Been a long time…..

Seems ages since i last put a post on here , don’t know why , could be laziness , could be I just didn’t have anything interesting enough to post , can’t really say…….

So lets play a little bit of catch up , i think it would be fair to say i’ve lost a little bit of interest in whisky (the way of the world has driven me to it , over-priced under-aged scotch holds no interest , don’t think that i’ve tasted anything recently that has made me go wow) luckily i have a cask to bottle later in the year that will probably make me go WOW! One bit of the whisky world i do still have an interest in is Canadian Whisky (i can just see Pauls face now with a WHAT! look on it…..), towards the end of last year Davin ( de Kergommeaux ) asked me to be one of the International Judges for the 2017 Canadian Whisky Awards ( See Here )  , great fun and not as easy as it sounds , I’ll be posting up some tasting notes for some of my favourites in the not too distant future .

We also visited Edinburgh for a few nights during the Christmas period , wasn’t one of our best visits as the places we visited seemed to have lost interest in customer service and satisfaction , which is a shame as it used to be one of our favourite places to go , alas after this trip it will be visited less often…….

Our National Trust visits have continued , though in the Winter months there is less to visit , Wallington was open in the lead up to Christmas and decorated beautifully……

(Click on the Pics to see full size)

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We’ve also been visiting our feathered friends regularly at the Wellington Hide……

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Most of our favourite haunts reopen this very weekend so the NT Scone hunt will resume !

We had our first weekend away of the New Year as well , to one of our favourite haunts now , The Worth Valley , it was a beautiful Weekend and a good excuse to give our new motor a run out ,the replacement for Festa Stye…..

Melanie beside the new car at Oxenhope

Melanie beside the new car at Oxenhope

       

The Gorgeous Melanie at Oxenhope Station

The Gorgeous Melanie at Oxenhope Station

Our Steam Locomotive for the day……

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We enjoyed our day on the KWVR , chugging up and down the line enjoying a beer and a Prosecco (or two) . At the night time we went to The Brown Cow in Bingley for a meal , can recommend this place for good food and Fine Timothy Taylor Ales !

Hopefully i’ll be posting a bit more from now on , less whisky , more of our little adventures and lots of photos especially when i get my new Camera body…….

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A Scotsman in the North East……

Just lately in our spare time two things seems to have been occupying it , since we got a National Trust Membership  we’ve been GeoNationalTrustSconing quite a bit , ok we’ve been visiting a lot of their properties which usually involves having one of their gorgeous scones somewhere along the visit……

(Click on Photos to see full size)

IMG_0119  Mmmmm Scones……..

The other thing has been Photographing the Grand old Lady of Steam , The Flying Scotsman , she’s been in our area quite a bit of late but i’ve enjoying capturing her image for a long time now……..

scan_006A very old photo of her at The Central Station September 1975

The first time this year was up at Alnmouth on the 14th May 2016 , we were a bit far away to get any decent shots but it was a sight to behold !

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Next time was a whole lot better ! She returned to the North East on the 11th June to do “The Tynesider” and we caught her on two stretches , first on the old Blyth and Tyne line in Bedlington and later on the same day on the East Coast Mainline at Plawsworth , County Durham .

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The last time was on the 10th July when she did a run from York to Carlisle , “The Waverley” , including a stretch along the Tyne Valley Railway…..

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IMG_0324-Edit-EditVideos are available HERE

A Bank Holiday Weekend……

The Whitsun Bank Holiday (as it’s known in the UK) is the second long weekend in the Month of May , We decided to make the most of it and partake in a couple of trips…… 

Saturday 28th May

It’s been a few years since we’d seen the cask of Longmorn we have a share in , it ws in it’s first year the last time we seen it , it was then stored in Bladnoch when it was under the stewardship of Raymond , since then there’s been a change of ownership and a change of storage facility , it’s now in a warehouse at Creetown owned by Raymonds son Martin . It’s been over a year since we last saw Martin so we could kill two birds with one stone so to speak , Catch up with Martin and check up on the Cask ! Ok 3 birds , pick up some bottles off Martin……. We set off from Newcastle earlyish on the Saturday , Well earlyish for a Saturday Morning start…..

It was very overcast when we left Newcastle but by the time we’d reached Dumfries (after the obligitory Coffee and cake stop) the sun was out and made it a glorious drive along the lovely Galloway coast . Martins business has progressed since we last popped in , so has his family with the recent addition of a 3rd baby boy Ben ! Martin gave us a tour of the premises before taking us to the recently opened warehouse , it was only recently he got the documentation off HMRC to start using the warehousing and he’s been busy moving casks in . Our cask is currently stowed in the Traditional style , in a stow 3 casks high , he is moving towards the Racking way .

(Click on the photo to see full size version)

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We removed a sample and had a quick taster from the cask…….

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4yo at 61.3% , from a Fresh Bourbon Barrel 

First thing that strikes you about the nose is the sheer fruitiness of it  , Very Longmorn like , there’s also a big dollop of vanilla and a slight lack of youthfulness ! For it’s strength it doesn’t wreak havoc with your nasal passages . A lot of fruitiness on the palate again, bags of spices but the palate does show it’s age , it’s still thoroughly drinkable . The finish is Long , fruity , spices . A drop of water calms the palate down a lot and brings the fruit further forward and reduces the youthfulness .

An amazing dram at 4yo , very , very enjoyable but still needs a few more years . heading the way of a 7yo Longmorn that I purchased from the SMWS many moons ago that was so damn go I bought multiples of it .  

Martin also  gave us a try of an 8yo Craigellachie from a refill sherry butt ( Very nice but still needs a bit more time imho ) before heading back to the office for a coffee , a bit more of a natter and to collect a couple of bottles……..

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Bunnahabhain 23yo

46.3% , 156 outturn , ripe straw in colour £66.50

A wonderfully intriguing nose , very relaxed (as you’d expect at 23yo) , the usual confectioners sugar along with a touch of exotic fruit , ripe banana , after a little while there’s a lovely butterscotch toffee note appears . Great nose , one of them you could sniff for ages . Lots of hot spices to start with on the palate , was expecting more of a sweetness to it but it actually reminds me of a 1980 Bunna I had bottled by BBR , not a standard tasting Bunna but very enjoyable .A medium finish with clove and spices.

An enjoyable Bunna but I said not a standard one palate wise . Didn’t try it with water as it’s perfectly ok at this strength .

Ben Nevis 18yo

53.5% 264 Outturn 1/10/1996 – 15/07/2015 Hogshead 1329 light gold in colour £45 at the time.

A Sweet nose , Marzipan very akin to Battenberg cake , Vanilla , there’s a touch of Christmas Cake even though it doesn’t say whether this is a Bourbon or a sherry Hoggie .
A Bit of a bizarre palate , Wood spices to start with , Lemon , quite a sharp citrus note , then a sweetness keeps bouncing in , again there is a hint of sherry . A Long finish with a mixture of Sweetness , Lemon and spices and again a sherriness .

A bit of a strange dram but thoroughly enjoyable.

After we bid farewell to Martin we headed back East to Newcastle .

You can find Martins Business at Whiskybroker.co.uk

Sunday 29th May

After a more leisurely start to the morning  , we headed up north into the wilds of Northumberland to once again visit Cragside in Rothbury . We decided to do a short Woodland Walk this afternoon , once again it was overcast when we left Newcastle but the sun had appeared by the time we arrived at Cragside . The walk took us up the back of the House……

bhw_003A quite steep walk to start with but it did give us a good view over Rothbury……

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We were hoping to catch a sight of an elusive Red Squirrel but got treat to a local Raptor…..

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off we go…..

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Bye !

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We actually had 4 Raptor sightings this day , 3 on the drive back to home . The walk back to the Visitor Centre gave us some good views over the Estate ,One of the estate cottages…

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Which looks over Tumbleton Lake…..

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and has baby lambs in the field in front of it…..

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After such an exhausting walk it was only right we treat ourselves to a National Trust Cream Scone and Coffee before heading back home !

Cragside Visit – 7/5/2016

You never really appreciate what you’ve got around you on your own doorstep or at least we didn’t till a few years ago when we started seriously walking up the Northumbrian coast and along Hadrians Wall . Earlier this year we decided to take out a yearly membership of the National Trust to encourage us to do even more walking , The trust have some great walks in their properties .

This was the first real time we’d had the time to use it , we decided to hit Cragside as i’d never been their before , drove past it numerous times on my way to Rothbury but never entered its gates , as i said you never appreciate……

It was suppose to be nice and sunny today but when we got up into North Northumberland there was a heavy mist on the moors which spilled over onto Cragside , hence the dullish photos . 

(Click on the images to see full size)

cragside_001  The first view of the house from the car park

Built as a weekend retreat for Lord Armstrong in the 1860’s the house has been enlarged several times through it’s life .

one of the 2 gateways

one of the 2 gateways

The full exterior

The full exterior

The interior of the house is one of the most impressive i’ve seen , it was the first house in the world to be lit by hydro-electric power (Armstrong was the leading pioneer in hydraulics , the house has many devices powered by water including a lift and the kitchen rotisserie !). The rooms have been well preserved in their original state…….

Water , one of the most important components of Cragside.....

Water , one of the most important components of Cragside…..

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The Kitchen Rotisserie !

The Kitchen Rotisserie !

The Iron Bridge from one of the Rooms

The Iron Bridge from one of the Rooms

The Pretty impressive snooker room

The Pretty impressive snooker room

Now that's what i call a Marble Fireplace !

Now that’s what i call a Marble Fireplace !

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Carving on a bed

Carving on a bed

The interior photos haven’t turned out too bad given that they were hand held (some as low as 0.5 Secs ) without the use of a flash !

After a walk around of the House we went for a wander in the grounds , including through the Rock Garden and Formal Garden. we didn’t cover much , just over 2.5 miles , which isn’t bad considering there are 40 miles of walks in the grounds !!!

The Iron Bridge from the Rock Garden

The Iron Bridge from the Rock Garden

Melanie !

Melanie !

The Iron Bridge from the valley

The Iron Bridge from the valley

One of the many varietys of Primrose

One of the many varietys of Primrose

Melanie Again !

Melanie Again !

Haven't a clue what this is !

Haven’t a clue what this is !

The Stream

The Stream

The House and Iron Bridge from the other way

The House and Iron Bridge from the other way

Melanie..... on a bridge this time.....

Melanie….. on a bridge this time…..

Part of the Formal Garden

Part of the Formal Garden

A Wood Carving in the Formal Garden

A Wood Carving in the Formal Garden

Another View of it.....

Another View of it…..

An early flowering rhododendron

An early flowering rhododendron

And another....

And another….

A local Phessie !

A local Phessie !

 

A Bridge not too far..... (One of the Gorgeous Melanies Photos)

A Bridge not too far….. (One of the Gorgeous Melanies Photos)

Cragside Gardens are famous for their Rhododendrons (over 100 species on site ) and we’ll be returning in the not too distant future (late May / Early June) to see their flowering . We’re planning on returning several times during the year to see the place in different seasons .

More Info about Cragside can be found here on the National Trusts site

A West Yorkshire Outing

Seeing it was a long weekend we decided to have a couple of nights away for the May Day Bank Holiday , We’d talked about going down to the Worth Valley Railway for a while now (the last time i was there was in the 70’s)  and it would also give Melanie a chance to visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum . Our base of operations would be the Mercure Bradford Bankfield Hotel at Bingley , we travelled down on the Friday night after work and on arrival had a meal and a drink in the bar before retiring for the night……

Saturday 30th April

We decided to have an Early rise (well early for a weekend….) to get as much out of the day as possible and had a full English at the Hotel (very nice it was too !)  , We drove over to Oxenhope to pick up the train , the weather didn’t look to clever as we left – Rain and Hail – but the sun appeared once we arrived at the station .

(Click on the photos to see full size)

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We arrived in time for the “Steam” Departure (they run an alternative Steam / Diesel service ), we caught them preparing the train……

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The Steam Loco on duty today was a War Department (WD) Austerity 2-8-0 No. 90733, built in early 1945 , it was used on the European Continent to aid troop and supplies movement across Europe. After the 2nd World war it was sold to the Netherlands State Railway , then re-sold to the Swedish State Railways before being purchased in the Early 70’s by the KWVR .

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The Railway is only 4.5 miles long so the journey doesn’t take that long , 25 mins , so we made good use of the Rover ticket (£16) and made a few journeys and jumping on and off at a few stations .

A better look at our Loco....

A better look at our Loco….

At Keighley

At Keighley

 

Departing Keighley

Departing Keighley

The Train had a bar on it whch we took advantage of……

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The Gorgeous Melanie !

The Gorgeous Melanie !

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

Half way up the line is a passing point for the two trains , the Diesel is an ex-BR Class 37……

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As every one will know the railway is famous for being the setting of the 1970 film “The Railway Children” and you get to see a few of the places used on the journey . 

In full steam

In full steam

Entering Mytholmes Tunnel (Scene of the 'Paper Chase')

Entering Mytholmes Tunnel (Scene of the ‘Paper Chase’)

We alighted at Haworth to visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum , the one thing they don’t warn you about in the guide books is the climb up from the Station to the Parsonage, it’s bloody steep! The one saving grace is the streets are still quite original if slightly commercialised .

The Streets of Haworth

The Streets of Haworth

The Parsonage (The Doctors House in the film)

The Parsonage (The Doctors House in the film)

The museum was very interesting , especially for someone interested in the Brontës work like Melanie , i could imagine it gets very crowded in the summer !

Melanie outside the Parsonage

Melanie outside the Parsonage

Myself in Haworth

Myself in Haworth

We headed back to the Station to take one more ride down to Keighley .

The Train arriving at Haworth

The Train arriving at Haworth

The Glow of the Firebox on the footplate

The Glow of the Firebox on the footplate

Melanie at Oxenhope Station

Melanie at Oxenhope Station

So after a fantastic day , we bid farewell to the Railway and went back to the Hotel for the evening .

Sunday May 1st

After a leisurely Breakfast we packed the car and headed off to Oakworth Station to visit the Work Place of Albert Perks ! We hadn’t managed to alight here yesterday so took the chance to visit it today . The Steam loco on duty today was the BR Standard Class 4MT  No.75078 .

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The building to the left of the train was used as the Perks Home .

The 4MT 75078

The 4MT 75078

Oakworth Station

Oakworth Station

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So after a great weekend away we headed back north , We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to West Yorkshire , The Hotel was great – Lovely surroundings , and a very nice room – The Railway was great and we are already planning to return to do “The Railway Children Walk” , all 6 miles of it !

Tea Break !

Just noticed i haven’t posted here (or on the Amrut Blog) for nearly 3 months  , which isn’t surprising seeing nothing has really happened whisky wise in that time , 1 Kavalan tasting (excellently hosted by Ian ‘Conna’ Connors and a thoroughly disappointing Newcastle Whisky Festival last weekend , It was the first festival we’ve attended as punters (in the UK) for two years and we left before two hours were up , The reasons ? Too many people – the room was chocker (appeared too small for amount of people) , couldn’t get near the tables , there was a queue at The Nikka Table ! Lack of exhibitors – hence lots of people around tables , there were afew noticeable absentees – Berry Bros was the one i missed most , Chivas and i think that was the First Newcastle one where Colin Dunn was absent ! For a seasoned drammer of 32 years like myself most of the ‘Interesting’ Drams were tokened , sorry but i paid good money to get in , not forking out more……

I did enjoy a good chat with Ollie on the Elements table and sampling some of his drams and it was nice to see Erik and Laura on the Wemyss Table . 

As i sit here writing this i’m enjoying a 1978 Ardbeg Distillery bottling , lovely stuff and to think it was half the price of the new released Dark Cove when originally released , how times have changed…….

One thing i have been doing a lot – especially since our trip to India and my recent health scare – is enjoying a good pot of tea . Luckily there is quite a lot of quality Indian tea available , i’ve been shipping some in from a couple of companies in India , Golden Tips and Tea Box , Golden Tips does my favourite , a Glendale Twirl Nilgiri Black Tea – absolutely delicious . Twinings do a similar one , a Nilgiri Twist Glendale Estate , both are SFTGFOP1 grade and it makes a great difference ! I prefer Nilgiri (Southern India) Tea but i’ve had some excellent samples from Assam , Darjeerling and even from Nepal (Samal and Antu Valley) . I prefer Black tea but the only green one i’ve really enjoyed was an Organic Avaata Supreme Nilgiri Green Tea .

It’s certainly more fun Discovering Tea at the moment than Whisky……..

An Internet Archive

It’s amazing what you get up to on the internet when you’ve got a bit of spare time on your hands ! I was having a look around when i came across an Internet Archive “WayBackMachine”  , out of Curiosity i put my two old sites in ( Spirit-of-Islay.Co.Uk and SpiritofIslay.net ) and low and behold they came up ! The earlier .co.uk doesn’t render too well but the later versions of the  .net looks like it was only put up yesterday !

So after going to WayBackMachine , simply type in http://www.spiritofislay.net and click browse history . If you’ve never seen the site before I recommend clicking 2011 and then Feb 26th , this seems to be the last full archive of the site before i shut it down and moved to here , there does seem to be a bit or two missing . Most of Stuarts Chat to start with 

Seeing the site in it’s full glory again does make me miss it , i’m pretty damn proud of the look of it and the content . I Hope anyone that hasn’t seen it before enjoys looking at it !