It’s been a busy month. Or so. However out of a combination of a (misplaced and unrequired) sense of duty and the fact that this blog is increasingly a replacement for my rapidly deteriorating memory it’s time for some more Whisky Squad magic. Way back in April (about a month as I write) we hit the mammoth third session within a four week period, breaking out very much for pastures new. Eschewing both our usual pubby surroundings and the chilly lands to the north of Hadrian’s wall we gathered at Dishoom on St Martin’s Lane for a run through some Indian whiskies with Icons of Whisky Brand Ambassador of the Year 2012 Ashok Chockalingham of Amrut.
I quite like sacrilege, especially in the world of drinks. My first blog post at work was about whisky cocktails, a subject that raises ire amongst many whisky purists, and I’ve championed the use of decent whisky in cocktails ever since. That said, I also hate whisky in lots of cocktails and find recipes that say ’25ml of Single Malt Whisky’ particularly annoying – the flavour variation amongst whiskies makes such a statement fairly meaningless (although does leave things open to interpretation by the bartender/maker, as is Right and Proper). Anyways, the folks at Monkey Shoulder have many strings to their PR-y bow and one that is popping up more often recently is the joy of using it as a base for cocktails.
How time flies. A mere two years ago I was an occasional drunk who sometimes wrote things up on his blog, who then bumped into Andy and Jason of WhiskySquad at a couple of booze events, leading to my attendance of almost every one of their sessions. These days I’m a professional drunk who still only sometimes writes stuff on his blog, but WhiskySquad has gone from strength to strength. Up to at least two tastings a month and at least three iterations into their website, tickets still sell out quickly and, as a crowning achievement, they’ve even had me along to present an evening. After last year’s shindig there was a standard to be lived up to, so the big guns were rolled out for birthday number two – a matured whisky and new spirit pairing.
Yes, after two years of schmoozing the assembled masses of the whisky industry Andy and Jason managed to lever a number of sample bottles of new make spirit out of the hands of the distilleries for a bit of a special evening – tasting blind, as usual, whiskies and the new make spirits that they started out as.
Today is St Patrick’s day, a fact I know due to a) it being the day after my mate Adam‘s birthday (happy birthday Mr A) and b) Diageo having died their lake green. Again. In celebration of this holiday that I have no particular personal attachment to I have decided to live the stereotype to the full and am having whiskey for breakfast (Bushmills Original) while writing up the most recent Whisky Squad meeting – the not particularly imaginatively named ‘Irish Whiskey #1’. The second part of March’s St Patrick’s tribute sessions was this week, Irish #2 – Cooley is Hot, with Cooley whiskey flowing upstairs at The Gunmakers, but as I was sensibly sat on my sofa less sensibly watching the fairly awful, but colour relevant, Green Lantern, this is your lot for Squad writeups for the month. Let the rejoicing commence.
Hello. I’m in Scotland, surrounded by snow and equipped with inadequate footwear, a combination of facts that should make post(s) later this week a beacon for schadenfreude tinged enjoyment. Anyways, as whisky distilleries treat weekends in February with appropriate level of contempt (they’re working but don’t open for tourists, as there are only four of us here who want to come and visit, and we’re all sleeping, going to the pub and bemoaning our inadequate footwear) today is a day for writing things, in this case a quick note (edit: quick was the intention, however it didn’t happen) about Whisky Squad #30 – The Management presents.
January has now drawn to a close and with it came another Whisky Squad session. It’s hard work writing up two of these a month, it barely gives me any time to sit on my arse and obsessively watch The West Wing. Only two episodes watched this evening. And yes, this is two Squad posts in a row, but I’ve got other things to write about this week (although mainly for work) and I didn’t want this post to sit languishing until I sober up/find some time.
Anyways, January’s second session took us back to a previous venue, The Scotch Malt Whisky Society‘s London rooms. However, rather than just begging the space (and the lend of the glasses) we were joined by their Brand Ambassador John McCheyne who brought along a selection of drams, the ability to talk about said drams and the promise of 10% Off! if we bought any of the bottles.
With two Whisky Squad sessions per month and my current reduced rate of bloggage the site does seem to be turning into a Squad record site, which ain’t no bad thing (I love double negatives). However, #28 is a session that is close to my heart, as it was my first foray into leading a tasting. The plan was simple – find a bunch of world whiskies that a) taste pretty good and b) people probably won’t have tasted before, and then c) present them to The Squad at Albannach. After finding that a few of my first choices are now sold out in the UK I did a bit of legwork and only missed out on one of my choices – Teerenpeli from Finland. It will be back and one day I’ll inflict its creamy goodness on the general populace, or at least a few select people who are nearby before the bottle is empty.
Anyways, this will be an abbreviated post as I was too busy waving my arms around to write tasting notes and my brain doesn’t store information anywhere near as well as my army of notebooks. So here are my speaking notes and some piccies.
Update: There are now also ‘tasting notes’ courtesy of Mr Matchett. Each whisky is also matched with a computer game…
A quick note before I start my normal rambling – Whisky Squad numbering. You may notice that my last Whisky Squad post was about #25, which implies that I’ve missed a session – I can safely say that I haven’t, but that I won’t be writing about #26, Whisky Surprise. It was an excellent session, but I spent my time drinking and talking rather than note taking, so unfortunately the line up may disappear for ever. That said, I did try a Ledaig that totally blew me away – delicate, floral and unlike anything I’ve tried before. Now I have old Ledaig on my to find list…damn.
Anyways, #27. This was another evening in the hands of Berry Brothers and Rudd‘s Rob Whitehead, but this time with a big twist. We were were going to taste the whiskies more blind than usual: In the basement of Berry’s, two floors below the streets of St James’s, with the lights off.
It’s the end of the year and it seems that buying booze is towards the top of people’s minds. As such I’ve been hidden away at TWE Towers, poking the website, processing orders, picking bottles and generally running around like the famed blue arse fly of proverb. So, now that I’m sat on the sofa in deepest darkest Somerset, have survived Christmas day, am contemplating having another dram and am trying to work out where the warmest spot in the house is without Coronation Street audible, it’s time to catch up on a touch of blogging. First up – the penultimate Whisky Squad of the year.
The year hasn’t ended yet and here it is – a blog post about the most recent Whisky Squad tasting. It’s even (unless plans go awry, in which case I’ll delete this sentence making these parentheses entirely pointless) before the next Squad meeting, the Christmas dinner on the 8th of December, so this officially makes me a good boy again.
Anyways, the second tasting of November was deliberately pushed towards the end of the month as it was in honour of Movember, and the extra couple of weeks meant that there were some moustaches on display, unlike during the Smoking Section tasting where MoSista Charly‘s stick on lip warmer was the only thing worthy of the name ‘Mo’. Anyways, we gathered upstairs at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society with bottles donated from a variety of sponsors and all the proceeds going straight to the Whisky4Movember fund raising efforts. Unfortunately we had some generous sponsors and even excluding the emergency bottle I had in my bag, just in case any of the whiskies didn’t arrive, we had eight drams to get through. It’s a hard life…