Rosemary's Blog

A hi-fi approach to whisky drinking.

Did I mention that we are moving? Our current task is sorting out our CD's, of which there were hundreds, (the vinyl went long ago, warped from poor storage) and working out what sort of a sound system we shall want in our new home. Will we just be streaming through the SONOS or maybe a similar Naim system, or do we want to keep some of the CD's and therefore the hi-fi?


When I was 'Dish of the Day' on BBC1's Pebble Mill almost 30 years ago we invested in our first CD player, an ARCAM, and it still works well. It has been stored away for several years as some jack didn't go into some socket or something, but this week the time came to drag it out and see if we could rebuild a hi-fi system around it. The current speakers are also perfectly good, Audio Physics finely balanced on delicate speaker stands with sharp points to anchor them in the carpet. I cannot remember if they were packed away when the new carpet came or because dear old Archie, our much missed rough collie, started trying to hide behind everything more frequently when the Goodwood Estate began corporate dinners and celebrations with pet-unfriendly firework displays.

That just left the amp. We had a Unison Research valve amp, another purchase after a time of plenty (other free-lancers will know this boom or bust existence and, like me, would probably not change it for the world) with an amazing sound when everything was working but the buzz and cackle when a valve was giving up was not good. It weighs a ton! It's a two person job to lift it up and down off a hi-fi table but we thought we'd give it a go. The hanging upside down to get everything connected seems more troublesome these days but eventually all the right connections were made and ... not a flicker from the valves. There were some spares - but maybe they were old ones for they made no difference at all.

When you've been in a house for 34 years it is always worth having a look to see if there is anything else stored away in its cardboard box and the amp was a part of the system that did get changed more than the CD player. A triumphant husband emerged from the loft again with another amp, a Linn that might have been replaced by the Unison Research on a bit of a whim for this black box fitted into the system and behold! Music came out of the speakers! The only issue is that it appears to need a bit of time to warm up these days, a bit like the TV's of my youth that needed to be on for about 5 minutes before the programme that you wanted to watch. That said, we are now back in the realms of hi-fi. The sofa has been moved back to maximise acoustic experience. The speakers are once again either side of the inglenook, which doesn't make me all that happy but it won't be for long for, as I mentioned, we hope to move.

My #UnpackYourDayWhisky collection - big drams for a big hi-if sound

My #UnpackYourDayWhisky collection - big drams for a big hi-if sound

We had hundreds of CD's - but we have been having lots of fun boxing them up and selling them to Music Magpie. We are now down to a core selection of about 250 and all this was to see if we really wanted to keep them or if we would be happy streaming for evermore. The verdict is we want both options. Streaming through the SONOS or similar in a room where you will be socialising and music will be more of a background thing. Then the hi-fi, be it this or something a little more modern, that will wrap you up and transport you when music is the only thing on your mind - apart from the whisky in your hand as you listen.

When I started writing about whisky I wrote about music to listen to as you enjoyed the dram in hand under review - it's rather pretentious, looking back. Now I will simply say that there are easy and slightly more complex whiskies that would come into my streaming music selection, and there are big, toes-in-and-out-in-pleasure, chewable, challenging and multi-layered whiskies that will need the full hi-fi treatment of a treasured CD. The surround-sound experience for truly mouth-filling whiskies.

Fine sounds, fine whiskies - I'm lucky to enjoy a very fine life, here and in our future home, wherever that will be. More on that another day and, as always, cheers for now.