Inside the Bottle: Why I love you…

I’ve had a number of draft versions of Inside the Bottle posts half-written in my draft folder since January, all waiting for me to finish them, or should I say “waiting for me to give them some attention?” C’est la vie.

Probably a mix of both to be honest with you, the words dance in my mind as I fall asleep, I wake knowing I should write something…but then the moment is gone once more. Something crops up, barging in on the thought I was in, robbing me of that moment to just think!!

What is love, really? Is it a feeling, is it being loved, is it loving someone? Some thing?

I think that sometimes the word “love” can be bandied about as being the “in thing”… but to me, love is special. To say “I love you” is such a wonderful thing, yet, I seldom say it unless I feel it in my heart and soul.

Three little words I’m very careful of saying.

I grew up not really knowing what love was, I never had that feeling of being cherished, even wanted. In latter years I’d told someone “I love you…”, their response came back as “I still love you pet”. I’ve questioned that a lot these last few months. Weighing up the past that hangs so heavily around my shoulders…pulling me back, dragging me down.

The realisation that all I remember & imagined from then till now, well, it’s true. Every fear. It’s too late to close the door on the skeletons. They fell to the floor as the questions I asked recently opened the closet doors. They’re all broken now. No putting them back together.

Then as I was falling asleep the other night, it came to me. Why do I love YOU?

I feel this way because even though I’ve seen you sitting there watching me, I’ve passed you by… but you let that be.

You’ve never judged me.

You allow me to indulge in you even if that’s a little indulgence…that’s okay. You let me be me… you have been there for me, waiting.

You’re the one I have turned to in good times. You’ve consoled me in the sad times, if I’ve needed you. You make me feel at ease, you relax me. You soothe my heart & help pull me into happy memories, the ones that make me smile. You make me feel mmmm…

You’ve never once “poked fun at me” for your own pathetic reasons. Your patience with me is unfaltering.. I’ve not dared touch you on occasion, for fear of taking advantage of the way you make me feel… but that’s okay. Nowt wrong with a little restraint eh?

You excite me. You tease me. You remind me of the freshest of days, sunny days, cuddle me close cold days. You’re teasing me right now, softly, I sense you. A delicious scent of vanilla, caramel and hints of chewy fruit and some honey… Oh I could gaze at your legs for hours, the way they hug the sides of the glass, almost reluctant to slip so slowly down the sides.

What’s that? Taste you? Oh go on then… lovely stewed fruits, maybe a little nutty. That’s okay. That lovely sweetness as I swallow, it reminds me of rich caramel sweeties, accompanied with a delicious black coffee. Mmmm, you know I have a soft spot for you. The finish is rich fruit.

You’re not alone, I have a soft spot for a few of you, you all sit there waiting for me to pick you up, give your cork a good tug, and eventually savour what’s in my glass. Perfect!!

Pour and Sip Club: Women in Whisky

I was sent this lovely set from Master of Malt’s Pour and Sip Club to review for International Women’s Day. Although that was on the 8 March this year, I have now had a chance to sit and enjoy them…after all it’s women’s day every day, no?

If you haven’t seen these lovely sets before, then I can say, if you get the chance to buy one and explore the contents, you won’t be disappointed.

Inside the pack, there are five 3cl samples, and two Glencairn glasses safely tucked away below them. So, whether you are a whisky drinker of old, or someone new, there is bound to be something to pique your interest. It’s a lovely set to perhaps start someone’s journey, and we all started somewhere didn’t we?

This particular set celebrates the women in the whisky industry…

The samples in this set are:

Compass Box – Juveniles Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 46%

Roe & Co. – Blended Irish Whiskey 45%

Deanston 18 year old – Single Malt Scotch Whisky 46.3%

Scallywag – Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 46%

Bulleit – Frontier Whiskey 10 year old 45.6%

Compass Box – Juveniles Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 46%

Pleasantly sweet with honey and vanilla on the nose, it is delightfully fresh and inviting. The palate delivers on the vanilla front, with a lovely apple kick, not necessarily sweet, a little tart if I’m honest. There’s a slight pepperiness too. This blend is marriage of whisky from Strathmill, Balmenach, Clynelish and Glendullan from refill hogsheads, re-charred hogsheads and both first-fill and refill sherry butts.

Roe & Co. – Blended Irish Whiskey 45%

A soft delicate nose, loads of honey bringing a lovely sweetness. A hint of oak too… There’s a hint of pepper, mingling with vanilla. A kick of heat on the palate, wakes the senses a little. And the woody spice is there on the palate. This sits well with the vanilla.

Quite a short finish on this for me.

Deanston 18 year old – Single Malt Scotch Whisky 46.3%

Lovely delicious scent of a warm Danish pastries, lovely juicy fruit scents. A little hint of buttery notes, with vanilla. A lovely smooth palate, a little waxy, there’s bitter orange/ citrusy-ness and some ginger heat that then wakes your senses. A warming finish with oak spiciness.

Scallywag – Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 46%

Soft scents of caramel and vanilla on the nose, it gives an almost creamy hint. Cinnamon? Maybe a little ginger… the palate is warming with ginger, and it’s a little drying on the palate. The vanilla is there along with bitter dark chocolate.

A nice subtle finish.

Bulleit – Frontier Whiskey 10 year old 45.6%

Loads of dried fruit on the nose and a little orange. Hints of wood too. The palate is rich with vanilla and the dried fruit again, there’s a lovely spice too, its got the faintest hint of cherry. The finish is sweet.

These whiskies have made mention of the following women within the whisky industry, namely Jill Boyd who joined Compass Box in 2018. Roe & Co. who have an all-female team with Lora Hemy as head distiller and Caroline Martin, master blender.

Deanston have Julieann Fernandez as their master blender. Cara Laing, the director of whisky at Douglas Laing, is grand-daughter of Fred. Finally Eboni Major from Bulleit, who joined Diageo in 2015.

Many thanks to Master of Malt and the Pour and Sip Club for the opportunity to try these.

Mackmyra – Björksav (Birch Sap)

Björksav (Birch Sap) – Mackmyra Distillery

A couple of weeks ago I had an unexpected package arrive, this was a little sample from the lovely folks at Mackmyra. Inside the package was a sample of Björksav (Birch Sap) which is a single malt Swedish Whisky.

The Story of Björksav

“In this year’s spring edition, Mackmyra has once again collaborated with the Swedish artisan winery Grythyttan Vin. Grythyttan Björk is made from local birch sap that is tapped just before the birch ‘cracks’ in the spring. Like Mackmyra, Grythyttan use exceptional crafting skills, show consideration and respect for nature and only use natural ingredients.

The fresh, delicately sweet, Björk (Birch Sap) wine has resulted in a uniquely crafted Swedish whisky that is ready to join the world of whisky.”

Mackmyra

My Review

Bottled at 46.1% this whisky was in casks that were seasoned with Swedish birch sap wine.

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A lovely fresh and fruity nose, juicy and delicious apple, maybe a nice pear. Delicate spice too and a wisp of ginger. It’s floral and it’s sweet and yes, it is most certainly one to herald in Spring, with its sweet vanilla goodness. There’s an almost berry like sweetness too. Still nosing it, that freshness is refreshing, its definitely fragrant.

There’s a lovely cherry-ish/fruity like hint (reminding me of Fruitella sweets.) on the palate, hints of ginger spices bring the warmth of the spring sunshine. Honey and vanilla sweetness again, with a little lemony bitterness. A smidgeon of pepper and a little woody spice. Smooth.. Lovely.

The finish is warming, pleasant and the woody spices linger.

Many thanks to those lovely folks at Mackmyra for this sample and the opportunity to try this.

Character of Islay

I guess the cooler evenings are perfect for something a little smoky…

A while ago I was lucky to have received this little package from the Dram Good Club, and though I don’t really drink that much peated whisky these days, it was nice to try these. These are from the Character of Islay Whisky Company:

The Character of Islay Whisky Company is an independent bottler of whiskies from Islay (y’know, like the name suggests), taking inspiration from the Hebridean island’s landscape, culture and inhabitants. The first release in the range was Aerolite Lyndsay, of which there were whispers about during the 2019 whisky festival on Islay, before being followed by another pair of excellent expressions (Grace Île and Fiona Macleod) in 2020. Later that same year, The Character of Islay Whisky Company revealed The Stories of Wind & Range series”.

First out the box is the Aerolite Lyndsay (an anagram of ten year old Islay) this is 46% and was distilled in bourbon barrels and Spanish oak sherry quarter casks.

On the nose there is sweet peat smoke, and a little citrus kick. There is some sweetness, salty hint…think about saltiness on your lips after walking at the beach and the sea air.

I thought it was slightly dry on the palate, but a little tart sour note makes your tastebuds water. There’s light smokiness on the palate, and a pinch of pepper. Dark chocolate. Not overly sweet. 

Salty on the finish… a little bit impish (black sweetie things.) 

Fiona MacLeod 33 year old 46.3%

A little fragrant, and bonfire smoke. Coffee and tropical fruity notes. Vanilla and a little menthol. I thought there was a brief waxiness. The peat came through as a hint of coal tar soap. 

Spicy on the palate with a little lemon. Dark chocolate. Turkish delight….Terry(s)…(I was thinking Arthur Daley.) Woody smoky flavour and a little brine.

A little sweetness remaining…

Grace Île 25 year old 48%

Chocolate orange meets peaty smoke… A little TCP. Like a walk on the shore, a freshness on the senses. A twist of lemon bitterness. In the distance the scent of a dying bonfire. 

Woody notes and spices greet the palate. Dark toffee. It’s a little oily…with fruit and vanilla. Smoky…definitely a saltiness to this again. 

Sweet and smoky on the finish…

Green Isle 40%

Biscuity hints on the nose with a definite Maritime air… Savlon. A grassy note. Dusty cocoa and an oily note.

Caramel on the palate alongside vanilla. Black pepper. A little saccharine… spicy and a little juicy (fruity.)

The finish is soft and a little smoky. 

Although I enjoyed trying these, I can’t say that smoky/peated whiskies are my “go to drams” anymore…years ago it would have been odd to see me with anything but a Laphroaig 10 year old in my hand. I liked the Aerolite Lyndsay and the Grace Île.

Many thanks to the Dram Good Club, Drinks by the Dram / Master of Malt for the opportunity to try these. If you’d like to try these for yourself the set is available to buy from Master of Malt

Inside the Bottle: In England’s Green and Pleasant Land

In England’s Green and Pleasant Land: Inside the Bottle

When I think of England, I think of home. I do believe they say home is where the (my) heart is… and that is true.

So, when I think of England, I return to memories of childhood. Happy memories.

Day trips on the moors, walks on the beach. I remember sitting and collecting cowries and small fossils on the shoreline when the tide was out. I never lived far from the sea, at one point it was the end of my street. The other it was a walk along a path, sand dunes and then the sea.

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I often think of the lady who lived next door to me when I was a little girl… She always made me feel loved, and to recall that with fondness even today, makes me smile. She had a dappled wooden rocking horse on the landing, one flight up. It was a special treat when she would allow me to go up and ride on the toy her grown up daughters used to use. She used to sit me astride her lap and sing “ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross” with a giggling pigtailed me bobbing up and down on her knee. I also attended infant school in the town, and there I was given a little ballerina which had broken off inside one of the dinner ladies jewellery boxes. I danced and twirled and imagined I was the one in the pretty pink tutu and dancing to my heart’s content…

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For one reason or another I have been thinking of England more and more. Don’t ask me why… seriously, don’t. But, Cleveland was my home. A small Victorian seaside town at that. I once met/saw Kevin Keegan there, but, I was too much of a little Smoggy to care, but I believe I was dragged along by my older sister.

I think I digressed a tad…this is about whisky!! English Whisky at that…and that’s what was sat beside me as I took some time out to rest in memories from the the past.

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My whisky consultant Sorren, https://ocdwhisky.com/ invited me to an online tasting for the English Whisky Company as part of the Whisky Circus (which is his creation.) You can catch up with it over on YouTube. But finish reading this first…

Well, this was going to be an opportunity to sample a new release. Did also you know that Sorren is also an ambassador for The English Whisky Company too? He is. So who better to lead us on this little journey…? This was the oldest age statement release so far from the The English Whisky Distillery.

So thank you Sorren for introducing me to this bottle. Of course I have one, it came free with a bag of crips!!

You know me, I like the number 11.

Yeah really… apart from the legs 11 thing, I bought a house which is number 11, and I signed for and collected the keys for the property on the 11th of November 2011, at 11:11 am. Even the solicitor was amused.

Oh yes, this glass beside me…the contents were distilled in 1st and 2nd fill ex-bourbon casks from Jim Beam. The release comes from a make up of 10 different casks, one of which was peated.

The nose is so inviting… I really noticed this yesterday. It was sat on my coffee table beside me, and the aroma of apples, like an apple danish, and vanilla came to greet my senses. There’s a lovely light hint of wood and a little pepperiness. There was a lovely floral freshness too, reminds me of my garden first thing in the morning, especially now the flowers are in bloom…a hint of cherry too.

Another memory pops up, school sports day in 1981. My chums sitting on a fence, random poorly shot photographs taken against the walls in the playground. The time was coming to leave, to move somewhere new. This felt so alien… I kissed the four walls of my bedroom the afternoon I left our family home. After a night in a hotel near the airport, I would be flying to an unknown life.

This was me leaving England.

Gulp!!

The scent of the whisky is pulling me back… sip me please. The palate is quite smooth. The fruit is there…apples and a twist of something a little citrusy. There’s a little oaky spice and I love that. A lovely vanillary note too. A little kick of pepper. It’s a little drying, but that’s okay.

The finish is warm and as you swallow it remains a tad dry… I like this. There’s a woody note too, so that’s me happy and smiling!! Thanks for introducing me to this Sorren!!

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So, yes, a trip down memory lane. A trip enjoyed with a rather good whisky in my hand. I know these memories make me smile, maybe it was childhood, maybe it’s just they were my earliest memories… but I needed that.