Friday, December 18, 2009

'Twas the nigh

It was a somewhat quiet, sincere whiskey break this eve. What with most soon tossing off hither and yon for festivus, a somberish tone was the order of the end of the day. A pair of fine notes were on tap, the benevolent triple distilled Auchentoshan Classic (not sure what the coconut means) and the lovely 12 year Bunnahabhain. Down the silky sisters went, amid various tales of restive holiday travel, woe, or otherwise. Mostly woe, though.

Nonetheless, we've got a grand fine coat of snow here now, and hopefully it will hang around for awhile. This is, at least to this blog's wastrel scrivener, much preferred to the usual local conditions. Hope springs forth from this weather development! Stay cold! Skating on the canals! Gads, that would be grand. An entirely appropriate winter wonderland experience, despite the Copenhagen summit.

So, there it is, folks. The final whiskey break of the year has passed (we still await a photo of our Christman tree decorating whiskey break, and the culprit who reads this will know who he is). But anon, gentle readers. We sally forth, witlessly and not, into the new year of 2010. 2010! Imagine.

Weren't we supposed to living on Mars by now?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Barbarians at the Gate!

At first, we at Whiskey Break!™ thought to head to the Jura Mountains -- lovely to be sure, and a goodly haunt for swaggering Breakers! But, nay, this would not be our bucolic setting in celebration of the Jura Scotch we were hoisting this week end's day.

Nor would it be the actual Isle of Jura, whose website would indicate that the Isle of Jura is entirely devoted to making Jura Scotch Whisky. [scrivener note: I am not making this up.]


Welcome to
-- Isle of Jura --
Single Malt Scotch Whisky

And my favourite part,

You must be of legal drinking age in the country where you access this site.

Awesome. Now that is what we breakers call a website! Imagine the actual Isle! Nothing else matters. Sounds like a place Whiskey Break!™ definitely ought to visit. Especially so, considering just how fine the Jura proved to the palette. Indeed, all were in agreement: the Jura, and by extension of course, the Isle, was excellent fare, the 10yr carrying a medium-deep depth and mouth full of flavour. Yum.

But it was not to be, as attentions would turn toward prosaic events, both current and not so, and off it was to the Brandinburg Gate, where approaches anon the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A proposed toast imagined to have been once overheard at the time of the breach:
"Goodbye Commies! You're back to being Russians. So, still bad."

Cheers, folks!

[please forgive any attempt, inferred or otherwise, at geopolitical humour, failed or otherwise.]

Friday, October 30, 2009


With this blog's humbling scribe finally off-loading a backlog of WB!™ reports, last week saw Whiskey Break!™ on the verge of the daylight savings roll-back to standard time. Which naturally meant a trip to the prime meridian, where conflicted calendar date space reigns supreme. Which is one way of saying that one side of the table was a day behind the booze train, and fighting to catch up.

And while time and other things may have been lost, rest assured gentle readers, the Scotch was not!

And, my, was there a pleasing palette of performers on stage that day. Some of the glorious Highland Park was carried over from our days on the decks at Scapa Flow, while new entries hit the table, with a fine offering of The Balvenie "DoubleWood," and the "Sopishticated Islay Single Malt," Bruichladdich. Lest the uninitiated wonder as to this label's quality and kind, Bruichladdich proudly announces itself with a single overbearing word: PEAT.

Question Time produce some consensus: suprisingly, the Bruichladdich proved weakest of the lot, though surely up against some stiff competition. WB!™ revelers nodded between the Balvenie and the Highland Park, with the firm and robust Highland Park getting the final nod on the evening.

Nonetheless, an extremely successful Whiskey Break!™ with some highly commendable entries. Here, kind readers, was the line-up, looking a little worse for wear at the end of a long day.

Cheers anon!

Scotch Flow, Scapa Flow

Betwixt the barrels of 14 inch guns with a view to the hulk of the HMS Hood might seem like an odd place for Whiskey Break!™ revelers to find themselves positioned, but fear and puzzle not, good readers!

We've never believed that function follows form. That's just something architects tell themselves because they have no idea how anything works. At Whiskey Break!™, our form clearly follows function, the function here being downing drams of the smashing Highland Park 12. And there really is no telling what form will follow from that. Rest assured, however, that there is some method to the oddness.

Scapa Flow, Britain's once "booming" naval shipyard, also happens to be near an institution whose function is considerably less damaging than turreted monster deck-guns: The Highland Park distillery is located in Kirkwal in the Orkney Islands and happens to sport a hillside view overlooking Scapa Flow. Don't those gun barrels make so much sense now?

Besides, Highland Park is located in neither the Highlands nor in an actual park -- though it has been argued that all of Scotland is, in fact, a park, one populated by peaty Scots who spend their grey, damp days brewing up the world's most varied and invigorating liquor. And for that, we thank them.

Into the Breach

In continuance of the miserable performance of Whiskey Break!™ 's shirking scrivener, it falls upon said same to once again regale anxious WB! followers with tales of far away lands and clutches of (usually) single malt.

Though not in attendance for the weeks-ago Whiskey Break!™ locals hinted toward a reportedly marvelous 12 year old Caol Ila, this blog's doused notary was informed that the "Ila" was a very fine selection, one those failing in appearance might like to have sampled. Happily, such ex post facto wishes were to be met the very next week, as we shall see in the follow-on posts.

Without attendance, reporting on that week's revelry is necessarily diminished. Nonetheless, WB!™ participants conjured up an excellent photo, complete with some creative additions: regulars offering a presence of spirit, we might say.

From the bonny gates of Southhampton!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Double Time

Apologies extend to the now massive following the humble Whiskey Break!™ blog has established. An embarrassing length of time has passed 'twixt postings of our international exploits, with no one to blame or castigate but the group's weakling scribbler.

Of course, the rueful absence of documented Whiskey Break!™ exploits over the last couple of weeks in no way implies that there have been no Whiskey Break!™ exploits. Quite to the contrary, as this corrective report will reveal.

First on the docket was our marvelous trip to Cognac country, and specifically La Rochelle, where enthusiastic Whiskey Breaker, Daniella had been stationed this past summer. This is an outpost clearly demanding bottled recompense, and a visit from the hearty band.

Which is where we decided to spring forth, spreading good cheer amongst the indigenous clans of the Cognac. A hearty sample was up for grabs (of course!), and a fine turn o' th' cask presented itself in the form of the luscious, caramel-gold Lagavulin 16. We came. We drank. Conquering nothing, we drank some more!


With a few spots of Lagavulin still in hand from our lark in La Rochelle, Whiskey Break!™ decided to make the trek, once again, to a seat of Scotch Whisky production (we respectfully use the Scottish spelling "in country," though we know this spelling is likely the result of extended and remote isolation, which also happens to be a very good reason for making whisky).

And so off it was to Islay, where our roving band of liquor gypsies managed to snuggle up amongst the fragrant casks of Ardbeg, even as we were sipping the luxurient nectar. Rest assured however that we were not tapping the barrels, as Whiskey Break!™ has far too great an appreciation for the art of the cask than to muck about with the crucial fermentation process and the tools thereof.

It may be that in the Ardbeg, our group has hit upon a universally appreciated Scotch. With a clean nose and a lightness of colour, the Ardbeg was met with rounds of appreciation. Indeed, the Talisker 10 had been this breaker's favourite note until the Ardbeg hit the tongue.

More than anything, the unexpecting will be lulled by a colour that implies a wan innocence -- like white wine -- but rest assured, folks, there is nothing innocent nor demure about the 'beg, which strikes the senses with a full-force gale of rich, peaty flavour, followed by a warm and lingering finish. Mmmm.

So far, it seems, Whiskey Break!™ concurred; the bottle was finished in record time, while those who missed awaited in turn to suck on the cork, just to get a sense of it. Not to worry. There will be more! And we won't have to beg for it.

(For those wondering about the barrel sprites flitting amongst the cooper-work and where these casks are in relation to Ardbeg, here is a wider shot of our home for the break.)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Deep Space Nine

Ok. So there were considerably more than nine Whiskey Breakers!™ for this week's lounge and leisure event. But, the theme of space was forced upon us -- not that it takes much -- by nonresident proceedings, as NASA and Space Telescope Science Institute had only just released the latest images from the once-more newly restored Hubble Space Telescope. This amidst the US-Dutch celebrations of a 400 year trade relationship that saw the Empire State building lit orange for the Dutch Royals visit, as well the American Consul in Amsterdam opening the new Beer Temple, promising a vast selection of fine American craft beer -- 30 taps, 80 bottles. Overall, a fine week for both science and suds.

So, with all that on the plate, as well as the return of long-lost Whiskey Break!™ colleague, Mike, it came upon a trusty bottle of Laphroiag, "the world's most richly flavoured Scotch whisky," to carry us forth in clamour and cheer. Fortunately, our vigorous green friend had been well hidden and remained in waiting for what would prove to be a large and robust gathering of Friday revelers.

Our location this week sees Whiskey Break!™ deep in the monstrous folds of lensing cluster Abell 370, which sports some truly wondrous lensed arcs. Al makes his first appearance here at the Break! because, well, he's always up for the toss of a dram -- or so we hear -- especially after having predicted gravitational lensing and finally getting to see some pictures of it, after all those unsatisfying years of technological inadequacy. That's worth a shot, at the very least.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sense and Svensk Ability

This Friday's edition of Whiskey Break!™ was brought to this fair clan by an intrepid though mysterious fellow who shall remain unnamed yet much appreciated.
DATE: 2009:09:23T00:00:00.000UTC-01:00:00H
DURATION: 48:00:00H
Mackmyra is Sweden's first and fine entry into the single malt brewing regime. A golden nectar that oil-slips 'cross tongue; the liquid, languid and wan, verily wafts through thorax. A trail of chest warmth lingers as if to reassure.

So, yeah. Pretty good stuff. We here at Whiskey Break!™ were in firm agreement. Perhaps lacking the depth of flavour of a healthy Scotch, the finish of this single malt is superb.

And then one day, the depth will come. After all, the Swedes only started distilling whiskey in 1999. One wonders what wonders are too follow. Naturally, the Whiskey Break!™ had to make the trek back to Sweden, and take up arms to those Swedes! Damn you! How do you get this good, this fast?!

Sadly, Whiskey Break!™ bade a fond farewell to long time denizen, Joe. (Indeed, I was tossing around the idea of calling this post, Masters and Commanders, but, oh well, Austen won out, da bitch. Always heard she was a bit of a scratcher.) It was revealed to fellow breakers that Joe may have actually been the source and inspiration for the introduction of Whiskey Break!™ to API, if not the Netherlands more generally. So, cheers to Joe and family, to them naught but joy and happiness.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chamonix sampler shindig

This week's Whiskey Break!™ sees our motley assortment boozing it up on the bucolic slopes of Mont Blanc, in appreciation of a now erstwhile collegue, Rafael, who is reportedly from the region (nice!). Upon his departure from API, Rafael tossed our way a bottle of the fine 10 year Laphroaig -- a raspy little number that immediately prompted a musical breakout -- percussive Scotch bottle boxes.

Atop o' this bounty, Joe produced a selection of sampler, which included the Glenlivet, the excellent Aberfeldy 12, and a slippery-smooth Tomintoul 16.

So, thanks to Rafael for the 'phroaig and all here at API wish him well. Cheers from the slopes of Chamonix!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dimple and Pinch

No, the titular phrase is not a reference to some hitherto unknown, yet charming Saturday morning cartoon buddy show. And rest assured; though loaded with silky charm, there is nothing remotely cartoon-ish about this week's whiskey selection.

Whiskey Break!™ brought forth the fine blended 15 yr Dimple, an award-winning mix first produced in 1888 by John Aloysius Haig. Oddly, Dimple is otherwise known as Pinch in the US.

Our destination this week is the seat of that same said Haig company and, more importantly, the site of Dimple production, Edinburgh. Finally, after weeks of wandering the forests of Canada and Guatemala, Whiskey Break! has landed in the very seat of bonny Scotland.

Though somewhat hesitant in introducing a "blend" to the week's event -- concerned about violating some standing, single malt tradition -- it was quickly pointed out that the single most important "tradition" at Whiskey Break!™ is whiskey. Period. Furthermore, recent incursions by foreign liquor -- namely rum -- suggest that this putative tradition is anything but.

The selection of Dimple/Pinch was made for the fact that me ol' Dad imbibed the Pinch whiskey blend long before the single malt craze began sweeping the mass market. So, in celebration of Dad's past birthday, August 6, the Whiskey Break crowd raised a glass in toast, not only to Dad, but to long time Whiskey Break!™ brahman Michael and his twin brother, Bill.

Cheers, Dad. Hope all is well.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Banffshire Booze Hounds

Well, folks, Whiskey Break this week hit off with a splendid 12 year Cragganmore single malt, from the windswept dunes of Banffshire.

Rather enjoying the Canadian Rockies than barren Scottish coastlines, Whiskey Break nestled around the Banff Springs Hotel. We look like a band of giant tree gnomes, about to pounce on the Springs and relieve the elegant place of any remaining Scotch.

Cheers and Happy Malts!

Friday, July 17, 2009

B'more and B'more

Well folks, things hit off well this week with a replay of the Auchentoshan and a lovely Islay Bowmore. We had an international request to hold Whiskey Break in Baltimore, and here it is.

So, by popular demand, Whiskey Break in Baltimore's inner harbour.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Auchentoshan Bungle in the Jungle

Here is Whiskey Break, enjoying the sunny environs of Guatemala, which is where we should have been last time, logistics then proving beyond our ken at the time. Which is not surprising. Whiskey Break often renders many things beyond our ken by the time the bottle is offed.

Woo hoo! A double whammy today, folks. John managed to pull a Glenmorangie,"by the sixteen men of Tain," out of Madrid, while the Whiskey Break group coaxed Martin's secret, though not well hidden, gift bottle of Auchentoshan.

This proved exciting for most, as no one had ever had a punch from the single cask, 60% (!), 11 year (1999) old malt. Shockingly aromatic, to say the least, as the fumes hit well afore fluid touched tongue.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Rum "Whiskey Break"

Lacking a decent whiskey in recent weeks, Eduardo was kind enough to bring a fine Guatemalan rum, the Ron Zacapa Solera Reserve, a silky 15 year-old sweetheart of a rum near which no mixer should be allowed. Nectar.

As you can see, it was a hit with the whiskey break crowd. But then, anything with alcohol is a hit at whiskey break.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Under Water in the Nieuw Digs

Yes, API and the Whiskey Break crew have crossed the Kruislaan into new and spacey digs.  Minor bouts of mayhem have ensued, and by this Friday it was time for Whiskey Break!  A fine Bowmore 12 was on the table, contributed by the wise, enabler that he is.  

Unfortunately, some people look like they have fungus crawling across various parts of their persons.  Sorry about that.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Avast, Hearty Fools!

Whiskey break turned starkly banal, for which some goof poured amber rum into a scotch bottle and we all sat around looking at it, thinking, hmmm, this was rather unimpressive Scotch. 

Indeed. No one would say anything because the phony "scotch" was in the bottle of a very fine Scotch and no one wanted to express their dismay at what was surely an inconsequential selection. Anyway, we drank it all without complaint until the joke was revealed.

Yes, we are Scotch gourmands.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Talisker in Istanbul

Today's Whiskey Break celebrated the Talisker 10 year malt.  Golden and delicious! The chap on the right edge of the screen is Scottish, and clearly thrilled with this week's robust selection.  In fact, he's actually been to the Talisker distillery on the Isle of Skye.

As Robert Louis Stevenson once opined, ""The king o' drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Islay or Glenlivet".