Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ardbeg ultimate Committee celebration in Chicago April 24th

The email just arrived from the Ardbeg Committee for the US members. If you are you Chicago this would sound like a fabulous event.

Dear Ardbeg Committee Chapter,

Don't forget to join us for the ultimate Committee celebration on April 24th in Chicago. Our special guest for the night will be my favourite colleague, distillery manager and Committee Chairman, Michael Heads.

If you haven't already reserved your place, it's not too late — just RSVP at

We've got all sorts of fun and games up our sleeves, including a chance for you to win an Ardbeg Beist Chopper. This extraordinary motorcycle was built by Orange County Choppers™ and has been touring the US in tribute to Airigh Nam Beist and my homeland! You can follow the tour on Next stop Chicago...

Here's a reminder of the party details:

Date: Saturday, April 24th 2010
Time: 12:00 noon to 5:00PM
Location: Bottom Lounge,
1375 West Lake Street,
Chicago, Illinois
Event: Celebratory luncheon and drams will be served!

SlĂ inte and happy 10th Anniversary!

— Shortie

Saturday, April 10, 2010

About Scotch Barrels

According to British law, scotch must be aged in oak barrels for three years. Typically these are sherry or bourbon barrels. Historically when barrels were shipped from Spain to England to England distilleries would purchase the empty barrels to be re-used because they were cheaper than buying new ones and to add flavor. Interestingly sherry and bourbon are normally made from American oak. That's right, barrels are made made with American wood, shipped to Spain, used for sherry, and sent to England for scotch. The barrels used for bourbon can only be used once by law, so there is a large amount of the available and with the demise of the sherry market and increased scarcity of sherry barrels bourbon has become more important. Now bourbon is just American whiskey, so it is interesting that scotch almost exclusively re-uses barrels where bourbon will not. These barrels are typically charred before use to allow the oak to mix with the bourbon. Typically scotch will use the same barrels twice before they are discarded since the bourbon or sherry flavors are gone. That means that if the bourbon was matured for 6 years and two scotch batches were made then the barrel could very well have been used for 30 years or more.

Another difference between sherry and bourbon barrels is the size of the barrels. Sherry barrels are called butts and are 500 liters. Bourbon is typically made in 200 liter barrels that are taken a part and reassembled with a larger barrel end, or head, and made into a 200 liter barrel called a hogshead. Laphroig has created quarter cask bottlings, which are the size of barrels used a 100 years ago when the entire barrel was transported for delivery. Lagavulin's Distillers edition finishes the maturation in Pedro Ximenez barrels for a year. Pedro Ximenez is a type of white wine made in Spain.

Barrels have a significant influence on the taste of scotch. I hope that this entry helped educate you about them. Much of this information comes from Michael Jackson's excellent Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch and would be a good place if you are wanting to learn more. It will be interesting if with the changes in the industry if changes will occur to the barrels used in production.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Calories per drink

Another reason for why scotch is better than beer or wine: per drink scotch has fewer calories.

Calories per drink:
64 Scotch
70-75 Wine
96-210 Beer

The extra calories are from carbs in wine and beer, so if you are on a low carb diet scotch is the way to go.

One other bit of trivia for you is the amount of calories per gram:

9 Fat
7 Alcohol
4 Protein
4 Carbohydrates

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Truth about the Wild Haggis

A Wild Haggis specimen, Haggis scotticus, as displayed in the Glasgow Kelvingrove gallery, next to a prepared example.

A traditional pairing with scotch is of course Haggis. Far fewer people know the truth about the the Wild Haggis, the creature which Haggis is made from. The Wild Haggis left legs are of a different length than the right, allowing it to quickly maneuver around the Scottish hills, but only in one direction. There is in fact another variety where the right legs are longer than the left, allowing travel in the opposite direction. The two varieties coexist peacefully but are unable to interbreed in the wild because in order for the male of one variety to mate with a female of the other, he must turn to face in the same direction as his intended mate, causing him to lose his balance before he can mount her.

Unfortunately over hunting has lead to a massive drop in the Wild Haggis population due to the massive popularity of eating Haggis. Research is now being done on using ultrasounds and perhaps in vitro fertilization. For more please read:

Applications of ultrasonography in the reproductive management of Dux magnus gentis venteris saginati

Wikipedia's entry on the Wild Haggis has more information about this amazing creature, which is indeed worth saving.