Coming Soon…

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

Coming Soon…

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

Coming Soon…

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

Looking Back/Forward

Happy New Year to all my readers. If you’ll indulge a little navel gazing, I’d like to take a look back at 2017 on the blog and a quick look ahead to 2018.

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

Is It Worth It? Buying Old(er) Whisky in 2017

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

Leaving Soon…

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

Coming Soon: A Shift in Focus

The Enigma of Arrival
[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

Coming Soon…

Yesterday’s post
purported to look back to the year in whisky in 2016. I have to admit that not all of it was serious—I mean, I still don’t really know how to pronounce “Glenglassaugh”. Here now is a far more sincere look-ahead to January on the blog. As always, I welcome nominations from my long list of potential whisky reviews to a shortlist. I’ll probably also get back to reviewing brandies this month. I have a number of interesting samples in hand: some Calvados, some Armagnac, a Cognac or two, and even an Italian brandy. And I may also post my first-ever rum reviews this month. On the food front, I still have a few reports to come from our trip to Montreal in late October. Those will be mixed in with reports from the Twin Cities. And after a few months off, I’ll be posting recipes again this month.

Check out the whisky list below and, if you’re interested, scroll down to the end for a look at the most read posts on the blog in 2016. Thanks for reading along last year and I hope you’ll be back this year and maybe even post a comment from time to time.  Continue reading

Coming Soon…

And so we’re almost at the end of another year. For one more time in 2016 here’s a look ahead to what’s coming on the blog.

I’ll be finishing up my Four Roses recipe roundup this month (only the F and K yeast strains to go) and after two editions of the Kilkerran Work in Progress in November I’m looking forward to finally tasting their regular 12 yo. Beyond that I have no fixed plans for booze reviews in December—so the long list below is more wide open to nominations than usual. I will also be trying to catch up with my back-log of restaurant write-ups: I still have one more meal to report on from our Los Angeles trip in July (!), two more from my London trip in August (!) and a few more from our trip to Montreal in October; plus I have some Twin Cities metro area eating to report on as well. This probably means there’ll be no recipes this month either.  Continue reading

Lifestyle Blogging in Trump’s America?

Blogging about whisky and food has never seemed very essential and seems pretty frivolous now. What has happened feels like terrible social death even though no one has died. The election results, and the events that have followed, have spurred me into more direct political engagement with my local community. I’ve come to feel the limits of the privilege that have allowed me to feel hitherto secure, as a brown immigrant with an accent (and these days, a beard), in the bits of America that I usually move in; and I’ve recognized the urgency of more than an intellectual acknowledgement of the situations of those who do not have the protections of that privilege. Moving forward in the world we live in now cannot be done, as I said on Thursday, in complacency or denial. As I also said on Thursday, it also should not foreclose a commitment to pleasure. Blogging about whisky and food is frivolous but I will continue to do it. It should not be read as a deferral of social engagement. Continue reading



Coming Soon…

Coming Soon
Here is a look ahead to November on the blog. But first a quick look back at October. The most read reviews in October were of the Laphroaig Cairdeas 2016 and the Laphroaig Lore. Right behind them was the review of the Booker’s Small Batch. In fourth position was my recipe for Pork Pickle. After that it was three more bourbons: the Dickel 12, Booker’s Noe Secret, and the Dickel 17. Of all the other Islay whiskies I reviewed only two made it into the top 10: the Ardbeg 27, 1973 and the Caol Ila 14 Unpeated. Advice to the beginning blogger who is very interested in page views: review only bourbon and current releases. The list was rounded out by the perennially popular piece on Glendronach’s cask shenanigans (at #6) and my love letter to PentatonixContinue reading

A Worthy Cause

Greenvale Geckos
Yes, I am asking you for money. No, not for me; I’m never a worthy cause: for my children’s school. Our boys attend Greenvale Park Elementary School in Northfield, the small town in southern Minnesota where we live. It is a very good school and we couldn’t be happier about our boys being there. The school does, however, face some challenges that the other (also excellent) elementary schools in Northfield do not. It enrolls the largest number of students from low-income backgrounds (almost half the students are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program)—and this means that it faces greater fund-raising difficulties than any of the other schools do. These issues aside, the school is the most diverse institution in Northfield (both in terms of class and race)—this includes the two liberal arts colleges in town—and is a wonderful symbol of the graceful ways in which our community is slowly transforming. I am asking you to help in a small way with this with a donation to the school’s annual fund-raising campaign that ends on Tuesday. Continue reading

Coming Soon…

Here is a snapshot of September on the blog and a quick look ahead to October.

With no recipe posts made in September, almost all of the top 10 most-read posts were spirits-related. The most read was my review of the Astor Huard Calvados—but that was probably due to the vicious behaviour in the comments by a well-known blogger who’s known for flying off the handle at the slightest provocation (you could almost hear him sniffing as he typed). Of the other brandy reviews only the Pellehaut 17 sneaked into the top 10. The Highland Park 10, the Michel Couvreur 12 for K&L, the Longrow 11 Red, the Macallan 10 Fine Oak, the Glenfarclas 35, 1968 and the Bowmore Feis Ile 2012 were the most read whisky reviews (in that order). The only restaurant review in the top 10 was that of Homi, the excellent Mexican place in St. Paul. The only non-review post of any kind to feature was the piece on Glendronach’s single cask shenanigans, a piece whose afterlife seems as endless as whisky geeks’ willingness to buy Glendronach’s “single casks”.  Continue reading