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Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year!


So here we are, at the end of one year and the start of another. And what a year it has been. Just about everything that could have happened in 2011 has happened; a real mixed bag of a year that has just about justified the existence of numerous 24-hour news channels...

...and with all that extra reading and viewing vying for your attention, this seems an opportune moment to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all of you who read the blog. The are many ways to read our ramblings; a simple visit to the web site, an RSS feed, sign up through the email shot (so you get a fresh post in your inbox at 8pm GMT whenever we’ve written a post) and now on your shiny new Amazon Kindle e-Reader. This year has seen another bumper year for our readership via Caskstrength.net but it hasn’t stopped there.

2011 has seen us hit the physical world of print media with supplements about whisky in London paper City AM as well as Mint (The Wall Street Journal India) where Joel has a monthly column. We’ve written recommendation pieces for the Evening Standard and the Metro, had regular pieces in Whisky Magazine, Scotland Magazine and Imbibe and Neil has been published in a couple of books:The Malt Whisky Yearbook and Cutty Sark: The Making Of A Brand.

Totting up the total readership of the media we’ve written for this year, across print and digital, it exceeds over a million people, so hopefully we’re helping to push the popularity of the product we love, whisky in all forms, to a wider public.

It was also a year that saw our first bottling, the Cask Strength And Carry On Isle of Arran which sold out in less than 3 days (a massive thank you to all who bought it. We hope you’ve enjoyed drinking it!) and hosting of numerous tasting with groups as diverse as Mumford & Sons and Arcade Fire, with whom we organised a strictly limited edition Highland Park bottling, through to the Japanese ambassador in the Palace of Westminster.

Overall, however we hope to have stayed focused on bringing you irreverent and entertaining writing with a focus on whisky, culture and, above all, fun. 2012 will see us venture into bigger territory still- expect a host of new whisky related projects, more books and a brand new website, launching soon!

What better way to celebrate the end of such a busy year than with a dram... and what a special bottle we have here indeed. We received this bottle as a very special gift, with the aim of it to be opened at a very specific time... and we think we have just the occasion. The Family Ridley is about to grow in ranks, with a new baby on the way for 2012. And so, let’s raise a glass to Neil and his ‘working parts’ as we crack open this little beauty:

The Glenlivet – Single Cask Edition – ‘Atlantic’ - 40 Years Old – Cask No 5318 – bottled 16/12/2005 – 41.6% abv

Nose: Wonderfully rich tones of freshly cut figs, maraschino cherries, dandelion and burdoch soft drink, marmite on hot buttered wholemeal toast, very old brown leather jacket.

Palate: thinner than one would expect from a whisky of this maturation level. The initial hit is of raisins soaked in rum, dark chocolate truffles and black forest gateaux. Slight hints of powered liquorice, cinnamon balls and some lightly steamed green veg on the back palate. Very well balanced and rounded. Not too chewy, like some old whiskies can be, this is a little too easy to drink for something of this age!

Finish: This is where the old fashioned sweet shop takes over with mint humbugs, more cinnamon balls and cherry drops, developing back in the black forest gateaux.

Overall: Of course, a huge treat. The chaps over at The Glenlivet don’t need to be bottling single casks if they’re not top-notch and here is a classic example of an excellently aged Speyside. Teetering at 41.6% (43% would have really given this baby a punch), you’d wonder if this was like watching George Best play for Fulham; but no, this is Best in his Man Utd prime... as he said himself I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.


So, where does this amazing start to 2012 leave us? With our annual (“erm, I think this is the first time we’ve done these” – Neil) predictions for 2012...

Oops...my ball's a bit dusty...


Prediction One: More Single Grain whiskies to hit the market, from established bottlers. Seems that there is a definite thirst for these lightly flavoured gems- in a sensible price bracket too.


Prediction Two: Several companies will vie for the title of the 'Official' 2012 Olympic Whisky. Whether or not Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Whyte & Mackay or Edrington have approached Usain Bolt yet for his seal of approval is unknown. Personally, we'd like to see the slogan 'Whisky- Powering Us To Glory' written on the side of Team GB's bus, but they'll probably end up with a sodding Barclaycard advert.

Prediction Three: The rise in popularity of investment whiskies will see more limited releases, single casks and rare bottlings hit the market. Lord knows where it will end up, but with the popularity in the spirit can only be a good thing, so long as it doesn't impact the pricing of our cherished bottles for convivial consumption.

Prediction Four: A charity wrestling match will take place between feuding whisky writers, with the proceeds from this undoubtedly popular public spectacle going to the Whisky In aid of Narcoleptic Kids or W.I.N.K for short. Let's be thankful the charity weren't 'Against' sleepy kids...

Here's to a great 2012 folks - looking forward to sharing some incredible drams with you all.

Joel & Neil