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.)