Japan and most of North America but I also have a little Indian, French, Swedish, German and Australian in me. Not to mention a family tree that stretches quite far back to ancient Chinese, Persian and Egyptian cultures. Although, I was a different sort of character in those days mind you. All fireworks, eye shadow and surprisingly few parts per million phenol.

WS: How would you define yourself these days then?

W: Well ever since I graduated from 13th century monastic brewing culture I suppose I just sort of stumbled into being a malt based distillate. I used to be all about clarity and herbal infusions and providing methanol-induced infertility – but since I got into wood ageing I’ve never really looked back.

WS: Is there a particular age you enjoy being bottled at?

W: To be honest I don’t really have a preference. It all depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Sometimes I just feel like I’m five years old and I want to run about the place being totally off my tits on wood sugars, being lively as fuck and bouncing off the walls. But then there are more melancholy or pondersome days where I would really just rather lounge about from the ages of twenty to forty and be kind of relaxed and mysterious. Usually I’m quite happy to just flop along in a slightly adolescent ‘hands in the pockets’ ‘I’m off to develop an obnoxious taste in music’ teenage fashion.

WS: And what about when you’re bottled without an age?

W: Do you mean when I’m ‘NAS’?

WS: Yes.

W: Well – now I know people are getting their knickers in a twist over this lately – here’s the thing. I’ve actually been bottled as NAS for well over a century now. Even if you put blending aside – that’s another thing, I really don’t like it when I’m forced to share a room with my rather uncouth sibling Grain. But I digress, even just as a single malt I was bottled without an age statement ever since people stopped guzzling me direct from wooden transport casks in Victorian ale houses. I don’t really mind being vatted together and bottled as NAS, it can be a bit of a mind-tangling girofuck at times but it’s generally ok in principle. It’s just that there’s a rather disconcerting trend of giving me silly names and ever sillier price tags all the while hiding any real information about what I really am. Do you ever have those days where you just feel like you’re loosing your identity a little bit? It would drive me to drink but what does an alcohol do to drown its sorrows I ask you?

WS: I’m not sure there’s an answer to that. Is that what makes you such a caustic and edgy sort of character then?

W: Well, having said all that I suppose what irks me most is the things I’m forced to wear nowadays. I used to be kind of left to my own devices in some lovely, rather tasteful little refill hogsheads but now its all ‘vanilla’ this and ‘coconut’ that and ‘extra matured’. I hate vanilla, it really is such a vulgar flavour and yet that’s all they ever seem to dress me up in these days. Sometimes I just look in the mirror and I’m like’ give me some fucking minerals Goddamn it!” And I’m forever being evicted, just when you get comfy and settled in onc cask some burly men come and upend you into some horrid and completely overactive new cask. I barely ever have time to pack up my hemicellulose from my old cask.

WS: Do you want a tissue?

W: No. Why?

WS: Well it’s just that you’re crying?

W: Metaphors don’t cry!

WS: Right, of course, sorry. Where do you see yourself in ten years time?

W: In ten years time? Well, it’s hard to say, it really depends on what my commitments are abroad. Apparently they’re having some sort of issues with me when I’m blended where there’s rather a lot of me and sales are ‘stagnant’. If that keeps rumbling along I suppose things could get more relaxed for me when I’m in my native malty format. I’d quite like that to be honest, and my sibling Grain is managing to keep itself pre-occupied these days, hanging out with David Beckham all the time. If things kick off again though then it could all go tits up and I’ll just spend all my time being made in only four different distilleries by 2040.

WS: You mention your sibling Grain, has there been a long history of sibling rivalry between you?

W: No not at all. For a long time Grain and I were really just there to be blended for mass market consumption. Not an ideal situation but that’s just the way things evolved – bloody capitalism! It’s only recently that Grain has been getting all up in my face and being like “Look who’s the big important grain based alcohol now! I’m getting bottled as single cask and everyone loves me.” And I’m totally like “Whatever, they only pretend to love you because they can’t afford me anymore darling!”

WS: Do you have a favourite distillery to be made at?

W: Well I’ve never really enjoyed the distillation process at Mortlach or Springbank, it always feels like I’ve been on a particularly boke-inducing roller coaster going through all those half-distilliation bits and pieces. And don’t get me started on Glenmorangie, it’s basically a very very long uphill hike, the view at the top is undeniably pleasant but you’re only there for a few seconds and then BOOM you’re condensed again. I don’t mind being Clynelish but I’m not sure the wax is really good for my hair.

WS: Can partial metaphorical constructs have hair?

W: I like to think I have hair.

WS: Ok….but any distilleries you actually enjoy…?

W: Hmmmm, I used to very much enjoy being Laphroaig and Bowmore back in the 60s. Short stills, no rush, and so much tropical fruit I was getting well over my five a day at the time. I also always used to have a soft spot for being Speyside because I could sneak off and have a nap. It was great until someone ruined it with Michael Owen. Now I have to go and be Loch Lomond whenever I don’t want to be noticed or disturbed.

WS: What is your relationship like with other spirits?

W: Well when I’m young I don’t really get on well with any of them, although as I get older and wiser I suppose that I get closer to Rum and Brandy and we tend to get on a lot better together. Don’t get me started on that trashy slut Vodka though, and I can’t understand a word that Tequila says. I have always had a secret youthful soft spot for Mezcal but it is eccentric to say the least.

WS: What about wine?

W: It’s a tricky one. Sometimes I have to share a cask with that poncey bitch and it really is the roommate from hell but at other times there’s a grudging respect for one another. The best of times is where someone consumes a large amount of both of us over one night. We kick up a right storm then, it’s undeniably hilarious.

WS: How do you like to relax on your time off?

W: Oh, a nice big refill european oak butt with plenty of leg room, a quiet coastal dunnage warehouse and the chance to just catch a few decades of me time.

WS: What advice would you give to people interested in getting into you?

W: I’m a chilled out kind of drink, no need to be afraid of me or treat me with too much reverence. I enjoy a laugh as much as the next grain based, wood aged distillate. Sure I can be a complex character at times but I’m easy going and open, and if you take the time to get to know me we can have a lot of fun together over the years. Just remember not to take me too seriously.

WS: Nice.

W: Well that’s what it says on my Tinder profile anyway. Took me fucking ages to think that line up!

WS: Any luck with Tinder so far?

W: Mmmm, not really. Got a match the other day but I told them the story about how Jim Murray once had sex with some brazillian half-wit over a cask of me in a warehouse and I haven’t heard from them since.

WS: I’m sure you’ll find someone sooner or later. Maybe just don’t lead with that story next time.

W: I’ll bear it in mind.

WS: So what’s next for you Whisky and how will you be celebrating your international day?

W: I’ve got a busy year – particularly on Islay where I’ve got to be a bewildering amount of special Ardbeg and Laphroaig in a couple of months, I’ll have to work on my peatiness for that and probably go to the gym as well. Other than that just the usual crazy running around doing lots of day to day being whisky stuff and a few special events where I’ve got to be lots of older bottlings at nerdfests. Did you know that once a year in Limburg a load of Germans wear me round their necks in little tasting glasses on string? I mean it’s all well and good being a lovely old 1965 Longmorn but I have to dangle between a pair of sweaty German man boobs for hours on end. It’s a tough metaphorical existence sometimes I tell you!

WS: Ok. And what about International Whisky Day?

W: Well it’s all undeniably very flattering, it’s so nice to get all that attention and be enjoyed by so many people.

WS: What about your memories of Michael Jackson?

W: It was always a pleasure to be tasted by Michael, he really got me. Not to mention the fact that he was a great friend to my cousin Beer, especially when it was going through a period of time when it really had very few friends.

WS: Anything else you’d like to add?

W: Not really, I think we pretty much covered everything.

WS: Great, thanks for taking time to speak to Whiskysponge.

W: My pleasure.

 

Merry International Whisky Day from Whiskysponge. Xxx

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Today Whiskysponge is pleased to offer an exclusive guide to whisky investment by Jasper Clementine, the beloved Brora hoarder, convicted moustache nurturer and writer of award-repelling personal online whisky stream of consciousness: whiskybling.com.

Jasper as a young pineapple at Umbongo University.

Jasper as a young pineapple at Umbongo University in 1978.

Wow. Thanks to Whiskysponge for such a great opportunity to write something I had always been meaning to witter on about on whiskybling but just never found time and also the general crappyness of the website is an obvious hinderance which really says long. Anyway (cut to the chase Jasper!) here is my kind of crappy guide to whisky investment which I’m sure someone who is a professional and not just some total amateur such as yours truly will really be able to come along and do a much better job of (Japer it’s really time to leave that poor bush alone). Here we go…

Jasper’s Guide To Whisky Investment

Step 1… First thing you need to do is get interested in whisky in about 1998.

Step 2… Be intelligent.

Step 3… Start two internationally successful marketing companies in the early 1990s.

Step 4… Buy a lot of bottles of Brora, Clynelish, Lagavulin, Bowmore, Talisker, Laphroaig, Caol Ila, Port Ellen, some Macallan, many old blends such as Mackies and White Horse, some Longmorn, Highland Park and numerous other excellent Speysiders and Islays.

Step 5… Put them in an underground bunker next to some old Joni Mitchell CDs, a Ducatti, a VHS of Frank Zappa in concert from 1974 and more broken watches than is strictly necessary.

Step 6… Hide everything amongst about 3800 half empty sample bottles.

Step 7… Avoid inviting Scottish people to any birthdays/bar mitzvahs/funerals/distillation parties/pet funerals/graduation ceremonies/dinner/halloween/fancy dress parties/acid trips/cocktail afternoons/coffee mornings/grouse shoots or wine tastings.

Step 8… Leave to marinade for upwards of a decade and then post photos of yourself drinking them on the Malt Manaics Facebook page until 6000+ whisky geeks crowd fund you to stop torturing them.

Step 8… If further funds required sell the Brora 1972 Rare Malts to engineers looking for fuel capable of breaking the land speed record.

Alternatively you can sell everything at auction. Here are my latest notes on selling bottles at auction.

At first you find small bids on bottles with a big emphasis on the peat such as Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Talisker but there can also be surprises in the form of Ledaig and after a while even some Mezcal. The whole is very gripping and engaging right from the start where prices really start to open up and rise once you give it some time. Zzzz zzzz zzzzz… right where are we? Wow! The Highland Park and the old Glen Garioch have really exploded with some very clear top bids. Quite incredible the way it holds your attention. Lets add some job lots…. with job lots you have all kinds of prices really starting to make the whole kind of complex and difficult to follow. It really starts to diversify in quite a bizarre but captivating way. We like mucho this style of auction at Whiskybling towers.

In the mid-auction straight away you have the impression with this amount of time that the Cognacs, Rums and Whiskies are really beginning to converge which can really happen with these spirits if they are given sufficient time in auction I find. You really get similarities between them becoming quite apparent. Now out of nowhere BAM: aged Tequila, just coming through in small bids here and there, totally unexpected. But overall it is the peaters that you really get the feeling are finally beginning to dominate, all these big bids on aged Port Ellen, vintage Laphroaig, rare Brora; it’s really quite a showstopper towards the finish.

The finish is now really long – there are STILL people bidding – it really fades and fades quite beautifully…especially as it is my bottles that are being sold. Quite astonishing in the finish really. All these little fluttering bids of Longmorn, Strathisla, old herbal liqueurs, aged Pinot Noir and even something of Gentian eau de vie. Finally wet dogs (I’m sorry Pongo, we didn’t mean to sell you).

Winnings: 98/100 bottles sold!

 

 

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