29 December 2011

Whisky tasting

Just a small localised one this time, with me.

Glengoyne Port Finish 13yo 46%
Nose: bourbon, fresh cut wood (pine), cut grass, spikey, hint of vanilla, cloves?
palate:  green apple, sweet orange, tingly,
Finish: medium

I don't get much port on this finish, but it's quite a refreshing dram. One you'd drink more of, especially during the afternoon. Not a complex evening malt.

Connoisseurs Choice Caol Ila d.1997 b.?? G and M, 43%
Nose: peat, phenol, rubber,
Palate: warm, weak, salt, honey, bacon,
Finish: medium-long, pepper/salt comes thru

I wonder if this is a whisky that suffers from being diluted to43%? Would it have been more interesting at cask, or 50%? Lack of age statement makes me wonder if it's a young Caol Ila too, there's an absence of complexity - although it's not fiery, so 10-12yo??
It sticks in the mouth as a finish for sometime, with more honey appearing (ie sweeter) which is encouraging, shame the palate doesn't live up to the Nose and Finish.


26 December 2011

Cooking with Bruce : Bits of Xmas dinner; Pavlova, turkey, scallops

Although there was an intention to cook lots of different stuff over Xmas, realism kicked in and I ended up splitting them over a few days. Mainly as we had enough food for Xmas/Boxing day.

Dessert involved two different ones - pavlova and xmas pud. At least that was the plan, in the end we stuck with pavlova and the xmas puddings are lying in the fridge awaiting another day, another dinner.

3x egg whites
3/4c caster sugar
1t vinegar
1T cornflour
1t vanilla essence

Beat egg whites until very stiff, add sugar in 3-4 lots, beat until very very stiff and glossy. Add everything else, and beat more. yes, there's lots of beating. It's like childcare.

Turn out onto greaseproof paper (or whatever you're using), cook 30min 150C then 30min 125C.

Xmas Pudding - has already featured in Cooking with Bruce. See here. 
although this year I used lagavulin 16yo to add a hint of smoke and pepper.

Xmas dinner
Pancetta wrapped turkey with herb lemon and pinenut stuffing.
From the BBC Good Food webpage. 

Scallops with corn salsa
This was supposed to be served in pastry, tbh that seemed pointless to me, so I gave up. And I hate making pastry. Yes, I know. I did try, but I got bored and didnt like it. Not sure where I stole this from.

1T lime juice
1T red wine vinegar (or in my case, sherry vinegar)
1/3c olive oil


Spiced Scallops
1c corn kernels
3 spring onions, chopped
1 small avocado, chopped
Combine, and add two tablespoons of dressing.

1/4c flour
1T sesame seeds
1t tumeric
1t cumin
pinch cayenne pepper
12 large scallops
1 egg, beaten
olive oil for frying

Put all dry ingredients together, mix, dip scallops in egg, then toss in dry. Fry 30s each side until golden.

Mix through 1T dill, parley, coriander into the corn mixture. Put on plate, place scallops on top, drizzle remainder of dressing over it.

B. Somewhat full.

22 December 2011

Whisky Cabal Meeting 6

We gathered together, one doctor short, for the final Cabal meeting of 2011. As usual there was a diverse collection of drams, although oddly a predominance of standard releases. I've been a little slack, and away on holiday, hence the delay in getting the vital bits of info to you all. As usual links are to our favourite whisky shop Loch Fyne Whiskies, except for the Port Ellen.

Port Ellen 26yo Old Malt Cask
A ghost Islay distillery, Port Ellen closed in 1983 and bottlings are becoming rare, and very expensive. I picked this up quite a few years ago after an Islay tasting, as I'd enjoyed it, and I think it's a criminal shame that most Islay whisky is bottled so young. There's no reason why they have to be ball sack rippingly vicious, try an old one and feel the power and complexity...
I can't find a link for this particular bottling, so here's a general Port Ellen one.
Nose: salt, peat, new leather, fireworks
Palate: subtle, spicy, sulphur, fireworks
Finish: med-long, throaty, salt, warm, mulled wine.
7.5-8 /10

Glendronach Allardice 18yo 46%
Nose: Sherry, sweet, honey, furniture polish, cake
Palate:  tasty, sweet, toffee, honey, fudge, xmas cake
Finish: long, xmas cake
7-7.5 /10

The Cabal seems to be liking the Glendronach's, certainly a sherry monster, but very yummy. 

Glengoyne 17yo 43%
Nose: old socks, chopped nuts, dairy milk chocolate, ozone
Palate: chocolate, bit watery, oranges, raisins, sherry, green apple
Finish: medium, chocolate, sweet

Glengoyne pops up quite frequently here. I like it, which can be traced directly to Neil. As can Edradour. The 17yo is very quaffable, and comes highly recommended from our professional quaffers.

Jura Diurachs own 16yo 40%
Nose: sweet, chocolate, oranges
Palate: chocolate, sweet, seaweed/sushi, xmas, 
Finish: med-short
7-7.5 /10 "Very quaffable"
Bit of a surprise this one. I know everyone raves about Jura, but I've never been a huge fan. Always seemed to be missing something, possibly they'd been built up too much. So we went into this one not expecting much, but really enjoyed it. Interesting whisky, and worth trying. Usefully Jura are selling it in smaller bottles (not sure what size, I guess 375ml?) so won't kick the wallet too hard.

Benriach Tawny Port 15yo 46%
Nose: fighty, salt, sweet, acetone/acridine, antiseptic
Palate: salt, port, bad red wine but not in a bad sense,
Finish: salt, med-long, warm character
7.5-8 /10
To quote the previously mentioned Neil, we'd describe this as 'bats-arse mental'.
We like Benriach, their whiskies have huge character, are very different, and even though they throw up a lot of unexpected flavours, are brilliantly balanced. 

Port Charlotte 9 59.2% Bottle 2950/6000
Nose: salt, bacon, iodine, medicinal wipes, phenol (industrial!)
Palate: chocolate, sweet, raisins, salty, fighting
Finish: long, spikey, chocolate high cocoa, raisins

Addition of water chilled it down a bit, but increased the chocolate and sweetness, less fighty nose but more bacon. Called "bandage compress" by one of us.
8.5-9 /10

I like the PC's, and I like how the flavour profile has changed over the years. If you like your Islay's, and like them complex, go for the PC. 

SMWS 127.3 8yo Refill bourbon 67%
Having said there's complexity in the PCs, we threw this one in as a PC where subtlety is not the main focus of the booze.
Nose: light, salt, bacon, "cold medicine", iodine, wood chips
Palate: very drinkable, leather, burger rings, sweet, bourbon

"what a way to go"
Addition of water gave:
Nose: medicinal, phenol, floor polish
Palate: warm, rubbery, chocolate, gin n tonic, sweet, honey
Finish: warm, big, long

8-8.5 /10

We finished the evening with the SMWS 121.39 'Easy Drinking Dram' which we've reviewed a few times before.

We have a few lined up for the next tasting, so I guess we should get on with planning that....


11 December 2011

Of cuts, scrapes and gigs

I see winter has decided to arrive. This time last year the UK was dying in a unexpected arrival of snow. In winter. Yes, surprise all around. The rest of Europe seemed to cope OK, a situation reflected in recent Eurozone discussions. Britain on the outer, everyone else banding together to sort stuff out. Maybe.

Managed to slice my thumb while washing dishes. For I am that talented. While rinsing dishes, a plate broke and sliced through to the bone. Brilliant. Sacrificing a tea towel for blood soaking, we contacted NHS direct, ending up at the walkin center to collect some sutures.
What I learnt from this experience:
* I'm a crap patient, preferring to ignore everything (this came as a surprise to no-one)
* use disposable plates
* Tues evening is a great time to injure yourself in Lboro, the cemetary would have exhibited more life than the NHS walk-in.

It seems reasonable now (following infection, woohoo), just waiting for the numbness to clear. Stupid nerves.

Went down to Birmingham this weekend, loved the art gallery, hated the crowds. But yes, definitely recommend the gallery/museum. the Xmas markets were nice, but too crowded - didn't seem that bad last year, but then I realised I went during the week. and it was much much colder. But I had some mulled wine, so things were improved.

There's a small monthly classical gig scene at the University here in Lboro, which for the last few months I've missed - due to other gigs. But finally made it for the December gig. This was a duet between Maxim Rysanov (viola) and Ashley Wass (piano). Thoroughly enjoyed this, neither performer had huge stage presence, but the music was superb. Dominated by Faure and Debussy, the programme could have been quite boring. It started with Bach (Suite #2) as a solo performance by Maxim, brilliant. To the point where I picked up a CD of him playing three Bach cello suites after the gig. Two Faure pieces (Romance and Pavane); Debussy (claire de lune); and Faure (Elegie). So yes, lots of stuff you'd recognise. But sounded good, and some very good performances.

The second half kicked off Dubugnon (Incantatio for viola and piano). I'd never heard of the composer, but this was superb. Reminded me of Can, which may have something to do with listening to Tago Mago before hand. But it was great. Definitely recommend those of you who like more interesting music (classical or rock) to give him a spin.
Here's part 1 (part 2 is also availble on youtube)

Then back to Faure (Apres un reve); Dubugnon (lied); Debussy (Prelude: la fille aux cheveux de lin); Ravel (Pavane).

So yes, civilised evening. Following by a ball numbing bike ride home. See, it's early Dec and no snow, so still biking.

Gig next week is Marillion on Wednesday. So we're heading down to the Gerhard Richter Exhibition at the Tate before hand, check in at hotel, gig, then head to Namur for Belgium beer for a few days. Mmm beer. Ironic really, it was easier to get Belgium beer in Wellington than it is in the UK. FFS. And yes, I know I could use beers of europe website, but it doesn't seem to have a consistent selection.

Annoyingly I seem to have lost all my notes from my bikeride holiday, so it's just going to be distances and photos. Bollox.