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Croucher & Co Periodical / Suntory Whisky Toki

An unlikely pairing of a Scottish lowland single malt and middle Japan blended whisky yields an interesting voyage into famiiar flavours. 

Periodical – Oloroso Barrel
Nose: Pronounced banana, honey, orange rind, hints of apricot, vanilla, and mixed fruit
Age: 14 years
Region: Lowlands (Loch Lomand)
ABV: 50%
Pallate: Spicey vanilla, boiled fruits, watercress, sea salt
Finish: Long, with very little bitterness. Doesnt dry the mouth, shallow depth of melon flavors.
Source: Purchased form Valhalla’s Goat in Glasgow<

I am learning that whiskys I initially dont like tend to grow on me as I make my way through the bottle. I am the same way with music, actually. I recall that many a favorite song today was a tune I initially cared very little for until I ‘got it’. I think some aspect of that plays into my still juvenile journey of appreciating good drams… but there is no doubt something else going on. Oxygen i reckon. The venom like potency of this Periodical spirit softens over time. The more air that replaces the liquid in the bottle, the more tame it becomes. I suppose this is why a tasting legend like Ralfy always articulates that patience is the master key toward enjoying a good whisky, going as far as to recommend that one should wait at least one minute for each year listed on a bottle’s age statement prior to tasting. So 21 year Balvenie should sit in its glass for 21 minutes before it is experienced. Periodical benefits greatly from some time with the windows down. However, at 50% ABV it is still a handful after using Ralfy’s formula. Indeed, it is  a very hot drink out the gate. Enter a second technique, the controlled introduction of water.  Interestingly, Periodical has a glass jaw when it comes to water. A drop too many and you instantly get a hazy bathtub of worn, stretched flavours of no value. Get the balance right however, and you’ll break through the fire and into a corner of delightfully rewarding flavors. Periodical’s flavor profile does not contain much depth. however, it is the voyage to get there that makes the experience worthwhile.  At 50% ABV, Periodical is the strongest bottle of Scottish whisky I’ve had yet. It is a unique dram, and one that seems geared entirely for those who’ve been through the introductions already. For the rest of us, it might take a few jams on the headphones before we can actually ‘get it’.

Rating: 6.5/10

Suntory Whisky Toki
Nose: Citrus flavors, vanilla extract, ripe cantelope, hint of lemon drop
Age: No age statement (Blended whisky)
ABV: 43%
Palate: Floral, Hints of fig, honey, pear, vanilla
Finish: coasting finish of diminshing flavours, a bit dry towards the end, but overall pleasing through its course.

A smooth blend that is extremely welcoming, both in its flavor profile and its smooth delivery. At 43% it is a cut above most blends Ive had in its price range, and it is simple to enjoy. At its heart is a soothing sweet charm that that somehow manages to be almost perfectly balanced. At 43 percent it retainsa nip out of the cask, and allows for a bit of water to assit in accessibility. It really is almost too easy. to enjoy. Its only shortcoming  is that there is very little depth of flavor for me. It says what it says at the beginning (very sweet , affable whatnots) then sits down shly until the next sip. This was a very nice bottle to enjoy along with the Periodical. They both have similar characteristics, but deliver them defferently. One with the fire of a short tempered Spanish brunette (that wants you in the sack), and the other with a much more courteous approach. But almost so much as to they become invisible amongst the rest of the crowd.

Rating: 6.5/10

 

Four on the floor

Tonight I am polishing off 4 bottles of dram. A Clynelish 14 year, a Mortlach Rare Old, a Chivas Regal XV Balmain, and an Arran Barrel Reserve.

Mortlach Old Rarebig hat for the cattle.
Type: Single Malt
Age: No Age Statement
Region: Highlands/Speyside (east coast)
ABV: 43.4%
Pros: All rounder, allows for quick acclimation to its character, lovely bottle
Cons: No age statement, colour likely added, chill filtered, short finish, shallow depth
Nose: Scent of lemon, salt, vanilla spice, passion fruit
Taste: Dates, a bit of raisin  and vanilla, overripened fruits, chocolate, a bit of peatiness, and nippy for 40% abv
Finish: Leaves the mouth dry but physically watery
Comments: While it does deliver on some nice overall flavours, none of them quite possess the depth needed to impart a lasting impression. However, this lovely little bottle was a suprise gift from my Father in Law for my 47th birthday, which propels this to an all time fav. 6/10 + 4 in sentimental value

Chivas Regal XV Balmain – a notable blend after some time.
Type: Single Malt
Age: 15
Region: Highlands/Speyside
ABV: 40%
Pros: A decent bttle of dram for the price point
Cons: Colour likely added, chill filtered, nice flavours but fade very quickly, plastic bottle cap
Nose: Scent of lemon, salt, vanilla spice, passion fruit
Taste: Dates, a bit of raisin  and vanilla, figs, melon, cool on the bite
Finish: A nice lingering of the same flavours that seems to develop into a faint floral sweetness
Comments: A medley of sweet flavours that culminate into a satisfying experience. No water necessary but a small taster spoon also doesnt take away from it. 6/10

Arran Barrel Reserve – not nearly to my fancy as the 10 year, but still chum-worthy
Type: Single Malt
Age: No Age Statement
Region: Highlands/Lowland divide/Isle
ABV: 43%
Pros: A peaty addition to the Arran collection, natural color,  smooth and mildly complex
Cons: No chill filter statement, seems a bit young, not quite on the maturity mark
Nose: sea salt, passion fruit, apple, vanilla spice, mango and pear
Taste: A nice echo of the nose, with the vanilla ripened fruit bcoming more pronounced as it develops, a bit of peach and a taste of peat.
Finish: Best finish of the bunch so far, with a gradual fade into  subtle vanilla and maple creaminess.
Comments: While not as mature or a impressionable as the legendary 10 year Arran, this bottle stand on its own as a quality bottle for its low price point. 6/10

Clynelish 14 – the Alpha of the bunch
Type: Single Malt
Age: 14
Region: Highlands
ABV: 46%
Pros: The most quaiity for price I have had in recent memory.
Cons: No chill filter statement, no colour statement
Nose: Wonderful aroma of butterscotch, sea salt, caramel, and mixed fruits, apricot melon, and orange specifically.
Taste: Rich, sweet notes compared to the other spirits in this list.It just covers the tongue in floral notes, butter, faint toffee, hints of cocao, and more. 
Finish: Apple peach, apricot, banana, 
Comments: This little tasting adventure truly ended on the best note that it could have. The Clynelish dwarves the other drams in just about every facet of its expression.A long smooth finish a beautilful balance of alcohol and flavour, a wonderful nose. An absolute joy of an experience. 8.5/10

Recent happenings

Went to a free meditation session last night. I found elements of it to be very useful in levelling one’s keel through techniques, affirmations, visualisations, and concepts. The session however had a shrine set up for the woman who developed this meditation. We were also shown a 25 minute video of a speech she had presented many years ago. I found this bit to be oddly out of place from the rest of the session – a lazy buy-in effort with little effect. Maybe Im just not to the level required to gain something out of it, I dont know.

The overall issue I have though is that, the more a spiritual position is focused down to just one person, the more skeptical I become. This usually suggests an infallabiity of that one individual. Which we all know is bullshit.

It is the idea of spiritualism that is pure, it is the knowledge collected and delivered by many that gives it its power. Anyone who hits the podium without acknowledging this first always loses points in my book.

Checking in

It has been a bit. Lot has changed since my last post. New books read, new trips taken and planned. Be posting more about it all soon.

The calling

Been really missing home lately. I’ve found myself reliving old times…simple affairs, walking outside to the crisp, dry autumn air in Denton. DIY [projects, gardening, jamming with my mates. Eastside, the Denton square, busking, hanging with my neighbor John, my dogs, firepits, camping, my rock polishing. My family, going to Houston and stopping at Buccees somewhere in between. Seeing my Mom and step Dad, my Father, sisters, Aunts, geez…everyone and everything.

I don’t want to leave England until it is either unavoidable, or on my own terms. Those terms dictate that I reach a comfortable position to stay, and still feel the relentless call back. That is when I will know for sure, it is the right path.

Lost in the Forest

I had to take a minute this morning to reflect on the fact that I got lost in an English forest yesterday. It wasn’t for long, but still, for about fifteen or twenty minutes I was definitively without direction.

Circled area is where I lost my way after 4 mile walk/jog

Train

Keira dropped me off at the train station at about 5:20 this morning. My ticket showed the train to London departing at 6:30AM. Turned out the farkin station doesnt even open until 7AM. So I was stuck outside the station in downtown Glasgow with all of my luggage. One of the station employees felt sorry for me and let me in to the station even though weren’t to open for another hour. Super cool.

It was a long wait, and holy chit was it cold in the station. But I managed to get everything lined out. That guy who helped me was an awesome fella. There was also a station attendant named Emma, who also assisted me greatly with getting everything squared away with the train admin.

Horsin’ Around

Went with the roomie today to a ranch in Alexandria, Scotland. It was about a 45 minute drive Northwest of Glasgow, past a neat towering natural fixture called Dumbarton rock. It was biting cold when we got there but fortunately there were no clouds in the sky nd eventually the sunlight offered some relief. We had a variety chores to help out with, including cleaning horse stalls, making bedding out of straw, preparing meal nets1, walking the horses, assessing possible health issues (limping), feeding them, and giving them treats.

Out contact was a wonderful woman named Jane, who owned two of the seven or so horses out there. One horse was named Flicka, a beautiful mature, black and white, giant, female that looked similar to a Clydesdale with her long-haired hooves. The other was named Aladdin, a younger brown and white Arabian horse with much more electricity flowing through his veins.

Jane is a hard working single mother that really knows her way around a ranch, and aint afraid to get dirty. The same can be said for my roomie eira, who has been helping Jane at the ranch for several years.

The ranch itself was fairly small, but stood in front of a background of rolling hills, and the small town of Alexandria in the distance. Another woman was there, much older, I think her name was Sharon, who was incredibly knowledgeable, and helped Jane diagnose a potential leg issue with Aladdin, as he walked with a bit of a limp at times.

After spending a few hours helping out, Keira and I headed up a road which led up a sizeable hill so that I could take a few photos. It was a hard hike at times, with the pitch of the road increasing much farther than setting ten on treadmill, but when we finally mde it up to the top the views were auite worth the trouble. There was also a small creek running down the hill. I climbed down to a pebbly part of it, and took three big gulps of water from it. It was really nice, and no I was not downhill from the ranch!

Final week in Glasgow…

Today’s Sunday, my final week here in Glasgow has now arrived1. So I grabbed my camera and headed over to the University of Glasgow, then to Kelvingrove park, and finally a quest to find the great river Clyde. It was pretty cold out there, so cold that I walked almost 11 miles and never once took a drink of water.

The University is incredible. A collection of stunning architecture and sprawling views of the city. To my surprise (as we are currently in C19 shutdown) you could actually go into several of the courtyards there. It provided a lot of nice opportunities to get some good snaps in. I really want to go back and spend more time around the campus. There are strange statues of mystical creatures such as unicorns and gargoyles that really stir the curiosity pot.

The University dovetails into Kelvingrove park, which is an enormous spread of recreational Zen. It has an amphitheater, a killer skatepark, hidden trails, historical monuments, museums, bridges, you name it. It apparently is also a repository for used Xmas trees. In certain parts you would see hundreds of stacked trees forming long rows bordering various pathways through the park. I thought it was great! The smell of fresh green pine filled the cold, tree-preserving air.

It took asking directions and tingling spider senses to get to the Clyde. What a awesome river. I thought the Kelvin was legit, but the Clyde is a bonafied Scottish “Thames”. Wide enough to accommodate proper ships! The section of the Clyde that I reached just happened to have a brewery alongside of it (my spider senses served me well). Unfortunately due to the shutdown it was closed, but it looks like a really cool place to check out once things are back up and running, the next time I make my way out to Glasgow2.

I today’s escapade with another stop in to Valhalla’s Goat and picked up some Belgium beers I’ve never had before (see pics). Then went home to drop off the camera and right back out again to Morrisons to get caught up on all me shopping.

Tomorrow Im heading with roommate Keira to tend to some horses out in the Scottish countryside. Cant wait!

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On way to University of Glasgow

1On Sunday the 31st I will be on a train back to London, leaving this wonderful place behind. Its going to be like waking up from a nice dream. One that you go back to sleep quickly for the next evening in hopes for a sequel.

2I’m a bit smitten with Glasgow. I know its nothing more than a generalization – all these great impressions – since I’ve not even been here a month, but this city has a soul to it that gets on really well with my own.

Corona update I

Today marks day 5 of duking it out with the ‘rona. I feel like I’ve rounded the bend and now heading toward the finish line. Its a great feeling, as Ive been bed ridden for the past three days, bored as hell, and dealing with a mountain of emotional turmoil. As well, my senses of taste and smell are only working at around 20 percent of normal.

I plan on making some good out of all this dread, however. One positive to build upon… I haven’t smoked for a week now. This is a ball that is long overdue to keep rolling. Weird fact: Since being sick I smell cigarettes all the time, even now. While this wouldn’t have been my first choice if given a selection , at least it isn’t the scent of burnt toast!

I’ve been meditating every day, even when my mind is so stirred it is the LAST thing I want to do. Im seeing the payoffs already, my ‘rona induced irritability is softening, and Im a bit more mindful . The great thing about meditation, is that it is always there to be done, and it is the easiest thing in the world to do once you get used to it. You just sit, smell nice incense, see the occasional flicker of a candle penetrate through your eyelids, ah… and listen to the swell of waves reach into a distant shore (through headphones of course, here in London), and sometimes… without even realizing it… you’ve forgotten who and where you are.