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The Legend


A few weeks back I made the trip up to Durham, my old university town (although technically it’s a city), to visit one of my old partners in crime – a fellow Keeper of the Cane no less – who is now working for the uni.

Inevitably a number a drinking holes were frequented on this trip down memory lane, not least a Samuel Smith’s pub called The Swan & Three Cygnets – once home to £1.45 ales thus undercutting the student union and all sixteen college bars as there were then (Cuths has two whilst the Stockton colleges used to share just one!) by a whole five pence to offer the cheapest pint in Durham…

“Pint of O.B. please”
(although Sovereign was the cheapest)

I still makes me laugh whenever I come across one of the many Samuel Smith’s pubs in London – they’re a real guilty pleasure of mine as its just like stepping back into The Swan or indeed The Colpitts (another Samuel Smith’s pub in Durham tucked away by the viaduct, a popular area for those living out of college).

Having not seen my friend for the best part of the year though I wasn’t content to simply quaff endless beers (how times have changed!) or even White Russians (sadly abandoned in Fabios!), I also wished to pass on something of my enthusiasm for whisky.


This was done initially with a bottle of Nikka Whisky From the Barrel, which amusingly also went down very well with his Scottish house mate despite the initial protests! (“Japanese whisky??? Don’t come anywhere near me with that muck… Oh, alright, I better try some…”)

As the weekend drew to a close we were heading over to meet a bunch of chaps I didn’t know and I found myself in the supermarket, en route, picking up some last minute supplies. As well as the mandatory lagers I hoped to pick up a little something from Islay or something with a nice coastal character that could be shared with friends new and old whilst also not scaring off any ‘non-whisky drinkers’! Despite the extremely limited selection I was rather pleased to pick up an entry level Bowmore with a name that promised much…

Single malt (40%)

Bowmore Legend

Nose: Sea breeze nearly hides a little honey and a faint wisp of smoke.

Palate: Salty with a brown sugar cube and barley sweetness that becomes more apparent the more you drink. It is far from complex however.

Finish: Sweet and salty with a little peat smoke briefly taking hold before slightly abruptly disappearing again.

Overall: Perfectly agreeable young, sweet, maritime dram.


It was an ideal choice if a little sweeter than expected and whilst it didn’t knock anybody’s socks off it was enjoyed by all who tried it. That said, it doesn’t exactly live up to such a grand name! On this occasion the legend was amongst the company instead of in the glass.

Rik Coldwell, you Sir are in fact a legend.


Caskstrength and Carry On

After ‘A’ for Arran comes ‘B’ for BenRiach…

Caskstrength And Carry On BenRiach (16 Year Old 1996 Cask 5614, 55.2%) – limited release of 296 bottled in July 2012 – £54.95

This is the second release in the boys’ potentially epic A-Z series of bottlings.

“Cask 5614 was distilled in 1996 and initially filled into a bourbon hogshead.  However in 2008, the decision was made to re-rack the whisky into a rather succulent, spicy Pedro Ximinez sherry cask for the four remaining years of its maturation.”

– Neil & Joel

Released in conjuction with BenRiach and available to buy since midnight last night exclusively through Master of Malt, expect this highly collectable offering to sell out very quickly… (If you had your eye on one of the cotton tope bags available with the first 50 sold, they are looong gone already!)

Joel And Neil signing each bottle by hand at MoM towers

Nose: Werther’s Originals give way to some muscovado, cinnamon and salted caramel.

Palate: Spicy and rich. Clearly cask strength without being too harsh and without detracting from deep caramel and dark chocolate as well as white pepper heat.

Finish: Warm, drying and satisfying. More salted caramel and spice.

Overall: Big, bold and spicy – does what it says on the tin, delicious.


After ‘B’ for BenRiach comes ‘C’ for…


It’s Whisky Jim, but not as we know it…

DISCLAIMER: This Blog Post, whilst based on ‘actual things’ may well run away with itself and contain conclusions and assertions of dubious scientific merit… Plus it was written into the (really, very) wee hours and may be influenced by utter delirium…

It is the distant future, the year 19841999, 2001, ?, fossil fuels are totally exhausted and it turns out cold fusion was just childish science fiction *ahem* – “but how will the distilleries keep running?” I hear you cry and “how on earth are we going to power our hover mobiles for our trips over to the Islay festival???”

My god, I… I don’t know… Please tell me there’s a way‽  [<- interrobang]

Well, assuming that the robots haven’t (in the words of New Zealand’s premier folk band) poisoned our asses with poisonous gases by then, there may just be a way of solving both of these pressing conundrums…

Back in 2010 boffins at Edinburgh Napier University developed a biofuel for cars made from the two main by-products of whisky production: the pot ale and the draff. Samples of these by-products were provided from the nearby Glenkinchie distillery.

Fast forward to 2012 and the director of the university’s Biofuel Research Centre Prof. Martin Tangney has formed a new company, Edinburgh Napier University’s Celtic Renewables Ltd., to commercialise the process with the dream of making it available at the pumps!

The biobutanol produced is said to provide 25% more power than bioethanol fuels and unlike other biofuels can even be used in unmodified petrol cars (or your standard petrol run hover mobile).

On closer inspection this sample doesn’t appear to be pot ale or draff but I’d better taste it to be sure…

Meanwhile plans got under way back in early 2008 between the Combination of Rothes Distillers (CoRD) and Helius Energy to build a biomass heat and power plant in Moray that would burn draff to generate electricity whilst converting pot ale into organic fertiliser and animal feed.

Construction of the £60m project commenced last May with work due to finish in 2013 when it will utilise by-products from 16 Speyside distilleries including Glenlivet and Macallan. Unlike Diageo’s own bioenergy plant at the Cameronbridge distillery, the Rothes plant will also provide electricity for public use, enough for 9,000 homes supposedly.

So it is that in the distant apocalyptic future the whisky industry, having been self sufficient in terms of their energy requirements as long as anyone can remember, carries on regardless and even powers small towns and villages within a certain proximity to the distilleries. The inhabitants of these pockets of civilisation, some of the last remaining on Earth, are able to visit each other with relative ease in their hover mobiles and aircraft for both leisure and of course to trade the prized commodity of whisky.

The only thing that could possibly stop this coming to pass and thus spell the end for all mankind is if there was some kind of  total collapse in people’s interest in whisky between now and Judgement Day in the coming decades… Quick! With this much at stake it is imperative that we travel back in time to the year 2012 and impress upon humanity the importance of their continuing, nay growing, love for whisky!

To the DeLorean!!!

Well there you have it. If you don’t drink whisky then you Sir are endangering humanity. Think about that.

Unless the whisky industry becomes self-aware… Oh God.


P.S. That’s an entire whisky-related science fiction Blog post without a single mention of Ardbeg Space Whisky! (Oops.)