Saturday, June 30, 2007


A tasting with a difference this month where our old friend Gerry Tosh used the club as a testing bed for some new ideas. Instead of just talking about whisky and how it’s made, we actually got the chance to make something approaching the legendary 18 Year Old.

The venue was a departure as well – the Whisky Bar at Oran Mor – and although it got a wee bit noisy as the evening wore on, we had PA if needed. It’s a nice venue and the bar is keen on the club going back there for tastings, but for the Glenfarclas night in September, we might be better booking the Private Dining Room. The committee will have a think about it.

The night began with four samples – the new make, 12, 15 and 18 – and Gerry took us through the characteristics of a typical Highland Park dram.

But he also brought cask samples that he and his master blender would sample and marry to produce the distinctive HP taste. Using two from casks laid down in 1989 along with two from 1981, the club’s guinea pigs added a 1974 to the mix to produce something not dissimilar to the fabled 18. Youngest whisky 18 years old, oldest 33, compared with the 34 that’s the veteran of the official product.

It was an interesting and worthwhile exercise and Gerry is working on ways to take this type of tasting to a wider audience.

In an evening of good fun and good laughs, we also had a special moment when Ian Black brought along a magnificent wooden case which he’d been given by Highland Park during its rebranding.

Containing miniatures of the entire range and a magnificent book of striking Orkney images, it also had the stuff of life that makes up Orkney and Highland Park – the barley for the malt, a lump of peat, a stave from a barrel. A quite magnificent and rare beast, it was one of only 50 produced, and Ian was happy to auction it.

His chosen charity, given his football provenance, was the Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal, which raises cash for orphans in Georgia. Gerry held a blind auction and our very own made of wood Ralf, topped the lot with a very generous £127.

Many thanks, also, to Laura Burgess, whose haggling skills got the club 60 Glencairn glasses for a bargain price.


You’ll remember your humble secretary was the recipient of some of the world’s most expensive whisky when he glugged 62-year-old Dalmore at a Whyte & Mackay tasting. Since then his tastes have been a wee bit less rich … until the launch of W&M’s rare and Prestige range.

It would have been churlish to turn down lunch at 29 in Royal Exchange Square, especially as it came with the Whyte & Mackay 40-Year-Old at £549 a pop. Only 1000 bottles are being released, and they’re probably not going to Tesco.

Next up was the Isle of Jura 40. Made in 1966 by master blender Robert Paterson, only 98 bottles will be on sale, for an-I’m-sure-you’ll-agree-very -reasonable £1249.

Big hit of the day was The Dalmore 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon Wood Release. Again 1000 bottles, and cheap as chips at £399.

Finally we sampled the Dalmore 40.Orange marmalade and Christmas pudding, with a toffee and chocolate orange taste. Yours for £1350.

I asked Richard if he would host a tasting for the club, but because the reception was getting a bit noisy, I’m not quite sure of his answer. I recognised a few of the words, but am unable to repeat them in polite society.


TWO perfectly responsible members of the club - oh, all right: Andy Bell and Bobby Banford - discovered to their cost the menace of the malt when they travelled to Islay for the annual Feis.
As our pictures show, they got on perfectly well when it was just the two of them, and even when Gillian joined them, but for the life of him Bobby says he has NO idea who the two others in the pic are. If the lady is his wife,he’s in trou
ble; if it’s not, he’s in trouble.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cnoc Cnoc

Busy wee time recently folks, what with holidays and other bits and bobs, so apologies for not updating Still Life for a while.

A couple of weeks ago Ken Seaton and I inveigled our way into an AnCnoc tasting being given by Jim Murray of Bible fame. The setting was the Lismore in Partick and, frankly, it’s not ideal. The tasting would have taken place in direct line with access to the toilets, with the attendant inconveniences (sorry, couldn’t help it). A bouncer made people walk out the pub and sneak in the side door, thus saving the guests from seeing Mr Murray cancel the tasting.

The drams were AnCnoc new make, a six year old bottling brought specifically at Jim’s request, the standard 12, the new 16 and a bottle from the dim and distant past, a 1975 Knockdhu. He told the audience, Daily Express competition winners, that he takes the AnCnoc to every tasting across the world, as it it’s one most people haven’t heard of, and it scores very highly for consistency of quality.

At the end of a short, but enjoyable tasting, punters got the chance to vote their favourite dram and using a calculation that made the Holyrood election papers a doddle, the standard 12 came out ahead, followed by the Knockdhu and the 16.

Jim told some tall tales, such as being stalked through Inverness in his first ever visit to Scotland. Both stalkers male, incidentally.

And he has an interesting technique, insisting the whisky should be warmed in one hand while the glass is covered by the other at the top.

I got pelters for admitting I have the occasional whisky with ice, but told him the club’s motto was drink it your way, and Ken drew his ire by suggesting whisky worked good with food.

Pish and Tosh was his reaction. Well he got it half right!