The Real and Fictional History of Loch Lomond Whisky

I recently purchased four bottles of whisky made at the Loch Lomond distillery. No one was more excited when they arrived than my children. This not because they are already drinking whisky but because Loch Lomond is the distillery whose name they know best. No, it’s not because it’s one that we’ve visited together in Scotland—I’ve still not been there. The reason is that they are big fans of Tintin comics and, as anyone who knows the series well knows, Loch Lomond is the favourite whisky of not only Captain Haddock but also Tintin’s dog Snowy. I’ve mentioned before the more-complicated-than-it-seems history of Loch Lomond and Tintin. Loch Lomond first appears in one of my favourite Tintin adventures, The Black Island, which was first serialized in 1937. Continue reading


Your Five Favourite Distilleries?

Happy Turkey Day to those of you who mark it. For us it’s going to be our first Thanksgiving by just ourselves in more than 15 years—for the boys, their first Thanksgiving with only the family. We’ll miss the usual, excessive gathering we host every year with friends who haven’t gone out of town but we look forward to doing it again next year when, hopefully, all of this will be behind us. As I’ve been gearing up all week for the smaller Thanksgiving lunch I’m going to be making in the morning, I don’t have the usual Thursday recipe post. Instead, I have something for my beleaguered whisky readership—or at least for what remains of it. It’s a simple question: which are your five favorite distilleries?

This question arises out of a brief conversation I had earlier this week on Twitter about Springbank. As I waxed enthusiastic about that great distillery which has always been in my top 5 (I think so anyway), I began to wonder how I’d round out the rest of my top five these days. Continue reading

My Application to Become Mall of America’s Writer-in-Residence

Mall of America
As you may have heard
,  Mall of America is marking its 25th anniversary. Just imagine: there was a time before Mall of America! Or maybe don’t imagine it: the horrible thought may drive you mad! As part of their celebrations, Mall of America is looking for a Writer-in-Residence, a “special scribe” who will receive the wondrous chance “to spend five days deeply immersed in the Mall atmosphere while writing on-the-fly impressions in their own words”. There are other prizes for the person who is chosen as this “special scribe” but isn’t the opportunity to spend five days in Mall of America prize enough? I think it is, and if you disagree then you have no business being alive! Anyway, I am applying and I am very confident that I will be selected. My submission will be an entirely original poem that I am calling “The Love Song of Mall of America”. I’m not going to give it all away here, of course, but for my loyal readers here is a little sample of the first draft. Enjoy as you would five days at Mall of America!  Continue reading

Year In Review, 2016

Happy New Year everyone. It’s customary to post lists of awards and accomplishments at this time of year and, as always, I am entirely conventional. Here therefore are some lists of my whisky high points of 2016 and other notable events and milestones. As you know, being a whisky blogger of great repute and influence has its perks and I was supplied all year, as I am every year, by distilleries and collectors with many special bottles that you regular, non-blogging types could probably never hope to drink. As such my perspective is truly superior and I very much appreciate that all of you acknowledge and salute that on a daily basis. I couldn’t have done it without you. I may be the one who drank all these whiskies (and other fine spirits) but really, you are the ones who truly enjoyed them! You’re welcome.  Continue reading

Thanks for the Feedback

Thanks to all those who responded to my recent poll looking for feedback on the relative interest in the whisky and food split of the blog. There weren’t quite as many responses as last year—106 to 140—but enough probably for it to be meaningful. My own interest, again, was to see if with another year of restaurant reviews and recipe posts on the blog I was developing any sort of food-specific readership. Well, the answer seems to be that while my food readership does seem to have risen a little, whisky remains the chief interest of most of my readership (I’m a little curious to see what the results would be of a poll asking about the more recent split whisky/brandy focus of the booze component of the blog, but I’ll spare you that one). That’s not to say that interest in the food content is at the same relative low level as last year. If you are really so bored as to be interested in this, take a look at the side-by-side results below and you’ll see some differences.  Continue reading

Requesting Feedback, 2016 Edition

Here is the second iteration of a poll I ran last July. I was curious then to see what my regular readership made of the split whisky/food focus of the blog and which of those subjects my readers were more interested in. It was quite clear at the time that my readership was overwhelmingly a whisky crowd. 77% of those who responded said they visit primarily for the whisky posts. A year on, there are a lot more restaurant reviews and recipes on the blog and more and more of my referral traffic seems to be from food sites; and each month some of the most viewed posts seem to be either recipes or restaurant reviews. Accordingly, I am curious to see where the audience split falls today. To clarify again, I am not looking for feedback on what I should be doing on the blog and I am not going to be changing anything on the blog based on the feedback—hopefully this will not keep you from taking a few seconds to respond.

I will keep this poll open for a week. Thanks very much in advance!  Continue reading

Some Guidelines for Dog Walking (Draft)

Dog Walking
Unlike the “Whisky Blogger Commandments“, this is just a draft (and there are only four guidelines so far); please feel feel free to make suggestions for additions.

1. Do not walk a dog you cannot goddamn control. This category includes dogs whose towing power is greater than your restraining power.

2. Do not especially walk a dog you cannot goddamn control on a goddamned extendable leash.  Continue reading

Out of Action (Temporarily, I Hope)

I made fun of Sku last week for wondering if he should stop blogging about whiskey, but you may have noticed that I have also not blogged about whisky/whiskey since last Monday. In my case, no principles are involved (you can put that sentence in my epitaph); it is just that for the better part of a week my senses of smell and taste have been knocked out by some combination of bronchitis, sinusitis and spring allergies. I’ve not been able to taste or smell very much since last Tuesday and as I had no posts lined up past the review of Heirloom this means there will be no reviews of whiskies or restaurants and no recipes till my nose and palate are back in action. And I have no idea when that will be—I do hope it will be soon as I would really like to be able to taste my food again properly; on the plus side, my liver is getting an extended break. I should have some other stuff on the blog in the meantime, however, that doesn’t involve the nose or palate, so do check back—or spend your time reading the many, many older posts you’ve so callously ignored in the past.

Requesting Feedback

A request for my regular readers: if you would take a moment of your time to select the option below that best describes your feelings about the split whisky/food focus of the blog, I’d highly appreciate it. To be clear, I’m not looking to change what I do on the blog on the basis of this feedback. I’m just curious about whether, and/or to what extent, I have separate readerships for the whisky and food posts; and to what extent, if at all, either readership also enjoys, is indifferent to, or wishes there was less of the other content.

Thanks very much!

And do feel free to leave comments below if you like.

Whisky 2048 (or How Would You Rank The Entry-Level Islays?)

Like me you may have wasted a great deal of your March playing 2048, and all the various versions of it that have sprung up. Perhaps you’ve now begun to retake control of your life. In that case it is time you played 2048: The Islay Edition. You’re welcome!

These obviously reflect my current personal rankings of the entry-level malts from each Islay distillery–though, of course, there’s a huge cheat at the end. And thanks to the Bruichladdich distillery, for once, for making multiple brands that allowed me to get up to the 11 tiles needed for the game.

Would you rank them differently?