Scotch Tasting Continues (Page Two)
Whoooosh.... We are off!
Did You Know? - According to the Scotch Whisky Association, Scotch whisky evolved from a Scottish drink called uisge beatha, which means "water of life". The earliest record of distillation in Scotland occurred as long ago as 1494, as documented in the Exchequer Rolls, which were records of royal income and expenditure. The quote above records eight bolls of malt given to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae over the previous year. This would be enough for 1,500 bottles, which suggests that distillation was well-established by the late 15th century.
Whisky production was first taxed in 1644, causing a rise in illicit whisky distilling in the country. Around 1780, there were about eight legal distilleries and 400 illegal ones. In 1823, Parliament eased restrictions on licensed distilleries with the "Excise Act", while at the same time making it harder for the illegal stills to operate, thereby ushering in the modern era of Scotch production.
An odd name you ask.... Perhaps not.... Read on!
Did You Know? - The term 'monkey shoulder' harks back to early whisky making heritage. It’s a reference to a condition that maltmen sometimes picked up while working long shifts, turning the barley by hand. It had a tendency to cause their arm to hang down a bit like a monkey’s, so they nicknamed it 'monkey shoulder'.
Whilst our maltmen are among the few who still turn the barley manually, working conditions have changed which means this injury has been consigned to the past.
Today, the name Monkey Shoulder lives on as an affectionate tribute, to honour the hard graft of all the maltmen past and present. Cheers!
Serious... Really serious!
Did You Know? - Blended Scotch whisky constitutes about 90% of the whisky produced in Scotland. Blended Scotch whiskies contain both malt whisky and grain whisky. Producers combine the various malts and grain whiskies to produce a consistent brand style. Notable blended Scotch whisky brands include Bells, Dewar's, Johnnie Walker, Whyte and Mackay, Cutty Sark, J&B, The Famous Grouse, Ballantine's, Chivas Regal and Teacher's Highland Cream.
"Wow! This is much better than studying"
Irene is in deep contemplation!
Mike uses the iPhone to find the answers!
Luisa came to sit with us when Mitch departed for the airport!
Luisa seems to be enjoying the tasting!
"This is pretty good stuff!!"
Someone seems to like his scotch!
Hear no evil... See no evil.... Speak no evil...
Oops.... I should have said "See all evil"
Bob had a great question... "Does all scotch come in a bottle?"
We worry about these kind of things!
Yes... It is "scotch" but can't be called scotch... because....
It was NOT made in Scotland!
Love those labels!
Did You Know? - Suntory Holdings Limited is a Japanese brewing and distilling company group. Established in 1899, it is one of the oldest companies in the distribution of alcoholic beverages in Japan, and makes Japanese whisky.
Suntory was started by Torii Shinjiro, who first opened his store Torii Shoten in Osaka on February 1, 1899, to sell imported wines. In 1907, the store began selling a sweet tasting red wine called Akadama Port Wine. The store became the Kotobukiya company in 1921 to further expand its business and in 1923, Torii Shinjiro built Japan's first malt whisky distillery Yamazaki Distillery. Production began in December 1924 and five years later Suntory Whisky Shirofuda (White Label), the first single malt whisky made in Japan, was sold.
Due to shortages during World War II, Kotobukiya was forced to halt its development of new products, but in 1946 it re-released Torys Whisky, which sold well in post-war Japan. In 1961, Kotobukiya launched the "Drink Torys and Go to Hawaii" campaign. At the time, a trip abroad was considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In 1963, Kotobukiya changed its name to "Suntory", taken from the name of the whisky it produces.
The whiskey is presented...Mike speaks fluent Japanese.... After four drinks!
Did You Know? - Peat (turf) is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter that is unique to natural areas called peatlands, bogs, or mires.
The peatland ecosystem is the most efficient carbon sink on the planet because peatland plants capture the CO2 which is naturally released from the peat, thus maintaining an equilibrium. In natural peatlands, the "annual rate of biomass production is greater than the rate of decomposition", but it takes "thousands of years for peatlands to develop the deposits of 1.5 to 2.3 m [4.9 to 7.5 ft], which is the average depth of the boreal peatlands".
The level of smokiness of a whisky is determined by the time the barley grain is exposed to the pungent peat smoke during drying. Damp malt is usually dried for approximately 30 hours. Laphroaig dries its malt over peat fire for about 18 of these 30 hours, while Glengoyne uses only unpeated fire.
Mike is questioning the process!
Did You Know? - Built in 1700 Easter Elchies House is a fine example of a Highland manor house. The Macallan estate lies in an area of great natural beauty; its scale and diversity is unique among distilleries and is managed in harmony with the beautiful landscape. The estate covers 390 acres (158 hectares), of which some 90 acres are sown in the spring with our own exclusive Minstrel barley variety to make The Macallan. Sheep and highland cattle are at home here and woodland, beetle banks and areas of unharvested crop and unmown grassland attract biodiversity. The river Spey, one of Scotland's most famous salmon rivers, borders the estate to the south and south-east.
The Macallan's oak casks are the single greatest contributor to the outstanding quality, natural colors and distinctive aromas and flavours of The Macallan. In fact 60% of the flavour of a whisky is derived from the cask it is matured in. Because of this, The Macallan spends more per cask than any other distillery in sourcing, crafting, seasoning and caring for its casks. Spanish sherry seasoned oak casks deliver flavours and aromas of chocolate orange, dried fruits and spices; American sherry seasoned oak casks primarily provide sweet citrus, light spice, vanilla and light oak flavours and aromas; American bourbon seasoned oak barrels give flavours and aromas of sweet citrus, coconut and oak.
This is serious scotch!
Mike is about to ask a serious question....
A view from the head of the table
Wil listens to every word!
"Are you really sure there is no Agave in the scotch?"
"I am going to study as soon as I arrive home.... hic!"
Did You Know? - To create the Balvenie Portwood, rare 21 year old Balvenie Speyside scotch, which has been matured in traditional american oak casks is transferred to 30 year old port casks, or pipe, which has held fine port wines. Here it is sampled every month by The Balvenie Malt Master to ensure that just the right amount of character is imparted by the port casks, enhancing and developing the single malt, whilst preserving its original characteristics. This flagship bottling, a perfect marriage of american oak and port wine pipes, is top of the class in balance and flavor and a must have for any Single Malt enthusiast.
Rich and smoky with seaside minerals with a hint of ash and bitter chocolate drops. Vanilla follows with oily unroasted chestnuts and a hint of fudge with a malty sweetness. A drop of water adds a creamy clotted cream note with fruit appearing in the form of unripe citrus in a flan glaze.
"This wiskey is almost as old as me!"
Donna says this is good stuff!
Wil enjoys the taste of this fine scotch
"I'll go get some gin to wash out the smokey flavor"
Admiring the sophistication of his audience!
"Mark is outstanding!"
Wow! What an afternoon!
We had a great time scotch tasting this afternoon but we did that after a big Italian lunch. We tasted five "small" portions of scotch which was probably about 1.5 ounces in total. We make sure that everybody is quite capable of making it home. All departed with a new found appreciation for this magical drink and importantly, a clear mind!
P.S. We found out that later in the afternoon Will went shopping and brought home some Monkey Shoulder!