Life, the Universe and Everything

Week 42 in the Year of Drinking Adventurously – supposed to be hopped cider and whiskey.

I have no real excuse for not following the adventure this week beyond sheer laziness. I could have found some of the recommended hopped ciders and I might have been able to scrounge up an artisan American whiskey. But this week was a bit of a killer. I realize that it probably seems like I’ve been on perpetual vacation for better parts of the last month. And it’s true that I haven’t been home for a good part of that time, so finally work and life and everything caught up to me. I feel like I’m finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel after this weekend. I actually got to read (for pleasure) for a good part of the day on Sunday – something I’ve been neglecting.

I do have a potent potable to talk about, and it is whiskey, just not an artisanal American one. It’s my favorite Irish whiskey: Yellow Spot Single Pot Still whiskey from Mitchell and Sons Distillery in Dublin. I have yet to find it here in the USA. Bostonians and New Yorkers, keep your eyes open for it.

Here’s the story with the Yellow Spot:

The Mitchell family began selling wines and fortified wines on Grafton Street in Dublin in 1805. When they got into the whiskey business, they marked the barrels with a ‘spot’ of colored paint to differentiate the ages of the whiskeys within. What makes a single pot still style? A pot still is like a huge kettle where the batch is boiled, the vapors rise, are collected and cooled to produce the whiskey. Since the pot has to be cleaned after each use, only one batch of whiskey is produced from the single pot. Most whiskeys are distilled in column stills which can be used over and over to create large batches of product.

So in the tradition of the original ‘yellow spot’ barrels, this whiskey has been matured for no less than 12 years in a combination of American bourbon, Spanish sherry and Spanish Malaga casks. And drawing on the Mitchell family history of purveying fortified wines, the final maturation takes place in the Spanish Malaga casks, giving the whiskey an exotic sweetness. Listen to the description of the tasting notes from the bottle:

Nose: Mown hay, cracked black pepper, red bell peppers, nutmeg, clove oil and green tea. Sweet honey and peaches from the Malaga casks.

Taste: Honey sweetness with pot still spices. Flavors of fresh coffee, creamy milk chocolate and creme brûlée. Notes of red apple and toasted oak.

Finish: Sophisticated and complex. Sweetness throughout, with a mix of red grape and dry barley upon exit.

That is quite a melange of flavors! Trust me, though, none of them are so pronounced so as to overpower. This is a truly marvelous whisky. And for nearly $100 a bottle it should be.

Hopefully, Lula can tell you about hopped cider this week. Don’t forget to go see her!

You all figured out the significance of the title of this post, right?

Cure for a cold winter night.

Week 1 in The Year of Drinking Adventurously. Scots Whiskey. (Find all 52 weeks here.)

While the rest of you all are hitting the gym, drinking barley grass smoothies for breakfast and giving up refined flour and sugar, I am starting the new year by flying in the face of convention. This is the year of drinking adventurously!  (All things in moderation, dear friends.  I am not advocating overindulgence.)

Based on Jeff Cioletti’s book of the same title, my adventure will take me (figuratively) around the globe to sample the potent potables of the world.   (And possibly go broke – life’s too short to drink cheap booze, after all.)  Each week, I’ll let you know how I enjoyed the beverage of choice and hopefully find a way to tie it into writing.  This is a writing blog, remember?

I’m joining my friend Lula on this tour.  You can see how she traveled the globe here.  And follow Jeff’s blog, here.

Week one:  Scots whiskey

I do enjoy my whiskey.  Especially in the winter when comforting heat can be had in a glass.  I’m not above drinking a blended whiskey but prefer the single malt.

Image thanks to Pinterest

There are differences among the regional varieties that I won’t go into here.  If you want to know, Jeff’s book has a nice overview.

My liquor cabinet currently holds Dalwhinnie Highland Malt Scotch Whiskey.

A decent bottle, medium priced and smooth.
Seawater filtered through dirty ashtrays, pricey, exquisite




The Laphroaig is one of my favorites but I know it’s not for everyone. I grimaced at my first sip of Laphroaig.  But I fell in love after the second.  Jeff’s book compares it to “kissing a supermodel who smokes.”


Or if you prefer, kissing Aidan Turner:

Thanks BBC America

Sorry, I’ve been looking for an excuse to post a photo of Aidan Turner.  Anyway…  I take my Scotch neat or with just one ice cube.  I’ve never had a Scotch cocktail; not even the classic Rob Roy or Rusty Nail.  Why mess with a good thing?

At the end of the day, whether it be a day I spent in practice or a day spent writing and editing, it is a joy to savor that glass of liquid smoke.  Sometimes there is a flash of inspiration in that last sip – one that has me pulling out my notebook and pen, scribbling furiously while the words roll off the tongue of the invisible narrator.  So fill your glass with a dram of good Scots whiskey.  And find a beautiful companion to share it with! (Here’s more Aidan.  Sorry, couldn’t help myself.  Wait.  Why am I apologizing?!?)

Photo of beautiful companion courtesy IMDB