Monday, December 28, 2009

A wicked dram from Pulteney

Going through Edinburgh airport on my way to the former DDR always has it's pleasures. This time though it wasn't just the duty free but the chance to fly posh with Lufthansa and not the usual trash-class with Ryanair - pirates so brazen that they should have a base somewhere off east Africa. However, on safely negotiating the security checks, a day after another religious nutter almost bombed yon flight to Detroit, i was rewarded by a display advertising the new Old Pulteney expression WK499.

This isn't the whisky merchants of Inbhir Uige up in Caithness - home to yon bigoted cooncillors - trying to emulate Irn Bru's WKD alcopop but a version of Wick's finest export designed for duty free. Why should those who deign to take the most destructive form of travel be allowed the special privilege of duty free whisky? Answers on postcard to Friends of the Earth whose carpark i understand used to resemble Cameron Toll's at the Boxing Day sales. And that includes a certain ex-FoE chief who is now the czar/ caesar/ kaiser for freedom of information or something like that at the Scots' Parly.

On to the whisky though and this expression of Caithness' own Gaelic heritage is something to savour. It comes at cask strength of 52% but has no age statement. Younger than 10 though, i'd bet. Taste is described as 'sweet, soft and delicately complex with chewy vanilla and warm spices, with a lingering warm finish.' I'd go with most of that. There's definately some Chai Tea in there, some toffee and more spices than a shelf in Khushi's kitchen. As to the finish, it's not just warm but firey - though letting it stand for 2 or 3 minutes does tame it somewhat. OP seems to be a quality dram in all its expressions and at £32 for a cask-strength, it's well worth getting hold off. It still has a way to go though to match the SMWS's single cask 7yo OP released a year or so ago whose title i cannot remember.

Let's hope some of this uisge-beatha makes it to those Caithness cooncillors who seek to deny Gallaibh and her Gollachs her heritage and bilingual present. I would also wholeheartedly recommend having a dram of OP WKD whilst reading R.Crumb's brilliant and frightening pictorial account of the Book of Genesis. Whoever said that the bible was FCKD up?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More fodder for Britain's foreign wars

Hey, there's a recession on. Factories, companies and shops are closing and shedding jobs faster than an ascendant Nu-Labour minister can shed dodgy facial hair (think Peter Mandelson, Alastair Darling and possibly Claire Short). So, according to the laws of Fool Britannia and her history of perma-war, go and boost the numbers of squaddies. Hence, we see 1000 new members of Her Majesty's Taleban Bait take her schilling. Many of them, by their own admission, have few if any qualifications and little hope of another job in their ane wee pairt of Scotland.

So, who holds the moral high ground here? And do any of us really believe that when some of these men die that it will make Scotland a better place?

In recent days, we've seen much discussion about council and government budgets. The Hootsmon/ Scottish Daily Mail has trumpeted about 'reasonable' opposition to expenditure on Gaelic, as if Gaelic script costs more than English. Glasgow has threatened to close libraries and swimming pools. And no financial support is forthcoming for traditional and threatened distilleries such as Tamdhu or the Johnnie Walker base in Kilmarnock.

War, though, is always a good investment. So, does Gordon Brown's 'moral compass' dictate that on top of bankrupt Britain's £multi-billion deficit in financial terms, we can add a cost of blood?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Edinburgh Roc, whisky and German sweeties

Roc na Gàidhlig saw three excellent Gaelic-singing rock bands of differing genre deliver some roasting new Gaelic music to a bitterly cauld Forest Cafe in the new Gaidhealtachd of Dùn Eideann. I once saw the Forest described as a kind of 'hippie Starbucks'. Does that mean a laidback cafe with broken windows and one toilet cubicle per 100 people? Whatever, in this age of cynical capitalist greed that sees bankers getting golden handshakes while all sorts of working folk - including those at Johnnie Walker and Tamdhu - facing the dole, it's good to see some kind of cooperative venture apparently succeeding.

Hey, there may be some tosspots involved in these things but that's life. Show me one microcosm of human activity that doesn't include some conflict with those involved.

Speaking of tosspots... senile Tory Hibee and Edinburgh Evil News columnist John Gibson failed to show up for Roc na Gàidhlig. As did his fellow pro-ignorance campaigners Iain Whyte and Michael Blackley. If only they'd known that Edinburgh Gael and punk 'legend' Ruairidh Polloi was handing out whisky to all who wished a wee slug of the uisge-beatha.

High-Commissioner aint really my taste but recent weeks have seen me have plenty of the good stuff. Frau Wind and Cloud was fortunate enough to score a birthday-present bottle of Cadenhead's 2001 bottling of an 11yo bourbon hogshead Inchgower at 61%. Beautiful stuff and classic Inchgower. A fruit-salad nose gives way to honey and salt on the tongue. Superb stuff. It also goes great with 'Salzige Heringe' - a kind of salty liquorice chewy sweet from the north of Germany.

It's also the time of year that our Deutsch freunden start eating the stollen that they baked a few weeks previously. This sugary fruit-loaf type of thing goes well with our old Ileach friend Lagavullin 16. The 'Lag a' Mhuillinn' btw was picked up for a mere £30 odd from Wine Rack - another store facing the good auld capitalist axe.

With the boom and bust brothers of Tory and New Labour looking to win the right to run/ruin 'Great' Britain sometime next year - and both of them seeking to plunge the Great Satan into even deeper debt with more spending on nuclear weapons and foreign wars - then it has to be time for Scots to seriously think about going it alone.