We had some excitement in September here in our little hamlet in southern Minnesota: our town was hit by a major storm that included a tornado touching down. There was a lot of damage across town—lots of trees ripped out of the ground—but we were lucky to escape damage or downed trees, despite living on a street carved out of a forest, where every home is surrounded by many, many trees. However, the heavy rain that accompanied the storm brought other bad news for us: water leaking through our foundation and into our basement. Other than the laundry room there’s only one other thing of consequence in the basement: yes, you guessed it, it’s where my whisky is kept. Fortunately, there wasn’t very much water but, nonetheless, everything has been boxed up and moved far away from the afflicted wall. Having done this in a bit of a hurry, I didn’t do it in any sort of a planned way and so my whisky drinking over the next few months—till we figure out how to deal with the drainage/structural issues—is going to be fairly random: mostly from my excessive collection of samples and the bottles that I have open now. There’s enough of interest there, however, so take a look and see if you’d like to vote anything from this subset of it to the shortlist. Continue reading
And autumn is here. My term is about to kick off and things are going to get hectic fast. Luckily, I have enough reviews already stored that I should be able to get by and into October without having to scramble too much. I’m also making good headway in my campaign to kill all the sample bottles I have on my shelves. I am also a year and more into a campaign to a) open and drink down more of the bottles I’ve been sitting on for the better part of a decade and b) to only have less than 20 bottles open at a time. The latter is allowing me to pay more attention to bottles and track more closely how they change (or don’t) as they stay open.
In addition to whisky reviews, I will this month finish up with my reports on distillery visits in Scotland this past June—only Highland Park, Tomatin and the Dornoch distillery to go. After that I will pick up on food reports from that trip as well as more reports on whisky stores in Edinburgh. Continue reading
So I managed to post all my Speyside distillery reports in July. The goal for August is to get all the Highlands and Orkney distillery reports done as well. This includes a lot more actual distillery tours than I went on in the Speyside: Pulteney, Highland Park, Tomatin, and a micro-tour of the micro Dornoch distillery. I also hope to make some headway on my reports on eating in Scotland and London on this year’s trip, and on other whisky stores in Edinburgh beyond Cadenhead’s. Let’s face it, I’m going to be writing about this trip till December probably. There’ll be Minnnesota food reports too—markets and restaurants—and I might even have a report on a very local craft brewery. The constant, as always, will be whisky reviews. And, as always, I invite your nominations for things to promote from the long list to the shortlist. Continue reading
Well, I’m back from Scotland (and London). It was a wonderful trip and I fear you’re going to hear a lot about it on the blog over the next couple of months. I visited a number of distilleries and will have detailed reports on the ones I toured (Aberlour, Pulteney, Highland Park, Tomatin) and image-heavy looks at the grounds and visitor centres of the ones I stopped in at but did not tour. I will also have some reports on casual eating in the Speyside and in the Highlands and on Orkney (plus some meals in Edinburgh); I will also have a few London meal reports (and maybe one London whisky report). And those who enjoyed/tolerated my report on the Edinburgh Cadenhead’s will be glad/resigned to know that I do also have a few more Edinburgh whisky store reports. Continue reading
As you may know, I leave for Scotland in a couple of days. I’d thought that our trip there, at the tail end of our three month sojourn in London last year, would be my first and last visit, but our entire family loved it so much, we leapt at the chance to go back again this year. We’ll be in Edinburgh for most of a week and then we’re heading up to the Speyside with friends for a few days; after which we’ll go up, through Dornoch, to Orkney; and then back again down to Edinburgh via Edderton. Tours are booked at Aberlour, Pulteney and Tomatin, and I hope to stop briefly at a few more distilleries besides. I’m also looking forward to drinks with occasional commenter, James in Edinburgh the first week, and to meeting a Thompson or two at the Dornoch Castle Hotel. To mark this trip to the Speyside and the Highlands and Orkney, I have decided to post only reviews of whiskies from the Speyside, the Highlands* and Orkney this month. The only exception is that I will continue my slow-motion series of reviews of old blends. Instead of the usual call for nominations from a long list to a shortlist, therefore, I have only a likely complete list of reviews. Continue reading
We went to Scotland at the end of our extended sojourn in London last year—spending time mostly on Skye and Islay. While planning that trip I’d thought that it would be my first and only trip to Scotland. There are many parts of the world we want to visit as a family, and as we can’t do international trips every year, it didn’t seem likely that we’d double up instead of going somewhere new. But we loved our time in London and our trip to Scotland so much, we’ve been plotting a return ever since we got back. As luck would have it, an academic conference the missus and I were both interested in is taking place in Edinburgh in June; we applied and were accepted. Accordingly, we will be in Edinburgh for four days in early June and will then go up for another week to the Speyside and then further north to Orkney. I have the broad contours of the trip planned but invite your feedback here. Continue reading
And so it’s May. In Minnesota we’ve gone straight from never-ending winter to summer. The mosquitoes might even get here before the tree pollen. You’re right, none of this has anything to do with what I might or might not post on the blog this month. Well, the tree pollen might: two years ago, two months after moving to the street we live on, allergies made it impossible for me to smell or taste anything for weeks on end. What I’m saying is that if there’s anything on the long list of whisky reviews that you’d like me to get to for sure, you should let me know soon.
In addition to whisky, I’ll have a number of Twin Cities restaurant reviews as well—and I remain open, as always, to recommendations for places to get to. Continue reading
In the post I made on the blog’s 5th anniversary I noted that I was no more inclined to start reviewing more standard/current releases now than I have been in the past. Accordingly, I am pleased to note that this month’s long list of potential whisky reviews contains a larger number of whiskies that are either always available or still available in Minnesota. I’m not sure how this happened but it’s not likely to happen again in the near future. I also noted recently that the most-read posts on the blog in recent months are food-related, and so I thought I’d confirm that in March eight of the top 10 read posts were either restaurant reviews or recipes. Of the two whisky posts, one was the ever-popular discussion of Glendronach’s “single cask” shenanigans and the other was my review of the Glendronach 25, 1968. So, if I went with what most people apparently like to read on this blog, I’d post only about food. As such, you should be grateful that I post any whisky reviews at all, and that I cover any distilleries other than Glendronach. Continue reading
The end of this month will mark the fifth anniversary of the start of my blog. I tell you this now so you may prepare appropriately for the celebrations when the actual day of the anniversary arrives. I began the blog with a review of a Bowmore and have marked each anniversary since with a review of a Bowmore. You can expect that to continue. As for what other whiskies I review this month, as always, I invite your input below.
I should say, however, that of late it seems like my food posts are getting more views than my whisky posts. Of the ten most viewed posts of February three are restaurant reviews (including the top two posts) and one is a recipe. Of the six spirits reviews that rounded out the top 10, two were of bourbons and one was of a rum. Only three malt whisky reviews in the list. Accordingly, I have a long list of potential malt whisky reviews for you to make nominations from for March. Continue reading
I think I got to almost everything that was requested from my long list last month. Of the whisky reviews I posted, the most popular were those of the Four Roses Al Young and the Kilkerran 8 CS. My review of the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2017 was also read a lot yet again. However, the most popular posts, by far, were those of two Twin Cities restaurants: Babani’s and Cheng Heng. It appears that someone is linking to my Twin Cities restaurant reviews on Facebook but because of how Facebook links work it’s not possible for me to see where on Facebook that traffic is coming from (the same is true of Twitter). If you are one of the people who has come here from a link on Facebook not posted by me I’d really appreciate finding out where that link was posted and by whom.
In the meantime, here is the long list of potential reviews for February. If anything catches your eye, feel free to request promotion to the short list in the comments. Continue reading
As you may or may not remember, about 11 months ago I announced a change of focus for the blog. Fewer whisky reviews, I’d said, and restaurant reviews focused more on smaller, immigrant-run establishments; I also said I’d try to write more about books and films from the non-Western world. This stemmed from the uneasiness I felt about lifestyle blogging during the apocalypse. As you may also have noticed, by the second half of the year my posting frequency was back up to 4-5 posts a week. This is not because my concerns about the political environment in the US evaporated—in most ways, TrumpAmerica has turned out to be exactly what many of us feared at the time of his election, or worse; though I do feel more hopeful now than I did in February 2017 about possible resistance to it. Continue reading
This post is brought to you by two recent questions. One was asked of me last week by (ir)regular commenter Ol’ Jas regarding a 1977 Pulteney bottled by Scott’s Selection in the mid-2000s: he wanted input on whether it was worth it at the price. This pointed question focused for me another I’d been turning over in the back of my mind in the last couple of weeks while drinking down a bottle of Talisker 18, purchased some years ago at a much lower price than is currently being asked for it: it’s a whisky I like a lot, it’s one of the first whiskies I thought of as great when I first started getting into single malts in a big way, but I can’t be sure that I will ever buy a bottle of it again. Both scenarios have shifting price in common—that bottle of Pulteney was also being sold for quite a bit more than would have been asked for it five years ago, leave alone at release—but they’re not quite the same thing. And there are, of course, other kinds of scenarios as well which arise in relation to changing prices and the nebulous questions of value. And so, I thought I’d turn this into a blog post in its own right, less with a view to settling these questions and more to ask my readers how you negotiate them. Continue reading
No, not the blog. Though I’m still not posting as much as was previously normal, and I’m not sure when I will be, the blog is not going anywhere. I am though. I am off to London in the middle of the month and will be there for a decent chunk of time on work. The trip will culminate—or so is the plan anyway—with a 10-day jaunt up to Scotland. The plan originally had been to take advantage of cheaper continental travel within Europe and go to Italy or France or Spain or the Netherlands, but if you are an Indian citizen living in Minnesota, getting a Schengen visa is a huge pain in the ass. So Scotland it is and it’s not just a consolation prize. I am telling you all this in order that I may ask for your input on a few things, some whisky-related, some food-related, and some Scotland-related. If you think you are in a position to answer these questions, read on! Continue reading
[This post started out as the (overly-long) introduction to a review I posted yesterday of Nawal, a Somali restaurant in Burnsville, MN. So as to let that review stand on its own, I’ve split the part about my current shift in focus on the blog to this separate post.]
In the days after the US General Election I published a post titled “Lifestyle Blogging in Trump’s America?“. In it I noted the incongruity of blogging about whisky and food in a time when the confirmation and acceleration of political and social crisis seemed to be all around us. I concluded by saying that while it was necessary to move (further) into political action, it was also important to not let these dark developments make us foreclose on the possibility of pleasure. Well, two and a half months later I’m still refusing to foreclose on pleasure but, especially after the events of the last 10 days, I am not feeling terribly motivated these days to sit down every night and write tasting notes on whisky (or brandy or rum). Continue reading