The Exclusive Malts 1997 Ledaig 17 Year Old – Review

ExMalts_1997Ledaig17

*Thanks to SF and the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.

I’m not sure you could ever say that the pronunciation of Scotch Distillery place names was a hotly debated subject, especially for those non-Scots who are just looking for an easy way to correctly say something without breaking their jaw. Still, for every Dailuaine, Glen Garioch, and Allt-A-Bhainne, you’ll get a few differing opinions on how to pronounce them…sometimes from the very people you’d expect to know best in the first place.

Ledaig is another such name and has the added bonus of looking deceptively easy. In a line up of Bunnahabhains and Bruichladdichs, one might breathe a sigh of relief to see this short, simple-looking name on a label, but there’s even a little phonetic curveball here as well. Ledaig is Gaelic (broadly, I’m assuming) for “safe haven” and the place name for the natural harbor around which the town of Tobermory is built. While it looks like it should be pronounced “le-dayg“, as far as I can tell, the general consensus is that it’s pronounced “led-chig” without spending a whole lot of energy on the “d” and “ch” sounds, adding a bit of “j” to the “ch”, and a little “ck” to the “g” there at the end. Of course, if you poke around enough, you’ll find everything from “led-ching” to “let-chick” to “led-jig” to “le-dig” to “lay-chuck” being touted as the proper way. Safe Haven”, indeed.

To confuse things even further, Ledaig whisky isn’t even distilled at Ledaig distillery. Hell, there isn’t a Ledaig distillery. The Tobermory Distillery was reportedly founded as the Ledaig Distillery, but at some point assumed the name of the town instead of the hard-to-pronounce place name. Today, the Tobermory Distillery makes two types of whiskies, the unpeated Tobermory and the somewhat heavily peated Ledaig. Which brings us to the Exclusive Malts 1997 Ledaig 17 Year Old. This lovely, independently bottled single cask from the Creative Whisky Co. was matured for 17 years in an ex-bourbon cask.

The Nose:  A very nice balance of mature sweetness and savory peat. Apple cider and salted caramels stand out along with barbecue char and smoldering beach bonfire smoke. Subtle notes of toasted marshmallow and malt syrup hover in the background. Vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, faint clove, baker’s chocolate and faint polished oak show off the wood spice influence. Adding a little water tamed the peat and smoke somewhat while adding a little burnt caramel and more spice to the mix.

The Palate:  Nicely oily mouthfeel. An briny burst of smoke leads to more bruised apple and burnt caramel sweetness. After that there’s vanilla nougat with salted nuts and more unsweetened, bitter chocolate. The peat is more earthy than savory now, with a damp, beach fire ember quality. Towards the end, there’s zippy polished oak tannins and greenish spice, ground pepper, ginger root, and allspice. With water, this lost some of its smoke and fire, but gained more hard candy sweetness.

The Finish:  Not quite as long as I expected, but still nice with dusty, yet lively tannic oak, vanilla bean, allspice, and a bit of bbq smoke.

Thoughts:  An excellent whisky. I’m realizing I’m a sucker for good, teen-aged Ledaigs, they seem to hold on to the peat and smoke well, while adding that mature layer of sweetness and spice. This one lives up to that expectation. The sweeter elements here integrate really well with the complex, weighty peat. Both in color and in the dry, spicy heat of the palate, this one does, at times, feel a bit younger than its 17 years, but that added zing also adds another layer of balanced complexity, so it seems a good trade. A little H2O calmed the more savory, peaty elements, while upping the sweetness. As much as I enjoyed it with water (especially the palate), I think overall, I preferred it neat. Definitely recommended.

The Exclusive Malts 1997 Ledaig 17 Year Old, Islands (Mull), IB ~2014

54.9% ABV

Score:  87

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey – Review

Teeling Small Batch 750ml Whiskey*Many thanks to the Baddish Group for the sample.

In 1972, Irish whiskey pretty much hit rock bottom. Bushmills had just been absorbed into Irish Distillers, thereby giving the company control of both distilleries (New Middleton and Old Bushmills) on the island. At the time, Irish whiskey was reportedly selling barely 500,000 cases a year (for comparison’s sake, Jameson sold approx. 4,000,000 cases in 2014). The style limped along on fumes until the mid-80’s, when a couple of things happened to revive it. In 1988, Pernod-Ricard bought up Irish Distillers and began to pour a lot of money and energy into their new brands, especially Jameson. In 1985, a man named John Teeling bought a potato vodka distillery (potatoes? In Ireland? Who knew?) and converted it into a whiskey distillery. By 1987, production was underway at the new Cooley Distillery.

Whereas Pernod-Ricard’s efforts re-established now ubiquitous brands like Jameson and Bushmills, Teeling’s Cooley Distillery breathed new life into formerly well-known brands, like Tyrconnell, and into throwback styles such as the peated Connemara. The only independent (and staunchly so) distillery in Ireland, Cooley helped raise the reputation of Irish whiskey past the cheap bottles everyone had gotten used to. It was a bit of a surprise when Teeling jumped out of the whiskey game and sold Cooley to Beam Inc. (now Beam Suntory), but luckily for Irish whiskey, his sons have picked up where he left off.

Stephen and Jack Teeling founded the Teeling Whiskey Company in 2011. Their long-term plan involves the first new distillery in Dublin in well over a century. If it hasn’t already, the Teeling Whiskey Distillery is set to begin production any day. In the interim, while they mature stocks of their own distillate, the Teelings are bottling expressions created from stocks purchased from their father’s former distillery. The initial offerings were very limited, usually quite old one-offs, but they have a larger “core range” available as well. Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey was first made available in the U.S. in April of 2014. Featuring a relatively higher malt to grain whiskey ratio, a slightly higher ABV, and being non-chill filtered to boot, the Small Batch goes one step further by finishing its married whiskeys in ex-rum casks. Put all that together in a great looking bottle, and you have a well-dressed, attentively crafted version of the standard Irish blended whiskey one sees pretty much everywhere.

The Nose:  A somewhat restrained nose, sweet but nicely balanced by earthy spice. There’s brown sugar over buttered oatmeal, floral honey, dark toffee, lemonade, and a tart apple cobbler. Subtler notes of grass, both fresh-cut and dried, freshly laundered cotton, and old boards hover behind with quite a bit of youthful spice; Candied ginger, vanilla bean, cinnamon candies, and faint nutmeg.

The Palate:  Weightier than the nose, a somewhat creamy mouthfeel begins with more brown sugar, even a bit of molasses. Citrus notes of orange-tinged honey are followed by almond paste and vanilla. Those earthy, grassy notes have retreated here, leaving more grippy oak, mild peppercorn, candied ginger and hot cinnamon. Grows a little harsh towards the end.

The Finish:  Not the longest finish in the world. More brown sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon, both red hots and stick. A lingering young, edgy heat is a bit too prevalent.

Thoughts:  A nice twist on a traditional Irish blended whiskey. The rum cask influence shows itself throughout, but never overwhelms. I typically have not been a huge fan of rum cask finished Scotch whiskies, but overall I thought rum finishing worked well with the Irish style. It’s integrated well, mostly adding layers of complex sugared sweetness to the proceedings. It’s clear that there’s a relatively high malt content here which is certainly good, but unfortunately, it’s also clear that most of the whiskies used were on the young side. I enjoyed this, but there’s a sharp, rough edge to the end of the palate and finish that kept me from liking it more than I did. Still, there’s certainly room for this kind of thing in the somewhat staid world of Irish blended whiskey. This is a good start, let’s hope they continue to mature the idea. A little pricey, value-wise (~$40), but if you’re an Irish whiskey fan, it’s worth checking out.

Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, Irish, OB ~2014

46% ABV

Score: 83

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve – Review

Glen_garioch_founders_reserve

*Sincere thanks to MS & AS at Savona Communications for the sample.

So, who the hell founded this distillery? My keen and occasionally flagging interest in whisky history has drawn me down a dark road which seemingly has no end. According to the distillery itself, which one would expect to have the final say-so in this kind of thing, Glen Garioch was founded by brothers John and Alexander Manson in 1797. Hence the 1797 date in the title of the whisky under review here. I hesitate to assume the role of grammar cop for obvious reasons, but if the distillery was founded by two brothers, wouldn’t it be Founders’ Reserve, not Founder‘s Reserve? That seems like one of those fairly obvious typos someone would catch early on, but you know…interns just aren’t what they used to be.

So I was happy to accept the distillery’s history until I took a quick gander at the always reliable Malt Whisky Yearbook’s Glen Garioch section. According to this yearly font of whisky knowledge, the distillery in question was founded in 1797 by a man named Thomas Simpson. Then, 40 years later, it was reportedly sold to a John Manson. If this was the case, it would clear up the whole singular vs. plural possessives thing, but creates a bit of a mystery as to why the distillery leaves out this poor Tom Simpson character all together.

Now I’m confused and slightly more curious than I was when I started. Digging a little deeper, I found that no less of a source than Alfred Barnard’s seminal book, The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, states that Glen Garioch was founded in 1797 by a firm named Ingram, Lamb & Co. who owned it until 1840 when they sold it to a John Manson & Co. Well, at least the year 1797 and the name John Manson keep showing up, perhaps we’re closing in on the getting the story straight after all. Or not. Turning to another beloved author’s text, Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch, in the Glen Garioch section, there’s reference to a local newspaper announcing in 1785, the licensing of a new distillery in the same location as the current distillery. There are no names bandied about, but it’s safe to say that 1785 was no 1797. We could keep going (I did). Variations put forth by other respected websites and books mention that the distillery was founded either in the year 1797 or in 1798. The Manson Brothers show up often enough, but so does this shadowy Thomas Simpson character. In some instances the name Mason shows up instead of Manson, throwing yet another monkey wrench into the works.

So back to my original question…who the hell founded this place? I’m not sure I’ve ever looked at a distillery with more ambiguity as to its origins. If there’s precious little documentation from the time, I suppose there are many possible explanations. It seems there were many distilleries in close proximity, so perhaps who founded what, where, and when has gotten a bit muddied over time. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. While I enjoy dissecting possibly shaky marketing, I can’t really blame a company for going with the best-sounding, most-likely backstory. No one ever came to a marketing meeting saying, “we’ve got a confusing and undocumented past, that kind of thing really sells bottles, let’s emphasize that!” Perhaps some historical facts (and possibly a little grammar) have been glossed over, or perhaps not. Perhaps someone with more authority and/or research acumen will weigh in and clear all this up.

Now then, on to the whisky! Glen Garioch (pronounced “Glen Geery”…we’ll save that one for another time), debuted the 1797 Founder’s Reserve back in 2009, when it handsomely revamped its entire line. This entry-level expression was matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, most likely all American Oak. In an admirable move, Glen Garioch has bottled this one un-filtered and at a significantly higher ABV than you see most whiskies in its price range…those decisions alone deserve some applause no matter who founded the place.

The Nose:  Fairly zippy with a sweet ‘n’ savory complexity to it. Dark amber honey and that old Buc Wheats cereal (god, I loved that stuff), along with a bit of lemon-lime soda. Nice soft touches of salty Manzanilla sherry as well. Softly beery hints of a Baltic Porter lead to very subtle savory notes of browned meat in oiled cast iron. There’s fine white pepper and polished oak as well, along with a little of the solvent-y furniture polish that polished it.

The Palate:  A very soft, almost airy mouthfeel with a peppery initial honey and citrus sweetness. More slightly salty Manzanilla sherry notes, now accompanied by some very dark chocolate. A bit of that savory character from the nose emerges towards the end with increased sharp, oak-y spice – toasted oak chips, peppercorns, and ginger. The youth of this one really shows up towards the end.

The Finish:  A little young, hot, and sharp, but eventually drawing to a close with a lot of tannic, drying oak, pepper, unsweetened chocolate and dried orange peel

Thoughts:  I have to say this really grew on me. I was not overly impressed initially, the young sharpness was overwhelming its interesting complexity. But coming back to it, that rugged flavor profile stood out more. While I like the sweet and slightly savory of the nose, and the sherry-esque notes throughout, I just wish some of those jagged, young edges were smoothed out. The high ABV (at least for an “entry-level” expression) is a very welcome sight and suits this nicely. It’s quite drinkable neat, water does smooth it out some, but many of the youthful notes remain. At around $40-$45, this is a fair value for a higher ABV, slightly more challenging entry-level malt. There’s lots of potential here, I’d love to see what the addition of some older whiskies would do to it.

Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve, Highland, OB, ~2014

48% ABV

Score: 83

The Exclusive Malts 2004 Tomatin 10 Year Old – Review

ExMalts_Tomatin10

In the beginning of 2014, a great many red-blooded, whiskey-drinking Americans were saddened, incensed, and apparently betrayed somehow to find out that Japanese beverage giant Suntory, was buying Beam Inc. Such was the outrage that the quintessentially American Jim Beam brand was now owned by a foreign company that many of these red-blooded, whiskey drinking Americans (true patriots all, I’m sure) poured their Jim Beam down the drains in some sort of…protest, I guess. A fairly stupid gesture, if you ask me, but then again, the U.S. is increasingly known for its futile gestures and lack of intelligence. I’m sure it never occurred to these people that many iconic “American” brands are now foreign owned. I’m sure it never occurred to these people that most of what we buy/own/wear/eat/drive is now made in foreign lands by foreign companies, but again…that’s good ol’ ‘Merica for you.

While this acquisition might have raised a few eyebrows and ires amongst knee-jerk Americans who like to waste cheap booze, those in the whisky world knew that it was simply one more ownership change in an ever-consolidating industry, and certainly not the first time a Japanese company has waded into foreign whisky waters. Hell, this wasn’t even the first time a Japanese Company snatched up an American bourbon company. Kirin Brewery Co. has owned Four Roses since 2002 when they bought it from a British company who briefly owned it after buying it from an Italian company. I don’t remember any reports of grossly misplaced outrage aimed at Four Roses, though perhaps that was because the Four Roses that was on the shelves at that time was outrageously gross.

In an effort to get to the point here, Tomatin, the somewhat large and somewhat largely unheralded distillery this long-winded review is about, was actually the first distillery outside of Japan, purchased by a Japanese company. In 1986, two Japanese companies formed the Tomatin Distillery Co., and bought the distillery from its long-time owners, Tomatin Distillers Co. Ltd. In 1998, it changed hands again with the Japanese company Marubeni buying out their fellow countrymen. Tomatin has a relatively large production capacity, with the majority of its output going towards blended whiskies including the Marubeni-owned brands, Antiquary and Talisman. However, for the last several years, the distillery has successfully focused more and more on its single malts, expanding the core range, and releasing several single cask vintages. In 2013, the range was expanded further by the introduction of the peated Cù Bòcan expression. This independently bottled 10 year old from the Creative Whisky Company’s Exclusive Malts range was aged solely in a sherry cask.

The Nose:  Though a touch spirit-y, an interesting nose. Quite malt-y with milky caramel and powdered malted milk mix, along with some floral honey. Subtler, almost red wine-esque fruit notes follow – red grapes and under-ripe plums. There are strong, youthful, oak notes, but not much spice; a little nutmeg and grated ginger perhaps.  Adding a little water allows those fruit notes to come forward more and adds a dusting of cocoa powder.

The Palate:  Very nice. The palate expands quite a bit on the nose. Bigger red fruit notes, even a little jammy initially, are followed by a nice hot fudge sundae. Lovely hints of chocolate and salted nuts. Richer, slightly hot, spice notes of oak (both sawn and polished), cinnamon, vanilla bean, and mild pepper round things out. Water flattens out the early complexity a bit, bringing up more vanilla and only toning down a little, the youngish spice at the end.

The Finish:  Medium-ish, nicely tannic and grippy, with dark Mexican chocolate, oak, and pepper.

Thoughts:  A really nice surprise. While I found the nose of this interesting, I also found it a bit young and lacking in depth. The wonderful palate, however, really stole the show. The sherry influence is not strong but it’s present throughout, shining best at strength on the palate. While the youth is also evident throughout, I think there’s a beguiling complexity here that would make this one a pleasure to come back to. Recommended.

The Exclusive Malts 2004 Tomatin 10 Year Old, Highland, IB, ~2014

57.4% ABV

Score:  85

The Exclusive Malts 2004 Speyside 10 Year Old Port Cask – Review

*Thanks to SF and the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.

ExMalts PortPort, or Porto, or if you want to get really fancy, Vinho do Porto, is Portugal’s contribution to the world of fortified wine. Portuguese Port is produced solely in the north of the country, in the Douro valley. Along with Italy’s Chianti, and Hungary’s Tokaj, the Douro is one of the oldest officially recognized and protected wine regions in the world. It’s a common myth that Port was “invented” by British exporters and sailors who added brandy to wine so that it would keep on the long journey from Portugal to England. While that practice almost certainly occurred, it was apparently not the origin of this rich, sweet wine as we know it. In the mid to late 1700’s, wine producers and exporters were made aware of England’s taste for sweeter, stronger wines, and realized they could achieve that style by adding brandy or an un-aged grape spirit to fermenting wine to halt the fermentation process. This not only leaves more residual sugar in the wine, but also creates a wine which, due to its higher alcohol content, is more highly influenced by aging in oak barrels. At this time, the fact that the higher alcohol content kept the wine better in shipping, was more of a bonus for producers rather than a means to an end.

Port is primarily made up of five grape varietals. Touriga Francesa and Touriga Nacional are the most widely used with the lighter, more delicate Francesa balancing the darker, tannic Nacional. Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, and Tinta Cão are used mostly as blending components. Port can be aged/matured in the barrel, in the bottle, or in the tank, depending on the style. Ruby Port is the most common, inexpensive type, and has been stored briefly in tanks before bottling. Because Port is a fortified wine, a tank or bottle creates a reductive environment, wherein the liquid retains much of its original color but loses its tannic quality over time, becoming much smoother and simpler. Tawny Port, another fairly common style, is blended from several vintages and estates, and aged for many years in casks called pipes, which are large (approx. 500-600 liters), usually made of American Oak (Quercus Alba), and are quite tapered on the ends compared to American barrels. Aging Port in oak casks creates an oxidative environment where the wine has the effects of the oak imposed, its original color changed, and due to evaporation, its viscosity upped. The Colheita style is basically Tawny Port but from a single harvest. The somewhat confusing Late Bottled Vintage is Port from a single year that has been cask-aged for around four to six years, then deemed ready to drink and bottled. Late Bottled Vintage Port is more or less the poor man’s Vintage Port which is the top-of-the-line style in the Port world. Vintage Port is aged in oak for only two to three years, then bottled, then stashed away for at least 20 years to age further. Vintage Ports are only produced from what are deemed the best harvest years, therefore you might only see two or three vintages in a decade. Vintage Ports are the most expensive variety, but also the most complex and the most enduring with bottles easily holding up well after 30-40 years of cellaring.

Lest you think this is turning into some kind of high-brow Port blog, fear not, it’s the same low-brow whisky blog you’ve been putting up with for five years. I just wanted to get a grip on some Port knowledge before diving into this release from the Creative Whisky Company. The Exclusive Malts 2004 Speyside 10 Year Old Port Cask comes from an undisclosed Speyside distillery (no, I don’t have any guesses as to which one), and spent its entire life maturing in a Port pipe.

The Nose:  The pink-tinged amber color of this 10 year old certainly hints that you’re going for a bit of ride. A light and dusty nose with quite a bit of holiday fruitcake. The fruit that’s here is dry and not very sweet; dried apples, dried cherries, and those tannic little chokecherries. The malt shows up a little sweeter but also has a slight grape-mustiness about it . It’s slightly woody without much spice to speak of, just a bit of cinnamon and vanilla. Adding a bit of water tones down the dusty dried fruit a little while adding a  slight beery quality to the malt notes

The Palate:  Much like the nose, subtle dried fruits, with an added bit of citrus zing.  Caramel-y malt, vanilla syrup and cherries in dark chocolate lead to a bit more spice, fresh sawn oak, sweet clove, cinnamon bark, and white pepper. Water brings out more sweetness, juicier fruit and softer cocoa notes. It also calms the young, slightly edgy spice at the end.

The Finish:  Lengthy and nicely hot. The dusty red fruit quality remains, growing quite dry and tannic at the end

Thoughts:  A subtle, but adventurous youngster. While not heavy, the dusty, dried fruit Port influence is balanced and consistent throughout and plays well with the malt notes. It was certainly interesting to pick up quite a few fruit notes without the usual accompanying sweetness. I liked the nose better straight but thought the palate benefitted from the addition of a little water – it sweetened things up and smoothed them out. Port matured whiskies are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I tend to like their slightly funky uniqueness. This one’s no exception.

The Exclusive Malts 2004 Speyside 10 Year Old Port Cask, Speyside (duh), IB ~2014

57.7% ABV

Score:  83

Whiskey On Ice, Minneapolis finally gets a big whisk(e)y show…

whiskyoniceIn just two months time Minneapolis will play host to its first large-scale (at least in recent memory) whisk(e)y show. Having moved from San Francisco where there were three big whisky shows annually, I’ve missed having a big event here in the Twin Cities area. The food and drink scene here is thriving, certainly not as much as the almost comically frantic scenes in SF, NY, and LA, but that’s actually a good thing. People here do know their food and drink, so I think the area is definitely ready for a major event such as this.

Whiskey On Ice is being held downtown in the historic Depot, a beautiful former Milwaukee Road rail depot designed by Charles Frost and built in 1899. The Depot ceased its train activity in 1971, but the buildings have remained in use. In 1998, 20 years after being placed on the register of Historic Places, the site was redeveloped and today features two hotels, two bars/restaurants, banquet and meeting rooms, a small museum, and…AND…an indoor water park and ice skating rink. The ice rink is in what used to be the old rail shed, a long, trussed-roofed building the likes of which is rarely seen these days.

Indeed, Whiskey on Ice will take place in The Depot’s shed, hence the “on ice” part of the name. While I have not confirmed this, I’m fairly certain there will be some kind of non-slip surface in place over the ice for the event. Bipeds, alcohol, and ice is recipe for hilarious (and potentially libelous) disaster – no one wants that. So far there are over 80 participants from Scotland, the U.S., Ireland, Canada, Japan, France, India, Taiwan, and Tasmania, pouring their booze. Quite a few “craft” distilleries are included amongst the expected big names as well. Whisky on Ice is also offering four masterclasses/seminars that will be held earlier in the day before the main event.

Here are the details:

Whiskey On Ice
Sunday, April 12, 2015
  -Master classes begin at 1:30
  -VIP tasting begins at 4:00
  -Main event runs from 5:00-8:00pm.
The Depot
225 South 3rd Avenue
Minneapolis, MN  55401
Tickets available here. 
VIP-$125,  General Admission-$75,  Masterclasses-$25

Fifth Anniversary Internet Scavenger Hunt of Needlessly Esoteric Whisky-Related Trivia

Pinball5For good or for ill, I started writing this blog five years ago this month. Five years…that seems like a long time to keep a blog going. I’ve certainly learned more about whisky than I ever imagined I’d learn about whisky, and learning about whisky was the primary motivation for starting all this in the first place. Along the way, it’s been an unexpected pleasure and privilege to meet the many great people who’ve been so enthusiastic of this little endeavor. You know who you are, I sincerely thank you for your friendship, your readership, and your support.

To celebrate five years of very difficult and demanding work, I’d like to offer up a little scavenger hunt for those interested. Some of the answers can be found in old posts on this blog, some of them elsewhere on the interwebs. Post your answers in a comment at the end of this post. I’ll keep the all the comments hidden until I close the “hunt” at the end of February. The most correct answers, wins, or in the likely event of more than one entry with the same score, a winner will be chosen at random.

TastingWhisky_Bryson1What will the winning winner win, you ask? Well, I’ve thought long and hard about this, and in the process of thinking long and hard, I drank up all the 1977 Ardbeg I was thinking long and hard about giving away as a prize. So you don’t get that. No, instead of giving away whisky, which, let’s be honest, isn’t something any of us actually need, the prize will be a book about whisky. Everyone needs books about whisky. So for the lucky soul who somehow manages to be #1, I’ll be giving away a copy of Lew Bryson’s fine book, Tasting Whiskey: An Insider’s Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World’s Finest Spirits.* 

Seeing as I’m completely dumbfounded and humbled by the fact that people from all over the world have taken a moment to read this blog, this contest is open to you wherever you are. The only people who are ineligible are Lew Bryson (just because why would he want a copy? I’m kidding – Lew, knock yourself out,) myself, and, for obvious reasons, Scott Walker, the horrific “governor” of the formerly great state of Wisconsin.

So, without further ado, The Casks’ Fifth Anniversary Internet Scavenger Hunt of Needlessly Esoteric Whisky-Related Trivia…

1. What is the etymology of the word cask?

2. Name a distillery located on the banks of an estuary protected by two shoe-making giants.

3. Name a whisky book published before 1990 that was written by a nom de plume.

4. To date, what’s the best Irish whiskey this blog has come across?

5. What is the origin of the name Laphroaig?

6. Who was Zackariah Harris?

7. What is the name of the ill-fated conveyance in Compton Mackenzie’s classic novel?

8. What’s the Latin genus, section, and  species name for Mizunara Oak?

9. What was Sazerac, originally?

10. What did Gaston Bazille and Jules-Emile Planchon name “the Devastator”?

Extra Credit:  Name three worthy distilleries this blog has pretty much completely overlooked in its five-year tenure.

Cheers. Sláinte. Thank you!

*Neither Lew nor his publishers have anything to do with this contest, I’m purchasing this book to give away as a prize because I think it’s a worthy addition to anyone’s whisky library. It’s also relatively inexpensive, which, who am I kidding, factored into the choice a little bit. Hell, I’d love to give away piles of cash, gallons of old whisky, or a set of first editions of every book Michael Jackson ever wrote, but that’s unfortunately just not going to happen.

Also, if you didn’t win (and really, it’s ok, you tried your best, I’m sure) and you’re still interested Lew Bryson’s book…just follow this link and pick yourself up a copy.