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Here comes the Sun!

Yes, June's here and summer is again upon us as our minds turn to relaxing, or even dram-laxing in exotic locations with family and friends, or just getting away from it all for a couple of weeks.

So welcome to the summer edition of Dram-atics where you'll find plenty of interesting whisky reading to help you enjoy those Dram-tabulous holiday moments.




Wednesday August 17th 2011

Drams at Dawn

or "Last Dram Standing"


When two packages recently arrived at Castle Emporium, little did the senders realise they were quite literally throwing down the gauntlet. The people in question are The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt, both significant UK whisky dealers, so what better way to deal with them than in the traditional way of honourable Gentlemen?

I welcome you to "Drams at Dawn" where the weapons of choice are; from TWE a 19y 1991 Rosebank and the equally (19y) old Port Askaig Harbour. MoM have arrived in force with a 20y 1991 North British single grain, a 1996 14y Dalmore, a 1991 20y Cragganmore and last but not least a 27y Dailuaine.




The setting for this event is somewhere in deepest Upper Bavaria; a secret and hidden location surrounded by trees. Overseen and witnessed by only the local wildlife who will ensure that fairness and honour prevail, as is the expectation in such a contest.

So Gentlemen, you have defined your own terms of engagement, let the contest begin.


The opening salvo comes from TWE with their 1991, 19y Rosebank at 46% abv whose colour is a very bright and sunny pale yellow gold. The nose is fresh and light with a suggestion of gentle mintiness and vanilla alongside grass and straw. This really has an 'outdoor' nose in a fresh and light way. Perfect for the current surroundings! The palate begins in a creamy and smooth way, followed soon afterwards by black pepper concentrated right on the front of the palate, whilst fruits and liquorice dance on the middle to back of the palate. A jolly good opener from TWE with 85 points.


In retort from MoM comes a single cask North British 20y single grain whisky at 55.8% abv, also from 1991; the colour is pale yellow and the nose initially offers loads of very aromatic, floral butterscotch and creamy vanilla. It also exhibits an outdoor character with plenty of grass and hay and a suggestion of something I struggled to identify at first, but then realised it was good old Brasso. The palate also has distinct butterscotch and vanilla alongside summer fruits (peach, apricot & papaya) but with an over-riding pepperiness.



4 Drops of water make the nose much more aromatic and reduce the grass and hay, whilst totally ridding it of any Brasso. The palate is now filled with fruit, toffee and butterscotch, whilst the pepperiness is clearly reduced.

A further 4 drops of water enhance the vanilla and bring more wood onto the nose, whilst the palate is again smoother and more floral. An excellent retort indeed from MoM who earn a deserved 86 points.


Now in fine fettle, MoM follows-up with a Dalmore 1996, 14y single cask at 55.5% abv which, with its extremely pale colour immediately shouts bourbon cask, but it isn't! I am quite surprised to learn it is from a refill sherry Hogshead. The nose offers malt and wood which makes me think I'm on a distillery tour nosing some raw malt in one of the warehouses. It also develops a distinct spiritiness with some over-riding fruit. The palate is light and peppery, also with fruit which I now identify as damson.



4 Drops of water still retain the spiritiness on the nose but increase the fruit on the palate which now includes cherry alongside the damson.

Another 4 drops of water make the nose extremely light and the palate a little more gentle, but still with damson and cherry. This is by far the lightest Dalmore I have tried, it also exhibits spirity characteristics more usually found in younger whiskies, but having said this I do quite like this one, especially that damson and cherry. 79 Points.


Without TWE replying to this, MoM continue with another single cask 1991 offering, this time in the form of a 20y Cragganmore at 54.2% abv which has a pale yellow colour sitting in my Classic Malt glass. I sneaked a quick nosing from the sample bottle as I opened this and was greeted by a delightfully aromatic herbiness which was not initially evident in the glass. This obviously needs some time. It does indeed develop in the glass over some minutes, initially with some herbal grassy notes, followed by quite perfumed wood.



This perfume continues to develop further over time in the glass, but still remaining quite gentle and light. The palate comes as quite a surprise in that it's much 'bigger' than the gentle nose with butterscotch, banana stem, lightly herbal grasses and even a hint of coconut.

With 4 drops of water the nose is much more distinct with aromatic herbs and grasses. The palate is smoother, more floral and much more intense.

A further 4 drops of water now lighten the nose but increase the butterscotch and herbal grasses on the palate. This is clearly a whisky which needs time and a few drops of water, but not too many, for it to really shine, which it indeed does. A worthy 87 points.


After this onslaught what does TWE have left to reply? Well, don't write them off just yet as the promised reply comes in the form of a 19y 'Port Askaig' at 45.8% abv The nose initially oozes with Atlantic freshness, sea-salt and a hint of gentle smoke which soon expands to a full-blown peat bog, but given more time (4-5 minutes) I'm astonished as a vivid fruitiness including red berries, redcurrants and pears rise from those peaty embers. As for the palate, the fruit leads, followed by the peat which expands further over the palate with time.


With 4 drops of water the nose is a little subdued, more aromatic as opposed to full-on peat bog. The palate is smoother with lingering peat alongside raspberry.

A further 4 drops of water increase the fruit again, although it is now somewhat weaker in overall intensity. The palate is now reminiscent of gentle bonfire embers on an Atlantic beach. I love the fruitiness of this whisky, especially alongside the obvious peat and Atlantic freshness. A real 'Gem', 88-89 Points


Is this going to be conclusive, have MoM given their best only to be defeated right at the end? As a final salvo MoM offer their Dailuaine 27y at 53.6% abv which glows with rich yellow gold in my Classic Malt glass. The nose has lots of fine antique wood, so much so that I've just been transported into a fine country house study with antique oak furniture and book shelves. There are also wonderful floral overtones, in fact I've just opened the study window on a spring day to allow the aromas of the country garden to enter.



The palate is dominated by wood and almond which are briefly interrupted by a burst of coconut, followed by cherry, banana and apple.

With 4 drops of water the nose becomes even more aromatic with spicy wood. The palate is softer and lighter but also has more prominent wood. This is a surprisingly light whisky for its 27 years of age, but it still offers some magnificent aromas and flavours. I like it. I like it a lot. 88-89 Points.


Duels are all about honour and there is no doubt that honour has been served today in this contest, but this particular contest requires a single winner, therefore, I now have the 'honour' of revisiting these two excellent drams in an attempt to find

"The last Dram Standing"



TWE's Port Askaig 19y & MoM's Dailuaine 27y now stand, face to face in classic malt glasses in that secret Bavarian location, their characteristics already examined, but now to be dissected once more.

The wood, almond and fruit of the Dailuaine are magnificent in the way they are very prominent, but at the same in a rather sophisticated and almost subdued way. I love this whisky and upon second reflection, yes I understand that duels officially require 'seconds', I can do no other than to finalise the score to an extremely well-deserved 89 points.

The Port Askaig is also truly magnificent. Today has been very much about fruit and complex but subtle flavours. This Port Askaig has all the peat of a traditional Islay heavyweight, whilst at the same time offering surprising amounts of fruit. Those rebcurrants and red berries are fantastic alongside a healthy dose of peat and Atlantic freshness. But can I classify this whisky as one of my 'Greats' by awarding a 90 point score? Yes, upon my second reflection I have to say it is just slightly more preferable than that wonderful Dailuaine. Port Askaig 19y 90 points!

Congratulations to both TWE & MoM.

Honour has indeed been served by some thoroughly enjoyable drams and a big "thank you" from Castle Emporium as I have also enjoyed some fun at your expense in this remote Bavarian location. Hopefully you'll not be throwing gauntlets in my direction and inviting me to some rather remote English forest locations in the near future.

Slàinte Mhath





Wednesday August 3rd 2011

This month the Whisky Knights convene at Peter's 'The Casks" blog for a rather neon discussion about those funny drinks called cocktails.

Do you approve?





Friday July 15th 2011

A Trinity of two Earls

or "Treachery at Egilsay"

Flag of St. Magnus, unofficial predecessor to the modern-day Flag of Orkney)


Earl Magnus Erlendsson of Orkney, Also Saint Magnus and sometimes even referred to as Magnus the Martyr, governed or ruled Orkney from 1108 to around 1115. Magnus was born in 1075 and was the son of Erlend Thorfinnsson, Earl of Orkney. Erland ruled Orkney along with his brother Paul until they were deposed in 1098.

Haakon Paulsson (Paul's son) was then made Regent on behalf of Prince Sigurd  and became Earl Haakon in 1105.

Meanwhile, Magnus gained a reputation for piety and peacefulness and was not too welcomed by the Norwegians, especially after being sent on a Viking raid of Wales where he preferred to remain on his boat and sing psalms rather than indulge in warfare, rape and pillage which was more the order of the day.

Magnus was forced to take refuge in, or perhaps was even banished to Scotland, but in 1105 chose to return to Orkney and dispute the Earldom with Haakon, his cousin.

They couldn't reach an amicable agreement so Magnus returned to Norway to petition help from King Eystein I who granted him the Earldom and he returned to rule Orkney alongside Haakon until 1114.

The inevitable happened and the two sides quarrelled but averted warfare as peace was negotiated and the two Earls agreed to meet one another at Egilsay, each bringing only two ships.

Magnus arrived with his two ships, but was treacherously outnumbered by Haakon who decided he needed eight. Magnus escaped to the local church where he took refuge but after being caught the following morning he finally decided he would go into refuge or even prison.

Sadly, this was not accepted by an assembly of Chieftains who decreed that one of the Earls must die. Haakon despatched his Standard Bearer to do the dirty deed, but he refused so a rather annoyed Haakon then forced his cook to kill Magnus with an axe to the head.

This story has been honoured by Highland Park with the release of a trilogy, nay trinity of whiskies; firstly the Earl Magnus, followed by the Saint Magnus and finally, the soon to be released Earl Haakon. But is the whisky any good? Let's see ....



Highland Park, Earl Haakon, 18y, 54.9% abv limited edition of 3300 bottles; Rich gold, maybe evn light amber in colour this glows nicely in my Classic Malt glass.

The nose is immediately rich with spices (think cloves and ginger), a hint of oil of orange, wood and after some minutes the slightest suggestion of raspberry appears alongside vanilla.

The palate is also immediately rich and very smooth with a creamy mouth-feel which offers a quite unusual combination of wood and fruit. The orange and faint raspberry are detectable, as are wood and vanilla and something almost clove-like leads into the slightly dry finish.

The addition of four drops of water increase the spices and wood on the nose and enhances the orange on the palate.



A further 4 drops of water almost totally remove the fruit from the nose whilst enhancing the wood even more. The palate is slightly drier with that orange but also with the addition of faint or very light coffee beans and a hint of dark chocolate.

My overall impression is that this shows some family resemblance to the 'normal' Highland Park 18y, whilst still offering quite a few differences, however, the biggest difference really has to be the price. When this becomes available (I believe in late summer 2011) I am told the cost will be 160 GBP, a price which I feel leans towards the 'must have' collectors rather than the day to day drinkers. Yes, it's a good whisky, a very good whisky which I would say is worthy of 87-89 points and in my mind there's also no doubt that those lucky enough to get hold of one will see their investment increase over some years. But please also consider trying it too.

Finally, my thanks to Gerry Tosh and his team at Highland Park who contacted me and offered this advance sample.

Slàinte Mhath

I have so far received one comment to this article which the author has granted me permission to include here, along with his name:


read your article on Earl Haakon. A lot of people won’t be “lucky enough to get hold of one bottle”.

That is a *** shame. It makes you wonder why a distillery for heaven’s sake chooses a policy that only 3,300 people can complete a set of them – presented as an affordable – nice collection of three editions, as already the first edition counted 6,000 bottles. Let alone a price that is (let’s say) 2 times its worth.

It is a disgrace.

Maybe – if you agree to this – it would be relevant to also publish this aspect when commenting on a whisky.

As for me, I love HP whiskies, but I don’t appreciate this kind of respectless conduct. I refuse to buy any Edrington whisky from now on. There are lots of beautiful whiskies from distilleries with more sympathetic approach to their customers.

Kind regards,

Harry van der Ven



Tuesday July 12th 2011

"Under the Spotlight"

an interview with

Angela D'Orazio of Mackmyra distillery


During May this year I was invited to participate in an online tasting on twitter (a twasting I believe they are called) which was organised or overseen by Angela D'Orazio, Master Blender for Sweden's Mackmyra distillery. During the event we twasted four excellent new releases, but more importantly I was again impressed by the enthusiasm shown by someone so obviously happy with her job.

How could I possibly resist sitting her down under Whisky Emporium's Dram-atics spotlight for one of my wee interviews?



Hi Angela and thanks for agreeing to participate in this interview.

I was lucky to be part of your twitter tasting (twasting) back in May when we tried four of your new creations, but I expect many of my readers are still quite new to Mackmyra so would you like to tell us a little about the distillery?

There are so many things to say about Mackmyra but I’ll try to keep it short.

Mackmyra is the first Swedish malt whisky distillery, working since 1999 but in full scale since 2003. Mackmyra is for the largest part privately owned by the founders; four couples that went to a technical university together, but there is also quite a big share which belongs to the Swedish Farmers Association. A smaller part is owned by private Swedish whisky investors.

The first Mackmyra bottling’s series was the Preludium, 01-06 that came out in the late 2005- 2007. Today we have two main bottlings, the First Edition and Brukswhisky plus the limited editions; the Mackmyra Special and Mackmyra Moment. All in all, I think at this moment in time, we have released 22 different bottlings- not counting all the small single casks Reserve, all bottled for the private consumer.

In my opinion Mackmyra is a lot more than “just” a fine malt whisky producer from Sweden; we are also living the malt whisky experience in unusual ways. Therefore we have some really great stories around us; about the Swedish oak, about the small cask business & all the cask owners living passionately around those. The distinct juniper peatiness and how we produce our own smoky malt. Not to forget Bodås, the coolest warehousing place in the world, in an old ore mine. The small satellite warehouses all over Sweden, in the archipelago, in a castle etc. Teletubbies-alike forest warehouses built beside the new Mackmyra Gravitional Distillery. And more.

The world, or business, of whisky is still predominantly a man’s one, but it’s great to see more women taking senior positions, especially as they are renowned to have more sensitive or perhaps more accurate noses, but what inspired you to take this career path, or when did you decide that you wanted a career in whisky?

Thank you, I think so too, it’s nice to see not only beards around the table when you are meeting up with the other whisky makers, even if it’s not really down to the gender anymore. I mean, traditionally it’s a man’s world and mainly because of all the heavy labour in making whisky, but today it's not that heavy anymore.. And yes, women are generally also great chefs, so why not also whisky chefs?

That was never really a career decision - it has more been like,” ok this is fun, lets continue down this tunnel to see where it leads...”
The first inspiration came when I was in Scotland and on Islay for the first time
; I fell in love with the people and the genuine passion they seemed to have for their job of making malt whisky. I’m not the first person to state that, but the whisky trade and its history itself is so interesting and great… it has been a continuous sort of love affair.

What has been your career highlight in whisky to date?

There have been so many great whisky moments! The tasting of the first and young Mackmyra spirit in the Mackmyra Poolroom in 2001 was awesome, and I still remember the goosebumps I got... Living & making whisky at Bowmore Distillery on Islay, getting to know all the distillery guys & gals there together with my first Islay festival-  just unforgettable moments. Having 1210 people all sipping on a dram at the same time in front of me during the first world record whisky tasting in 2001 (now I believe, surpassed by a tasting in Belgium)- was grand. Sampling whisky in the Bodås warehouses with Jim McEwan last year was so inspiring- and I have many more glorious warehouse moments I keep well care of in my mind.

Organising all the tastings at Akkurat 1996-2001 was absolutely great with all the meetings with passionate whisky personalities like Euan Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Malcolm Greenwood, Jim Robertson and Jim McEwan and many more. Meeting wonderful people like Martine Nouet, Noel Campbell, Christine Logan, Budgie, John Rennie, Robin Laing in Scotland and on festivals all over. Starting up the SMWS in Sweden with my ex- with the tastings in the fine captains room on the M/S Kronprinsessan Märtha ship we were at in Stockholm harbour- I remember well the sampling & choosing of all the fine casks we imported.  Dancing on the tables at the Whisky & Chanson festival in Paris in -98. Now I got carried away. That last thing was not true. I think.

During the twitter tasting you mentioned (if I remember correctly) that you currently fill casks at 64% abv, but plan to change to 69% abv. I personally think this would be a good move, but can you explain this decision and what is involved?

Well, we fill all casks at 63% now, which as you surely know, is a tradition and pretty much a standard in the business. I personally think we would get a whisky, which is keeping better both in the cask and in bottle if we moved that up- but I haven’t convinced everyone at Mackmyra, yet. I’m working on it.

Whilst on the subject of Mackmyra (new) spirit you have talked about things like your “Elegant Recipe”. I also believe I read somewhere that your first range of ‘Preludium’ bottling’s were showcase ones for the different types of spirit you could produce. Without giving away any secrets can you tell us a little about your different styles or ‘recipes’?

No, the Preludium bottlings were more of making two different types of spirits and show them in many different cask combinations.

It is no secret that we currently produce two recipes and sometimes a third. We have around 30 more in the cellars from the piloting period, but for now we use only the three.

1. The non-smoky malt gives us a fine fruity spirit, which we call the “Elegant” recipe.

2. The smoky malt, which we smoke ourselves, gets its peatiness from local Swedish peat with a hint of juniper twigs thrown into the fire. This is called simply “Smoke”, or “Rök” in Swedish.

3. The third recipe is is called “Extra Rök” and is an extra smoky one. Extra Rök has been made only once in the autumn of 2008. The meaning of the name is of course, “Extra Smoke”.

I also remember you saying that Swedish Oak gives your whisky a more spicy character than American Oak. What is your policy on cask management and utilisation? Do you use exclusively new wood? I have to say that my first exposure to Mackmyra whisky was Preludium 03 and my first thoughts upon tasting it were of fresh Swedish pine forests.

We aim at making good tasting whisky and what that means generally for us is to use the wood once and sometimes twice. But having said that, we do have some older experimental casks that we have since the beginning. Yes the Swedish oak is spicier and with less vanilla overtones, probably because of the longer maturation up in the cold north. The piny part in Preludium 03, I would think mostly was the young salty smoky spirit not yet really covered in oak, in a mix with its juniper touch. Keith, you’re not the only one having associated this to Preludium 03.

I see from the Mackmyra website that you are currently looking to introduce your range of whiskies into new foreign markets, but what are your personal future plans for Mackmyra, or how do you see Mackmyra evolving over the next 10 years, again without giving away too many secrets?

My personal plans are to continue what I am doing, hopefully evolving in the best of ways, trying to mix my travels and the whisky development, and also as Mackmyra Swedish whisky is evolving, of course giving out as many great whiskies as possible.

In the next ten years it would be great to have a new blending lab at the gravitational distillery where I can play with my casks… I would also like to learn more about web interactions to become a better “twitterer” etc… Perhaps dig deeper into brewing...

I see myself meeting people in all corners of the world sharing unusual whisky moments.

In the end I think it’s really about having fun at work & meeting great people, and let’s face it, whisky is an excellent helper for that.

I am personally a believer in expanding my whisky experiences and have experimented to a great level with whisky & food pairings and also whisky & chocolate ones. In fact readers of Whisky Emproium can find whole pages on these topics. Do you have any opinions on such pairings, or perhaps any favourites?

Recently I was savouring a heavy chocolate cake together with a wonderful dram of one of my casks I share with some friends; Smoky Baby, a Smoke on fresh sherry, a quarter cask, 6 yo.  Truly magnificent, a 'killer combination'.

Angela, you talk much about having fun and this certainly comes across in your personality, so let's end with two rather more esoteric questions:

Are there any specific persons you would like to meet and have a dram with?

Dalai Lama. Eddie Izzard. Dolly Parton. Johnny Depp. Patsy & Edina. Fidel Castro. Bryan Ferry. Benicio del Toro. Mark Levengood. Oprah Winfrey. Stephen Fry. Al Gore. Matt Lucas. Nelson Mandela. Sissela Kyle.

Now there's a thought; Fidel Castro, Eddie Izzard & The Dalai Lama around a table, good luck in getting them to agree a location!

Finally, I have to ask if there are any people within the whisky industry why may have most inspired you, or who continue to do so?

Mackmyra Distillery for its beauty, Bodås Warehouse Mine for being the best and extraordinary underground whisky place to work at.

James McEwan for being who he is and the best whisky distiller I ever known.  

Ardbeg for its magical place & potion, Glenmorangie for its fine dew in all its beautiful shapes and Highland Park for the potent whisky they are doing.

Islay and the Orkney Islands, again for the magical places & the people.

Willy, Lilly & Sally* for being such great goat buddies at my Mackmyra home.

*African dwarf goats, living on Mackmyra Bruk.



Angela, this has been a most enjoyable interview and thank you for your valuable time.

Thanks Keith for asking me to take up your Whisky Emporio & Dram-atics space.



Angela D'Orazio is Master Blender for Mackmyra distillery, a position which she has held since joining the distillery in 2004, although she joined the industry in 1992. She is a trained Sommelière and has worked for Glenmorangie as Scandinavian Brand Ambassador before joining Akkurat Restaurant and Bar where she was responsible for their whisky experience, including the bar, Masterclasses, whisky trips and their whisky club. She is also chair judge and panel judge at the IWSC since 1999  and was the organiser of the first Guinness world record whisky tasting in 2001 with 1210 attendees. She is married (for the 2nd time) and describes her casks distributed around the world as her 'children' although she seems to have a fondness for her three 'adopted' dwarf goats too.


Thursday July 7th 2011

The Whisky Round Table visits Joshua and The Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society as we discuss the rather hot topic of whisky ratings. Do we use them or even need them? Can they be more of a hindrance than help?

See what the Whisky Knights have to say.



Saturday June 25th 2011

Glen Garioch 1994

or "the last of the old smokies"


You may think that Emporium Towers is inundated with free samples, what with running a popular whisky website and being Maniacally certified, but this is not the case. I'm not complaining as I do receive a few samples now and again from specific companies but most of my reviews are from bottles I buy or from swapped samples with other whisky friends.

Anyway, about four weeks ago I received an e-mail informing me of the newly released Glen Garioch 1994 which is apparently one of the last distillates to have been casked before the distillery was mothballed in 1995 for two years. It is also from the times when Glen Garioch used peated malt and their own maltings, again two actions which were not continued after the reopening in 1997.

The sample duly arrived and I was immediately surprised by the size of it; not 2cl, 3cl or even 5cl but a massive 10cl which means that I can easily review it twice and also with varios amounts of water.

This 1994 is bottled at a cask strength of 53.9% abv and is matured in 'North' American oak barrels. It has an outrun of 12,000 bottles (or 1000 8.4 litre cases) with only 75 of those cases for the UK.



But is it any good?

The whisky has a light-straw colouring and the label states non chill-filtered. From the colour I suspect this is also without added colouring (E150a) although without a statement I can't be 100% sure.

The nose is a little disappointingly weak with hints of fruit followed by vanilla and eventually, after some minutes, just the slightest hint of smoke in the background. The fruit is reminiscent of apple, peach and pear, but it really is quite subdued.

The palate is definitely more forthcoming with an immediate and intense burst of vanilla which is accompanied shortly afterwards by coconut and banana. More fruit follows with apricot, peach and even papaya, but is that a hint of ginger too? Certainly something like that adds a little tingle leading into the finish. I'm looking for the smoke, but no, it really isn't apparent on the palate at this stage.

With 5 drops of water the nose is now a little more pronounced with a selection of summer berries and even a little more of that smokiness. The ginger is now more prominent on the palate along with more vanilla and even a hint of liquorice giving a deeper, richer flavour.

A further 4 drops of water add some slightly scorched wood to the nose and the smokiness is akin to a fine (Black Forest) smoked ham. This addition of water has seemingly removed the ginger from the palate, replacing it with some very creamy fruit.

Go on, let's add a further 5 drops of water: The nose is now one of slightly charred wood with hints of banana stem and peach, whereas the palate is even more creamy with peach and light vanilla (sauce).

The finish is long with hints of ginger, then even longer with water.

Overall Impression: I'm not too sure about that smoke or peat which is supposed to be present. There is at times a hint of smokiness in the nose, but not really enough to call this in any way a peaty whisky. As an aside I sometimes carry out what I call an 'overnight empty glass test' which means leaving my empty and unwashed glass on my desk until the following morning. I did this here and was greeted the next day with wonderful aromas of smoked ham from my empty glass, so there must be some peat smoke present. Anyway, let's talk about what this offers rather than what it doesn't; This is a truly excellent fruit bomb. A positive explosion of summer fruits and berries on the palate which are intensified further by the addition of some drops of water. The peach, apricot, banana and papaya make for a delightful palate, it's just a shame the nose is quite subdued and doesn't prepare us for what is to come.

My verdict? I would have loved to have awarded this 86-7 points, but the weak nose means it loses a couple of points as I award it 83 to 84.

As a final note I have seen another distillery bottling from 1990 and I am very tempted to order it on my next shopping list with my regular supplier!





Friday June 17th 2011

Bits & Bytes & Drams

or "eee when I was a lad"


We've all had those conversations which look back across the years and often begin with something like "when I was a lad....." Well, not only am I in the mood for such a post now, but also one focusing on a favourite subject of such conversations; computers! I began my working life in the late 70's as a mainframe computer operator, aye in the days when a computer was something extraordinary which came in cabinets the size of large wardrobes and overall, filled a large room, like the Honeywell Level 66 I worked with (see right).


Processors were magical things as again they came wardrobe-sized and should you be daring enough to open a door, then you were confronted with a dazzling and quite mysterious array of flashing lights, knobs and switches as again you can see from my picture (left) of the Honeywell Level 66 processor cabinet. "But what has this to do with whisky" you may justifiably ask. Well, in those halcyon 70's the most popular single malt of the day was Glenfiddich 12y although I liked to consider myself a little more unusual, perhaps even sophisticated as I discovered the lesser known Glenmorangie 10y which I preferred at that time. Oh how things change! Yes, of course other whiskies existed, but the open knowledge and availability was far from what it is today, although it now transpires that some great whiskies were being distilled and stored in the dark recesses of distillery warehouses during that decade. Just try to get hold of some 1970's distilled drams today and you'll see exactly what I mean!


I'll never forget the excitment on the two occasions when the company I worked for upgraded their system; Firstly they upgraded from 512k memory (RAM in today's speak) to 768K and then a couple of years later when they achieved the milestone of actually having a whole 1mb of memory, yes 1024K of accessible memory to run all the computing needs of a large national company. No longer backlogs of processing caused by not enough resources, suddenly everything was well within deadlines again with this astounding amount of power at my fingertips.


As we moved into the 80's names like Atari and Sinclair really hit the computer scene, especially the ground-breaking Sinclair ZX80 (which sold for a mere 99.95 GBP) and then the ZX Spectrum ... the rest, as they say, is history.

"But again" you may ask "why am I prattling on about this?" Well, I too now have an old computer. One which I bought way back in around 2002-3 and which, at that time, was a pretty powerful one with quite powerful video graphics, something unheard of back in my 'Honeywell days'. I have a CPU which is the size of just one of the knobs on that Honeywell processor cabinet and as for memory; I have a 'milestone' 1gb. No, not megabyte, but a whole gigabyte which is 1000 times more than we had to run the whole requirements of a large national company.

But it seems this is not enough.

I need my computer, it's the foundation of my communication with the outside world when it comes to whisky. It's also the nerve-centre of my personal whisky world which incorporates tasting notes and everything used for this website. Ahh yes, storage space. I have getting on for a terobyte, did we even know what one of those was back in the 70's?

But as I said, it seems that this is no longer enough. Back in my Honeywell days we took optimisation seriously as teams of specialists designed and tailored applications to be as effective as possible in their use of system resources like memory. Sadly it seems those days have disappeared now with programmers working to a concept of "if it needs more resources then buy them for your PC". Where my 1gb of RAM was more than enough just 8 years ago, today's PCs seem to have 6gb pretty well as standard along with even faster multi-processor systems.

We also seem to have a proliferating culture of little nasties or gremlins out there in the cyber-world whose sole aim in life is to destroy our systems, hence we need up to date anti-virus protection which is why I now say my 8 year old system is lagging somewhat. At the beginning of this year I updated my PC protection to the all-singing and dancing 2012 version which, I have to say, is brilliant. But it just seems to use too many of my resources, especially on the five or six occasions per day when it automatically updates and just about prevents me from doing anything else at the same time.

So, dear Mr. Kaspersky, your anti-virus, anti-everything 2012 suite is wonderful, possibly one of the best on the market, but spare a though for those of us still in the PC stone-age world of the early 2000's and do some optimisation. I know you are looking after me, but I too would like to be able to use my system as well as your good selves.

Now pour me another 1974 or 1982 Inchgower, or even a 46y Longmorn, or ..................

Slàinte Mhath




Monday June 13th 2011

The Whisky Round Table is now one year old and we've all taken our turn to host, so we now come around again as the 13th 'sitting' is released on Monday 13th!

We're back with our founder Jason who asks the most Devillish questions about motivation, morals, quality and sustainability of whisky blogs and bloggers.

Our answers are so long this month that they are published in two parts; Part 1 & Part 2




Recent major features (A full list of all Dram-atics articles may be found in my ToC)
May 2011 Don't bug me with ads, A dram fine evening
April 2011 Cry me a River, Golden Oldies, The Shackleton Legacy, Two Weddings and a Whisky
March 2011 Masters of Photography, Memory and the Middle Cut, Sampling again, Dave Stirk 5, Choosing choice Choices
Feb. 2011 Festival time again, Spam Galore!, Drams & Trams

Jan. 2011

Lookback at 2010, New Job? Three Thirties, ToC, Overdosing on sherry casks




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