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January 12, 2005

Scotch On The Blocks

The Balvenie, I must say, is an excellent scotch. Had a glass or two with the retired neighbor tonight during the second half of the UNC waltz over Georgia Tech. Very vanilla-y in the nose, and smooth as silk.

I have to say I've yet to meet a single malt I don't like, but that perhaps could be ascribed to my relative inexperience in the admittedly wide field of uisge beatha. Presumably there are crappy single malts, just as there are crappy craft beers, but from what I've gathered thus far in my whisky experience is that the crappy scotches are found more on the blend side rather than in the single malts. Father-in-law, for example, keeps a fifth of Dewars around just so he can swear at it.

Retired's Balvenie was a Christmas gift. It was uncracked until tonight, as he actually prefers bourbon. I suspect he decided to invite me over out of sheer evening loneliness, as his wife has been dealing with bronchitis for two weeks and so goes to bed around 7 each night.

Thanks to the invite, I should confess that Ngnat's bedtime story tonight was somewhat shorter than it would otherwise have been. I mean, I would LIKE to be a good father 24/7, but new scotch, male bonding and Carolina Basketball are a tempting mix, especially now that we don't suck.

So, instead of the five chapters of James and The Giant Peach that we would normally have covered, there were only four. The omission was not noticed, I am thankful to say, as she has been far more concerned with the whole issue of rhinoceroses and their proclivity for dining on parents, an idea introduced to her in the very first page of James.

"Why did the winoseplus eat his mommy and daddy?"

"Well, it was an angry rhino, honey. They probably just got in his way."

"Would he eat you and Mommy?"

"No. Rhinoceroses don't eat people any more."

"Why not?"

"Well, after that rhinoceros ate James's mommy and daddy, he threw up, and he told all the other rhinoceroseses that people taste like poopie, so they didn't do it any more."


That's one hurdle cleared. There's another, found in the language area. Before story time tonight was "intensively interact with the children time because I've been at work all damn day" time. This involved alphabetical Mega-Blocks, which are like Legos except they are much larger and possess only one hole apiece, at least in this case. There are holier Mega-Blocks, but they do not enter into our story. These particular plastic extrusions have letters of the alphabet printed on two sides. Ngnat, being the genius four-year-old that she is, decided that we should line them up in order tonight. First "A," the "B," and so on, which worked like a charm until we came to "M," a letter with which we have a history, owing to Ngnat's tendency to confuse it with "N."

When we sing the Alphabet Song, there's a bit of a speed-up in the tune after "K," which the Ngnat has historically enunciated as "Elenenopee," so there has been some confusion as to what the 13th and 14th letters of the alphabet are. It's been overcome, but still, M is considered a right bastard in the Hraka household.

And now he was missing. Ngnat looked under the couch, checked under the cushions, and took a quick inventory of the toy chest in the next room. Nada. She returned to the living room, threw her hands up in the air and delivered a rather matter of fact decision on the missing phoneme.

"We're screwed."

Her ever-so-aptly demonstrated command of the language is my fault, I am led to understand.

One hurdle cleared, and one created. Such are my parenting skills.

Posted by Bigwig at January 12, 2005 10:37 PM | TrackBack
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Ardbeg 17 year.

Posted by: Blackavar at January 13, 2005 08:51 AM

There are crappy single malts, I assure you.

I have a bottle at home that I'll let you sample next time you're over.

It's awful.

Posted by: oxyscot at January 13, 2005 09:28 AM

Since you're in an experimental mood, a few suggestions:

If you like assertive, in-your-face flavors, you might want to try an Islay malt. Bowmore, Laphroig, and Lagavulin are probably the most easily found. Talisker, from Skye, is similar.

For tasty but less intense, try The Macallan or Glenmorangie.

Posted by: Javahead at January 13, 2005 01:20 PM

Had the Laphroig and the Talisker as well as The Macallan or Glenmorangie, Javahead. Thanks.

Was the Ardbeg 17 year old a suggeston or a warning, Blackavar?

Posted by: Bigwig at January 13, 2005 02:21 PM

More like a command, really. You haven't lived as a straight liquor fancier, until you've had it, IMHO. Nothing comes close, until you start getting into the vintage single malts (Yep, there's perennials and varietals in Whisky. Nice). Ardbeg features notes of melon, peat, and phenols. Not as cold and astringent as Laphroaig (which I also love) and not as spicy as Lagavulin (which I like okay). Laphroaig makes you feel like you probably need to talk a walk on a cold, foggy coast line to deserve it; Ardbeg makes you feel okay to be sitting in front of a fire.

Javahead : Ardbeg has recently started distilling again after itinerant shutdowns from the late 70's to the mid 90's. You can get the older vintages because the distillery was shut, but the warehouse wasn't. Bunnahabhain is quite nice, although very light; Caol Ila is similar (like Bowmore); must be something about distilling on the North side of the island. And of course there are rumors about old bottles of one of the lost distilleries of Islay, Upper Cragabus. Never had it, but heard rumors.

Oh my. I've completely geeked out here, haven't I? You know you have a problem when you are seeking the lost distillery of Cragabus. There's only one treatment: The Scotch Therapy.

Posted by: Blackavar at January 13, 2005 05:16 PM

Guys, I'd recommend the Spingbank 18 year single malt. It is an exceptional Speyside single malt. I am a novice at t his, but, I seem to like the Springbank, and t he Balvenie DoubleWood the best of all the malts I have tried so far.

Posted by: wolverine at January 13, 2005 05:45 PM

The Springbank is superb - one of my personal favourites, but it's not a Speyside; it's a Campbeltown.

There are generally 4 recognised regions of Scotch production, Highland (which includes Speysides such as Glenmorangie and Glenfiddich), Lowland (e.g. Auchentoshan), Island (all the Islay malts, Jura) and Campbeltown.

I know we're talking single malt here, but I cannot recommend highly enough a single grain called Cameron Brig. It's made in a small town called Windygates and the majority of it goes to the blending process. A small portion goes to the local retail trade.

Bigwig has sampled some of my limited and coveted supply, so he vcan attest to it's splendour.

I think I might just go and have some now.


Posted by: oxyscot at January 13, 2005 08:23 PM

Glenrothes is also amazing. It's a vintage scotch whisky - bottled not by how many years it has sat, but by the year it went into the cask. The 1973 and the 1989 are amazing, the '73 especially so. Some people swear by the '84 as well. FYI, the '73 is tough to get. I've only had it a few times, courtesy of a former boss who is somewhat obsessed with The Glenrothes...

Posted by: Blackavar at January 13, 2005 09:17 PM

The Cameron Brig is excellent, it's true.

15-year-old Glenfiddich for me tonight, courtesy Kehaar. Here's peat in your eye.

There a Scotch bar up there in Washington, Blackavar? Maybe the OxyScot and I can take a road trip soemtime.

Posted by: Bigwig at January 13, 2005 09:25 PM
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