Rosemary's Blog

Journeying with Jura

I almost got to Jura! How many of us whisky lovers can say that when we’ve made it to Islay and looked across the Sound to the Paps, the distinctive breast-like mountains that announce Jura’s presence in the Inner Hebrides? Of course, three might be a strange number of paps unless, like me, you are something of a Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy fan. If you are not, you’ll have no idea what I am talking about...

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In the mood for a dram

I’m in the throes of planning a Whisky Lux dinner for Friday 23rd November 2018 with Malcolm at The Lynnfield Hotel in Kirkwall, Orkney.

We’ve been discussing the menu and starting to pull together a list of whiskies to taste with each course of the meal. There are many things to discuss. One is how will people react to me hosting the evening? There are two major things stacked against me: one, I am a woman and two, I’m from Sooth (as they say up here). Hopefully people will be brave enough to relax into the evening and just enjoy the experience of tastings different whiskies with delicious food and deciding which one they like most and which is the best match with the food. Hopefully the intrigue of that will help the diners to get over my gender and geographical shortcomings!

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Tomatin's Five Virtues - a great welcome to Glasgow

I seem to be in Glasgow once a year at the moment. During the week of International Women's Day in March I visit and catch up with Geraldine Murphy, founder of the UK's first women's whisky club which is based at her family's pub and whisky bar, The Pot Still on Hope Street. Her Women in Whisky fundraising lunch is the main driver for my visit, but this year I hit the ground running as my first stop was the launch of Tomatin's innovative Five Virtue's range of whiskies. The event, from a distillery that I had already earmarked as one to find out about in 2017, celebrated a partnership with Eva Ullrich, a contemporary abstract artist renowned for her landscape works. My own first foray into whisky events was at an exhibition by Scottish colourist JD Ferguson at our local gallery, and so this evening really appealed to me. 

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Wine barrel finished whiskies - Whisky in the Vineyard

I know it is autum once pumpkins and squashes are abundant and dwindling soft fruits are replaced by apples and pears. My cooking changes and so does my taste in whisky. I start to look for drams that are a little more warming on the finish and rounded in flavour. However, living in Sussex which is fast becoming the new Champagne, I am also aware that October is a busy month in the vineyards around me as the fruit is picked, after traditional harvests are gathered in, and wine-making gets under way. There is a synergy between whisky and wine as many drams are finished in wine barrels for extra nuances in flavour, and some are aged in wine casks for the whole of their maturation. This year, to celebrate the UK's blossoming as a serious wine producing country, my Autumn Whisky Collection features whiskies finished in wine barrels - it's Whisky in the Vineyard.

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For peat's sake - give these drams a try!

More divisive than the ice and/or water debate, the growing trend of peating even Speyside whiskies risks the loyalty of many a whisky drinker. Why are peated whiskies on the increase? I have a suspicion that it is to appeal to the die-hard Islay drinkers and the younger whisky fans who seek an experience in their glass. Just as some want the hottest chilli, the strongest Cheddar and the 100% pure cacao bar, I believe that there is a small, but possibly growing, number of people who want whiskies in a Peat Parts Per Million (PPPM) that is bordering on ear-melting - just to have the Experience.

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Oak Cross from Compass Box - my perfect glamping dram

I love being outside in the fresh air but my idea of camping these days is definitely glamping with a comfy bed, cotton sheets and a well equipped camp kitchen, all there and at the ready for us when we arrive. My biggest worry on our latest glamping trip was which whisky to take with me? It had to be something classy, complex and reflective and Oak Cross proved to be a perfect choice.

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Drinking a distillery - a tasting of BenRiach

Whisky, to me, is all about sharing - a discovery, a memory, a story, a sense of place and of time. It's about terroir - but that is still a cheese or wine word and one which is not so common in the drammer's  vocabulary. Now, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, the sharing part of whisky is one reason that I am often a little dismissive of 50ml sample bottles that arrive in the post. How can I share them with my Chichester Whisky Women? Now I am definitely going to change my tune as I have throughly enjoyed a brief journey through 3 of the expressions from the excellent BenRiach. This distillery company has been in the entrepreneurial hands of whisky whizz Billy Walker since 2004, winning the Whisky Distiller of the Year Award in 2009, and Global Whisky Distiller of the Year in 2015. Two huge awards proving the know-how of the managing team who also own GlenDronach, another Speyside favourite of mine. 

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The Benromach organic single malt Highland (Speyside) Whisky

A Tweet, a message on Twitter, first alerted me to M&S having an interesting whisky selection and, as a new M&S food hall has been built on the route between my mother's nursing home and our home, I now seem to be popping in there quite a lot! Not only is the whisky selection worth a look (small but interesting) but their choice of beers is also first rate! And of course they have lots of food too!

It was M&S that actually introduced me to Benromach and to organic whisky. I was unaware of any organic drams although I had seen a Tweet from the US alluding to organic whiskey but had yet to discover any for myself. Then there it was, in a store on a retail park in Bognor Regis - which is just about as far away from a bucolic image of an organic farming life as you could imagine!

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