Got Nuthin’ But Time….

what to do when things are quiet

Unfortunately for some, life does tend to place obstacles in the way of being able to enjoy a good dram. For me, that major obstacle is my work. As I write this, I’m currently in Kristiansund, Norway getting ready for another phase of an offshore project. This has meant whisky activities have been somewhat curtailed.

That does not mean I have not been busy.

At the moment, there is a handful of online auctions occurring, and if you fancy a 26 year old GlenDronach with a signed box from the most powerful tangerine skinned golf course owner in the world (his day job is running the USA) then perhaps take a look at this page on whiskyauctioneer.com. This might help my reviews improve as I will be able to buy more whisky.

But other than shopping in the online bazaars, what can a whisky enthusiast do to while away those quiet hours with not much to do?

As we are slowly approaching the end of the year, you can maybe consider what whisky goals you have for the next 12 months. This is what I am doing. There is so much to experience in this whisky-world, and now I am coming close to achieving the completion of a major collecting policy, I want to consider more the drinking side of it. I may even consider membership of the SMWS.

In quiet times, there is the space to research about whiskies you want to try, for those of us with limited budgets or those who have more disposable income and want to push the boat out wisely.

I am also looking forward to trying new whiskies, some of which I have had for some time, and would like to share with some of you in some way.

Continuing on the looking forward theme, I’m looking into attending a whisky festival, probably Spirit of Speyside next year if work and family permit. Attending these events can also be tied into a family holiday if your spouse is sympathetic to your hobby. Speyside is a great place to vacation, as long as you can deal with inclement weather.

Of course, you could always recommend my blog and or Facebook page to your whisky drinking friends. Just saying….. 😉

For my last look forward, and plus a look back, I’m thinking of what I can do to move Scotty’s Drams forward a bit. I’m limited in the I.T technologies, and prefer to keep the blog fairly basic, as we then concentrate on the important stuff of whisky. And perhaps whiskey too in the future. There is no shame in my looking back, as I am looking back to all the amazing people and contacts I’ve made since starting my whisky journey, from people in the street, on the train, retailers, fellow bloggers (in particular I really like www.barleymania.com – cheers Tobi, I manage to not to copy but am inspired by your samples!) and also people at work. During this trip offshore, I’ve already spoken to more than one person who has an interest in whisky, and that my readers, is another contact way beyond work.

To paraphrase a couple of quotes and merge into one –

“There are no strangers in whisky. Just friends you haven’t met yet.”

Have you made any new whisky friends or contacts?

And there we will leave it for this week. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but the internet is spectacularly crap here and I thought I’d have a break.

Next week’s review is a double header; not just one whisky but two from the village of Dufftown. I’ll give kudos to those of you who guess which ones.

Slainte Mhath!

Scotty

This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or by liking or sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

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Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.


photo credits

Nae photos this time 😉

Excess All Areas….

When too much is not enough

Just a short article this week, and probably won’t be a very popular one amongst alcohol enthusiasts, but it is one that needs to be said. After all, a pendulum has to swing both ways.

It was after I had purchased the bottle of Haig Club in order to do the taste review of a single grain whisky (and a cheap one at that), I noticed the price in the supermarket was £22 for 1 litre but £25 for 70CL. This is a bargain, and shouldn’t be argued with, but as a personal licence holder, I know pricing like this is actually against the recommended guidelines in Scotland which are set down for ‘on sales’ in licenced premises. However it is allowed in off-licence sales as long as it is above the minimum price per unit. It is seem as bad craic in the regulatory world to actively encourage a person to drink or buy more than they normally would, and could fall in the bracket of irresponsible promotion.

George regretted his second Famous Grouse

It got me thinking about our attitudes to alcohol. While I have no qualms about anybody who reads the dribble I write on my blog having a problem with alcohol – we are all grown ups after all, for some they have no control. It is when one or two isn’t enough, and you rely on alcohol to relax.

I’m not wanting to preach what you should and shouldn’t do with regards to drinking – that is up to you to decide, but over consumption of alcohol has well documented negative effects on a person’s health. It doesn’t stop there, as excessive over consumption also affects those around you like your family and friends. This is why I try to emphasise quality alcohol over the quantity of alcohol consumed. After all, so we not want to experience the finer things in life?

So, how much is too much?

The amount of alcohol that is safe to consume according to the UK government has changed over the years. The Royal College of Physicians recommended these limits as a guide.

Low Health Risk – Women up to 14 units, men up to 21 units

Increased Health Risk – Women 14 – 35 units, men 21 – 49 units

High Health Risk – Women over 35, men over 49

The problem was with these guidelines was that people tended to save them for the weekend and drink them in one or two consecutive days. As a student I seem to remember doing something similar, but this is known binge drinking and is now recognised as quite harmful to health.

Current recommendations are for women 2-3 units a day and men 3-4 units a day, with 2 or three alcohol free days a day. The current NHS guidelines are 14 units per week for both men and women (Aug 2019).

But what is a unit? How do we calculate the amounts we are drinking?

To calculate the units of alcohol there is very simple calculation.

% abv x ml / 1000.

Therefore a 40% whisky nip of 25ml can be calculated

40 x 25 = 1000

1000 / 1000 = 1 unit.

This will highlight why we need to be careful with cask strength whiskies. A 63% whisky would have a unit value of almost 1.6 units. Bear in mind these are measured amounts that are standard in the UK. It could also be 35ml, which makes our 63% pour have a value of 2.2 units. Plus, how many people actually measure their pours at home?? I do, having a 25ml and 50ml jigger. I’m not being tight, I’ll happily pour more, but it gives me and my guests an idea of how much they are drinking and can pace accordingly.

Pours in other countries can be a standard 40ml, so remember this while abroad.

There are further dangers of mixing your drinks. How many of us may have a glass or two of wine with a meal? One small 125ml glass of 12% wine is 1.5 units. How many of us have the big glass(es)? Add a couple of aperitif whiskies after and your 14 unit weekly budget is reached and beached with hardly any effort.

Driving isn’t the perfect mixer for your drink

There is also the issue of drink driving. Don’t even assume that there is a safe limit or time for you to start driving after a drink. Just leave the car at home, or be a responsible adult and have a drink free day. The average healthy adult can metabolise 1 unit of alcohol an hour, from the point you stop drinking but this can vary from person to person. If you have your 14 units of alcohol in one day, don’t think of driving the next day. And if you plan enjoying yourself in Scotland, then the drink drive limit is nearly half that of the rest of the UK. Take a public transport, get the wife to drive you to work or just pull a sickie.

It’s easy for me to preach. I work in a job I have to go without booze for weeks at a time, but who doesn’t enjoy a drink after work? Truth is that living with a toddler and in a rural area where I rely on being able to drive, I need to be careful, or life gets difficult.

I’m going to leave it to you to decide what is right for you, but put the gut rot down and let’s continue to concentrate on quality over quantity.

Don’t become a muppet with drink

If you feel you want to know more about this subject, please visit the independent Drinkaware website. It is full of helpful information. Click here to visit the site. This link will appear at the bottom of all my blog posts from now on.

Keep informed. Keep safe. Keep Enjoying – responsibly.

Now I’ve done my bit of public responsibility, we can now look towards the next taste review. And don’t worry. I’ll still alert you to the drinks bargains I see.


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or liking sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

If you prefer not to use Facebook, follow the WordPress blog by clicking on the link below which will deliver any blog posts to your inbox, including reviews, distillery visits, whisky news and advice.


Scotty’s Drams encourages responsible drinking. To find out the facts about drink, and where to find help if you need it visit Drinkaware.co.uk by clicking on the link.

Better Dramming Through Chemistry?

Will age statements soon be in hours?

It has been a fairly vexatious fortnight for Scotty’s Drams. During a quiet moment at work, I was reading an article about an American company who can make a whisky in not years, but age it in a matter of 24 hours.

The timer for ‘aged’ whisky

I’m not kidding. Click here for the link to the article. Not only that, but another Facebook page (Great Drams) wrote an article about it, so I’ve delayed mine in an effort not to be seen as a plagiarist.

With regards to not having to waste* time ageing whisky, I’m sure this would be good for the bean counters and the shareholders, but is never going to be good for the consumer. Here’s why.

1/ Although natural ingredients are used to flavour the whisky instead of ageing in a barrel, this should never be. In my opinion, there should only be 3 ingredients. Water, Yeast, Malted Barley. And E150a if absolutely necessary.

Glenfiddich 24. Is that years or hours?

2/ Making a whisky in this way means you are taking away any character. The stills, the barley and yeast strain mean nothing. Even the cask influence is now obsolete.

3/ To me a good whisky is made by a great distillery coupled with a great master blender. For instance, Glenallachie has certainly taken a forward bound with the arrival of Billy Walker. His 12 y.o core expression is fantastic. That’s the skill we want and not just somebody in a white coat.

Things went awry in the Famous Grouse Lab

4/ Where is the soul in the liquid? I like the idea that my dram has been slumbering in a cask for however many years. It has taken on the character of the place it was matured, hopefully in a dunnage warehouse. For a coastal whisky, I want a brine influence and I’m wanting it from the cask, not because somebody has added some salt to the vat.

5/ What about Single Casks? That would be pointless, as you can just cook up a recipe for your whisky. I like the variation of single casks, as well as the influence of the wood, depending on the cask type.

Would we even need wooden barrels any more?

Why would we do this??

Obviously this is down to cost. If a product doesn’t need to be matured, then the need to hold something in a warehouse for 10, 20 or however many years is gone.

Without wanting to go down a political path, this is one of only one threat to Scotch whisky from the US. There is already talk about the US insisting that the minimum age for Scotch New Make Spirit to be called whisky being changed to 2 years instead of 3. Of course, in the light of Brexit, the UK is likely to cave into demands in order to get a trade deal. It needs the revenue of a trade deal. Tax revenue on almost £5bn industry, this will make whisky a commodity that the UK treasury will not want to affect the export of. Especially to its largest export market, and certainly won’t want to see any tariffs added, which will be devastating to the UK Treasury and the Scottish Whisky Industry.

But how would the refusal of artificially aged whisky equally affect the export market and tax revenue if the markets for Scotch reject it? It is a double edged sword.

Scottish whisky is sold on not only its quality and taste, it’s also partially the tradition, the legend, and the perceived quality. Take this away by taking away the maturation period would put a big nail into the heart of the industry. What distillery would sully its brand so after decades or centuries?

The Distillery of the future?

Fortunately, the Scotch Whisky Association doesn’t expect the status of Scotch Whisky to change, but in uncertain times, we just don’t know. The other plus point is that it won’t catch on if people don’t buy it. Hopefully the people who regularly read my articles want to drink quality and not quantity, and aren’t afraid to pay a little bit for it. May it stay that way my friends. You will have a much more fulfilling whisky journey because of it.

Can there be a worse whisky than Grouse after all??

Slainte Mhath

*its never a waste of time to carefully age a great dram.


This blog is written as a hobby. If you liked this article, consider clicking here to visit my Facebook page or liking sharing this article by clicking on icons below.

If you prefer not to use Facebook, follow the WordPress blog by clicking on the link below which will deliver any blog posts to your inbox, including reviews, distillery visits, whisky news and advice.