Thursday, May 28, 2009

Euro election or magnet for freaks?

The current sleaze that has engulfed the London government and chiefly, the two ugly sisters of Tory and Labour, seems to have opened a door for all kinds of publicity seekers, weirdos and bigots to try get some kind of power or voice. Hence, next week's elections to the European Parliament will see more parties than a range of Bruichladdich bottlings on our voting slips.

Foremost of the vile and fèir craicte are the Bnp and Ukip. The Bnp have put on a 'moderate' face in recent years though basically are the same bunch of nazis who used to march in 'White Power' t-shirts and dress up in homo-erotic fascist-style uniforms. Check out the Bnp founder John Tyndall above. Hey, guys, can't you just be glad to be gay without giving it all the right-arm Little Englander stuff? I wonder how 'British' they want us to be anyway? Would they close down Ikea? Stop pubs selling French, Belgian and German beer? Close down curry-houses and ban nachos from pubs? Ban Japansese tellies and MP3 players? American dramas oot the windae? How about changing our Arabic numerals? Seems like there's little left of 'British' or English culture. Fortunately, here in Alba, we still have our uisge-beatha, shinty, ceilidhs, education system, Gaelic language and much more which we can trace back a millenium or two. We can even welcome 'foreigners' to enjoy it. 'S neart iomdachd - Diversity is strength.

Then we have the Christian Party who are 'proclaiming Christ's Lordship'!! I wonder if they seek a return to biblical law whereby adulterers, sabbath breakers and those who have 'contact' with women during their 'monthly uncleanliness' will be stoned to death. If that's too dark-age for our 21st century sensibilities then maybe the old anti-gay and anti-abortion messages will attract a few votes from the deluded. Maybe, their manifesto is to be gleaned from the oft-chuckled-at 'Dear Laura' letter that's done the rounds on the internet for years. Click there for an additional West Wing version.

In Scotland, we have the Jury Team. Who? Are they some kind of Equaliser-type avengers? Who TF knows or cares!! Auld Tommy Sheridan - once much respected defeator of Rupert Murdoch, anti-Poll Tax fighter and MSP and now ridiculed reality game show competitor - is massaging his ego in something called 'No2EU: Yes To Democracy'. Do they stand for compulsory txt messaging? Or are they after the hip and trend yth vt?

So, lets hope the Ugly Sisters of Cameron-Brown get roasted for fleecing the tax payers since...? The Bnp get sent to Amsterdam to sample some culture and get a lumber. And the likes of the Crstn Prty and No2EU lot get a slot on Big Brother or some other publicity circus.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Whisky and Gaelic in Aberdeen at WORD

Tha e na thoileachas dhomh faicinn an dà rud seo air an aithneachadh aig an fhèis litireachd seo ann an Obar Dheathainn. Air Dihaoine, tha Aonghas Dubh MacNeacail is eile a' cur an leabhar An Claigeann aig Damien Hirst air bhog. As a dhèidh, tha Na Gathan a' cluich cuirm aig Na Tunnels shuas am baile. Disathairne, agus se Teàrlach MacIlleDheathain is a chuid Whisky Bible a bhios ann. Bi ann no bi fann!

It's a pleasure to see both of these recognised as Aberdeen's WORD literary festival. Friday sees one-time Scottish writer of the year Aonghas 'Dubh' MacNeacail helping to launch 'Damien Hirst's Skull' in hardback. Afterwards, Gaelic indie band Na Gathan play at the Tunnels up town. Saturday and we have Charlie Maclean and his Whisky Bible in the spotlight.

Be there or drown in Babycham.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Good Edinburgh Whisky pubs part 2 - Bannermans

Just to emphasise that enjoying a dram should not require a Westminster MPs salary and 'allowances' here's a watering hole from that dark and dirty chasm that is Edinburgh's Cowgate. As you'd expect, you're not gonna rub shoulders with Fred Goodwin types in Bannermans. A large cellar-come-cavern in the back is used for gigs and therefore you can expect to see ageing punks, metalheads and students in attendance.

Could you imagine the SMWS's rooms - and very nice they are too - holding gigs by the likes of Kunt and the Gang, Cash from Chaos, Happy Spastics or a few years back, by Sunderlands finest purveyors of melodic but gruff indie-punk, Leatherface?

Bannermans does all this plus an interesting and cheap line in malts. Despite the cental location you can enjoy the Ileachs Laphroaig and Lagavulin plus Springank 10yo and Longmorn 16yo for a mere £2.80. That's each btw... this is a business and not the whisky tir nan og or a freeloading Westminster MP's taxpayer subsidised oasis. Also to be spotted were the likes of Blair Athol F&F, Glen Ord, An Cnoc and Poit Dhubh.

Bannermans, 212 Cowgate.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

If drams were bands who would they be??

If drams were bands who would they be?? The headline yon skinny lass from Sex and the City never wrote. Here's the current TOP 3 drams though die Frau says there's one or two Old Pulteneys bubbling under...

1- Laphroaig 18yo - This replaces the 15. And it does, in style.
Like the raw power of Oi Polloi - see below - meeting the complex but hard-edged melodies of System of a Down. Replaces the 15yo with something deeper and more complex like a Biffy Clyro classic. Take a stick of liquorice, dip it in molasses and lemon juice and dust it with smoked paprika. Eaten with a leaf of seaweed. Still Laphroaig but closer in aspects to Ardbeg or Lagavulin.

2- Bruichladdich 16yo Cuvee Margaux 'C'
The perfect pink-pop of the Pet Shop Boys. You may not admit to liking it, but this expertly crafted tune sticks in your head. Almost a rose wine colour, it has age and is elegant but still a breath of fresh air. A juicy fruit from Islay. One of six Cuvee casks, A to F.

3- Inchgower 17y0 Port cask
Christy Moore's smooth voice sucking a Fisherman's Friend but not in the Oi Polloi dressing room. From the 'Castle Collection' this one is oilier than Cliff Richard. Like a MacCowans toffee bar rolled in salt and pepper. With a longer finish than a Mogwai epic. Haven't see this here but if you're in Germany or the Netherlands, keep your eyes peeled.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ailidh Mal - Illicit distiller from Kintail

From 'Am Baile' - Ailidh Mal was a very popular man because he made really good whisky! All sorts of people and animals are waiting for Ailidh to come back from his secret still so that they can get a shot of his latest brew. In fact, everyone's getting very impatient and they keep asking his brother and sister, who are both on the lookout, where Ailidh is and when he might come. Make sure you answer correctly or the Red Coats will come and chase everyone away!

Duncan 'Stalker' Matheson of Kintail, the local seanchaidh once told Gaelic telly of the exploits of Ailidh Mal. According to Duncan, who i believe is still with us, his parents on their wedding night enjoyed a cask of Ailidh Mal's produce. Though the authorities tried on many occasions to catch this 'outlaw' and find his poit dhubh, he apparently always gave them the slip, with much help from his wife and the greatful community.

Find out more at Am Baile where you can even brush up your Gaelic grammar with the interactive game described above or teach your kids with this animated story in Gaelic or English.

Ailidh Mal - clach air a chàrn.

Wind and Cloud Strathspey and Orkney Reiseblog

It is raining and the colours outside seem depressing. Luckily enough we
have lots to drink. We went to Tomintoul Distillery today and got quite
a special 3 hour tour, an insight into a real whisky factory and not a
tourist place as Glenfiddich and these sorts are. We even saw the
blending facilities and got 6 different malts to taste afterwards. Olaf
was very happy. Then we only had a few minutes to get to Glenfarclas
where we also got a very interesting tour, tasting the 15, 21 and 30
year old Glenfarclas as well as the family cask edition which is only
bottled to a limited number of 600 bottles.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Oi Polloi - 'SS Politician'

Comhlan cliùiteach punc, Oi Polloi, à Dùn Eideann a' comharrachadh na h-eileanaich a shaoraich na b'urrainn dhaibh de dh'uisge-bheatha bhon long an 'SS Politician' a chaidh air creagan faisg air eilean Eirisgeidh. Nach iomachaidh gu bheil taigh-stàile ùr air chois ann am Barraigh nach eil fada bhon làrach ainmeil seo. Thathar an dùil ri 'Uisge-beatha nan Eilean' an ceann bliadhna no dhà.

Renowned Gaelic punk band, Oi Polloi, from Edinburgh commemorating the islanders who 'liberated' what whisky they could from the SS Politician that ran aground on rocks near Eriskay. The local pub today in Eriskay is called 'Am Politician'. In nearby Barra, where the film of the incident was made from Compton Mackenzie's novel 'Whisky Galore', a new distillery is operating which will see 'Uisge-beatha nan Eilean' on the market in the 2 or 3 years.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mental malts #1

"Whisky flavoured condoms and skunk road kill" from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Regarding the name, you canny beat it - no pun intended. Would love to hear from anyone who has tasted the above, at the same time.

I'd love to say that i saw a huge display of it in the local Tescos with a bunch of Catholic pro-life nutters threatening to demolish it but... it caught my eye on a visit to Boda - one of the 'Swedish' style pubs in the Leith area that seem to be spreading like counterfeit Rangers tops in a Stirling scheme.

Co-dhiù... it does as it says on the tin. It's an Ardmore apparently and does indeed have yon rubber taste that comes with johnnies, or so i'm lead to believe. The 'eau de Durex' is matched by a pungent and foul undercurrent which i assume is redolent of the skunk-jus. It had to be tried but here's one i won't revisit.

Should you have the time to track down an Ardmore that doesn't taste like John Prescott's Ys, i'd have to recommend the the SMWS's 23yo 'I Can't Believe It's Not Islay' - if there is any left at all. It's a fair Coire Bhreacain of a peaty smokey whirlpool that uses your tongue as a shinty pitch. Islay Camanachd it isn't though. CùChulainn picks up his caman for an Àird Mhòr and the points go to the Highlands on this one.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Good Edinburgh Whisky pubs part 1 - Robbies Bar

In recession times, not every one can afford a £100 membership and £4.10 drams at the SMWS vaults. But if you don't mind rubbing shoulders with the green-clad unfortunate- known also as Hibs' fans - instead of the vaguely masonic rugger-types you often see at the SMWS rooms then Robbies is your place.

It fills the gap in the 'traditional' pub market. You hear local Scots' accents and not the braying home-counties types that fill the New Town howffs. Equally, you can have a cheap dram without getting chibbed by some pie-eyed jelly head high on Buckfast and with a dusting of Askit powder around his nostrils.

To the whisky then. There are no casks in the back room but a selection of 20 or so common malts with one or two surprises to be found now and then - say, one of the Bruichladdich experimental releases. The Malt of the Month is a regular joy though at just £1.80ish. Recent stars at this price have been Dalmore and Old Pulteny. Last year, they had 3 MotMs which at one point included Lagavulin. Not surprisingly, the bottle was emptied as soon as the chalk had left the board. How often can you find a good Ileach for the price of a Sunday newspaper?

Also, has some good ales as well as the usual mass-produced gassy bevy. Shows football games too. So check the Setanta listings and avoid if you see Hibernian mentioned, unless your favourite sport is seeing grown men cry as their latest duff goalie throws the ball into his own net.

Robbies Bar, 367 Leith Walk.