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me here to comment on any Dram-atics article, I'll include as
many replies as possible
Here comes the Sun!
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.
Drams at Dawn
or "Last Dram Standing"
When two packages
recently arrived at Castle Emporium,
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
better way to deal with them than in the traditional way of
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
somewhere in deepest Upper Bavaria; a secret and hidden location
surrounded by trees.
and witnessed by only the local wildlife who will ensure that
fairness and honour prevail, as is the expectation in such a
you have defined your own terms of engagement, let the contest
The opening salvo
comes from TWE
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
a single cask North British 20y single grain whisky at 55.8%
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
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
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
Now in fine fettle,
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
onslaught what does TWE have left to reply?
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
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
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?
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.
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
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
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!
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.
month the Whisky Knights convene at Peter's 'The Casks" blog
for a rather neon discussion about those funny drinks called
Do you approve?
Friday July 15th 2011
Trinity of two Earls
or "Treachery at Egilsay"
Flag of St. Magnus, unofficial predecessor to the modern-day
Flag of Orkney)
Erlendsson of Orkney,
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.
(Paul's son) was then made Regent on behalf of Prince Sigurd
and became Earl Haakon in 1105.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 ....
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
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
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.
have so far received one comment to this article which the
author has granted me permission to include here, along with his
your article on Earl Haakon. A lot of people won’t be “lucky
enough to get hold of one bottle”.
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
if you agree to this – it would be relevant to also publish this
aspect when commenting on a whisky.
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.
van der Ven
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
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
There are so many things to say about Mackmyra but I’ll try to
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
the Preludium bottlings were more of making two different types
of spirits and show them in many different cask combinations.
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”
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
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
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
you talk much about having fun and this certainly comes across
in your personality, so let's end with two rather more esoteric
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.
there's a thought; Fidel Castro, Eddie Izzard & The Dalai
Lama around a table, good luck in getting them to agree a
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
for its beauty, Bodås Warehouse Mine for being the best and
extraordinary underground whisky place to work at.
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
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.
dwarf goats, living on Mackmyra Bruk.
this has been a most enjoyable interview and thank you for your
Thanks Keith for asking me
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
The Whisky Round Table
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?
what the Whisky Knights have to say.
or "the last of the old smokies"
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.
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
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
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,
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.
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
bottling from 1990 and I am
very tempted to order it on my next shopping list with my
Bytes & Drams
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).
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
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
As we moved into
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.
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
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
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.
answers are so long this month that they are published in
Part 1 &
2009-2011 by Keith Wood - All rights reserved - Whisky-Emporium