So me and the guys went to the Whisky Live event again. Basically you pay 20 quid to get in (minus any corporate discounts you can wangle) and wander round a huge room sampling all the premium whiskies you can and still remain upright. In theory they had a voucher system this year restricting you to a certain number of shots, but most of the stands didn't bother. There's none of the namby-pamby spitting out business those weird wine buffs do, so it can be quite an overpowering experience.
You can get a pretty overpowering experience in a single sip from the Swedish Mackmyra whisky; which is essentially high-class moonshine. It's matured for just twelve months, in a small unseasoned oak barrel to give it as much flavour as possible in a short time: it's naturally dark and so pungent you can practically taste it from yards away: alcohol content 62%. Doesn't sound too promising; but it's actually a kind of knockout experience; loads of flavour and a hell of a kick. They have two brands "Elegant" and "Smokey" but the Elegant is pretty nearly as powerful. Strongly tempted to buy a bottle, though I don't think my friends believed me. But then, I like Woods navy rum too. Of course, the amusement value of springing over-proof spirits on people after knocking it back yourself is pretty good in itself...
Less promising: the Amrut Indian whisky and Pendaryn Welsh whisky. Amrut's feels like nasal decongestant, though it does clear the sinuses a bit. Pendaryn is just rather bland and doesn't taste of anything much. Looks like those nations have to work on things a bit.
The Japanese of course have been doing excellent whisky for a while now. Suntori do some nice malts; quite liked their Yamazaki single malt.
Not much new from the Americans this year. Had some of the Eagle Rare from the Buffalo Trace distillery: very nice and smooth but I had it last year and still haven't been able to track any down. Asked the nice girl where I could buy some; but she'd just been flown in from Kentucky and hadn't a clue; though she did express her ignorance in a very cute accent. You can get the normal creamy ultra-sweet Buffalo Trace in Safeways/Morrisons: I like it but it's too sweet for some.
The Woodford Reserve was good; not very sweet by bourbon standards, almost Scotch-ish. Pappy Van Winkles 15 year old was nice too, in spite of the silly name.
There were plenty of Scotches there of course, but since we're already pretty familiar with them, you don't tend to concentrate on them so much. Drank my way along the Bruichladdich stand though: even their regular single malt is excellent, but had some of their 12-year-old, 15-year-old and their 3D mixture of all ages. The 3D was smokey and interesting, but other than that you might as well stick with the regular ten-year-old.
After this point my memory begins to fade and my notes become rather illegible. I remember trying the Glenkinchie since it was the only one in the range I hadn't had. My notes just say "crap", and I can't remember the details.
Aferfeldy managed to penetrate the fog; kind of a delicate flowery taste: might well grab a bottle of that. Had a long conversation with the Master Blender who was manning the stall. He seemed slightly miffed when I asked him if he had the final say on all the whiskies, or if he gave several different options to the board. Apparently the management create a kind of vague spec saying they want something sweet that year, or peaty another year. Then he thinks up a taste in his mind that he tries to achieve by mixing from the various barrels and options. He says that he has the final say though.
After that. I apparently thought Glenrothes was "nice", though I have no more details. The Edradour cask strength was complex and a lot less sweet than their regular malt, but again that seems quite hard to actually track down at sane prices. Also tried a couple of the very old (25 years) from the independent bottlers, but the really old Glenlivet didn't actually taste that great. Age isn't everything.
Also had a "single grain" Scotch which was fairly pleasant, but not particularly great.
Don't know how things will work out when I get full bottles of some of these. Will keep you posted...
Thanks to stopping drinking by ten, a couple of pints of water, and the purity of good whisky, didn't have any hangover on Saturday morning: didn't even have to take aspirin. Quite surprising, considering how I was totally floored after the last HuSi drinks; even taking a bucket into the bathroom in case I needed to evacuate both ends simultaneously. I think the cigarettes don't help, but whisky and plenty of water on the side is a lot better than beer hangover-wise. Far too much of a pain to do in company with beer-drinkers in a crowded pub though.
I am an idiot who doesn't deserve nice things
Was painfully reminded of how crap I am at hardware and anything practical on Saturday. If you remember ages ago I bought an ugly but capable computer with three case fans, which I found irritatingly noisy at the time, though I totally blank out the noise these days. I disabled one fan, but lately it's overheated a couple of times so I decided to put it back.
Anyway, since I had to open it up, I decided to kill some of the pointless lights at the same time, which meant dismounting the top fan from the case.
Took the fan off. Kind of stiff, didn't have quite the right obscure screwdriver, but got it off. Put it back, did a bit of damage to the screw-heads but that didn't matter right, since I'd never need to do it again.
The I compared it to the other fan, and realised it was the other way round. Obviously being a klutz I'd put it on backwards.
So took it off, doing at little more damage to the screw heads, and putting it on did even more: stripped them out totally. Still, it doesn't matter because I'd never have to do it again.
Then, with the computer back in use I idly took a piece of tissue and laid it on the case to see what was happening. So, the big fan at the front sucks air in. The small fan at the side sucks air in. And the fan at the top... sucks air in.
So what's supposed to happen is the side fan sucks air in, the top fan expels the air and you have a nice circulation system. Which I've just screwed up by switching the fan round.
Cue trip to Homebase, squinting at sealed containers to try to find the right size screws. Then about an hour with pliers, punch and screwdriver of tugging, twisting, levering and swearing copiously while getting the stripped screws off again. So I could put the fan back the way I did in the first place.
Good thing I work in software where you can always roll back and you can't really damage anything.
Watched the first episode of the New Dr Who. pleasantly surprised: much better than I expected. Seems to stick to the spirit of the series, with the Doctor as an aggravating, arrogant pacifistic eccentric; but still brings things up to date. In particular, it used very modern high-speed pacing and exposition, delivering information mostly visually almost at Simpsons-ish rate. The character sketches of Rose's mother and boyfriend are Simpsonishly observed too. Makes a nice change from the usual patronizing, s l o w ly... s p e l l e d... o u t heavy-handedness of BBC kids stuff.
There's stuff for kids and grown-ups both, though I think the kids would get more out of it. Some nice touches and good lines. Rose: "What's a 'police public call box'?" and when the Doctor idly starts flicking though Heat magazine: "That won't work: he's gay and she's an alien.". Might be too UK-centric for the US market though.
Couple of niggles: slight problem with suspension of disbelief when Billie Piper starts talking about doing A-levels. Also the new Tardis interior is fashionably dark grimy a la Firefly and BSG. Why doesn't anyone clean their spaceships anymore? How come they've got enough energy to warp through the fabric of space-time, but not enough for a 60 watt lightbulb or two? Wouldn't it be more practical to make the interior walls out of a low-maintenance wipe-clean surface? Truly, the future is another country...
Stolen from Monkeyfilter. Ancient Roman recipes
Russian anti-alcohol posters.
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