2. Alaska – In Fairbanks, AK, it is illegal to serve an alcoholic beverages to moose. I’m pretty sure Sarah Palin had nothing to do with this law…
2. New York – According to the New York State Liquor Authority, you can buy wine, wine glasses, wine stoppers and corkscrews at a liquor store, but the state of New York prohibits them from selling wine gift bags. Sell a gift bag to a wine buying customer and you’ll be fined $10,000.
3. Colorado – law requires that wine be sold in containers of at least 24 ounces and spirits in containers at least a fifth of a gallon. But, at the same time, it also decrees that no alcohol beverage can be stored in hotel minibars in anything larger than miniature containers.
The White House has seen a lot of big parties, but nothing compares to March 4, 1829, when Andrew Jackson’s open house sparked a mob scene that almost destroyed the president’s house. Or so we think.
Jackson before the party.
The party was so big that the courageous, battle-tested President Jackson fled the scene (out a back door or through a window) as a huge crowd drank heavily, destroyed furniture and china, and even ground cheese into the carpets with their boots on the White House carpet.
Nestling deep within Diageo’s Leven global supply plant is something special and unexpected – the Leven Distillery or PLDA (Process Liquid Development Area) as it is less romantically known. It is Diageo’s least known and smallest whisky making facility, and their 29th that produces single malt. Leven distillery has quietly been going about its business of innovation and experimentation since production began in 2013.
Whisky is a spirit on the rise, spurred by an unprecedented number of new releases and the local pride that followed a Tasmanian distiller recently being named the world’s finest.
But if you think cyclists are tribal with their neat little divisions into fixie-riders, roadies and mountain bikers, they have nothing compared on the clans into which whisky drinkers divide. Regions, styles and brands each have their own fanatical followings.
“Whisky tragics tend to be as bad as (Apple) Mac aficionados,” says Franz Scheurer, the spirits editor of Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine and Australia/New Zealand ambassador for the Islay Whisky Club. “They have a one-track mind. There are ones who like whiskies for a particular flavour or origin; they may like the grassiness of Speyside or the peatiness of Islay.
“Then there are those who like blends. The very snobbish single malt drinkers won’t touch any blends. Blend drinkers tend to be a little bit more open; they will try single malt every now and then, but invariably return to the blend of their choice.”
Scheurer says there are noticeable differences between the whisky tribes. He says the Johnnie Walker brand is favoured by Middle East and Chinese drinkers, who consider it a status symbol. “The company has managed to capture the imagination of a lot of countries that just drink whisky with their food. These are not particularly discerning whisky drinkers, they just like a bottle on the table that people will recognise.”
The biggest whisky fanatics in the world are the Japanese, Scheurer proclaims. And they really relish drinking their local product; imbibing everything from Hibiki to Hakushu. Apart from the Japanese those who enjoy a Japanese whisky tend to be adventurous types, he says. “They are almost always really young whisky drinkers; the kind of person who will jump off a cliff with a hang-glider is likely to try a Nikka from Japan.
“On the other hand, your average Speyside drinker is more likely in his 40s, reasonably well-to-do, and will drive a Saab or a Volvo.”
Scheurer says of all the whisky regions in the world, the one that attracts unprecedented adoration is Islay, a small island in the Southern Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. There are eight distilleries on the island, but the one that appeals to the most fanatical supporters is Ardbeg.
Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016) Long time not tried this baby, if I’m not mistaken. The packaging is so reassuringly unchanged (when did Pétrus or Yquem last change their packaging?) but I remember older bottlings were rather ridden with caramel. It’s not always the case that you may ‘feel’ caramel, but in the latter case, you really could. But… Colour: gold. Earlier BN10 were really dark. Nose: fusel oil, paraffin, iron, and green walnuts, what’s not to enjoy? And then, eucalyptus, coal smoke, and raw malt, plus a touch of passion fruit that I had never found before. In Ben Nevis 10, that is. Mouth: what’s the distance between Fort Williams and Campbeltown? Because there is a Springbankness to this, these fatty oils and waxes, this metallic leafiness, the coal tar… Now what’s not in Springbank are these curious chocolaty lemon biscuits and the triple-sec. All that makes this a singular malt whisky. Loud applause please! Finish: rather long, and rather orange-forward. Comments: I’m pretty amazed, Ben Nevis 10 is becoming a star! Let’s just hope they won’t do any silly rebranding/repackaging. SGP:551 – 87 points.
That’s interesting, I remember fifteen years ago, not many people were caring for Ben Nevis. And then, it became a hidden gem. And now, it’s become many people’s favourite. Well, one of the favourites. It’s true that Ben Nevis is a characterful whisky, and that blandness, homogenisation and uniformity kill.
A lot of good things happening on the West Coast! Let’s try another 10 yo…
Ben Nevis 10 yo 2006/2016 (51.3%, Le Gus’t, Selection VI, sherry, cask #3, 763 bottles) 763 bottles? That’s a butt! Colour: amber/caramel. Nose: used gunpowder and walnut wine. You see what I mean. Then cigars and burnt bread. With water: umami, soy sauce, more walnuts. And even more walnuts. Mouth (neat): quite a bomb! Erm, so to speak. Gunpowder and rather bitter oranges this time, artichoke liqueur, more old walnuts, cream oloroso (you may still find bottles at flea markets), and spinach cooked in beef sauce. Not quite Marmite, but… With water: careful, don’t add too much water, not all sherry monsters like water anyway, that can make them lose their stride. Gets very dry, very oloroso. Finish: rather long, with oranges and cloves now. Another touch of leather in the aftertaste. Comments: this is funny, this baby reminds me of many an old official Ben Nevis. I mean, the sherry bombs. Classic and very good – if you like this style, of course. I do. Same high level as the OB. SGP:361 – 87 points.
Ben Nevis 18 yo 1996/2015 (48.9%, Bar du Nord, refill hogshead, 150 bottles) This by some crazy Swiss. Not sure I get everything on the label, but I’m finding it rather Plonk & Replonk-ish. Check them out, I’m a fan! Colour: white wine (uh-oh)… Nose: there, this Springbanky metallic minerality again. There’s even some lapsang souchong tea and quite some coal, new engine, sunflower oil… And behind that, greengages and other ‘shy’ plums. Mouth: splendid naked westerner. I’ve got a disease, I can’t avoid thinking of Campbeltown today! Orange zests, oils aplenty, silver spoon, black pepper, even horseradish, bitter chocolate, raw rhubarb… And even a salty touch, mind you. Finish: medium, dry, mineral, saline, and even smoky… Comments: nonante points in my book. A very great dry/austere Ben Nevis. SGP:362 – 90 points.
Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2015 (50.1%, Whisky-Fässle) Fair prices, excellent selection, cool people, and great passion. What could go wrong? Colour: bronze. Nose: it’s rather got this kind of tropical transmutation (my god my English is bad), around metallic tropical fruits mingled with engine-y notes. A blend of passion fruit juice with engine oil and mint sauce, perhaps? Apologies… And flints. With water: swims like a champ. Savagnin and damp black earth. Mouth: characterful and very spicy/chocolaty. Sour cream, sour fruits (not too ripe mangos?) and chicken soup. There’s always something happening with Ben Nevis, and while I’m sure some whisky orthodoxes would find a few flaws, I find this as funny as an Italian softporn movie from the late 1960s. With water: gets very leathery. Extreme walnuts as well. Totally oloroso-ish, which the colour had not quite suggested. Finish: quite long, as long as you don’t add too much water. Comments: only minor flaw with these styles, you wouldn’t quaff more than one glass at a time, because they can get a little tiring, in my opinion. Totally non-commercial whisky (but you should buy a bottle!)