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Distillery tour of Scotland (May 2018)

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Whisky Dad (and Dad) Vist Scotland 2018 - Planning Update

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Whisky Dad (and Dad) Vist Scotland 2018 - Planning Update


It has been a little while since I shared my travel plans for the big trip to Scotland next year and I have had a chance to incorporate many of the great suggestions I received last time. So here’s where it's at, as of now.

Flights are booked

My dad and I will fly into Manchester Airport around midday on the 21st of May 2018 and depart Manchester on our way back to Australia on the evening of the 18th of June. We will be hiring a car for the whole trip to get around in.

To Scotland (21st May)

My dad and I will visit my uncle Harry briefly on our way to Scotland but our first overnight stop will be at Mossend, near Glasgow. Leaving bright and early in the morning, we will visit a few sites of significance from my Dad’s childhood and end up at Campbeltown in the afternoon.

Campbeltown Malts Festival (22-25th May)

The first firm dates of our trip are spending 22-25th of May in Campbeltown for the Malts Festival. This will include the Kintyre Gin Open Day at the Beinn an Tuirc Distillery and the Glen Scotia Dinner on day one; Glen Scotia Distillery Open Day and Springbank Dinner on day two; Springbank Distillery Open Day on day three and Kilkerran and Wm Cadenhead’s Open Day and the festival closing dinner at the Campbeltown Town Hall on the final day.

That’s quite a busy few days in Campbeltown and I’m expecting a few issues with jet lag during this period. But my time in Campbeltown doesn’t end there for me since I will be completing the Springbank Whisky School the following week.

Highland Games, Stirling Castle & Loch Lomond (26-27th May)

Most whisky loving tourists will be heading to Fes Isle on Islay from this weekend, but my dad and I will head the other way. The plan is to start early and drive to Blackford for their local Highland Games (where I hope to participate, if I can) before heading back to and overnighting at Drymen near Loch Lomond via Stirling Castle. The following day I will partake in the Glengoyne Distillery 5-hour Master Class while Dad explores Loch Lomond and then we will drop into Loch Lomond Distillery on the way back to Campbeltown.

Springbank Whisky School (28th May – 1st June)

This will be the week I’ve been waiting for. In fact, I would have waited for over two years by this stage. Springbank is both my favourite distillery and the only Scottish distillery to conduct 100% of their whisky production at one site. That makes Springbank the ideal location to undertake an intensive whisky school. Over the five days, students gain hands-on experience in every aspect of whisky making from floor malting to bottling. I cannot wait!

My dad on the other hand, will be taking the car and going to play golf for a few days…It’s his holiday too.

Islay (2-5th June)

No whisky lover’s trip to Scotland is complete without visiting Islay. My dad and I will meet back up again at the conclusion of the Springbank Whisky School and then we will be off to catch the ferry to Islay. The locals will no doubt be recovering from another successful Fes Isle which is a shame to miss, but at least we will be able to find accommodation for the next four days. We plan to take in the big eight, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Kilchoman, Bruichladdich, Bowmore (Craftsman Tour), Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg Distilleries with some island exploration in between. I’m planning a visit to Kildalton Cross and a short island hop to Isle of Jura.

Heading North (5-6th June)

Next, we will be leaving Islay and travelling north to Oban for the night. From Oban we will continue north for a rest at Fiddler's Loch Ness in Drumnadrochit. The next day we will continue further into the Highlands for a short but sweet detour on the way to Speyside.

The Highlands (7-8th June)

Highland distilleries to visit include Dalmore, Glenmorangie, Balblair and Clynelish. Unfortunately, we probably won’t make it any further north this time but will make it a priority to visit the Orkney Isles (and the Isles of Mull and Skye) on my next trip to Scotland whenever that may be.

Speyside (9-13th June)

The next five days will be busy indeed but luckily the amount of ground to cover is short since so many distilleries are in close proximity to each other, mostly along the Spey river. There are some hard choices to make here on where we do and don’t get to visit but my plan includes the following: 

Tomatin, Ballindalloch, Glenfarclas, Cardhu, Tamdhu, Knockando, Aberlour, The Macallan, Speyside Cooperage, Genfiddich, Glenrothes, Forsyths Stills, Glen Grant, Glen Moray, Strathisla, Knockdhu and The GlenDronach for the Connoisseurs' Experience.

Heading South (14th June)

At this stage the trip will coming to an end and I have no doubt Dad and I will be feeling tired. We plan a leisurely scenic drive south through the Cairngorms National Park along A93 from Aboyne to Pitlochry.

Edinburgh (15-16th June)

We hope make it to Edinburgh by the 15th, home to the Scotch Whisky Experience and plan to catch up with The Tasmanian Whisky Academy who will be in the area but more on that later.

Northern England (17th June)

I made a promise to visit Abbie and Chris at Cooper King Distillery in Yorkshire and say G’day to their Tasmanian-sourced copper still, so that will be a stop on the way to Corby. The last stop on our trip is Corby, Northamptonshire, (recently voted the unhappiest place to live in Britain) where my Dad spent part of his youth. We will visit a few places for some final family story moments, then prepare for our departure back home to Australia.

Back Home (18th June)

Out last drive will take us through the fabled Sherwood Forrest to check out Robin Wood Craft and hopfully pick up an authentic handmade wooden quaich on the way to Manchester. Time to return the hire car and for the terribly long plane trip home and trying to pass though Australian Customs without paying an arm and a leg for all the whisky I’ve no doubt bough over the last month. It should be a crackin’ trip.

Still a Work in Progress

So that’s the current plan, but that’s not to say that some things may change between now and then or could quite possible change while we are in Scotland. Some of the trip is locked in, like our time in Campbeltown (which is almost half the trip) but this particular visit revolves around Springbank (my favourite distillery) and the Springbank Whisky School. If I wasn’t attending the school, I would be doing things differently. I acknowledge we won’t get to see everything or visit every place, but it’s impossible to do so. I decided early on, to only visit the Scottish mainland and Islay this time. The last thing I want is for this trip to feel more like work than a holiday.
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Canberra's Local Spirit Tour

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Canberra's Local Spirit Tour

I began 2017 by moving from easily the most distillery dense state in Australia, Tasmania, to easily the most public servant dense, the Australian Capital Territory. Canberra and the ACT in general is highly regarded for wine production with some of Australia’s best wineries are located nearby, but what about distilled spirits? I enlisted the help of local entrepreneur and founder of Local Spirit tours, Ben Osborne to take me and my friends on one of his Luxury Distillery Tours.

We met at Grease Monkey, not a distillery, but a great place to grab a tasty burger on the north side of Canberra. From there, bellies appropriately primed with food, we climbed into Ben’s van and travelled to Plonk, a highly regarded bottle shop at the Fyshwick Fresh Food Market.

Our tour took us here to meet Tim Reardon, owner/operator of The Canberra Distillery who just so happened to be conducting a tasting that day. On offer from The Canberra Distillery included their Classic and Winter Gins, Canberra Fog, Coffee Liquor, Blood Orange Gin, Negroni and Limoncello. The Classic Gin as the name suggests is a classic London Dry style vapour-infused gin with a commonly Australian citrus bias, whereas the Winter Gin is more of a robust local creation with a familiar juniper nose but with strong refreshing notes of basil and a spicy cinnamon finish – perfect for a cold Canberra winter.

Keeping with the cold Canberra theme was the Canberra Fog (notorious to anyone who has tried to catch an early morning flight into or out of Canberra in the winter) which is an aniseed-based liquor made from distilled Murrumbateman Shiraz. If you enjoy the flavour of the Greek classic, Ouzo, you will likely enjoy this creation which tastes like liquid black jellybeans. The Blood Orange Gin tastes as is suggested by the label, drawing on the local provenance of small growers and produces. The Negroni is a pre-mixed cocktail of gin, vermouth and bitters, barrel-aged in heavily charred ex-red wine casks from the local Canberra region. The Coffee Liqueur would be perfect for an Espresso Martini or a boozy coffee, but I found it to be very sweet for my tastes; nothing some extra vodka couldn’t fix. Finally, the Limoncello cleansed the palate with a refreshing, yet still very sweet, lemon infused spirit.

As you can see, the Canberra Distillery produce a large range of spirits and liquors that draw from or directly showcase local ingredients. I am very keen to sample some of the other products Tim has planned for the near future.

Underground Spirits Head Distiller, Ross McQuinn

Next stop was Underground Spirits in Kambah where we were greeted by Head Distiller, Ross McQuinn. Underground Spirits’ point of difference is the use of a patented sub-zero, sub-micron filtration system adapted from technology used to filter impurities from blood. When producing their products, Underground Spirits begin by filtering neutral spirit with common carbon micron filtration followed by their own patented method. When testing their sub-zero, sub-micron filtration system, they confused the Australian National University test equipment by producing a spirit of higher purity than the pure control sample! There is no doubting that Underground Spirits make their products using the purest neutral spirit available.

Underground Spirits produce a traditionally juniper-forward barrel-aged gin using a triple infusion method of maceration, vapour infusion and botanical tinctures. They also produce a range of flavoured vodka including a vanilla, caramel and hazelnut version. Now I’m not a flavoured vodka kind-of-guy, but I actually purchased a bottle of the hazelnut variety which smelt and tasted too good to pass up; I can see it making its way into a variety of boozy deserts. Underground Spirits are currently experimenting with options to produce whisky in the future and I will be following their progress closely.

Baldwin Whiskey Company's Premix Whiskey & Cola and Premium Whiskey

Last distillery visit of the day was to Baldwin Distilling Company in Mitchell, who produce a spirit with a bourbon-style 51% corn mash bill and age it in medium-toasted, heavily-charred virgin American oak barrels. Baldwin have positioned themselves to capitalise on premium whisky (or whiskey with an ‘e’ to reflect their bourbon-style) market, rather than the small batch single malt route that most Australian craft distilleries follow. This puts Baldwin in direct competition to some of the biggest names on the mass produced whisky market and as such they have produced their own premix premium whiskey & cola ustilising their own in-house cola which has approximately one-fifth the sugar as Coca-Cola.

Baldwin owner/operator Anthony Baldwin and I share the opinion that you should be free to drink your whisky however you damn please without suffering the criticism of whisky snobs. I personally do not drink whisky with sweet mixers, but I quite liked the taste of the Baldwin premixed whisky & cola and I strongly encourage you to give it a try if bourbon & cola premixes are your thing. In my opinion, it tastes infinitely better than Jim Beam & Coke premix and supports a local Australian business rather than a massive multi-national.

I had the opportunity to sample the Baldwin ‘Premium Whiskey’ on its own, which is also sold by the bottle and to be honest it was a little too rough to drink neat. It seemed to have gained little from its time in the cask and I suspect it would benefit from aging longer or even aging in a different location with more atmospheric and temperature variations to force the spirit in and out of the cask wood. To be fair, it is intended to be drunk with a mixer and I would definitely recommend this approach with the current entry-level Baldwin premium whiskey.

Next in the range is the unfortunately named ‘Caramel Whiskey’ which from the name you no doubt assumed is a flavoured whisky. This is not the case as it is made using ‘Caramalt’ malt, rather than having any flavouring added. Caramalt is a variety of malted barley with a slight toffee flavour and the resultant whisky, in Baldwin’s case, is an improvement over their base whiskey. Next in the range is a US 100 Proof (50% ABV) Rye whiskey. This was my favourite Baldwin whiskey and one that I am quite happy to drink neat. Go here, for my detailed thoughts. In addition to their whiskies, Baldwin also produce a variety of US-style Moonshine including, unflavoured, Apple Pie, Honey and Peach.

After leaving Baldwin Distilling Company, we finished the day at the White Rabbit bar in central Canberra where we eventually bid farewell to our host Ben and went on our merry ways with a new knowledge and appreciation of the local Canberra distilling scene. I really should have explored my new local distilling scene sooner, but it’s good to know that people like Ben exist who can guide you around not only the local distilleries but breweries and wineries as well.

If you live locally or are visiting the Canberra region, go to www.localspirit.com.au/ for details of what alcohol-centric tours are available.
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Baldwin Premium Rye Whiskey Impressions

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Baldwin Premium Rye Whiskey Impressions

What is it?

Distillery: Baldwin Distilling Company
Name: Premium Rye Whiskey
Make: Australian Rye Whiskey
Extra Info: Baldwin Distilling Company is based in Mitchell, ACT and produces a range of US bourbon-style 51% corn mashbill 'premium whiskey' and moonshine including a premix whisky & cola using their own in-house cola. Baldwin spirits are produced in a single distilling run using a column still. 


Why did I buy it?

This bottle was given to me as a gift but it was my pick of the Baldwin Distilling Company range. I am quite partial to Rye whisky and while it may taste quite different to malt whisky or bourbon at first it's the differences that make it worth trying to improve your own whisky knowledge and appreciation.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: I personally love the Baldwin Distilling Company logo, it looks fantastic printed directly onto the 700ml short and stubby bottle. The Baldwin Rye is bottled at US 100 Proof or 50% ABV.

Appearance: Naturally amber gold in colour and chill filtered for clarity.

Aroma: Takes a little work to isolate the aromas in the glass but presents notes of fresh green grass, mint, vanilla and just a slight reminder of the harshness I noticed in the high alcohol (90% ABV) newmake spirit from which it began.

Flavour: Light mouthfeel with strong peppery spice popping through flavours of ginger and grapefruit with some sweeter melon flavours developing with the addition of water.

Finish: Long lingering spice on the tongue with a slight drying bitter aftertaste.


Would I buy it again?

Probably not, but there are few whiskies that I would. When there are so many whiskies out there to try, it takes something truly special to make my repeat buy list. Having only been around since 2015, it's safe to say that Baldwin Distilling Company has some room to improve and with time, I have no doubt they will. Right now Anthony Baldwin is tackling the lucrative premium spirits market head-on, which in itself is a point of difference to other Australian craft distilleries. If this approach pays off, Baldwin Distilling Company could become one of the biggest names in Australian distilling.


Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.

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Whisky Dad Turns One Year Old

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Whisky Dad Turns One Year Old

Doesn’t time fly? Just two days ago (Oct 6th) marked the one-year anniversary of WhiskyDad.net going live. It really doesn’t seem like that long ago but here are some obligatory first-year facts and figures:

WhiskyDad.net has had 22,028 page visits in its first year;

In that time I have posted a total of 70 blog posts;

The most popular posts were From Loss to Blog, How I Became a Whisky Dad and my Interview with Sullivan’s Cove Distillery Heather Swart with 1,759 and 1,026 views respectively;

63.6% of visitors of my blog do so on a mobile device;

My social media followers include 2,345 on Twitter, 1,095 on Instagram, 430 on Facebook and 133 on Pinterest; and

I’ve recently updated my logo and associated branding and will be working on a new webpage to launch before my trip to Scotland in 2018.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported and followed me over the past year. It has been a truly enjoyable and cathartic experience that I intend to continue into the next year and beyond. I was humbled by the response to my From Loss to Blog article and hope my words continue to help others deal with their own loss and recovery. I always intended Whisky Dad to be more than just a whisky blog and the response to that article proves I have achieved my goal.

I hope my future content convinces you to continue to follow me over the next year and many more new followers choose to join us.

Slàinte!

Shane Kinloch
Whisky Dad




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The Responsible Appreciation of Alcohol

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The Responsible Appreciation of Alcohol

To a teenager approaching the legal drinking age, alcohol has many intriguing mysteries and potential traps. They have no doubt spent years observing friends, family and strangers imbibe, enjoy and abuse alcoholic drinks. They may experience peer pressure or they may already have strong views and arguments for abstaining from alcohol in preparation for those early adolescent social situations, or they may have already tried alcohol either under parental supervision or clandestinely.
It was the beginning of about eight years of regular binge-drinking behaviour, where I often drank to get drunk and spirits (or guns, as we called them, as in ‘Time to switch to guns!’) were purely a means to get drunk quicker. 

Personally, I didn’t drink alcohol until I was 18 years old (the legal drinking age in Australia). I didn’t really go to parties so I avoided the peer pressure situations and I was relatively comfortable with remaining sober. That all changed when I moved out of home and went to University. It was the beginning of about eight years of regular binge-drinking behaviour, where I often drank to get drunk and spirits (or guns, as we called them, as in ‘Time to switch to guns!’) were purely a means to get drunk quicker. If I drank whisky, it was often drowned in a sweet mixer and served with plenty of ice. Sweeter was better because it was easier to slam back fast and far gentler on my underdeveloped palate. I didn’t drink because I enjoyed the taste, I drank because it gave me Dutch Courage and a misplaced assumption it improved everything from my confidence to my dancing skill and most importantly to a late teen/early twenties male, it made me more attractive to the opposite sex.
My Dad would have disowned me if I ever mixed it, so if I drank single malt in those early days it was neat or not at all. 
I was familiar with single malt whisky back then, but it was expensive (very much so over a bar) and although potent, it wasn’t something you could drink quickly so you got drunk slower. My Dad would have disowned me if I ever mixed it, so if I drank single malt in those early days it was neat or not at all. Mostly it was not at all, since it did not align with my goals of getting drunk quickly and impressing an attractive girl with my drunkenness.

My first job was working at a bar (I actually met my future wife there) and although I was still well within my binge-drinking phase, it did give me a greater appreciation of alcohol and its effects. It was mandatory to complete a Responsible Service of Alcohol course before working in a bar which taught you some basic bar skills and explained standard drinks, the effects of alcohol consumption and how to deal with drunken customers.

I look back on those years now and while they were a lot of fun, I spent a lot of time throwing up in someone’s garden, feeling sorry for myself or throwing up on myself in a garden. I made a lot of bad decisions under the influence of alcohol and have many regrets, but I also matured a great deal in a relatively short time. I don’t binge-drink anymore and in fact, I rarely get drunk. Mostly because the effect of a hangover seems a thousand times stronger now that I am older and kids don’t respond well to “Leave Daddy alone, he wants to die in peace!” spoken in a muffled shout from under a pillow.

So what sage advice could my older sober self, impart to my younger drunken self?

For starters, there is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol or not drinking it for that matter. It’s a choice we all have to make and you can change your mind if you want. I knew someone once who would alternate one year on, one year off alcohol – I wouldn’t recommend it though. But, if you decide to drink why not be more of a sophisticated drinker than race to drunkenness and hopefully not spew in the process?

Whisky, good whisky, is an amazing alcoholic beverage. It has layers upon layers of complexity and subtleties that can elude even the most seasoned aficionado. It can be enjoyed a variety of ways, neat, with ice, with a simple mixer or in a more elaborate cocktail and it comes in an almost limitless number of varieties. I often hear “But I don’t like whisky.” as if one whisky defines all others. I can guarantee there is a whisky out there (probably more than one) and a way to drink it that you would absolutely love. For me, it goes beyond the drink. I have enough knowledge of whisky making and its history to appreciate it as fine craft product. So much time goes into making whisky, that it can be a truly transformative experience to sample a drink that has spent more time in a barrel evolving than you have been alive. I can sit with a glass of whisky and nurse it for an hour or more, sampling the aromas far more frequently than taking a sip and experiencing the explosion of warming flavours in my mouth and down my throat.

Often my next drink was ordered, just so I had something to do with my hands or risk looking like a weird drunk-but-not-drinking person beside the bar.
That last point is worth noting for a young drinker. I remember the trepidation surrounding holding an empty glass or no glass at all. Often my next drink was ordered, just so I had something to do with my hands or risk looking like a weird drunk-but-not-drinking person beside the bar. The only time it was safe to not be glass-in-hand was when dancing and my best dance moves didn’t come out until of was at least three sheets to the wind. 

There is nothing stopping a younger drinker from learning to appreciate the subtleties of whisky.

Your friends may smash back dozens of “Scotch and Cokes” in a night, but I bet your modest number of “expensive” top shelf whiskies will both cost less financially and hurt less the next morning. You can hold that whisky glass for an hour at the bar without looking out of place, just avoid getting involved with shouts. Who knows, you standing steady by the bar with a glass of Glenmorangie in your hand may even seem more attractive than your mate soaked in Jim Beam and Coke, barely standing by themselves, propped up by the bar beside you.
The responsible appreciation of alcohol leads to the responsible consumption of alcohol. 
The bottom line is the sooner you see spirits as an experience worth taking your time enjoying rather than a fast track to drunkenness; the sooner you will become a mature and responsible drinker of alcohol. Good whisky is a means to become such a drinker and is a conduit to many enjoyable nights out and a way to become someone people want to be around rather than a known piss-wreck. The responsible appreciation of alcohol leads to the responsible consumption of alcohol. Something we should all strive for and instil in our kids for their own safety and social development.
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WhiskyDad’s Guide to Father’s Day

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WhiskyDad’s Guide to Father’s Day

Father’s Day is almost upon us (In Australia, it’s on the first Sunday in September) and if your father or husband is a WhiskyDad like me, look no further than my Father's Day guide for the WhiskyDad in your life (not just my own wishlist).

Whisky

The most obvious gift could also be the hardest to choose because you want to buy something your dad will like. My suggestion is to raid his whisky cabinet and find out what he drinks. You could either play it safe and buy what he already has or you could buy him something similar that he may not have tried before. The easiest way to do this would be to talk to the proprietor of a specialist whisky bottle shop and tell them what he drinks and ask for a recommendation of something similar. But if that isn’t possible, allow me to give you some loose rules.

He likes all whisky

By far the easiest dad to buy whisky for since you could buy him just about anything and he would enjoy drinking it. That said, I would look at what he usually drinks and buy something around the same price point.
This WhiskyDad knows what he likes, but what about what he doesn’t know he likes? 
He only drinks Jack Daniel’s

This WhiskyDad knows what he likes, but what about what he doesn’t know he likes? Jack Daniel’s and all its many special and limited editions, is a Tennessee whiskey. What’s a Tennessee whiskey? It’s bourbon, with an extra charcoal filtration step. A great alternative to Jack Daniel’s is another readily available Tennessee whiskey, George Dickel. George Dickel comes in No.8, No.12 and X varieties and my pick would be George Dickel No. 12 as a legitimate (and in my opinion, superior) alternative to Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7.

He’s a Peat Freak

This WhiskyDad loves his whisky smoky. Chances are he will drink anything from Islay but that isn’t the only peated whisky available. Look for any of these, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Bowmore, Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Laphroaig; or outside of Islay, Springbank, Longrow, Kilkerran, Talisker, Ledaig or Highland Park. Failing that, anything with ‘Peat’ in the label like independent bottlers Douglas Laing’s Big Peat or Compass Box’s Peat Monster should be fine.

He only drinks the cheap stuff

There’s nothing wrong with drinking whisky that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, but chances are if it’s cheap, it’s a blended whisky. Not all blended whiskies are equal and some are quite expensive. One of the most famous and popular blended whiskies is Johnnie Walker. Johnnie Walker comes in a number of varieties that get progressively expensive of which Johnnie Walker Black Label and Double Black are a good balance of reasonable price and quality.
This may sound a little controversial, but most Irish whiskey is no different to Scotch whisky. 
He likes Irish Whiskey

This may sound a little controversial, but most Irish whiskey is no different to Scotch whisky. If you look at the ingredients and the way both are made, there really isn’t a lot of difference between Scotch and Irish Whiskey other than the country of origin. There are a few exceptions but if you are going to buy an Irish whiskey, buy a Single Pot Still Irish whiskey like Redbreast, Green Spot, Yellow Spot or Powers. These are quintessentially Irish whiskeys and are quite different from any Scotch whisky.



He likes the burn

Does your dad like a whisky that burns in his chest and warms his insides? Then you should get him a cask strength whisky. Cask strength means the whisky is bottled at or near the ABV% it was straight from the cask. Most whisky is diluted with water before bottling to reduce the ABV% to a standard figure such as 40%, 43% or 46%. My pick for a cask strength whisky would be Aberlour A’bunah.
The older the whisky, the more influence the cask has over the flavour and often colour. 
He likes darker coloured whisky

If you dad drinks whisky that is generally darker and more amber than your average whisky, chances are it is ex-sherry cask (barrel) matured. Most whisky is matured in either ex-bourbon or ex-sherry casks. The older the whisky, the more influence the cask has over the flavour and often the colour. Ex-bourbon cask matured whisky usually has a vanilla dominant flavour whereas ex-sherry cask whisky has a dried fruit or Christmas Cake dominant flavour. Oh, he likes traditional Christmas Cake? Then ex-sherry cask matured whisky is a safe bet such as the excellent BenRiach 12 Year Old Sherry Wood Matured.

Something Australian

There are plenty of very good Australian whiskies on the market. Obviously, these are much easier to obtain from within Australia. Most are quite expensive, around $200 for 500ml, but not all are, such as Starward Wine Cask Edition which can be picked up from Dan Murphy’s for around $80-$90 for a 700ml bottle. Being originally from Tasmania myself, it would be remiss of me not to recommend a Tasmania whisky so how about a Lark Cask Strength from the distillery that started the recent whisky boom across the island state.

Something unexpected

There is nothing quite like surprising a Scotch snob with a great-tasting whisky from an unexpected region of the world. Did you know that India produces some amazing single malt whisky? I guarantee your Scotch-loving dad will enjoy either the Paul John Classic Select Cask or Amrut Fusion if they prefer a peated whisky.

Whisky gifts other than whisky

There are plenty of gift ideas for the whisky-loving dad other than whisky; consider some of these.

Something edible

Fancy yourself a bit of a cook? How about making some whisky fudge, some whisky cured bacon or whisky jerky? You could even ‘borrow’ some of your dad’s whisky to flavour it. Just don’t borrow the really expensive stuff.
The world of specialist whisky glassware can be a load of wank, but not all glasses are equal when it comes to drinking whisky. 
Whisky glasses

The world of specialist whisky glassware can be a load of wank, but not all glasses are equal when it comes to drinking whisky. In my opinion, the pinnacle of shape (performance), weight (comfort) and value (some glasses cost upwards of $50 each) is the Glencairn glass. These can be picked up for as little as $10-$17 each and are a great choice for a whisky-loving dad. There is even a more expensive crystal version of the Glencairn glass if you want something a little fancier.

If your dad drinks his whisky with a mixer, go for a nice crystal tumbler instead.

If you want something a little different, how about a quaich? A quaich is a shallow Scottish two-handed drinking cup. They can be made of metal such as pewter or silver but are traditionally carved from wood.

Artwork and accessories

A map of the whisky distilleries of Scotland by Manuscript Maps is an excellent gift for a WhiskyDad and looks great on any whisky fan’s wall. Factor in extra for postage and framing to get the best out of it.

Angel’s Share Glass make some great whisky themed accessories such as Glencairn shaped cufflinks.



Books

There are stacks of great books on whisky that would make excellent Father’s Day gifts. The World Atlas of Whisky is an excellent and hefty coffee table book whereas Whisk(e)y Distilled is more portable by no less detailed.

Pens

Check out these awesome pens, made from ex-bourbon barrels. They can even be personalised – I would love a couple of these myself. Hint, hint.

Image © bourbonpens.com 

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Bruichladdich PC12 Impressions

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Bruichladdich PC12 Impressions

What is it?

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Name: Port Charlotte 12 Year Old PC12 "Oileanach Furachail"
Make: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Extra Info: Bruichladdich was established in 1881 on the Scottish island of Islay. It was closed in 1994 before being refurbished in 2001 and reopened in 2013, with much of the original Victorian-era machinery still in use to this day.

Why did I buy it?

This particular expression from Bruichladdich is only available via travel retail outlets. I happened to be travelling overseas so I took the opportunity to purchase this bottle duty-free on my return.

What did I think of it?

Presentation: Most Bruichladdich expressions are bottled in the same stout bottle with modern looking sans serif typeface lettering. The exception being the heavily peated Octomore range which use distinctive taller bottles. I quite like the Bruichladdich design language and it is definitely one of the more modern looking whiskies available. The PC12 is bottled at 58.7% ABV.

Appearance: Dark gold approaching amber in colour, this whisky is bottled at 58.7%ABV in non-chill filtered and has no added colouring.

Aroma: On first nose, it smelt like it could get you drunk on fumes alone. There was some smoke and alcohol at first and not much else. Some whiskies have more of those nose-burning volatile compounds than others and I have tasted higher ABV whiskies that do not smell as alcoholic as this. Perhaps surprisingly then, the PC12 got the 'Wife of WhiskDad Tick of Approval' i.e. she did not hate the smell of it.

With a subtle change in nosing technique, the quite pleasant aroma of alcohol soaked sultanas is revealed more easily. The addition of water cuts the alcohol fumes and allows the dried fruit notes to come forward.

Flavour: Very smoky but with a distinct sweetness. Plenty of heat that may present a challenge for a palate not accustomed to cask strength whisky. The burn can be tempered with water without diluting the dominant smoke flavour, although it leaves the whisky tasting a little flat. The flavour benefits from the high ABV but it creates a more prickly mouthfeel rather than being smooth on the palate.

Finish: Long bitter smoke finish leaving a slight warming in the chest. Lingering aftertaste of smoke that stays in the mouth long after the drink is finished. Better brush your teeth after this one if you don't want your breath to smell like a log fire.

Would I buy it again?

There's a certain segment of whisky fans (and I think I used to be one) who believe that for whisky to be good it has to slap you in the face and your ability to take it makes you a 'real' whisky drinker. This is one of those face slapping whiskies, but I am not one of those believers anymore.

Bruichladdich PC12 is not a bad whisky; in fact, it would no doubt be highly regarded by the segment of whisky fans I mentioned above. But, I can't help thinking it lacks finesse. It's a little rough around the edges and perhaps that brashness is exactly the charm this whisky will have to some. Personally, I think I would rather try another Bruichladdich expression next time, rather than buy the PC12 again. The Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest is a more balanced example of the marriage of sweet sherry and smoky flavours.



Disclaimer: I do not claim to have the nose and palate of a Master Sommelier, however, I am working to train my senses to better identify whisky aromas and flavours. Consider all my whisky 'Impressions' to be a work in progress and I hope to come back to each of them in the future to see if I notice anything different. Most importantly, I'm not just throwing around random aromas, flavours and adjectives for the hell of it; I am trying really hard to critically describe each whisky I taste - WhiskyDad.
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WhiskyDad Makes Whisky Jerky

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WhiskyDad Makes Whisky Jerky




So my wife bought a dehydrator. “What’s a dehydrator?” I asked. “It heats up and dries out food,” she said. “Like an oven?” I replied. “Yeah, but it doesn’t get as hot.” I pondered her response for a moment, “So, like a shit oven?”

Every appliance has a silver lining

I’m used to my wife buying things that are supposed to make our lives healthier, but I didn’t really appreciate the ‘shit oven’ until I asked if it could make jerky!

Jerky, is meat cut into thin strips, often marinated, and then dried to prevent spoilage. It is super tasty and fairly good for you since it is a great source of protein without much of anything else. The shop bought variety is also very expensive considering what it is and how much you get in a packet.

I already had the dehydrator (you can also use a smoker) so I figured I would give making my own jerky a go and since I’m a WhiskyDad, I planned to marinate it in whisky.

Sriracha & Starward Bacon Jerky

First up would be bacon jerky. Why bacon? Because bacon, of course. I settled on making a spicy bacon jerky with a light and sweet, non-peated whisky. The spiciness would come from Sriracha sauce, store bought since I didn’t have the time or energy to make my own. I have only recently discovered Sriracha sauce (found in the Asian food section of your local supermarket) but this sauce made from Jalapeños, sugar or honey and garlic is freakin’ delicious. Where has this sauce been all my life? It is not what I would call a hot sauce, it's spicy, but it is a near perfect mix of spice, savoury and sweetness.

The whisky of choice would be Starward Wine Cask single malt Australian whisky.

Sounds expensive, but it really isn’t. Difficult to find outside of Australia but it’s one of the best value local whiskies commonly available. I often recommend it as a gateway whisky for anyone new to whisky or new to drinking whisky neat. It’s light and quite sweet so I thought it would pair with the bacon nicely.

I bought some smoked streaky bacon from Costco and prepared the following marinade in a ceramic dish:

90ml of Starward Wine Cask single malt whisky
90ml or 6 x Tablespoons of Sriracha sauce
2 x Tablespoons of Manuka honey (any honey would do or substitute perhaps half as much brown sugar)
3 x Cloves of fresh crushed garlic

I mixed all the ingredients in the dish and added 500g of bacon. Next, I sprinkled salt and pepper over the top, covered the dish with plastic cling wrap and put it in the fridge.

The bacon needs to marinate for three days, being turned in the marinade half way through with some more salt and pepper added.

After three days, I removed the bacon from the marinade and placed it on a chopping board. I sliced the bacon in half and then the widest part in half again so that all the pieces were roughly the same size. Next, I placed the cut pieces on some paper towel and gently removed some of the excess marinate with more paper towel. I didn’t want to remove it all but I also didn’t want it dripping with liquid when I put it in the dehydrator.

Finally, I laid the pieces of bacon onto the dehydrators removable trays making sure the pieces were not touching each other and gave them a last sprinkle of salt and pepper.

I set the dehydrator to 70˚C and the timer to five hours.

Half way though I rotated the shelves and after five hours I removed the jerky and laid it on pieces of paper towel. I placed alternating layers of paper towel, a single layer of jerky, then more paper towel onto a dinner plate. This removed a lot of oil from the surface of the jerky since bacon is much fattier than the meat you would generally use for jerky. Once the jerky had cooled to room temperature, I removed it from the paper towel and placed it in a plastic zip-lock bag for storage in the fridge. Jerky can last for a while, but I wouldn’t keep bacon jerky for as long as you would leaner beef jerky for instance – But let’s face it, bacon jerky is going to be eaten pretty quickly.

So how did it taste?

It tasted awesome! The texture was quite good. You want the jerky to kind of bend and tear. If it snaps, it’s cooked too much. If it bends without tearing or is floppy, it isn’t cooked enough. The Sriracha Starward Bacon Jerky had a savoury whisky flavour at first with a sweetness coming out as you chewed. Lastly, there was a spicy finish that was just the right amount of spice and not too hot; pretty much damn perfect for a first attempt, if you ask me.

It actually reminded me of tasting a whisky (although a bacon flavoured whisky) since the flavour developed as you ate it rather than hit you all at once. 

Peat Monster Beef Jerky

Next up, I decided to make a more traditional beef jerky. I chose a corned beef silverside, also purchased from Costco. Roughly shaped like a loaf of bread, this cut of meat was already quite lean and having already been cured in a salt brine it would dry quite well in the dehydrator. All I had to do to prepare the meat was to remove the thin layer of fat from one side and cut out a couple of fatty parts before cutting it into roughly one inch thick steaks. You need to cut across the grain for this step. The steaks were about the size and thickness of café-style slices of bread. Next, I placed each steak in a freezer bag and put them in the freezer.

This time the marinade would be soy sauce and smokey whisky based. I chose Compass Box Peat Monster as the whisky. The marinade was a mix of the following:

½ Cup of soy sauce
60ml or 4 x Tablespoons of Peat Monster whisky
2 x Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 x Teaspoon of garlic powder
1 x Teaspoon of smoky paprika powder
1 x Teaspoon of chilli powder
½ x Teaspoon of ginger powder
½ x Teaspoon of cayenne powder
1 x Tablespoon of Manuka honey

Once partially frozen, I removed the steaks I wanted to use and sliced them (with the grain this time) into 3mm thick strips. This made approximately 600g of beef strips that I then placed into a bowl of the marinade, covered it with plastic and put it in the fridge for three days.

I followed the same dehydrating process for the beef as I did for the bacon; five hours at 70˚C

So how did it taste?

The beef turned out great, as good as any packaged jerky you can buy and much cheaper to make yourself. It had a great chewy texture that almost melts in your mouth and while it didn’t have the same evolving flavour like the bacon jerky did, it delivered a nicely balanced savoury hit from first bite to last chew. The whisky flavour was quite subtle so you could probably use more if you wished. I have plenty of meat left over in the freezer so I may experiment with different whiskies for future batches but my first attempt was a hit.

So do yourself a favour and buy a ‘shit oven’ to make yourself some tasty whisky marinated jerky. It is super easy to do and the results were surprisingly amazing.
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Whisky Weight: Can Drinking Whisky Make You Fat?

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Whisky Weight: Can Drinking Whisky Make You Fat?

What a time to be alive when‘low-carb’ potatoes are something you can actually buy – I’m not kidding. Carbs and calories are being discussed more than ever but do you know how your drinking is affecting your waistline? Here are some quick tips to help keep your calories from alcohol intake in check.

Know your units

In dietary terms, 1 Cal (big C) is actually 1 kcal or 1 kilocalorie. This is commonly referred to as a food calorie and is approximately the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius at one atmosphere of pressure.

From now on, when I refer to Calories (Cal), I am referring to kilocalories.

In the metric system, 1Cal equals approximately 4.2kJ or 4.2 kilojoules.

Alcohol by volume or ABV is expressed as a percentage (%) and is a measure of how much alcohol is contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage.

When referring to alcohol proof, US 100-Proof is the equivalent of 50%ABV whereas UK 100-Proof is the equivalent of 57.15%ABV. Whisky can be any ABV from 40% to as high as 70% (rarely higher). Typical whisky ABV is 40%, 43%, 46% or >50% for cask strength.

The Metric unit of measurement for the volume of a liquid is ml or millilitre. Whisky bottles are typically either 500ml, 700ml, 750ml or 1,000ml (1 litre) if bought at travel retail. A standard alcoholic shot volume is 30ml.

The Metric unit of measurement for the mass is g or gram; In Australia, a standard drink refers to 10g of alcohol (a US and UK standard drink are 14g and 8g respectively). A single 30ml measure of a 40%ABV whisky equals 1 Australian standard drink.

How do I calculate the number of Calories in my whisky?

1ml of alcohol weighs approximately 0.787g (0.787 is the specific gravity of ethyl alcohol at 25˚C) and 1g of alcohol contains approximately 7Cal. 

First, work out the amount of alcohol in grams (g):

   (ABV% x 0.787 x volume in ml)/100 = Alcohol in grams (g)

Therefore, the amount of alcohol in a single 30ml measure of a 40%ABV whisky would be:

   (40 x 0.787 x 30)/100 = 
= 944.4/100
= 9.444g

Then, multiply this figure by 7 to determine the number of Calories (Cal):

   9.444 x 7
= 66.1Cal or 278kJ

Likewise, the Calories in a single 30ml measure of a 60%ABV whisky would be calculated by:

   (60 x 0.787 x 30)/100
= 1,416.6/100
= 14.166g

Then, multiply this figure by 7 to determine the number of Calories (Cal):

   14.166 x 7
= 99.2Cal or 417kJ

If only it was that simple

What you have just calculated above is the calories of alcohol in your whisky. What this doesn’t take into account is any additional energy from residual sugars, mixers or the physiological effects of alcohol on the way your body processes energy. Let’s look at each in turn.

Residual sugars

Whisky, like beer, is produced by fermenting sugars from grains. Grains such as malt are used because they contain concentrated stores of energy in the form of starches that can be easily converted to sugars. The majority of sugars are consumed by yeast during fermentation but depending on fermentation methods and added ingredients, the residual sugars within the finished beer or whisky wash will vary. Most of the residual sugars in whisky are lost during distillation which means whisky contains very little energy from sugars; but it does have some, just a negligible amount when calculating Calories.

Mixers

If you drink your whisky with a mixer other than water, you are most likely adding plenty of Calories from sugar (unless the mixer is artificially sweetened). Refer to the mixer packaging for details but for example, 100ml of Coca-Cola contains 76Cal. But beware, the sugar content of your favourite mixers may vary depending on country of origin.

The effects of alcohol on your metabolism

When it comes to whisky and weight gain, the following is the kicker. Most people don’t consume huge amounts of whisky in a single sitting but even if you drank half a bottle (350ml) of 40%ABV whisky, you are only consuming 771.5Cal (3,239.5kJ) from alcohol. But, half a bottle of whisky is a significant amount of alcohol, just over 11 Australian standard drinks.

On average, it takes your body one hour to process one standard drink or 10g of alcohol.

Why is this important? Your body will always metabolise alcohol before it metabolises anything else. Why? Because the primary product of alcohol metabolism is acetaldehyde, a toxin, which must be processed by your body before more alcohol can be metabolised in order to avoid poisoning. Your body makes this process a priority, essentially halting the metabolism of any other energy source until it is complete. That means that any Calories consumed other than Calories from alcohol, will be converted to fat until all the alcohol is out of your system. So, anything you eat in the 11 hours after consuming half a bottle of whisky, will be converted to fat stores rather than metabolised by your body. Beware, this is the trap that most of us fall into when combining alcoholic beverages and food.

The bottom line

In most cases it isn’t the whisky making you fat, it is whatever you eat or drink with it, while alcohol remains in your system. So, rethink that drunken late-night kebab or just don’t drink half a bottle of alcohol in one sitting. In fact, if you are concerned about your health, probably do both.
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