Matching a whisky to every James Bond film

Whisky has been paired with food for decades, although in more recent years we’ve seen whiskies paired and matched to cigars, watches, albums, bands, and even movies!   If you’re going to sit down in your comfy sofa and pass away a few hours being entertained by 007, then having a good dram in your hand goes a long way to enhancing the experience.

Of course, Jimmy’s drink of choice may be a vodka martini, but we can shake and stir things up for the whisky drinkers out there who are James Bond fans: Here is our attempt to pair and match the perfect whisky to every (official) James Bond film.

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The Top Six things to do on Speyside

Yes, the obvious thing to do on Speyside is to visit distilleries and drink whisky.  But there’s so much more on offer if you look beyond the distilleries…

Any punter who’s been to Speyside can tell you to visit Distillery X or to make sure you do the “Experts Tour” (or some similarly badged experience) at Distillery Y.   The problem with such advice or recommendations is that most people giving you their tips can only draw from their experience of the five or six distilleries they’ve been to, or they simply tell you to go to their favourite distillery – which is a subjective opinion and experience at best.

There are 50 operating distilleries on Speyside at the moment, and Whisky & Wisdom has visited and toured all but one of them.  (Ironically, the one Speyside distillery Whisky & Wisdom has yet to step inside of is the Speyside Distillery at Drumguish!!).   Roseisle, Dalmunach, Mannochmore, Macduff, Strathmill, Ballindalloch, Glenburgie, Allt-a-bhaine, Braeval, Speyburn, Balmenach…..you name it, W&W has been there; met with the staff; and seen around it.  Which means we can take a more objective view of what’s on offer and provide a balanced opinion of what appeals or what provides value to the visitor.

However, this piece is not titled “The Top Six distilleries to visit on Speyside” – we’ll save that article for another day.  Rather, it’s the top six things to do.   The distilleries that are open to the public generally have tours between the hours of 10.00am-4.00pm (in the summer months), and – as you’ll discover, if you haven’t already – trying to schedule your tours and dovetail your visits so that you can sequentially get to multiple distilleries in a day is not the easiest of tasks.   This means you’ll have gaps in your day, or you’ll have time to do other things – particularly after the visitor centres close their doors.   So here are a few other things to keep you amused:

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Listen to your whisky

For people being introduced to whisky, the textbooks and the brand ambassadors teach you that whisky engages your senses.  We look at the colour.  We smell the aroma.  We feel the mouthfeel and the texture in our mouth.  We taste the flavour.

That’s all good and well.  But when did you last actually listen to your whisky?

Listening is a skill.  And, as any parent with young kids can tell you, listening is different to hearing.  Hearing is easy; listening is not.  Consider the following sage words:

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”. (Stephen Covey)

The word LISTEN contains the same letters as the word SILENT”. (Alfred Brendel)

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Eight ways that whisky tells you you’re getting older

In many of life’s pursuits, there are often tell-tale signs along the way that you’re getting older.   For example, that radio station you used to love listening to in your teens no longer does it for you.  Certain drinks you used to enjoy no longer agree with you.  Or you discover your favourite bands that you grew up with are now referred to as vintage or classic rock.  Or that 5km jog you used to do in 25 minutes now takes you 40 minutes to complete.   You get the idea.

Whisky is another such medium that delivers the not-so-subtle message to you that – just like a perfectly balanced Glenfarclas – you’ve been maturing for quite a few years now.   Whilst the whisky industry seems to be hurtling you down a steep path towards a No Age Statement retirement, there are…particularly if you’re older than 40 and have been drinking whisky since the 1990’s…plenty of signs that you, personally, are carrying an age statement.

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A Glenfarclas whisky not to miss?

So regular readers and subscribers will know that Whisky & Wisdom recently released its own private bottling of Glenfarclas.  A 9yo single-cask bottling from a European oak sherry butt, to be specific.  If you missed the original release details and the story behind the bottling, you can read it all here.

Anyway, many people no doubt saw this and may have been interested in acquiring a bottle – but I know what you’re thinking:  “Sure, he’s telling us it’s a great whisky, but how much weight or credit can you give to a whisky blog that’s spruiking its own bottling?  He’s obviously biased!”   Yes, that’s a fair call and I don’t blame those who’ve paused or held back from ordering a bottle because they’re waiting for an independent review or opinion.

Well, the good news is that the Whisky & Wisdom Glenfarclas has been “out there” for some time, and it’s been getting rave reviews everywhere.  As well as being available through the official Whisky Empire site (see below), the bottling is available by the dram in a few good whisky bars, and has also been picked up by a number of independent liquor retail shops and outlets.  Social media has been very busy, with lots of positive comments appearing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

But for those of you who’d prefer to see some actual independent, unbiased old-fashioned written reviews, the good news is that a significant number of whisky bloggers and online food/drink critics have tasted the Whisky & Wisdom Glenfarclas and they’ve written glowing, rave reviews.

So, to save you the hassle of tracking all those reviews down, here are the ones I’m aware of at this point in time.  (No doubt others might appear as the bottling falls into more and more hands).   I’ll leave you to check out the below links in your own good time but, if and when you’d like to acquire a bottle or two for yourself, you can order directly from The Whisky Empire

Here are those great reviews for you to check out…

Cheers,

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The three stages of your attitude to Glenfiddich: Like – Hate – Love

Catchy article title, eh? Not sure my former editor would approve of it – it’s hardly a flowing headline.  But there’s not really a  more succinct way to say it.  I’ll elaborate:  In my opinion, I reckon whisky drinkers all go through three very distinct stages in their appreciation of Glenfiddich.   And, depending on what stage you’re up to, this tremendously impacts your attitude to Glenfiddich.   Curious?  Let’s look into this…

Depending on how old you are and when you tried a single malt for the first time, there’s a good chance that your maiden dram was a Glenfiddich. The familiar green, triangular bottle was synonymous with single malt whisky through the 1970’s and 1980’s, before other brands finally found their way onto the shelves of our bottleshops. Certainly, when you speak to most whisky drinkers in their late 40’s and older, Glenfiddich was the whisky they lost their malt virginity to.  Even if you took up malt whisky more recently, a dram of Glenfiddich was still a textbook malt to turn to as you made the transition out of blends or simply dived head first into the category via a single malt.

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The highs and lows of Macallan

Malt whisky drinkers around the world tend to fall into one of two camps:  Those that like Macallan and those that remember what it used to be like.

Now before you leap to conclusions and dismiss this piece as a Macallan-bashing article, I can give you my golden promise that it’s not.   Stay with me…

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Is whisky better or worse today than it was 20 years ago?

If you listen to enough punters who’ve been around a while, or read the writings of many in the whisky community (er…including here at Whisky & Wisdom), you might rapidly form the opinion that Scotch whisky being produced and released today is not as good as it used to be.

In short, plenty of people – myself often (but not always) included – assert that the whisky that was being produced and released 15 to 20 years ago was superior to what we are being served up today.  It’s a divisive topic, and one that is clouded by – all simultaneously at once – fact, hearsay, nostalgia, science, memory, rose-coloured tastebuds, marketing spin and experience.

Of course, there are plenty of exercises and tests one can apply to examine this theory.  For example, if you have the means, you can acquire a bottle of Glen McSporran 12yo from 2015 and a bottle of Glen McSporran 12yo from 1995 and taste the two side-by-side for direct comparison.    This has been done by plenty of people, including many respected whisky bloggers, and certainly by yours truly, but the conclusions vary and – ultimately – are subjective.  Everyone will happily conclude that the two releases are different, but personal taste and preference usually determine which one is deemed better.

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Glendronach vs Glenfarclas vs Macallan

Of all the articles and opinion pieces that have appeared on Whisky & Wisdom to date, this one will be the most controversial. The following is merely one person’s opinion, and opinions are obviously subjective and will be scrutinised or shot down by others. But it’s also based strongly on perception and recollection. In the paragraphs that follow, I’ll be recalling and reflecting on aspects of the whisky industry that I remember and experienced in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Many readers will have different recollections of those times. Our accounts of the day will also vary according to our geography: I can only report on the industry as it presented itself and played out in Australia.   Readers in other whisky markets may have had access to different bottlings and expressions, which will have coloured and influenced their whisky journey differently to mine. So you may well disagree with the following perceptions. Nevertheless, let’s bunker down and get stuck into it…

Glendronach versus Glenfarclas versus Macallan. Immediately, you’ve already chosen your winner. You’ve no doubt got your own favourite, and you’re probably even wondering how this could possibly even be a close race worth discussing! It’s no secret that my allegiances lie with Glenfarclas, and such a bias will influence the words that follow.

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The Ultimate Glenfarclas Tasting

Back in 2007, a very special whisky event was held in Sydney, Australia.  Held at Sydney’s iconic Claude’s restaurant, it was billed as “The Ultimate Ardbeg Dinner” and it featured an unbelievable line up of the rarest Ardbeg bottlings ever assembled, including the 1965.  That particular event had been preceded a year earlier by an incredible Macallan tasting (featuring the full ESC range, as well as rare bottlings from the 1980’s). And, only a short time prior to that, there was the unbelievable Springbank tasting, which featured the entire Millennium range of Springbanks.  These were the glory days of tasting and appreciating the uber rare, special, and expensive releases amongst Scotland’s elite single malt bottlings and distilleries.  In terms of the rarity of the whiskies at the Ultimate Ardbeg Dinner, many thought such an event could never be equalled.  We may finally have found a successor…

In 2015, it was time for what I’m personally labelling The Ultimate Glenfarclas Tasting – in this instance, the most incredible line-up of rare and special Glenfarclas whiskies ever assembled and tasted in Australia.  (If a more impressive tasting line-up has been held outside Australia, I’d love to hear about it).

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