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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tee Time

I seem to be in a stage of life where I’m going through white t-shirts like footballers go through scandals.

Yet again, I need to go and buy some new white t-shirts. I’m sure a month ago I had enough to supply a Bros reunion tour, but two things seem to have happened since then: soup and bikes.

One of my aims this summer is to get fit. There is a half-marathon which I’m hoping to compete in at the start of August and so dinner times are rapidly becoming more and more liquid and not in the booze sense. Soup has become the regular, from the standard shop-bought Carrot and Coriander through to home-made delights such as Rocket and Chorizo (or whatever else is left over in the fridge from the previous week).

All good and well and the healthy lifestyle is to be applauded. However, I seem to have developed a habit of somehow, via spill or splash, managing to get soup down my white t-shirts. This week alone I have seen two casualties fall; one to a particularly colourful red lentil offering. The other, well... that was seen off with a mishandled take-away pizza slice, the t-shirt equivalent to being taken out by friendly fire..

Under ordinary circumstance, the rate of tee’s falling foul to grubby stains could easily go unnoticed. But not at the moment for I have recently become a faux-cyclist. Regular readers to will have encountered me writing about my experiences with the Boris Bike, London’s new Cycle Hire Scheme, before. A great initiative which provides cheap access to bikes in Central London.

I have taken full advantage of the scheme and hope that, especially during the summer months, it may replace the need to purchase one of TFL’s ever costly travel cards. There is just one major drawback however; the jolly things are a b*gger to ride; at times it feels like London’s streets are not paved with gold, but with sticky, sticky Marmite and every road is up hill. This is before you get to a bridge, any bridge, and feel the full force of the wind, blasting down the Thames as if it is off to invade France, Holland and Germany and needs a good, long run up.

As result of these trying circumstances, I now cycle in a plain white t-shirt. Often hidden beneath a windcheater, I nevertheless arrive at my destination drenched in sweat and with the need to change into a different top. Thus, the plain white tee has become a everyday item for me and each loss is ever noticeable.

So it is that I need to replace and replenish my plain white tee selection. But where does one go to do this? The options are mind boggling. It’s a bit like buying wine: how low do you go on price? And, if you do dare to venture in to the double-digit spend on a t-shirt, is there any real difference between the expensive "top end" products and their cheaper counterparts?

Sure, there is now a web of questions to be answered: do you need it for an under garment, or a fashion piece? How heavy do you want the weave of the cotton? Are you concerned about the cut? V-neck vs Round neck... the list goes on.

You could shop at a regular, big-name high street store and get a perfectly good, value for money tee. You could look on the ‘net and find some mail order bargain or even go to a boutique off the Kings Road, Carnaby Street or in Shoreditch.

And whisky is the same. You could go for a high street brand, something you know you’ve heard of, something that sells in huge numbers (and there is usually a reason why they do) or you can nip in to a boutique such as The Whisky Exchange, Vintage House or Milroys Of Soho. In this modern age, you can even visit online boutiques such as Master Of Malt to find that interesting, off-piste offering that may well fit the bill, but will be just that little bit different from the usual.

Today’s tasting is a more boutique distillery and one that we haven’t featured much in the past. It is one that doesn’t hit the radar a great deal, Glen Garioch (pronounced Glen Gee-ree). Claiming to be Scotland’s oldest working distillery, it is located in the Eastern Highlands and was mothballed from late 1995 until it re-opened again in August of 1997.

A new limited edition release of Glen Garioch from 1994 has just been released at a high strength of 53.9% ABV. Only 75 cases are making their way to the UK market and this offering should weigh in somewhere between £55 and £59, depending on where you shop.

Glen Garioch – 1994 Vintage – 53.9% ABV – 70cl

Nose: A very light nose with hints of tinned pineapple chucks and grapefruit juice. A hint of smoke wafts up delicately and the more you nose, the deeper the smoke gets. We’re not talking Ardbeg territory here on the smoke, but once you find it, it develops and gives additional body to the overall aromas.

Palate: For a whisky at 50%+ ABV, it sits well neat. The juicy, delicate pineapple from the nose cuts through with some slight acidic tones, a kin to yellow sherbet. With water the grapefruit comes through much more with hints of lime and gin & tonic tones.

Finish: Slight hints of salt and sweet, malted biscuits. The smoke makes a reappearance, but again very delicately, on the back of the palate. With water the salty nature is enhanced with an additional effect of liquorice. In Norway they have a salted liquorice sweet and this really reminds me of that.

Overall: A very easy drink which is well balanced but doesn't do anything overly spectacular. For a malt lover who wants something light but interesting, try a Lowland such as an Auchentoshan and if they want low peat, maybe opt for something with a little more character such as the Bruichladdich Rocks.

No matter where you buy your t-shirts from, they’re still just plain white t-shirts, right? Plain white tee’s that I’m going to spill food down, splash red wine over, end up doing DIY in. Yet I still want them to fit well. I still want them to last if I don’t spill assorted food and beverages down them. I still want to feel comfortable in them and, ultimately, I still want to feel confident in my choice.

The same can be true when it comes to choosing a whisky. The choice can be mind blowing, the options almost unlimited. But the most important thing is to find a whisky that you are comfortable with. One that you enjoy and, ultimately, one that won’t stay in the cabinet long because you’ll drink it. Responsibly. Unlike my t-shirts, which are treated with anything less than respect.

TOMORROW: Fathers Day Whisky: Our picks for your Pa this weekend.