Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rinse the block away with Writer's Tears

I have a theory, when it comes to many things that seem difficult, distasteful, or uninspiring:  if you don't think you can do it, or you're not sure you can do it or really want to do it, try to do a little of it.

Don't like the look or smell of that meal your host prepared?  Try a bite.
Too tired to run the 5 miles you promised yourself?  Try one, or walk.
Got asked to dance and you'd rather not?  Try it -- just not to a long song.
Feels like 50-gazillion math questions for homework?  Try the first one of each set.
House a complete disaster?  Try just cleaning out the kitchen sink.

You never know... you might get into a rhythm and next thing you know, you're on a roll.

Have a 20-page paper to write for that masters course you're taking and the due date is a week away and you're still not entirely sure what you're writing about even though you've produced about 50 pages of false starts, random ramblings, and collections of potentially relevant quotations, and feel like you can't even write at all and what the heck are you doing in grad school anyhow and as if there's more of this to do next term and why can't it all just be done and you really really really need to stop overthinking the whole thing and just get to it and write the damn paper?  No?  Hmm. Well, were I, hypothetically, of course, to find myself in such a situation, I would.... I would... well, I'd go get this out of my cupboard in the basement where it has been waiting for such an occasion:

And then I would pour myself a glass, take a deep breath, and

Just.  Write.  Something.  A blog entry will do. 

One step at a time.  I'm sure you've seen the memes... you know, like the scene of the guy standing on some mountain peak with a Lao-tzu quote overlayed in an inspiring font:?  Like, for example, this one -- which I "borrowed" from, which was probably stolen from somewhere else anyhow.  This is the internet, after all.

Sometimes, those first steps are light and bouncy, full of hope and expectation.  Other times, they're... well, not.

And that's why we have whiskey.  And blogs.  And blogs about whiskey.

This one is gentle on the nose, and sweet-smelling, like honey or vanilla butterscotch toffee enjoyed beside a vase of freshly-picked wildflowers in a room with a freshly-hewn oak floor.

The initial taste is light, refreshing, the sweetness prevails -- honey and vanilla, pears and bananas perhaps, maybe a little light nuttiness... then the taste unfolds like a blooming flower moving through a wiff of citrus towards a wave of rich warm oak.  Although I tend to have a particular affinity for smoke, peat, leather and spice in my scotches, this Irish pot-still is entirely delightful and enjoyable.  It is smooth and gentle, but does not lack character.

It does seem to have gotten my fingers and mind warmed up for writing that paper...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Monkey Bay Sauvingon Blanc

I'm not a huge wine drinker.  See blog title for clarification.  But every once in a while, there is something worth mentioning.  Especially when I haven't posted in a while.

You see....  this.... this is nice: 

Monkey Bay Sauvingnon Blanc, 2012.

The label says it's best shared with friends, but I drank the bottle myself.  Over two days, really.

Okay, I had one glass yesterday and polished off the bottle tonight while watching Breaking Bad and filing the calluses off my feet.

It's crisp and refreshing but not too dry.  It's fruity, but not like *fruit* more like... um... fruit and grass salad on ice?  It tastes exactly like I would hope a white wine might taste if it were not tasting like Gew├╝rztraminer, which I love.

I bought it for the label, because I'm a sucker for spirals, among other things.....  but I'll buy it again for the wine in the bottle.

Especially if I kick butt on tomorrow morning's job interview...

Friday, April 26, 2013

16 Good Things in One Day -- AND Aberlour 16

Today was one of those GOOD days.  I am filled with joy and gratitude and a sense of accomplishment.  For example:

1.  I slept well and woke up with my skin alive to the feel of the sheets and the softness of the mattress.  Best of all, I woke up about 15 minutes before my alarm, which gave me enough time to enjoy being in bed before I had to get out of it.  Mmm... soft mattress.

2. Nobody showed up to my first period class.  I finished all my marking and handed it back.

3. I had left over quiche for lunch and it was even more delicious than it was yesterday.

4. A student said it was "sick" that I was their supply teacher today.  I believe that's a good thing.

5. After lunch, I was supervising an independent work period.  I got to read my book.  I even doodled a little bit.

6. I had an hour between work and parenting, so I had coffee and cookies and a banana for a snack while I read facebook posts and it was great.

7.  My daughter planted a seed at school today and brought it home in a yogurt tub with 2 inches of dirt at the bottom.  There is also a plastic gem and a feather in the dirt.

8. I bench pressed 100 pounds for the first time ever, and I did two reps, even!

9. I did three pull-ups.  Three times, for a total of nine!

10.  I won four out of seven squash games, and put up a darn good fight in the other three.  Against a tall, strong guy, even.

11. I made a shot off the back wall for the first time ever -- and then I did it again!

12.  It was sunny and warm outside.

13.  My girls and I went to a friend's house for delivered pizza (yum) and a movie (Gnomio and Juliet).

14.  I saw a friend encouraging another friend in the same way I had encouraged her, and it really felt like my help was being paid forward.

15.  We're going swimming with friends in the morning, and I'm going to a party with other friends in the evening.

16.  And best of all, I have the house all to myself, but for two beautiful sleeping children.

Sixteen good things, just off the cuff, without even trying.  I think that calls for ending the day with something special.  One more good thing.

How about the last couple of ounces of Aberlour 16?  Why yes, I think that will do just fine.

Carefully, now, there isn't much left...

My, my, my, it is pretty, isn't it, with its dark caramel glow?  It smells fantastic, too.

This scotch has something to say, and it speaks with authority, but not with force.

It tastes like the essence of forest picnic -- a classic wicker basket full of fresh bread, cheese, ripe fruit, and rich chocolate, all spread elegantly on a wool blanket in the cool shade of a pine grove with flowers and berries growing nearby.  It's spicy, gently nutty, fruity and lively, and ends with a little pinch of tanginess before spreading out in a warm wave of soft honey and apple pie. 

Seriously.  Go get a bottle of this and take your lover out for a picnic.  If you can find it, that is.  It's not currently carried at the LCBO.  However, for those of you who like to know the price of such things, I did find out that you can get it at several Liquor Mark locations in Winnipeg for $85.54.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back to School: Lombard Teaninich 12

My groove generating apparatus seemed to be a bit gummed up today, resulting in a significant reduction in my rate of mojo juice production.  The loss of sleep that resulted from a certain 5-year-old wetting her bed at 5:45 a.m. probably had something to do with it, as did the rain-dropping weather system that slowly moved in through the day.  Throw in a bit of seasonal shock over the suddenly increased pace of life and number of commitments to juggle, and that's a pretty decent recipe for a good ol' case of meh-ningitis.

The cure?  Cast on a new knitting project (pumpkin hat for my little pumpkin), set up the next episode of Justified, and settle down with a blanket and a cup of tea.

Who are we kidding?!  First, a glass of something a bit more curative.  Maybe something like Lombard Teaninich 12 year old?  It's a highland single malt distilled at the Teaninich Distillery (pronounced te-an-in-ick), a little north of Inverness -- the first distillery to have electric light.  Most of their product goes on to be blended into things like Johnny Walker, but they do bottle some of it as single malt.  And whaddaya know, I happen to have a bottle!  And it's getting low, so it's about time I preserve the memory.

I picked this up in the Vintages section of my local LCBO for $66.95.  It was a very reasonable investment.

I always find it hard to truly and authentically taste a scotch that has tasting notes right on the bottle, but in this case, I have to admit that I don't feel especially lead on by their description.  It's quite apt:  "Stimulating nose of light, citrus fruits.  Develops to a sweet palate.  Long, soft finish with a hint of peat."  The nose is certainly "stimulating" -- in fact, a bit into the sinuses, but not in that cheap blend kind of way.  There's definitely citrus, but I'd add a sort of clover smell to it, too.  It is fresh and clean on the palate, reminiscent of a chilled slice of brandied pear.  I pick up a bit of nuttiness just before the finish rounds out to the peaty end, but it's a mild nuttiness, more like pine nuts than pecans.  It's really a very pleasant malt, and would be lovely and refreshing on a warm summer day.

Shall we have another?  Let's add a few drops of water this time...

aaahhh.... that certainly smooths out the "stimulating" effect on the nose, but it also brings out a bit of a gingery or peppery kick on the palate, which I was completely not expecting.  The citrus and clover sweetness remains, too. The finish is longer, and seems warmer, and somehow, at the very end, bananas come to mind.  I don't recall ever seeing "banana" in any tasting note, ever, but there it is.  Ask me again another day and I'll probably think I'm crazy, too.

I have one small glass of Lombard left, which I think I'll go ahead and finish up tonight, hoping it will help my mojo return at full strength upon waking in the morning.  I've enjoyed this bottle.  I generally prefer something with a little more smoke and peat and dark, low notes, but this was pleasant, and I would certainly consider buying it again for a nice light change.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Washing Machine Didn't Come With Hoses: Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey

Really -- you buy a new washing machine, they deliver it, they take away the old one, but then you have to drive to the store to get new hoses to finish hooking the thing up right?  Harumph, I say.  On a blazing hot summer day, with one child who is desperate for a new dancing outfit and high on big-cardboard-box, and another who has a case of the whines because she's too hot because she didn't listen to her mother and chose a long-sleeved shirt anyhow.  Fine.  Gimme the hoses... and two tutus and two leotards, too.

Next stop:  shopping for Mummy.  On the list?  One bottle of Pelee Island Moscato, which has been renewing my taste for wine lately.  I've been "off" wine for a few years, but this is a lovely light summery delight -- not too dry, not too sweet, not too red, not too white.  A fantastic chilled beverage on a hot day.  I grabbed two bottles and headed over to browse the scotch section.

I hummed and hawed and finally selected the experiment of the month: 8 year old Greenore Single Grain Irish Whiskey.  It's made by the Cooley Distillery, which also makes Connemara Peated Irish, which I included at the in-laws' tasting event and promised to review.  And I will.  Later.  For now, read about this lovely thing:

Thar she be -- nothing very helpful or interesting on the label, which meant I had to buy it to learn about it.
I had a quick taste while I supervised the girls in their evening bath, and I didn't think much of it.  There was a strong rubbing-alcohol odour I couldn't get past.  However, later on, after I had tidied up and provided all the necessary hugs and kisses and made lunches and done some laundry (and discovered that the infamous hoses needed to be reversed), I sat down to give it a serious assessment.

Appearace-wise, it is ever so much more attractive than the mess of shoes that clutter the front hall.  It's a light-colored dram.  If you'll permit me to play expert, at least insofar as colour is concerned, I'll describe it as "honey colored" or something equally poetic.  Given a swirl, it runs back down the sides of the glass in a rather indifferent sort of way, leaving a thin film on the glass, but none of the thick, syrupy legs I like to watch.

The nose is not one to smack you over the head like a hearty peaty smoky scotch.  The smells are delicate, and hide under a cloud of alcohol fumes.  However, a few swirls and a bit of time and the nose tingle dissipates revealing the scents of tiny flower buds and ripe pears, with maybe a bit of damp lawn in there somewhere.

The palate is equally light and delicate in exactly the kind of way Ardbeg or Laphroaig Quarter Cask is not.  It follows through on the suggestions of the nose with fresh fruits, subtle flowers, and cupcakes.

The finish is cheery and refreshing, somewhere between mild ginger beer and spring rain dripping off a new leaf.

When I didn't like this whiskey at first, it was entirely my own fault for rushing it.  This is a concoction deserving of a quiet moment and one's full attention.  I'm tempted to try chilling it a bit, but I'd be afraid to lose the complexity of the subtle flavours.  It's probably worth the experiment, but Greenore is refreshing enough at cool-basement temperature.

This is a limited quantity item, so if your local booze-vendor has it in stock, I'd suggest picking up a bottle.  At less than $60, it's a good bet for a summer sipper.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The last half-inch, part 2: Dun Bheagan Rosebank 20 year old

I was able to obtain a little less than an ounce of this dram after a whiskey tasting I attended a while ago.  I'd been waiting for a day when I could sit quietly and really appreciate it (and take notes for a blog entry).  I didn't have much to work with, and I was sure not going to spend $230 on a new bottle -- not without a really super special occasion to help justify the expense.

However, if I did have a really special occasion to help justify such a purpose, I'd seriously consider this scotch.  It really is a treat.  I like a bouquet of flowers as much as the next girl, but I really melt when those flowers come as scent molecules escaping from a glass of light-straw coloured scotch in a crystal glass.

It's bottled at 46% and so it a bit more "warming" than I might like at bottle strength, but it's still plenty drinkable.  I found it quite peppery and gingery, not entirely unlike good pfefferneuse cookies.  There's a hit of saltiness, and some gentle smoke and peat hiding underneath.  This is a complex dram:  the heat and the dark tones are balanced by cheery bright tones like fresh wood and mild citrus (lemons?) with a hint of sweetness reminiscent of butterscotch or meringue.

A few drops of water took some of the heat out and let the peat and smoky low-notes and the bright clean high-notes come through with more pizazz.  The dilution didn't disturb the beautiful long finish.

Whiskey Girl's overall advice?  Skip the florist -- head to the liquor store.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Whiskey for the in-laws: Famous Grouse

I've already told you about my in-laws enjoyment of highly-diluted scotch.  Fortunately, they don't see any sense in doing that to good scotch.  So, we didn't buy good scotch for their visit.  I send my hubby to the liquor store with instructions to get some less-expensive scotch.  I have to give the man credit: he knows how to read price tags.  I was expecting the lowest-priced single malt.  He brought home Famous Grouse, which I promised to review in detail for you.  And so continues our investigation of the blended whiskey market.

Smelling this dram, I tried really hard to give credit beyond my initial impression.  It does smell pretty strongly medicinal, but I think now that the dominant smell is apples.  I have occasionally thought that apple juice smells a bit like urine, so maybe this is why I jotted down "toasted piss" when I had the taste test session.

On the palate, apples continue to dominate, and it's still medicinal.  It's a tad creamy.

The finish is the best part:  there really isn't any.

I tried a splash of water in it.  The dilution brought out a certain woodiness and a touch of butterscotch, but it didn't reduce the medicinal taste by much, if any.

I wouldn't buy this again.  There are better cheap blends.