Wish you all the very best for a great 2014. Glasses high!
Have fun…be safe…make memories.
Sometimes you just gotta share a little bit of ‘awesome’.
A couple weeks back a few of my mates and I braved a whole lot of nasty weather in order to go see one of the world’s greatest rock bands, Pearl Jam.
The show was killer. Great setlist…great seats…and some hijinks on the part of yours truly that made it a little memorable (some things we’ll just keep secret). One of the highlights, though, was another opportunity to see just how well this band connects with its fans. Just before launching into ‘Go’, from possibly-their-best-album Vs., Eddie gave a shout out to a little man from Calgary named Jaxon Smith. The gents from PJ had seen a youtube clip of Jaxon beating the hell out of his drumkit with his own rendtion of ‘Mind Your Manners’ from the new album.
The crowd, in a great display of solidarity with their little hometown rockstar, went mad with applause. Awesome stuff.
…And here, finally, is a clip of the actual dedication itself.
Way to go, Jaxon. You’re awesome.
Eddie, Jeff, Stone, Mike, Matt (and Boom)…you are gentlemen of the highest calibre. Cheers. Can’t wait to see you back here.
We’ll raise a glass (of Kool-Aid) to Jaxon! Slainte!
– Photo: Yahoo OMG
My city is drowning and a lot of people are hurting right now. Keep them in your thoughts and, where you can, please offer help.
Nature makes us all small, and the small need to stick together to be big.
– Photo: JORDAN VERLAGE/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Just heard Ray Manzarek from The Doors passed away today. This is sad, sad news. I grew up on The Doors. Though I don’t crank ’em up as often as I used to, they were likely the most influential group in my life. Many, many a memory.
RIP Ray. Thanks for all.
Let’s put on a little ‘Soul Kitchen’, ‘Love Street’, ‘Riders On the Storm’, or just…whatever. Listen to the man play.
Wow. Not sure what to say here, but had to take the opportunity to express how sad I feel about this.
My wife is a runner. With pride I watched her cross the finish line in San Francisco’s 2011 Nike Women’s Marathon. Today, watching events unfold in Boston, all I could think of is how special that moment was for her. And how this day, some cowardly, soulless individuals robbed so many others not only of their opportunity at a great triumph, but in some cases of so very much more.
Those of us not personally touched by this will never fully understand the loss, but we can let it be known that we care.
This is a sad, sad day. Our thoughts and condolences for victims, friends and family who were affected by this heartbreaking and cowardly act.
Hello all – it’s been a while!
For those who are keeping score this is the first Whisky Pilgrimage posting in quite some time. Since it has been so long, it is probably easiest to browse through the back-posts and get a refresher on what the Whisky Pilgrimage is all about, the rules of the game, and so on:
What the hell happened?
As you can see, when it comes to meeting schedule I’m starting to close in on a “Chinese Democracy” level of credibility. It just isn’t working out the way that I planned.
In January I was concerned that the 1 bottle / month stipulation was going to be too slow. Surprisingly, it turns out to be exactly the opposite of that. I am enjoying the variety and the focused appreciation borne of this Whisky Pilgrimage, but struggle to keep pace with the schedule. It’s not nice feeling that I’m constantly falling behind…not generating the new content quick enough…and so on.
Having spent about a week cut off from civilization without a drop of whisky in site, I came to a few realizations:
Where do we go from here?
Despite my laissez-faire attitude towards the schedule we still have a journey to take, and we can’t get there without at least a bit of a plan. One step in front of the other. What I would like to do is continue on with three bottle cycles as planned, keeping in the $150 range for the cycle. Rather than arbitrarily cutting off at the 1 yr mark though, I’d like to add to the queue over time based upon my own personal interests and recommendations from readers. We currently have the following…
In no particular order, I would like to add Irish and Bourbon to the above list. I’ve never properly been able to get my head wrapped around Irish whisky, and this is exactly the sort of boundary smashing I had set out to accomplish on the Pilgrimage. I am a bit more familiar with Bourbon and will try and plan this cycle to hit right around summertime so that I can enjoy the odd mint julep outside on the deck on those hot summer days.
Any other recommendations or ideas you may have will go on a waiting list, which I’ll revisit from time to time.
And finally, what of Speyside?
Ah, Speyside. I am now on the 3rd and final bottle and have still yet to make up my mind on this region. Complex and subtle whisky requires equally complex and subtle thinking, and I am just not there yet. I will continue to try as I would like to put these thoughts to paper and get some conversation running that might help me to guide me out of the fog.
In the meantime, let’s get you all caught up. My Speyside selection #2 was none other than the ubiquitous Glenfiddich 12.
Glenfiddich 12 is undoubtedly one of the most recognized single malt scotch bottlings in the world and despite my reasonably broad level of exposure, I knew very little about it.
Personal confession: aside from the odd drink on an airplane, the only other notable occasion in which I had consumed Glenfiddich 12 was as the primary ingredient in a shooter called “The Douche Bag”. This charming drink consists of 1 oz of Glenfiddich 12 followed by a 1 oz chaser of pickle juice.
DO. NOT. RECOMMEND.
It’s every bit as nasty as it sounds. Having sampled roughly a 1/2 dozen in one terrifying sitting, I consider myself somewhat of an authority on the matter. Do the right thing and leave the Douche Bags, to well…the douche bags. No more need be said.
Obviously my Glenfiddich 12 education was lacking, and at $32 per bottle this was easily corrected.
I should admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the old ‘fiddich 12. It is a straight-arrow whisky with some nice light floral tones. This type of whisky is particularly nice before dinner on a hot summer afternoon – it is fresh, clear, and not too overpowering. I enjoyed several drams of it in this way and was never disappointed with the experience.
On the downside, you really have to dig in and concentrate to pick up on the complexities, and that job is made more difficult due to the addition of water to bring this down to 40%. Some whisky can handle a bit more water – Macallan 12 in my opinion gets a lot out of a low ABV – but in some cases, the water just cuts the legs right out from underneath a dram. I fear that water is getting the best of this one. If anybody has spent some time with a higher ABV Glenfiddich, I’d be interested in hearing about that.
Glenfiddich 12 is a very friendly introduction to scotch and I can understand its popularity as a first time purchase, a general bottle for the liquor cabinet, etc. However, if you’re picking this one up for yourself, there are much better options even at this price point (Aberlour 10?) and if you’re willing to spot the extra $15 or so, the Glenfiddich 15 is a far superior drink.
Next up will be the revealing of my 3rd Speyside whisky. Other topics to be addressed soon are the long-promised whisky cooking adventure, and my thoughts on Speyside on the whole.
In the meantime I’ll keep moving forward with this journey. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in the past 8 months, slow-footed and haphazard as it may be…this is certainly a journey worth taking.
Thanks for reading along.
After three months spent exploring a whisky profile that I know well it’s time to move into unfamiliar territory.
If you’re new to the Pilgrimage and don’t know what I’m talking about, or it has just been a while and you need a quick recap, here are the rules of the game.
Every month I pick up a new bottle of whisky. To give the Pilgrimage some structure and set up some good comparisons the year is divided into 4 “seasons”. For each season I have budgeted roughly $150.
My hope was that by building in some rules and limitations I’d be creating an environment that fosters appreciation for even the most humble drams. So far I’d say it has been a success. If you need convincing read the earlier posts…and heck, play along at home! I’d be interested to hear if anybody is giving some of the selections a try, or if any of the Pilgrimage concepts have inspired you to think about things from a slightly different angle.
Moving onward. Speyside.
Speyside is a prolific whisky producing region, home to some of the best recognized distillers in the world. Glenfiddich, Glenlivit, Glen Glen Glen…it’s a Scottish take on the Bubba Gump riff. I’d be willing to bet that in the vast majority of cases the 1st single malt a person tries is from Speyside. It’s perfectly nice accessible whisky…and I just can’t get my head wrapped around it.
In my personal experience the bold flavours delivered via special cask maturation (sherry, wine barrel, etc) and peating take a little while to get used to. After an initial breaking-in period, these bold face-blasting styles become sought-after favourites. By comparison the subtle bourbon-cask numbers come across as uninspired and frankly…a little dull.
I’ve dabbled in Speyside but have become discouraged and scrambled back to my safe zone every time. Picking out the notes and understanding what’s in the glass require time and patience…neither of which I have in abundance.
Because for the next 3 months, like it or not I’m committed to staying in Speyside. Time to challenge my existing ways of thinking and learn some new tricks. Are these truly dull whiskies, or will I learn to appreciate the subtle charms of Speyside?
Speyside Selection #1 – Glenfiddich 15
If you review the Sherry selections, you’ll note my appreciation for the mellowing and additional development that come from aging. So when shopping for my first selection Glenfiddich 15 caught my eye for a number of reasons:
The Glenfiddich 15 is produced using the Solera vatting technique. More information on this method can be found on this site or Lance’s excellent writings on Liquorature.com. In this case a variety of Glenfiddich casks are used in the Solera vat. My poor research is evident in the fact that some sherry casks find there way in, something I would have known had I read the back of the bottle more carefully than I did the price tag. I acknowledge it’s a bit of a cheat on my part, but I don’t think they’ve gone too heavy on the sherry and as such I don’t think it is overpowering the baseline “essence” of Glenfiddich.
First impressions? It’s very nice stuff! It doesn’t have the same “oomph” as the sherry finished whiskies but makes up for that with some really nice flavours in a light, fragrant delivery.
Yet to come…
Thanks again for reading – all comments and feedback appreciated!