Manchester Whisky Festival 

So sometimes I do things of a slightly spontaneous nature. And this was one of them. And why the heck not?!

Friday morning had me up at silly o’clock and off to the airport for a relatively quick flight down to Manchester for The Whisky Lounge festival. Beautiful blue skies had driven away the fog that had threatened to delay the landing. It was to be a fresh look at this city.

I made my way to my hotel and was lucky to find my room was already available so I checked and unashamedly went for a sleep. After a bath and freshening up I decided it was time to explore. I spotted Paul (whiskyweegie) up a side street (pure chance) and approached him as he was in his boot (we’ll sort of) “don’t jump, I’m just saying hello!”.  A nice chat and a catch up before I continued my walk, the goal being The Whiskey Jar on Tariff Street for one of their G&Ts and the glass laced with Laphroaig 10. Sat across from a spot… (that’s for another time (okay that’s in “Inside the Bottle: The Contents”))

Anyway. I made it for a couple of G&Ts then back to my hotel and get ready for the festival, pick up my fudge and get sampling.

It was nice to see Gina on the front desk and a quick hello to Amanda.

So wristband on and up the stairs to collect my glass, pipette and tokens. Missed my chance at first through the door. There were some eager whisky fans that evening…

Had a lovely time tasting some delicious drams from Talisker, Highland Park, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Spey Whisky, Paul John, The Quiet Man. I’m sure there’s more… Tried some El Dorado Rum and spoke to lots of people about fudge.

One chap asked me how I put the whisky it in so I motioned a pouring action (ha ha.) Also had a lovely long chat with an older chap called Brian who definitely wanted to see my fudge elsewhere…really nice to know.

It was nice seeing the lovely and ever so funny Colin (Dunn) especially chatting over the Talisker 57 degrees North. Memorable.

Lots of giggles and a lovely hug from Kat (whisky discovery) too.

Then it was the last pour and time to go back to my hotel…

Or so I thought.

I’d nipped to Tesco for a drink and snacks and on the way back I heard “fudge lady!” This was Jen who I’d met earlier… I was then told I couldn’t possibly go back to my hotel as the night was still young. So I joined them in the Vine. Crappy whisky. Flat coke. They didn’t know how to make whisky sours, but we all had a good laugh.

I then decided it best to leave and went back and crashed out. A busy day ahead…

Saturday was late check out and back to the Town Hall for the early session. Equal first through the door! (Yeah I’ve still got it – ha ha.) Popped my case and bag down and got sampling… I started the day with Talisker Port Ruighe – lovely and interesting dram. Moving on I tried the Glenlivet Nadurra Oloroso matured Batch OL0816 and yum yum.. met a tweeter on route too. Mr WGS19. And Greg of Great Drams and thus completing the full set of The Dram Team…surely that deserves a prize?!!

I had to watch how much I was having as I was flying later. I managed to sneak in an Aberlour A’bunadh batch 58…can’t beat an A’bunadh in my books. Then all too soon it was time to think about leaving (boo! hate saying goodbye- think I need to start saying “see you later!”)

Final dram? Yes it had to be a Paul John and a quick catch up with Craig & Sorren and a deliciously good dram (see my tasting notes on cask #1444.)

So all too soon it was “see you later” a hug or two and leaving some fudge with friends I had to head back to Manchester airport. I asked the Town Hall security for the quickest route back to Piccadilly Station at which he took my case from me, laughingly said “you and me, we’re finished”… led me down the steps and along to Tesco. Pointed out that I should follow the route or the trams and wished me a good day 🙂

Got to the airport with an hour to spare. I was bound for Inverness!

Thanks to everyone I met and chatted to in Manchester (apologies if I forgot to mention you.) Fun and giggles as per usual.

Sarah

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Paul John Whisky – Cask #1444

Last Saturday I was down in the rather beautiful Manchester Town Hall for The Whisky Lounge festival.

As it was getting very close to my time to rush off to the airport (boo!!) and so my final dram, I thought it would be nice to finish with the Classic. So I headed to the Paul John table to ask for sample (my bottle at home is still closed.) As it happened I was given a rather lovely dram from Craig instead.

This was the Paul John Cask #1444 this is a single cask – 59.7%

So I headed to one of the link bridges. Quiet and away from the crowds (it was a busy session) I could enjoy what was in my glass.

The nose offered lots of malty scents and barley. Hints of vanilla and ripe fruit. It was a fragrant sweet nose mingling with malted biscuits. Delicious honey sweetness  (in a place surrounded by images of worker bees seemed fitting.) Those lovely spices were really drawing me in, with a subtle herb influence too. After a while I got the most delicate hint of parma violets (wasn’t going to say that – but I did.)

A lot of spice initially greets your tastebuds. Oak and malt again. The woody hints are pleasant on the palate. Fruity sweetness and that soft herbaliness.. Malted biscuits. Full and smooth delicious mouthfeel coats the mouth.

The spice remains on the palate. It’s just toying with your tastebuds. A long finish with that delicious oakiness resting nicely with the remaining delicate spices.

Then it was time for an all too brief “see you later”…

As I was leaving I left some of my fudge with Sorren & Craig at the Paul John table, grabbed my bags and I was gone…

Thanks for the opportunity of trying this Craig.

Slàinte

Inside the Bottle – the Contents 

The contents? Ah now there’s a question.

I think this is borne out of a lot of thinking. A great deal of observing situations, and some crappy real life worries.

Firstly I must state this. my glass is half full. Of that there is no doubt.

However, there comes a point when you consider things. Take a long hard look at “things”… Proceed or stop.

This is another blog that’s been resting in my “draft” folder for a few months. Who’d have thought a certain bar would give me the clarity to finish it? Not me. Anyway.

You might be wondering what in the name of hell this has to do with whisky? Well quite a lot actually. And if you read on you might discover why…

I’ve spent a huge amount of my life being on the outside. The bystander. The one who responds to “I need help!” The one who would drop everything and run (though probably drive through the night to help people.)

Do I continue…

So about 3 years ago I decided to change that… I lost 5 stone in weight in 3 months (I have an underlying condition, so any loss is a ruddy hard task.)

I found a little confidence went a long way. I started travelling by myself. A scary thing to do. But I did it. I could get up when I liked. Stop and gaze in windows. Speak to strangers. Smile at strangers.  Tried things I never thought I would. Treated myself to things I wouldn’t necessarily do.

Then I stopped.

A dark cloud gathered above me. And I had to fight (alone) to get through it.

I reached out to some who gave me their harsh opinion in return. But I got through it. Eventually. I also had those that cared. And they know who they are and how truly grateful I am.

I then recalled some advice.

I sat alone seeing in 2016 and opened my Twitter account again. I needed the jovial, kind and dear friends I remembered laughing with. Along the way I’ve met some more.

So where does the whisky come into this? Well a lady I chatted with saw something in me. She listened. Through our long discussions and said I needed company. Friendship. Festivals.

The funny thing is, we both thought “music!”. So I decided to take her advice…albeit latterly and realised it would be whisky.

Well it’s nearly a year since my first whisky festival (first fudge too.) Oh and hell, might as well say nearly a year since my first blog entry…

And what a year.

It’s been a journey. I’ve met some truly lovely people. I’ve met some truly hilarious people. I’ve met some truly kind people. I’ve met some wonderful friends.

I went to two festivals (or probably three) last weekend. And guess what? No panic attack beforehand. A milestone.

I’ve found my voice and sometimes I even use it. I’ve found people want to come up to me and say hello. I’ve found that they’re interested in speaking to me. To listen to me. To hug me. To laugh with me.

And this has healed me. It’s given me confidence. My contents are happier. There’s a smile on my face. It’s not all been easy. But nothing worthwhile ever comes without a few bumps along the way.

So I will just continue on.

Hopefully you’ll all get the point of this. I am the bottle. And it’s not always the label that counts. I might portray that I’m strong (even say I’m strong), but those that take the time to see the real Sarah they know. And for that reason alone I say “thank you” x

Inside The Bottle: Opinions and Choices

Sometimes you have too much thinking time…or perhaps you have the time to think, to just kind of question things?

Anyway something that’s been making me ponder for more than a while is opinion, or opinions, maybe even choices and decisions? We have the opinions that are given to us. Sometimes we ask for opinions and others? Well they’re foisted upon us on us in such a manner that it’s akin to staple gunning you to a sheet of plywood. Then choices? Can’t please everyone! Ouch.

Stay there. Listen. And accept.

But should we? We all have our own opinions – would the world not be a boring hideous place if we all agreed, all felt the same? Things change. Tastes change. People change.

Variety is the spice of life…or so they say.

I feel this blog covers many areas of my life. I’ve spent many years being agreeable for the sake of peace…and I rather feel this really isn’t all that healthy or in my best interests. This is true of whisky and how or what we perceive it to be, or what our palates allow us to taste.

I have sort of touched on this in other blogs too. The fact that we have to in some cases learn or be brave enough to just speak as we find, or type as we taste.

There will always be that one person (or group) that has / have a well honed / well seasoned sense of nosing and tasting. There will be those who quietly reflect on what is in their hand and test and tease themselves in order to understand and learn what a particular region / distillery / grain / wood / finish gives them. I think I might fall into this category. Then we have the (assuredly) confident, who do have a far better sense of what they are experiencing, who have probably had the pleasure of sampling many whiskies over many years. The type of person that you can learn from. Take tips from. But have no fear, I am sure they question themselves too (on occasion)?

We perhaps have the “I know I am right” brigade too. Those who instinctively pounce on other’s opinions. Those who feel the opinions and choices of others are automatically incorrect and they must let you know. And you WILL listen…

Things change. People change. Tastes change.

I used to loathe some whiskies… I had a few awful bottles over the years. They gave me nothing, and were quite uninteresting and unpalatable drams.

Then.

Now. Well now I have had a few different expressions or bottlings and this has allowed me to in some cases have a complete turnaround. On occasion this has amused me as I feel I might have missed out on some interesting tastes and moments… Hindsight eh?

Now to digress..

I think the crux of this piece is that this is all* a journey… It should be a journey of discovery & adventure. It should be intertwined with friendship and joie de vivre. Spit out that which taints your (whisky or otherwise) palate and embrace the delicious offerings that want to delight you. Be spontaneous.

Try Fujikai. Don’t try Fujikai. Cherish the last drops of whisky in a memorable bottle…or don’t. Love Jura or hate Jura (yes, I’ve seen the ones that don’t like it, however I DO.)

I am a lapsed fan and a proud Diurach.. Pass me a bottle of the 21 year old and sit with me in front of a fireplace on a Winter’s night and I am sure I will rekindle my smile. Love peat or hate peat. I’ll keep popping back to it. Because some days call for it. Some call for the wonderful comfort of a beautiful “sherry bomb”. But it is our choice. Variety as I said is the spice of life.

Whether we are ladies or gents, we all have a place, and a voice. Just be kind.

*Life in general. This is not a dress rehearsal. Cock up. Laugh. Smile. Live.

 

Inside The Bottle: Me Again…

with my little heartfelt blogs…honestly it’s one of the places where I can just say what I feel. And I like that.

So what’s occurring?

Well although I’d had the go ahead to make and sell my whisky fudge (in case there’s someone that has missed this) I hadn’t had my full ranking (which is okay as there had been preliminary checks.) Today was the day for that to happen. And guess what? I passed with flying colours… Am I happy? Yes.

Am I smiling? Yes.

Always smiling.

Life might be hard. It might continue to throw stinky stuff at us, but we have to push through it. I’m fully aware that I’m not the only one too. We get up. We affirm to ourselves that we’re worthy. We share experiences, and through that feel comfort. This bolsters us to carry on. But carry on we must. Anyway, I digress.

I guess I just wanted to share some fab news. I’m sat smiling as I’m writing this. I’m glad I have a few of you behind me…pushing me forward. So as always, thank you.

Me x

Fudge Me

Fudge friends…

Please keep an eye out on upcoming posts if you’d like to order some fudge from me.

I’ll be including a Google form which will make things a lot easier for you. All details will be on the form, so all you’ll need to do is choose and pay.

Sarah

Inside the Bottle: When Life Gives You Whisky…

You take a step to explore.. you try, you taste, you let it linger and enjoy the moments.

The colour can capture you. Draw you in, entice you. Tease you. Make you wonder and think about what the contents might reveal.

Then the nose. Appreciating what you have in your hand. Exploring its depths with each inhalation. Finding the words to describe the scents that are opening in your glass. Questioning if you’ve given it enough time to open and reveal itself. Hoping that the palate will match or enhance the senses…

The palate and that first tentative sip as the glass touches your lip and the liquid gently fills your mouth and hopefully delights your tastebuds. Did it deliver what you imagined it would? Has it made you smile as the flavours coat and move across your tongue? Has the anticipation of something wonderful paid off? And the finish. Does it warm you? Does that moment fill you with wishes. Does it pull you back into a moment. A daydream perhaps? Maybe it gives you a thirst to want more. To explore more. To know more.

These whiskies we find. The truly special ones that we dare not finish as we might not have another opportunity to sample and appreciate. Those are the truly special ones.

I hope to find more x

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