You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2013.

I spent most of 2005 in Washington, D.C., working at NASA HQ. While there I naturally took advantage of the chance to visit many of the iconic sites around the nation’s capital and, in late May, several days before the Memorial Day holiday, I went to Arlington National Cemetery. Turns out it was the day they placed flags at each and every grave. Sadly, there are a lot of graves. It was quite a moving experience.

They had a lot of flags to deploy. Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

They had a lot of flags to deploy.
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

They had a process, place foot against marker, push flag in against heel. Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

They had a process, place foot against marker, push flag in against heel.
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

There were a lot of soldiers working at this on a very hot day. Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

There were a lot of soldiers working at this on a very hot day.
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Tomb Of The Unknowns Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Tomb Of The Unknowns
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Tomb Of The Unknowns Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Tomb Of The Unknowns
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Challenger Memorial Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Columbia Memorial
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Challenger Memorial Could this look any worse? Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

Challenger Memorial
Could this look any worse?
Arlington National Cemetery, 5/26/05

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Edinburgh, Scotland, 6/7/10

Edinburgh, Scotland, 6/7/10

Back in the summer of 2010 we went to Scotland. That trip was actually the catalyst for this blog; we posted from most of our stops throughout the trip. We had a blast and learned a lot about the country. We also learned a lot about Scotch, whisky without an “e” (whiskey everywhere else has an “e”). While we were in Edinburgh, our first stop, we went into the Royal Mile Whiskies shop in order to get advice and to procure some libations to both enjoy during the balance of our trip and to bring home. The very nice gentleman in the shop suggested we go to a bar down the street where we could enjoy a flight of Scotch (4 different kinds) then return and make an informed purchase. Which is what we did. We came back and told him the one we liked the best and he burst out laughing. We have expensive taste — it was $150. We didn’t buy it. We suggested our second choice, it may have been Glenmorangie, and he refused to sell it to us. He said we could buy it in the states and that it didn’t make sense to lug back a bottle we could buy at home. He was a sensible man. He sold us a bottle of  Balblair 97 and we went away happy.

The first (but not the last) distillery we toured was Glenmorangie. It was interesting, we saw cool stuff and learned how Scotch is made, but the highlight was in the tasting room. We had taken the tour with four English gentlemen and while in the tasting room we got to talking. I taught them how American Bourbon is made and they, in return, taught us how to properly drink Scotch, specifically Single Malt Scotch. The secret is to drink it neat (which we knew) and add just a touch of water (which we didn’t). Not a lot is needed, just a few drops, but it’s amazing what a change it makes to the flavor of the dram.

Scotch Cheat Sheet, Edinburgh, Scotland, 6/7/10

Whisky Cheat Sheet, Edinburgh, Scotland, 6/7/10

Since then I have been enjoying the pleasures of Single Malt Whisky. Not all the time, and not a lot, but regularly. And I’ve started branching out. Up until recently I’ve been enjoying various types of Glenmorangie (which happens to be the best selling single malt in Scotland). If you’ll refer to the photo to the right, taken in the bar I mentioned in Edinburgh where we enjoyed that first flight, you’ll see that Glenmorangie generally falls into the lower right quadrant, Rich & Delicate. While in Scotland I recall enjoying the Talisker (another distillery we toured) and Oban, both of which fall in the opposite quadrant: Light & Smoky. And by Smoky they mean “Peaty” which needs to be experienced rather than described. With that in mind, recently I’ve been (really) enjoying the Laphroaig. Today I bought a bottle of the Ardbeg and thought I’d have a bit of a tasting (see the photo below). I’m not one to go all high-brow with the tastes (no “flavor of nuts with a hint of orange” for me)…it’s either I like it, it’s OK, or I don’t.

So, what’s the verdict? The Balblair was my least favorite, kind of bland to my taste. The Glenmorangie (a 12-year-old aged in part in Sherry casks) is good: light and not liable to overpower. The real winners in my eyes are the over-the-top smoky ones: the Laphroaig and Ardbeg. I’m not yet sure which I like best … I need to go try them again. Right now.

And I’ll be continuing my research in the years to come.

Note from the other drinker: John’s favorites are not mine. I do not like the smoky, peaty ones. At all. They taste, well, like liquid peat. If I have to drink Whisky, I prefer the Rich & Delicate flavors (or flavours, if you will). But really, just give me some rum. 

The inspiration for this post, 5/11/13

The inspiration for this post, 5/11/13

IMG_6803 - Version 2

Our English Tutors, Tain, Scotland, 6/10/10

Where the Magic Happens @ the Talisker Distillery, Skye, Scotland, 6/11/10

Where the Magic Happens @ the Talisker Distillery, Skye, Scotland, 6/11/10

A pub in the middle of nowhere, Skye, Scotland, 6/13/10

A pub in the middle of nowhere, Skye, Scotland, 6/13/10

The Oban Distillery, Oban, Scotland, 6/14/10

The Oban Distillery, Oban, Scotland, 6/14/10