Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Turning Japanese

Indeed, Whisky Break! was treated to a turn of the Suntori distillery, the acclaimed Yamazaki single malt! Ahh, feel the burn! Like a radiative hose of Godzilla's own breath!* Many would cringe and shrivel at the prospect, but not the Whisky Break! dear readers, surely not Whisky Break! We are entrusted to hold forth on all manner of sternum burning, and the burning of sterna.

And burn the 'zaki did, dear readers, a long and hotting smolder. Of course, you know we love that. But what you don't know is that, despite the breadth and length of the follow, the flavour of the Yamazaki was somewhat lacking, as Whisky Break! generally agreed that the Yama was missing the mouthful.

Nonetheless, we all enjoyed the dragon's breath from the land of the Sun and scary monsters borne of man's folly.

Cheers, folks! There's Yamazaki to down, and Godzilla to drown. Unless, of course, he's a good Godzilla. In which case, we'll cheer, Godzilla! or possibly, Yamazaki!

* Verily, gentle readers, this miserable scribbler had to work in the picture somehow. But I think we can agree, it all fits together like a seamless garment: Yamazaki, Japan, Whisky, Whisky Break!, Godzilla.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A WB! Whisky Metric: Sternum burn

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the Ardmore began to take hold.

Some minutes had passed in the sampling of the scrumptious Ardmore Highland malt, when Whisky Breakers, as one, sat back, scanned the scene, and verbally agreed, "yeah, that's got a good burn. Lingering."

This, gentle readers, appears to have become the Whisky Break! metric for whisky tasting satisfaction: sternum burn, and a lingering one at that. Now, we like a good, mouthful of flavour, but the burn is what we seek, what we crave. Verily, the Ardmore doth deliver on that scale. A fine and satisfying brew.

And that's not just Whisky Break! telling you this, gentle readers. See what Dr. Whisky and his crew have to say about it about it:
Wow, big burst of a smoky impact, slightly fishy, more baked sweetness with canned peaches, "mmm... apples." The big impact becomes gentler upon swallowing into shortbread and a bit of vanilla and bubblegum.
Bubblegum and peaches. Hmm, sounds like sophisticated palettes at work there -- and far beyond our ken -- but a tad fey to we here at Whisky Break! where concerns pertain to the sternum, and the burning thereof. That's what we like!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Unveiled: "oldest single malt whisky in the world"

Oh, dear. How do we get a hold of some of this? That is, without forking over €11000? These questions run deep.
EDINBURGH - A Scottish whisky firm on Thursday unveiled bottles of what it claims is the oldest single malt whisky in the world, having spent the best part of a century inside an oak barrel.

Gordon and MacPhail's Mortlach 70-Year-Old Speyside was sampled at a launch party in Edinburgh Castle, where it was escorted through the doors by pipers and a military escort.

"It matured for 70 years in the cask and that is what makes it the oldest whisky in the world," a spokesperson for Gordon and MacPhail told AFP.

The whisky was filled into its cask on October 15, 1938, by the grandfather of the company's managing directors David and Michael Urquhart.

There will only be 54 full-size bottles priced at 10,000 pounds each ($15,000 U.S., 11,000 euros), with another 162 smaller bottles on sale for 2,000 pounds.

The limited edition malt was matured in a former sherry hogshead cask made from Spanish oak. It has been bottled in a "tear shaped, hand-blown" crystal decanter with a silver stopper.

Whisky taster Charles MacLean described the single malt as "a delicate, fresh, vital, fruity whisky, with unusual attributes of waxiness and smokiness".

"It's the oldest cask of whisky that, in my knowledge, has ever been bottled," he said. "The spirit and the wood have inter-reacted beautifully over this long period of time.

A wan one

Told ya.

Anyway, WB! readers will be advised to learn that, with all the whirlwind, jet-setting to international celebrations over recent weeks, the WB! crowd sat back to relax at home, mostly owing to a dearth of whisky on hand, the apparent governing philosophy now being, have whisky, will travel. The corollary of which would then be, have whisky not, will sit home and sulk.

Fortunately, our Polish crew came to the rescue with an intriguing offer of Polish herbal vodka called Żubrówka, a sharply flavoured liquor also known as Bison grass vodka. Now, this particular alcoholic invention, which uses actual bison grass, was banned in the US by both the FDA and the ATF in 1978, when it was determined by a clueless band of meddling bureaucrats that the "toxic" compound, coumarin, ought not be consumed by Americans. It seems doubtful to Whisky Breakers that coumarin could hardly be more toxic than straight up alcohol, and happily, this blinkered and arbitrary decision all those decades ago has failed to migrate across the pond.

Which means, Bison grass vodka has now been introduced Whisky Break! And we're still not mental!

Though lacking the cherished sternal burn of a smashing single malt, the Żubrówka presented a interesting turn on the tongue. And for the etymologically-inclined, the Polish mix buffalo grass vodka with apple juice and call it tatanka. Now, this is interesting because that also happens to be the exact word for bison in the North American Oglala Lakota language. Note the accompanying image and, please, do not attempt to drink that version of tatanka, which is expected to trigger a gag reflex in some consumers.

Well, with a small sample on tap and running down rapidly, magically, a bottle of the fine Skye-born Talisker 10 went its way to the table, and Whisky Break! moved into to our more familiar domain. The T-10 is long-time WB! fave.

And that was a fine finish to the week that was.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Her Name is Rio ...

After hitting the Chinese New Year with a gusty tiger balm, it was time for Carnival! Woo hoo! Indeed, winter 2010 has proved a marvelous party season. And then Canada won the Olympic gold in hockey! just as it should be. (There will be more on that in future Whisky Break! maunderings, rest assured readers, rest assured.)

So, off it was to Rio for the Whisky Break! crowd, and the continued enjoyment of those dirty, dirty boys, Oban and Laphroig, half-brothers whose tale is not entirely without homology to that of Castor and Pollux -- both borne of mother Scotland, separated by contrastive sires.

But eno' o' th' pedantry! It was dirty kin party time in Rio.

Tiger Balm

Egads, Whisky Break's bumbling scribe has fallen off the reportage radar, and horribly so. But, fear not, gentle readers! Though reports of our international and cosmopolitan adventures have languished, that conspiracy of lassitude has been effectively quashed.

So, with that weakly exculpatory exposition, it now falls upon this WB entry to enrapture readers with our tastings of the Chinese New Year's smokey entries. The Year of the Tiger was rung in with a terrific roar, the roar of sterna ablaze with the liquid heat of raspy-fine single malts.

And pleasing heaters they were, as the heretofore undiscovered Laphroaig 15 finally went its glistering way to WB's many palettes, all of which were glazed with silky reward, and the Oban 14, which suffered a tad for the comparison with its sturdy Islay cousin. As the spoiled folks at Laphroaig tell us, Oban was competing for attentions with "the richer, more mature and succulent elder brother of the robust 10 Year Old." Indeed, we can hardly disagree. So rich and succulent, it left the otherwise fine Oban well in arears.

Nonetheless, with two bottles o' Scotland's finest, the WB! bade New Year Tiger a fond welcome with many a hearty toast, and with enough to spare to be enjoyed once more! We may be single malt gormands, but we do have a sense of relish, relish for more of these fine whiskies. And so it shall be!

We'll leave it to Laphroaig themselves to tell us that the Laph-15 is "esteemed and savoured around the world by a fortunate few." WB! considers itself fortunate, indeed. Get yours today!