Dunstanburgh Wildlife

We enjoy a good walk in our local area especially up the stunning Northumberland coast , we’ve walked to Dunstanburgh a few times from Low Newton by the Sea but this time we decided to do it from the home of the Great Kipper – Craster . We also took the chance to use our National Trust Memberships and have a look around the Castle .

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Now as it happens the Castle is home to a sea bird colony on the cliffs so it gave me a chance to hone my wildlife photography skills……..

Razorbills

Shags

On the way around the castle i noticed a Kestrel out on the prowl……

It even rested on the old keep……

It was amazing to watch this raptor in flight in so close proximity .

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Wiser’s in the UK

In the year Canada celebrates its 150th Birthday , Wiser’s Whisky is now available in the UK in 70cl botlles (albeit via French / German importers) at reasonable prices . I was informed of this fact by a friend on Facebook (thanks Linoleum Bonypart !) who pointed me in the direction of a well known London based internet whisky shop . Needless to say an order was placed……

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I’d had the 18 and Lot No.40 but had only tried the Pike Creek Rum finish in this years Canadian Whisky Awards (and had liked it !) , So lets see if they are as good as i remembered…..

Wiser’s 18yo

 

The last time we were in Canada this one was on my list of possible purchases (went for the Red Letter instead) , I also had the pleasure on that trip to try an older version of the 18 which was stunning .

The nose on this is at first Rye , then freshly cut saw dust passing on to Butterscotch toffee before returning to Rye toast with butter . The palate is extremely spicy , lots of wood spices mixed in with the Rye and toffee sweetness , an absolute delight ! The finish is medium/ long with bags of spices , pepper and rye .

A wonderful dram , a bargain at £41 a bottle !

Lot No.40

 

According to some ‘The Mother of All Ryes’ and i can’t Disagree ! It’s Rye,Rye,Rye,Rye Beautiful Rye on the nose….. oh and a drop of spices . The Palate is again rye but with a huge spiciness , i reckon this would go great with a proper Indian meal , one from Southern India . It has a lovely silkiness across the mouth , there’s also a hint of fruit about it , small sweet bananas ! The finish is incredible in it’s length and it’s complexity , bags of rye , loads of spices ,  pepper , a slight hint at fruit again and it just seems to go on and on…….

I’m a huge Rye Fan and to say this hits the right notes is an understatement , At £30 a bottle this is an even bigger bargain than the 18yo !!!

Pike Creek 10yo Rum finished

 

In the past I’ve perchased a few of the NAS Port Finishes so i was looking forward to giving this 10yo Rum finish a try even though i found out i had tried it in the Canadian Whisky Awards (Getting old , memory going….)

The nose starts of quite sweet , dark fruits , honey , a hint of rye and a touch of rum . Bags of rye on the palate initially, and a huge splash of rum , again quite sweet but nicely  spiced , the finish is medium with a large dash of the rum and pepper .

This is a great session dram , incredibly easy drinking , very refreshing as well and very easy on the wallet at £26 a bottle !!!!

I really hope people in the UK give these drams a try and i hope this is just the start of more Wiser’s arriving on our shore (especially those lovely specials that have been appearing , oh and the Gooderham & Worts Four Grain !

For more info on Canadian Whisky visit CanadianWhisky.org

Spirit of Islay Cask Samples

Back in the Whisky Good Ol’ Days ( When bottles were reasonably priced and had an age statement on – remember that – and Distillery Casks were reasonably priced…..) the people who were on the Spirit of Islay Yahoo Club (huh?) and Weekly chats ( well before Twitter tastings….) decided to buy first a Port Charlotte Hoggie then a Bruichladdich Bourbon Barrel . Now 14 years and 8 years on they are rapidly approaching bottling .

Up until March they resided at Laddie Distillery but we had to move them as Laddies shipping policy ( to the registered owners address only ) wasn’t favourable so given that the shareholders don’t all reside around me it was decided to move them somewhere that would be able to bottle and ship them to various countries . The obvious choice was Whiskybroker . So off we went today to meet up with Martin and get a sample from SOI 1 and II . It was only this time last year we were over to get a sample from the Longmorn cask and things have certainly progressed at Whiskybroker central ! Loads more racking , loads more  casks and a new super- duper bottling machine , Martin and Jane are certainly doing a cracking job in Creetown ! So onto the samples……

Spirit of Islay II Bruichladdich 2008

In an ex-Buffalo Trace 1st fill Bourbon Barrel , coming in at a whopping 64.2% ABV . Straw in Colour , since the last time i tried it it is now definitely a Laddie , for the ABV there is no burn on the nose , fresh green fruit , apples , pears , touch of the tropicals as well – Bananas , mango , pineapple . Vanilla custard , Lovely stuff !

The strength hits you on the palate , the fruit is there again covered in custard , quite a long finish but i need to try it with water…..

With Water the fruit explodes even more on the nose , it takes the burn off the palate and brings the flavours forward beautifully , actually noticing the Laddie fudge / toffee now  , it actually takes quite a bit of water . Have to say i’m very happy with how this cask has gone .

Spirit of Islay Port Charlotte 2002

In a (possibly 2nd , 3rd or 4th) Refill Sherry Hogshead , measuring a respectable 59.9% ABV . light Amber in colour , this has moved on so much since the last time i tried it (2014) , the colour now looks like a sherry cask matured whisky , the nose is amazing , still has the PC ash , Coal Smoke , a touch of seashore , there is a lot going on in the nose , really complex , too complex for my nose , where’s Serge when you need him……

Wow ! the palate is beautiful , nice and peaty , a touch of the fishermans friend , menthol , nice hint of lemon , again very complex with a lovely long finish . Water smooths the edges off , but i think i prefer it in it’s original state . Another excellent cask , as Serge once said to me i’ve been a luck B……. with casks and i have to agree !

 

Whiskybrokers site is HERE

Watch the Birdie !

Over the past few years i’ve been trying to get back seriously into my photography (time permitting ) , I’ve been into it even longer than the whisky ! I used to be into it at School , i was a member of a local camera club , the first thing i done when i started work in 1978 was to purchase a decent 2nd hand SLR , The Yashica FR , a superb camera that served me many a year , but as with all things interest lapsed when other things got in the way……

It was the mid to late 90’s when i next picked up an SLR , this time i went for a Canon , an EOS 500n (incidentally this year is the 30th anniversary of the EOS System) , that served me well for a good few years but then ‘Digital’ beckoned and staying with Canon i moved on to the EOS 400D . This one served me well but at some point i realised it’s limitations and decided to sell a few bottles of whisky and move onto a serious system , so a 7D and some serious glass was purchased . Since then i’ve moved up to full frame ( 6D then 5D Mark IV ) and added more glass . The one thing i do love is photographing nature (as well as the Steam Trains…..) , being members of the National Trust gives us the ideal situations to do so as their grounds are good places to spot Birds , Squirrels etc , one of our favourite places is Wallington especially at their hide , these photos are from our most recent visit……

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Greater Spotted Woodpecker , we could actually hear this bird rat-tat-tatting long after we’d seen it , a lovely quirky little bird .

The Blue Tits are quite common at Wallington , as are the Chaffinches , this one being the female .

This was the first time we’d seen Bramblings , another member of the finch family .

There seemed to be a lot of Wrens floating about on this day , a beautiful little song bird .

Two of the more popular birds at the hide , the Nuthatch and the male Chaffinch .

Away from the hide on the Riverside walk another new spot for us , Grey Wagtails .

Another Wren !

The Current set up used at the hide.

Now i now i’m not the greatest photographer in the world , you are always learning , but it gives me great pleasure , gets me a bit of exercise and an odd Scone or two along the way !

There are a lot more photographs on my Flickr page HERE

Melanies Birthday Treat

As you get older not only does one birthday seem to roll in to another but it gets harder to buy your loved one a Birthday Present , so we tend to take each other away for a weekend and give each other a little treat . This year i decided to take Melanie away to Grosmont in the North Yorkshire Moors for her Birthday , a couple of nights in the Station Tavern , i also booked a trip on the Heritage NYMR on one of their Pullman trains .

We arrived in Grosmont Late afternoon in glorious sunshine , The Tavern is right next to the railway station and has 3 rooms for accommodation , we’d took the Queen suite as it was the only one that looked over the station , it is quite a large room , well decorated with a few quirky features . Upon arrival we had a drink before settling into our room , after freshening up we returned to the bar to have a bite to eat and a few more drinks , the food we have to say is very tasty and of quite large portions , the menu has a good selection of standard pub fayre . I have to say this room has one of the best alarm clocks around , at 7.55am we were woken up to the sound of a steam train and it’s lovely whistle , this one being the visiting ‘Royal Scot’ .

( To View full size Please click on the photos )

the view from our bedroom window and the ‘Alarm Clock’

5 or 10 mins later we had a Black Five giving us a reminder ! At 9am we went downstairs for a lovely breakfast , before heading out for a morning wander and a visit to the engine sheds . The town was heaving with visitors to see the ‘Royal Scot’.

We returned briefly to the hotel for a coffee and to change before heading back to the station to catch our train !

This Pullman had a special Scottish menu for the visit of the Royal Scot , For Starters Melanie had the Oak Smoked Scottish Salmon , i had the Scotch Broth , For the mains Melanie went for the Chicken Supreme and i had the Prime Roast Aberdeen Angus Sirloin . For the Puds Melanie had the Drambuie Trifle and i went for Cheese Board which came with a rather large dram of Whisky !

Hmmm……. Which wine……

Birthday Girl !

Pint of your Finest !

The meal was very good and the service was outstanding , It certainly was an experience traveling through one of the most beautiful areas in the UK in the lovely Pullman Coach being pulled by a Steam Engine ! We will be repeating it !!!!

We spent the evening in the bar of the Station Tavern before retiring to bed……

On the Sunday after another Alarm call from a Black Five and a superb Breakfast we bid farewell to Grosmont and went for a drive through the North Yorkshire Moors before heading home only stopping off at Nunnington Hall for a National Trust Scone……

One of the local residents showing off…….

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……

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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…….

A Triple Amrut Taster

Postings have been fewer and farther between of late so to make up here are three new/recent releases from the Wonderful Indian Distillery based in Bangalore . 

Greedy Angels 12yo Chairman’s Reserve

ga_12Continuing on from the 8yo and 10yo we now have a 12yo Greedy Angels , definitely the oldest whisky from Amrut Distillery ! This one is bottled at 60% and limited to around 100 decanters .

This is extremely oily in the glass lots of lingering legs when swirled . The Nose is a fruity little beast , a cocktail of exotic ones , this particular fruit cocktail has a huge dollop of Vanilla custard on top with a finger of shortbread stuck in it for effect ! After a short while there’s a hint of chocolate  and a blast of wood spices , a delightful nose !

The palate again has the fruity blast , like a very thick condensed smoothy , a lovely spiciness along with a hint of the Amrut Liquorice , this is so damn good at 60% i’m very reluctant to put water into it…….. The finish is extremely long , spicy and a touch of wood (nice wood) . 

A wee touch of water actually doesn’t seem to do a lot , only increasing the volume of dram in the glass ! (which was a relief as i’ve seen water completely collapse ‘other’ older whiskies . )

To say this is a stunning dram would be a bit of an understatement , as with all other Amruts a great deal of care and attention has gone into it , it was definitely botlled at the right time !

Amrut Double Cask

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Back at the end of February 2010 a group of Geordie Whisky enthusiasts gathered at The Hilton Hotel in Gateshead for the launch of a brand new Amrut release , Double cask . It’s the only Whisky release i’ve been to…….  Now 6 years on have Amrut released a 2nd edition , the first was two ex-bourbon casks aged 7 and 7 1/2yo , this one is one ex-bourbon 7yo (#3452 filled June 2009) and one PX-sherry 6yo ( #3803  filled May 2010 ) both made with unpeated Indian Malt , it was bottled in August 2016 at 46% .

This one is slightly darker than the 1st edition ! The PX cask definitely makes a difference….. Again very oily in the glass , the sherry is the first thing that catches the nose , lots of dark fruits and especially cherries , there is nothing subtle about this sherry nose !

The sherry is a tad more relaxed on the palate but is still the most prominent , again dark fruits with lots of cherries , eventually the Amrut traits do sneak past the sherry but the PX does dominate . The finish is very smooth , dry and very long and sherried with a touch of vanilla , spice and  liquorice .

Amrut sherry cask fans are going to love this (the intermediate Sherry Brigade) , i will say it’s dangerously smooth and quaffable , an ideal Christmas dram and very warming on a cold Autumn night .

Amrut Rye

amrut_rye

Yes , Amrut Rye ! 100% pure Malted Rye , it says ‘Single Malt Whisky’ on the label and it is !  Made from European Rye and matured in New American Oak casks . I have to admit to having tried this before , in 2015 while we were visiting the Distillery , Ashok and Surrinder gave us a wee dram of this , not telling us what it was , we were gobsmacked by it ! So what is it like 14 months on ?

Bottled at 50% , the Nose is….. Rye , lovely warm Rye bread , surprisingly there is quite a bit of tropical fruit in it ( usually found in some of the more elderly Amruts i’ve found) , there is a touch of butterscotch after a while .

The palate is WOW !

The Rye explodes on it , there’s no other way to say it but it’s Rye , there is a slight hint of the tropical fruit on the palate but it’s super smooth rye 99% of the way . The finish is long, smooth Rye ( surprise surprise ) and spices , wonderful !

What can i say ? It’s not like Canadian Rye ( i love the stuff ) , it’s closer to Zuidam’s Millstone 100 Single Rye…… only better . It’s so easy drinking and very tasty .

 

Once again Amrut have come up with the goods , Surrinder you are some Man !

Thanks to Ashok for the samples .