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Monday, 6 August 2012

Knoc, Knoc.

Being of dual nationality, I'm very much choosing this week to be a blatant glory hunter; wrapping myself in the Union Flag (not literally; there is a line...), standing side-by-side with my fellow countryman, whisky in hand, singing God Save The Queen.

For at this very moment we have a huge haul of gold medals, needing just one more to equal #TeamGB's achievements four years ago in Beijing.

However, it isn't just the extreme haul of medals that is pleasing; it's everything that comes along with it. Unlike a roast dinner, with the Olympics, the trimming are even tastier.

From the unsung heroes mentioned in my previous post, to the jokes on twitter ("Spelling is important. The difference between won and one: Great Britain have just won gold. Australia have just one gold") right the way through to news that, despite still having to contest the 200 meters and the 4x 100 meter relay, Usain Bolt was seen in a night club at 3.45 this morning celebrating his gold medal win with... the Sweden women’s handball team. This Olympics has been pure soap opera.

Hands and balls, indeed...

But alongside such well known sports as track & field, tennis ('Mon The Muzz!), football and gymnastics, we're being given the option to watch, learn and enjoy some fantastic events which usually we might not turn our eyes to.

Let's face it, we all have a limited capacity; both time-wise and financially, and in this modern age there is always something looking for our attention or our almighty dollar. So it has been a real pleasure to drop in for small snippets on events such as equestrianism, clay pigeon shooting, Greco-Roman wrestling and the aforementioned handball.

In a similar way, it is very easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to your favourite whiskies: daring to venture outside of your usual few bottles ('few' being defined however you like) takes not only a leap of fiscal faith, but also time to find out if you really enjoy said liquid.

And what if you do like what you try? Shock! Horror! It means yet another item for the Christmas list. Yet another range to discover. Yet more time and money. But, oh! The joy of finding a new friend.

One good way to see if you like a whisky is with the purchase of miniatures. Much like flicking over to BBC3 and checking out the water polo, you can always retreat to the comfort and safety of Clare Balding taking about someone simply running as fast as they can, if the water-based sport is not to your liking.


Of course, here at we're always trying to provide you with interesting alternatives (as well as plain old simple ones, too) to your usual tipple. So, inspired by this taster of sport, I've decided to cast my net in to the world of the miniatures and try a couple of things which are not usually on my radar nor in my standard cabinet of delights. Why? Because I've never really had a chance to get to know them, despite their relative ubiquity in most decent whisky retailers.

Firstly, I'm gonna kick off with Speyburn. A small distillery just outside Rothes in, as the name suggests, Speyside. I was due to visit a few weeks ago but due to illness couldn't make the trip, so here’s hoping this brings me good luck and not bad memories...

Speyburn - 10 Years Old - 40%

Nose: Water melon, barley water, unripe kiwi fruit, some buttery notes with a hint of lemon juice.

Palate: Sweetened grapefruit juice,  custard creams, heather and a drizzle of light honey. Some green apples, too.

Finish: Every such a small amount of spices but very light and delicate.

Overall: I don't know why, but I wasn't expecting a lot from this whisky yet its clean and crisp palate is really lovely. Would be great on a summers day with a block of ice. Something I'll try of this biblical weather ever ceases.

The next mini is actually from a distillery owned by the same team as Speyburn (who also boast Balblair and Old Pultney in their ranks, too) but it's one of the odder names bottles out there, ancnoc.

Hailing from Knockdhu distillery, I'm led to believe that the bottling name was changed due to the original distillery sounding too much like Knockando. And a fair point that is. So, when asking the locals what it should be called they simply replied ‘Ancnoc‘ because that was their name for the local distillery anyway.

Ancnoc - 12 Years Old - 40% abv

Nose: Minted peas and steamed garden vegetables develops in to dried figs and some earthy tones (forest floor). At the back of the nose lies some cream soda notes.

Palate: the palate is soft with brown sugars and some green tea. It develops light cigar tobacco flavours which, in turn, mould in to the over ripe figs from the nose.

Finish: subtle Christmas spices of cinnamon and ginger.

Overall: well, a totally different beast. A whisky to snuggle up to the open fire with on Boxing Day.

Two solid drams working hard to squeeze their way in to my Olympic team, these are different drams for different seasons. Right now, of the two, I’d sit back with a large glass of the Speyburn in the vain hope that the sun may well start to shine again.

Right, I'm off to learn Greco-Roman wrestling. Look out, Ridley...