Monday, September 27, 2010

Is Bland Better? Does the Diet Matter Before Dramming?

One thing that I have learned is not to try to sell a friend on single malt after an Indian or Mexican meal!  My first glass of Chivas Regal was ruined by a spicy meal.  It took me a decade, perhaps longer, to believe that any form of scotch could actually taste good. 

As a result, I became a tea drinker. Pettigrew, not Jackson or Murray was my guidebook.  I still enjoy loose tea and favor Keemun with Souchong, in the morning, but it depends upon my mood.

If there is one thing that I noticed for me is that a bland diet is best before tasting single malt. I have heard a blender, or another professional, comment on one of Mark Gillespie's Whiskycasts that he has the same challenge, so he avoids spicy food.  In addition, Official Macallan tastings often start with bowls of walnuts? Is this an attempt to revive the tastebuds?

If I have that samosa or salsa, then single malt may turn into a spicy oblivion of near useless heat. At that point, I'm no longer tasting, I'm wasting.  When I fear the worst, I usually test my tastebuds and if they aren't working, I not drinking single malt.  Maybe beer or wine, but not scotch.

How bland will my diet need to land? I'm unsure.  Salt seems less destructive. How long must you stay away from that burrito or hot and sour soup? What seems to mess up your tastebuds?  If you're striken, then how long do you take a licking?  Do you notice a difference?

For me, it seems like I have to wait the better part of a day, arguable longer, before I can savor the flavor, again.  So do you remain bland and enchanted? Or are you able to find single malt contentment as you haul down the jalapenos?

Is the Chivas Regal Gateway/Portal Down?

Has anyone succeeded in getting past the gatekeeper portal and onto the Chivas Regal Website?  I am 'going gumby' trying to reinstall Adobe Flash and enter my DOB. Is a secondary entrance or a more questionable gateway?  Does Chivas need to upgrade,to A-Flash 10 or contact its internet guru?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dalmore and America - When Will the Bolder Better Buy Expression Bolt Forward?

Let me confirm that at least ten, likely more, Dalmore bottles grace my cabinet shelves. I now stock a 'six pack' of Old Dalmore 12 after the packaging changed and the price lurched forward. Is it the same twelve? I also have a few Cigar Malt bottles.  There is no question that I enjoy Dalmore. Yet, I am unable to justify the price point, on my budget, for the bottled expressions that I like the best.  What can Dalmore do to blend and bring a Balvenie Signature Reserve Batch-type bottling to retailers?

Some may call me an indignant, yet aging member of the nouveau pobre class, who will limit travel to the U.K. until the kids hit 18, if ever!  However, for those of us who are more stingy, and not single;  that is, those who had that sip of too much too good. . . .well . . . will we see a best buy Dalmore bottling in limited quantities in Binny's, Beltramos, Park Avenue,or Federal? Will Richard anoint an annual bottling with somewhat surrealistic grace for those of us in the U.S. who want to taste?  Will his distributors and overlords have compassion to the more attentive drinkers who want to do more than look at their Dalmore bottle and fantasize?

Richard Paterson assures us that Cigar Malt and Gran Reserva are one in the same.  A bite of chocolate while imbibing works well with this expression.  My last Cigar Malt v. Gran Reserva test may have been tainted by bad glass or an overwhelming number of other Dalmore expressions.  Perhaps, LeBon's Mind Theory took control since some in our group were noticeably skeptical that they were one in the same.  However, there were about nine bottles at that evening's tasting.  Memories fade, and palates numb, as do the positioning of indistinguishable snifter glasses.  Since Kingfisher took control and brought back the Whyte and Mackay moniker, where do Dalmore aficionados go until the renaissance begins, if any?

I wish to find fruitier honey-filled fields in more affordable Dalmore distillery expressions.  I recognize that it costs money to age single malt whisky.  Most of us know that some have found a way to put Dalmore on shelves in less consistent, yet extremely worthy expressions.  This fortunately allows the more sensitive public to go outside the distillery expressions to private bottlers like Chieftain, G&M, MM, Dewar Rattray, the Single Malt Scotch Whisky Society of America, Whisky Fair, etc.

I have tended to favor the private bottlers when venturing beyond The Dalmore twelve.  I prefer to give more of my Dalmore Dollars to Whyte and Mackay, so I'll continue to taste and hopefully justify an eventual discretionary purchase.  However, if it eclipses $150, then the flavor better be more 'spot on' for the value!  Too many distilleries seem to have done better on the retail front, even if I know that Dalmore can outdo them. As a result, Old Dalmore 12 still sits on smaller Chicago Area Liquor Retailer's Shelves in need of owners.  At this point, these are the values, since the 12 is no longer below $35.

Of course, many of us us look forward to a Dalmore Dinner as the one recently promoted by Bowmore.  For me, being a bit older, taking flight to New York requires tedious planning and the wife's consent. It also requires funds that may be more wisely spent at Coach and Tiffany.  We envy Richard's position, but may not be able to justify or work with our significant other's expressions at the thought.

Richard Paterson's voyages to Chicago make a difference.  So do those of Willie Tait for Isle of Jura. Jura's Prophecy should take off, but at a retail value of $49.99 to $59.99, if possible.  The current $69.99 will pit it against hardcore Lagavulin and Talisker drinkers, who have too much brand loyalty to give Prophecy a much deserved tipple or two.

When push comes to shove, Dalmore has priced its upper level expressions into an area that makes it less marketable to those who might otherwise take the plunge into or above the twelve.  However, Richard Paterson's is one of the show horses, that is the Secretariat, of all single malt ambassadors.  However, Seattle Slew and Affirmed are nipping at his hoofs on the sales front, even if the presentation not as legendary.

I fear that this may be a distillery issue, but the need to create profit or whether enough profit is made remains unclear.  I have wondered whether hoarding plays a role.  I admit that I hoard way to much, so my passion is just as challenged, as Richard Paterson, among others.  At a certain point, it is important to not only sell but to get folks to drink the stuff. 

Yet, I am content to find time for the Dalmore Twelve, an occasional tipple of Cigar Malt and the privately bottled Dalmores until we win the lottery or something gives on the other Dalmore Expressions.  I'll be waiting and watching, but my current open Dalmore bottle is the Cigar Malt and its not emptying fast enough for me. Are there any other thoughts on my Dalmore Dilemma?  What is there to splurge on among the Dalmore expressions?

Laphroaig Ten and Chicago - Can it be More Affordable?

Laphroaig has been one of my preferred Islay Single Malts. My collection has favored Ardbeg due to the number of Ardbeg expressions on the market. Yet, this may be a sign to investigate Laphroaig. I know that Triple Wood will have a place in my single malt cabinet.  However, is anything going on with the distributor? Why is the ten priced higher in the Chicago Area?

The smoky, maritime-like sweet flavor and slightly oily texture works incredibly well for me.  Some woman claim Laphroaig is their 'go to' Islay.  Frankly, I just think that they just have good taste.  I hoard the stuff.  Laphroaig lacks the coal-like spicier Islay palate of either Caol Ila.  Talisker is a joy, but it is also spicier.  Nevertheless, CI, Lagavulin, Isle of Jura, Bunnahabhain, etc. all also have a place and purpose in my palate depending upon the expression and moment.  The peatier versions get my attention. The Laphroaig Ten challenge is the price disparity between the Midwest and the West Coast.

Chicago often sells the bottle for $20 to $30 above the West Coasts best price.  West Coast retailers can sell a bottle for as low as $29.99. How and why this is done is unclear.  Chicago has Laphroaig 10 year old, but the Midwest prices remain consistently above the West Coast.  What drives these prices? A difference in regulations? A desire to hike the price for the expression so that it remains on shelves and not on the palates of those who otherwise will drink it? Will it ever makes its way low enough for fans to more heavily stock it or buy it at their local watering hole?

Laphroaig has a place in bars that seek single malts for their patrons. However, not ever bar is going to pay a premium for something that it cannot sell for under $15 per dram/shot. $9 Laphroaig Shots make sense in Chicago. Any lower should make it the rage, but $9 may work!  Many pubs simply won't carry Islay single malt until something gives.  Could it be the distributor?  New taxes (this price difference existed b4 the tax)? Is it supply and demand? Ardbeg 10 tends to have seen a rise in the Midwest depending upon the location.  I am curious whether anyone knows or cares.

When Laphroaig Triple Wood hits the Shelves, where will it fit on the single malt price continuum?  I'll buy, but how much will be stocked and where it will find its place depends upon the distributor.  Any thoughts?