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

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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 😉

A Beatle Free Submarine

The story of the other Yellow Submarine

This is a small story on why I have picked my current cover photo on my Scotty’s Drams Facebook page.

Yellow Submarine WMD II (whiskyauctioneer.com)

The series of whisky known as WMD that The Yellow Submarine is part of, started due to the USA spying on Bruichladdich distillery around the time of the Iraq War and the investigation into Weapons of Mass Destruction. This provoked a clever marketing strategy and a bottling of a 19 year old spirit, only this time WMD stood for Whisky of Mass Distinction.

WMD #1 Big Brother is watching

It is quite appropriate to use the WMD tag, as after a good session, I do feel as though my brain had been subjected to chemical warfare.

WMD II came about after another interesting story. It’s better to read it straight from the horses mouth.

Click here for the full story of the yellow submarine

These remotely controlled submersibles (ROV’s) were used by the Royal Navy to plant explosive charges beside mines as a way of neutralising them. One of my work colleagues worked on them in the Navy, and my day job is working on larger and more capable ROV variants in the Oil and Gas industry to build oilfields. Quite a few followers of my FB page are also in the same branch of the oil industry as me.

Why one different?

the devil is in the detail

If you look closely at the tins, you may notice only one has an official tin, the others have no yellow submarine on, and the edition label is from a hand held labeller. This is because they were from the first batch. I never noticed this when I bought them at auction, as they were bought as drinkers. It goes to show to pay attention as these would be the ones worth more in the future.

It is part of the legend that when the submarine was first found, the MD of Bruichladdich, Mark Reynier, took the opportunity to possibly name a future whisky as WMD II – the Yellow Submarine. He had some labels hastily designed and printed, then stored away. So hastily, that the word whisky is missing from the label, which is a legal requirement. Some months later, when the Royal Navy did turn up to collect their equipment, Reynier is supposed to have grabbed a few bottles of an unnamed spirit, slapped on the labels, and Dymo printed the tins, and took a load down to HMS Blyth when it called to Islay so it could collect the errant submarine.

It is hard to say how many 1st run were labelled this way. As far as I know there were three batches of 4000 bottles – in total 12000 WMD II were produced with much of the final run reported to going to the Submarine manufacturer. I’d imagine most have been drunk.

In 2018, there was a 25 year old release of the last barrels, which had lain to one side in the warehouses and forgotten about. Only 1991 bottles of this spirit were produced and titled WMD III – The Legend Resurfaces. In the current Bruichladdich style, they are opaque, but bright yellow.

Hangover ahoy! (remy-cointreau.com)

Current prices

WMD I – 19 year old £400 – £700 (440 bottles)

WMD II – 14 year old £175- £400 (12000 bottles)

WMD III – 25 year old £330 – £600 (1991 bottles)

Submarine being sunk. Going down!

It is a special dram, and having only tried the WMD II, I can tell you that it’s a very smooth, unpeated Bruicladdich, worth every penny. I’ll do a taste review of this dram eventually, but thought for now followers of my FB page may be interested about the tale of the Yellow Submarine.

Unlike the Beatles, this is a whisky that is definitely not over rated.

Slainte Mhath!


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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

Credits given in photo title, others authors own

All photos used under fair use policy.

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.

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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.

Let the Magic Happen

Time to believe in Unicorns.

No. No. No. And no again.

I have not lost my mind, and I haven’t had a dram too many. But it is time to start believing in unicorns.

I am writing this article as I am preparing to review in the next six months whiskies which may be no longer produced, either from being discontinued or the distillery falling silent. I’m also going to be trying whiskies that are perhaps a wee bit out of the price bracket of some of us. This is the making of a unicorn.

A Unicorn in a field just outside Kingussie

The Unicorn is a mythical creature*, and is the national animal of Scotland. You can see it on royal crests, standing proud opposite the lion, only the Unicorn is chained. Before I digress into a political statement I will move on to the fact that the only other awesome mythical national animal in the UK is the Welsh Dragon. While it might be awesome to have a flying, fire-breathing lizard representing you, who needs that when you can have a horned horse that does magic and tons of drunken men to lay waste to your enemies? Plus, we still have the better whisky.

I apologise to those who thought the national animal of Scotland was the Haggis, but it’s hard to have a national animal which you then eat.

To get ourselves back on track, we have to ask ourselves “What is a Unicorn Whisky”? I guess there are many definitions, but I have my own one. To me, it’s a whisky that is hard to get, or unaffordable for the vast majority. Note, I didn’t say rare…. Rare is a term used a lot in whisky, and seldom is it used accurately. Rare cannot be applied to a whisky produced in its thousands unless the supply of it has dried up.

I have already reviewed a unicorn whisky, the Flora and Fauna Rosebank 12. This isn’t especially rare, however it is now auctioning at £300+ a bottle. How many of my readers will buy that for drinking?

I’m looking to review more of the less common whiskies, such as Clynelish Flora and Fauna, Bruichladdich Yellow Submarine, Daftmill 2006 Winter Ed, a 26 y.o Caperdonich, and various others as I come across them. So why review something that is not easily purchased by those you are writing for?

One unicorn up for review soon.

Well, it starts with the fact that whisky is meant to be enjoyed. To enjoy it, I believe you have to drink it. As much as I love to collect, it is nice to occasionally sample the fruits of your labour. And by trying the odd unicorn, I hope I can inspire you to have adventures of your own by trying harder to get whiskies, even if it is just a one-off nip in a whisky bar.

Let me tell you a story……

I’m sure a few of you will have seen at one point I have posted a picture of a receipt for £470.00 in return for 2 nips of whisky. I’ll post it again.

Not a cheap night out…..

The background to the story is that in that year I was 40. I don’t like a lot of fuss around me, despite how gregarious I can seem, I generally don’t want to be the centre of attention. So for my 40th birthday, I went and hid in the West Highlands of Scotland by myself. My cousin, who I normally drink with in Aberdeen, had his 40th birthday within a few weeks of mine, and the first weekend after my birthday, I decided I’d splash out and treat us to a special whisky. A 60 year old Macallan.

For a couple of years, we’d be going to the Grill Bar for nips and pints, and regularly perused the whisky menu. The 1938 Speymalt Macallan 60 was the most expensive whisky there at £200 for a 25ml measure. We could never normally justify spending that money on a dram, but once asked the barman what made a dram worth that much. He took the bottle down off the shelf, and let us sniff it. The smell was so so so smooth, sweet and malty, a hint of cream. Being a good Aberdonian I managed to get a £5 worth of fumes for free! Both of us put that whisky on our bucket list.

To shorten the story, come my 40th birthday, I decided now was the time to try that whisky, only the price had risen as the bottle went down. As it was poured, the barman was laughing at us, saying we were wasting our money as he recommended the Black Bowmore at only £160 a nip! Knocking back that whisky for my first sip, it felt and tasted like most other Macallan I had ever tasted, until I swallowed and got a fantastic finish; no burn, but creamy smoothness. Soon, the glasses were empty and it was time to move on.

That bottle is now empty.

Gone.

Whisky history.

But the important thing to me is that I have tasted it. I can still vividly remember the tastes, over six years on, and I can only wish I could have it again. I’m not a Macallan fan, but I searched for this one, and since have only seen that bottle for sale at auction for over £10k on one occasion. Too much even for me.

Rosebank 12. A more affordable unicorn in the Grill

While I do not recommend you sell your possessions and put your family into slavery in order to buy ‘Unicorn Whiskies’, do make an effort to try one, in a whisky bar if nothing else. Do your research to know what it will cost you, and know how uncommon it may be for that little bit extra self satisfaction of knowing you are trying something special.

I own a few bottles of unicorn whisky, the most notable being the Speyburn Flora and Fauna, but that’s only because of its rarity and collectability. The whisky in the bottle is a £45 value whisky made nearly 30 years ago. It won’t be a special taste, but rare to drink. If you can’t afford to drink something like that, try an up to date equivalent, such as a Speyburn 10, which will have similar characteristics. I’ll be reviewing one in the coming months.

Don’t forget to keep an eye on your local specialist whisky retailer, and what stock they have. They will know if something is unusual and coming to market. Or if things are being discontinued. They may even have special offers that bring a unicorn bottle within reach.

Remember, memories and experiences make a life, not regrets. Try and find your unicorn today!

*The myth is rumour. I still believe in magic.

You miss out if you don’t believe

Slainte Mhath!


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Friends in Spirit

Why we are all whisky apostles

There are a few things that can be guaranteed to bring people together. Family and similar faith beliefs are two things, following a sports team another. Can whisky join people together in a similar way?

Yes it can.

While I try hard to avoid plagiarism, there are certain things that have to be copied on account of their absolute truth. The first thing that I am going to reference from another source is the saying “There are no strangers in whisky”, which came from my friend Roy who runs Aqua Vitae, a YouTube channel basically doing what I’m doing, but he’s further down the road than I am in his journey, plus he’s doing his as a vlog (video blog). I won’t do that any time soon as I don’t have the time due to my day job and family. Plus I have a perfect face for radio! Hahahahah! But his point is true; whisky is a drink that is meant to be shared. Think of most Scottish weddings or golf outing, and the hip flasks are full to the gunwales at the start and they get shared. A traditional gift in Scotland is a Quaich, a two handled bowl to share and pass on whisky. Sharing your dram is the thing to do, even if you are a collector or an investor. Make sure you have bottles that you can open and share!

My second item of plagiarism for this article is from the Scottish comedian, Billy Connelly. He’s definitely a like or love act, but I have a few of his performances on my iPod, and his method of describing a comedic scene is second to none and usually has me in fits of laughter. One of his sketches involve the description of a typical woolly jumper and bearded hiker in the Scottish Highlands maybe 30 or 40 years ago. The line he uses that I am thinking of is when the hiker says “There are no strangers, just friends you haven’t met yet!” I can’t deliver the punch line, you need to hear it for yourself…..

Anyway, recent experiences this week have got me thinking about this. And my ultimate act of plagiarism is based on these experiences.

Railway line side of Dalwhinnie distillery.

My first experience was on the train to Glasgow. As I had booked a ticket, Scotrail automatically book you a seat. However on a 4 carriage train, they seat all the reserves together. The carriage was packed and I had a rear facing aisle seat, without a table and there was somebody sitting beside me. Cutting a long story short, he was part of a group that had been touring whisky distilleries in Scotland, and all of them were quite experienced in whisky matters. Of course, we started talking about whisky experiences and although not a drop of spirit passed through our lips, the essence and enthusiasm for the spirit did. I was pretty sad to need to leave the train at Perth to change for Glasgow. An hour and a half of journey disappeared in an instant.

The secondary reason for going to Glasgow was to pick up a small batch of old whisky miniatures that I won at auction, and to see if there were any bargains in the specialist whisky retailers I visit. In both retailers I stood and had discussions with the assistant, and picked up some tips, thus passing another 40 minutes. In the Robert Graham (1874) shop on West George Street, I also picked up a Ledaig (Tobermory) miniature which was bottled under the Robert Graham brand of Dancing Stag. This was to be used as a thank you for my neighbour who was going to be exercising and feeding my dog in my absence.

Robert Graham shop on West George Street , Glasgow

Within the batch of miniatures was one produced for the 350th Anniversary for Dunoon High School. A conversation with another neighbour revealed that they went to that school. As I never bought the batch for that one (it was the one for the Royal Hotel in Kingussie I wanted) I gave it to my neighbour who is overjoyed. Some of you reading this may know who it is, and it is through my gift that you have been invited to like this page – I hope you enjoy it!

Anniversary bottle of blended whisky

Anyway, we need to be moving on to the conclusion, and it comes down to this; there are quite a few followers on the Scotty’s Drams business page who I know, but maybe won’t see again, or not for a long time. There are people I have met on the train who I told about this page (and I noticed the likes going up, but I think privacy settings are stopping me seeing their names on the list – if you are reading send a message Steve, Mark & co.) and there are my neighbours who now have a relevant bottle for them through the gift of whisky. The conclusion is, and the product of my copying others sayings gives this –

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

Certainly this has been true for me. While I try not so much as to evangelise too much, as everybody has a different tolerance to this, when we share our whisky experiences, we effectively become ‘Whisky Apostles’ as we spread the word. There are no real barriers (even if you put ice in your single malt – although that is close to the line!). Nobody really is trying to get one up; there is no competition. We just want to pass on what we know.

Full size Ledaig 2008 Dancing Stag.

Finally, it is worth bearing in mind that when we offer a traditional toast with Whisky, it’s usually “Slainte Mhath” which is Scots Gaelic for ‘Good Health’ and pronounced “Slanj-a Vaar”. When we have a whisky, we wish those sharing it with us all the best, and why wouldn’t we?

With this, I’ll bid you a goodbye in whisky friendship.

Slainte Mhath.