14 October 2013

Whisky Cabal Meeting 11 : Two soldiers down

The Cabal met last Tuesday, as we'd realised a number of new arrivals to our respective cabinet families had yet to be sampled. One Doctor down, but channeling the Dunkirk spirit, we battled on.
the photo, pre-attack, captures a rarity in the UK, sunshine coming through windows. Treasure this photo.

Tullibardine Port Finish 46% 
(Link to LFW Tullibardine, but no Port Finish)
Nose: port, rubber, raisins
Palate: port soaked raisins
Finish: medium length

A nice intro dram, not too complex, but very quaffable / easy drinking. We gave it a 6.5-7.5/10 and would be keen to have more of it. Huzzah !

Berry Bros & Rudd Braes of Glenlivet 46%
N: lavender sweets, bourbon, parma violets, green apple, general fruitiness
P:  fruit salad, violets, pineapple, oaky, hint of smoke
F:  short and light, stewed apples
Split the panel this one: 6/10 (A); 7/10 (R); 8/10 (B)

Braes of Glenlivet, or as it's known now, Braeval, distills booze to be put into blends, so a single cask bottling is rare. Which is why I bought it. See, on the edge.

Glengoyne Teapot Dram I
N: chocolate, raspberry, sherry, old leather in a car, golden syrup
P: sherry, chocolate, xmas cake, raisins, treacle
F: long, warming

First tasted by the Cabal in 7 - read the exciting review!
The Teapot Dram, it's kinda a marketing thing, but really when it's this good...from the Glengoyne website:
For almost 150 years, workers at Glengoyne were allowed three large drams while on duty throughout the day. It was the Brewers’ job to select a different cask each week from which to draw the drams. The workers would gather in the staff canteen at 9.00am, midday and 3.00pm to receive their share.   The agreed measure was for it to be “no less than the quantity indicated by the placement of three fingers upon the tumbler” which was usually calibrated by the man with the chubbiest digits. Served at full cask strength, some of the younger workers found it a bit of a struggle to finish. So instead of disposing with the leftovers, the drams were secreted in a copper teapot. The more seasoned imbibers would enjoy a little extra throughout the day – well, it beats a proper tea break. 
we revisited Teapot I as a prelude to Teapot II. Because, when it comes down to it, we're about scientific reviews. We work so you don't have to.

This time around we liked it - possibly even more than the first.
B+R 10/10; A 9.5/10

Glengoyne Teapot Dram II
N: sherry, dark chocolate, molasses/golden syrup, old leather in car.

Oh bollocks to that, it's exactly the freeking same as Teapot I. This is an excellent thing (as my Teapot I died in the tasting).
Like sherry monsters? just buy it.
Possibly apocryphal stories have it that T I was made from 4 casks, and T II from 6. Either way, they've nailed the flavour.

SMWS 'Full, complex and reassuring' 64.43 55.5% 23yo refill hogshead ex-bourbon
N: pineapple, tropical fruit, wood polish, bourbon
P: prickly, spiky
F: short-medium

Addition of water smoothed the profile down a bit, and introduced a more of a honeyed flavour.
7-7.5 /10

Glenglassuagh - Evolution 57.2%
N: bourbon, rubber, vanilla (hint), fresh ozone
P: sweet, bourbon, rubber, citrus
F: medium

Addition of water led me to suggest 'wet sheep' on the nose and palate. The others wanted it noted that I suggested that, not them.

This was one we'd tried at the Whisky Show a couple of years ago and liked (although it's fair to say notes were getting a bit vague by that point). So a tip of the hat to Rich for grabbing a bottle.

This was the second soldier left behind.

Longmorn Chivas Brothers 14yo 59.6% d1997; b2011
N: bourbon, apples, pears
P: pears, really good, tasty, prickly warm
F: medium (and more pears!)

Chivas appear to be releasing a number of interesting single cask bottlings from their prodigious supplies. These are coming in 500ml bottles, which keeps the price down (slightly).

SMWS G10.5 'A schweppervescence moment' 61% 21yo refill hogshead, ex-bourbon
N: pinenuts, lemonade, iodine, 'wet nuts'  [no, i don't know either, let's just leave it...]
P: effervescent, fizzy sherbet dibdabs
F: fizzy, effervescent, sweet, very long finish

It's a grain whisky, and we're not convinced that it wasted like a whisky at all. But having said that, we liked it.
And in a rare moment, SMWS appear to have a description that *actually fits* what's in the bottle !
A 7.5/10; B 8/10; R 7/10

Slainte, B

8 October 2013

Cycling and badgers

I like cycling. Mainly the speed aspect. This makes life interesting on a number of our roads which are of crap quality, particularly to the side where I bike - potholes galore. Brilliant, especially at the speeds I've managed to hit (73.5km/h is the top, so far...).

But since my phone has GPS it seemed silly to not use it and see how long it takes to bike to/from work.

There's a longer route into work which has a few hills (actual, real hills) which makes the ride more interesting, and sweaty.

The distance is pretty much the same either way, although the hills are different which made me think going in was always going to be quicker than coming home.

Morning : heading into work
Apparently: 133m gain; grade -14% to 11%

Date                    Time(min)     Ave Speed (km/h)    Max Speed
22 March 2012    42.09            15.74                        49.92
23 April 2013      38.19            17.28                        56.42
3 May 2013         34.53            18.96                        63.78
12 June 2013       35.25            18.62                        63.11
23 Aug 2013       31.48            20.66                        55.6
26 Sept 2013       28.36            21.97                        53

So that's all heading in the right direction, although I find it interesting that the max speed recently is down, but the average speed and time taken are better. But this year I've cut 10mins off on my new bike, and 14mins from last year on the old bike.

Evening : heading home
Apparently: 171m gain -15% to 21%

 Date                    Time(min)     Ave Speed (km/h)    Max Speed
21 March 2012    37.17            17.93                      
23 April 2013      31.42            20.80                      
20 May 2013       36.49        
11 June 2013       33.19            20.30                        59.42
09 July 2013        32.01            20.62
23 Aug 2013       31.42            20.80                      
20 Sept 2013       29.40            22.14                      

Sadly, I can't do any more morning rides as it's too dark to go hurtling down hills. This was brought home to me the other day as I flew past a dead badger.

4 October 2013

For avoiding the Daily Fail

TBH, I'm more likely to click on a link for Nigerian princes than to the DF, but for those of you less in control of your fingers there are plugins which redirect those links to other pages (http://www.teaandkittens.co.uk/ mainly).

But the point of this blog is to draw your attention to a comment posted on the Firefox plugin site.
So huzzah and stuff to DeadCars for an inspired review :) Personally my love for the comment reached bursting point around the 'Maybe Princess Diana was a bit overrated?'.
I used to be a massive racist and so naturally turned to the Daily Mail and Daily Express websites for my regular dose of ignorance and thinly veiled race-hate. But this plugin has really turned my life around. I've started having thoughts like "Maybe it's not all the fault of the European Court of Human Rights?","Perhaps there are some substances that neither cause nor prevent cancer?", and "Maybe Princess Diana was a bit overrated?" Thanks to Kitten Block, my fear of imaginary crime has rapidly dissipated and so I last week I left the house for the first time in 18 years. I've also stopped endlessly checking the price of my property on rightmove and started, y'know, being nice to people instead. Thanks Kitten Block, I'm not a unthinking dufus anymore. First class.

3 October 2013

Cooking with Bruce : Spicy vegetarian soup

So it's getting chillier (well it is here anyway), and I like spicy food. So in a nod to cultural norms that say autumn/winter is soup time, here's a spicy soup.

Spice Mix
Vege oil
onion chopped
3cm chopped ginger
3-4 cloves garlic
cinnamon (stick?)
2T toasted cumin seeds (I threw them in with the onion)
2 chillis - roughly chopped

Other Stuff
mushrooms - as many as possible
4-5 smallish spuds chopped
2x 390gm tomato tins
500ml vege stock

Cook the onion over gentle heat until soft. Throw all in blender, and process until smooth (may need a bit of water or oil).

Place into pan and cook until dry, add mushrooms/spuds/tomato and mix until boiling, add stock and simmer for 30-45 mins.

I added a bunch of other things (coriander leaves, asafoetida, tumeric etc), but hey, that's just me...