By the time you read this I will hopefully be in Hong Kong. I’ll be here a week on work and then in Bombay for another week on work. And then on to Delhi for a couple of weeks to see family and do some research before returning to the US in late December, and then finally back to Minnesota in early January. It’s going to be exhausting but hopefully also fun and almost certainly with a lot of very good eating. Though I’m taking some samples with me to be assured of good whisky, I’m not planning to be doing much reviewing on the trip. But I do have a large backlog of completed reviews that will publish on a regular schedule through the month. I have more reviews ready than I plan to post so if any of these catch your eye more than others, write in below and I’ll move them to the top of the stack. In addition to the whisky reviews you can expect quick reports from restaurants that sling noodle soup and dumplings in Hong Kong and then Goan and coastal food in Bombay. Continue reading
Man, there are a lot of Indian restaurants in Edinburgh. On our second day I began to photograph the exteriors of each one we passed but had to stop because I was doing nothing else. That’s only a slight exaggeration. Of all the Indian restaurants in Edinburgh, Khushi’s is the oldest. It was opened in 1947 by the eponymous Khushi, though it was not called Khushi’s then. It was then the Lothian Restaurant and operated under that name until the mid-1970s. Its location has changed more often than its name, and as far as I can make out, it has only been at its current Antigua St. digs for a few years. I would imagine that when it opened in the new location it featured an all-new look. I say this because their aesthetic is now very much in the post-Dishoom vein. (And, yes, there’s a branch of Dishoom in Edinburgh too.) The walls are loaded with an eclectic mix of images: from reproductions of classic Bombay film posters to pictures from the Indian independence movement to pictures of random urban scenes. Continue reading
It has been almost four years since I posted the first version of this list. It was spurred by questions from friends who are not whisky geeks, and are in no danger of becoming whisky geeks, but who wanted some suggestions for a small but balanced selection of whiskies they could stock in their bars. A lot has changed in the whisky world since then. Whisky prices have shot up, many once-standard expressions have gone away, and others have changed. And, of course, newer whiskies have shown up on the market that might be worthy contenders for a list like this one. As such, it seems useful to go back and revisit those selections and see if they still hold up. Continue reading
Here for the penultimate time in 2018 is a look ahead to what’s potentially coming on the blog. There’s a long’ish list of potential reviews below and, as always, I invite requests for the shortlist. I think I got to all the requested reviews for October. All the ones that were requested on the blog, at least. Some people did make requests on Twitter but I tend to lose sight of things there. So, if you’re coming to this post from Twitter and would like to request a review please do so by leaving a comment on this post.
Two of my more popular posts in the last month were reviews of American whiskies (the Wild Turkey 101 Rye and the Russell’s Reserve Private Barrel). Alas, I don’t have very many samples of other American whiskies in my stash. However, I do plan to review more bourbons and ryes next year. As the value proposition of single malt whisky continues to tank, (re)discovering the pleasures of bourbon and rye may be key to financial responsibility. But for now I have mostly a list of single malts for you to choose from for November. Have at it! Continue reading
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