Random Thoughts, The Manifesto, and The Subcontinent

What’s this, a non-’83 post? Yep. Here’s the scoop!

If you’ve seen me complaining on Twitter and elsewhere like I’ve got a real problem in the world, I’ve no doubt mentioned how burned out I am on the whole whiskey scene of late. “Yeah, how rough. You split great bottles with friends, your job and socioeconomic status is such that you can buy 30 year old bottles from closed distilleries, etc. Cry me a river!” What can I say? It’s the sheer drudgery of drinking astonishingly great whiskey – the true problem of the snob and elitist.

In all seriousness, in the last two to three months, I really have been writing on a much more restrained level. For some reason, like a moron, I decided to worry about traffic and hits more than having fun with this. I appreciate the traffic that some have referred in the last few months, but being a little more straight-and-narrow just sucked all of the fun out of this site, to the point that I entertained serious notions of shutting down the site. That’s stupid: this site isn’t monetized in the least nor do I have any intention of going there, so it better serve a different purpose.

So, the bad news is if you hated the old rambling, barely-connected S&I diatribes that somehow looped back to whisky: sorry, they’re probably back. Meandering streams of thought about my personal life? Yep. Digressions about who knows what? Yeah, the chef is serving that too, and you paid for the tasting menu.

Well, some of you did. A fair amount of readers have recently gotten smart and bugged out. I urge the remainder of you to follow so I can get a little more free-jazz and confessional here. Seriously, the bad old days, that’s what I’m gunning for. You want the real scoop of why I think Aberlour A’bunadh is just hideously overrated? It’s coming. Seriously, it’s probably time to unsubscribe. Of course, you can just wait for Google Reader to fade away and it’ll all be moot in a few more weeks anyway.

Alright, those of you who are left… you don’t care? Cool. I don’t either. Let’s have fun. I think there’s some great people in the whisky scene, but it tends to get so same-y and repetitive. All the facts about distilleries are everywhere. I haven’t yet been to any distilleries (… I KNOW!), so I have nothing new to add. When I do, no doubt, I will. Tasting notes are searchable on Google. The Whisky Monitor and LAWS have fantastic searchable archives for that stuff. Serge too. Instead, this is the place get stupid, go out on the tightrope without a safety line and have fun. As much as I’m going to tell you my stupid stories and questionable insights, I’d love to hear yours. Seriously, dumb stories? Odd proclivities? I don’t care. Have fun with it.

So what else has been happening? Why have pages been disappearing? Why have I been removing links from the top bar? Why is my name disappearing from the site? It’s not some sanitizing scrub of my identity and thoughts. For whatever reason, in the last three weeks, the hacking-inclined scum of the earth have directed their attention to this blog. Why? I don’t know. It’s kind of like trying to achieve world dominance by taking over Liechtenstein. There’s not enough traffic here to mount a takeover of the world, and yet, these clowns from various southern European nations are determined to log in. My only guess is these guys wanted to log in and sing the praises of the latest Glenrothes bottling under my name… as if. Only reasonable explanation.

The last point on this meandering, rambling, ill-constructed diatribe (I’m back, baby!): I’ve read the luminaries of the whisky writing world discuss how bloggers are a second class, or are in some way wanting for legitimacy. You know what? I’m cool with it. I’ll take my stand, I’m independent. In fact: at no point going forward will S&I review samples provided to S&I by a producer. It’s all what I’ve paid for out of my pocket. Their business model and livelihood doesn’t allow it. Where they succeed in wall-to-wall access and connections, I have them trumped on the ability to speak my mind without fear of having access cut off… unless someone stops putting their whisky on shelves and only providing direct to whisky writers. This doesn’t even come close to paying my  bills – my day job does that just fine, thanks. I’d rather the readers of S&I get the unvarnished opinion of someone who put their hard-earned dollars (and they are hard earned!) on the line for the whiskey written about here. So, consider this my redeemed no-bullshit guarantee. All this means in practical terms is that you won’t see me presenting a tasting on Questionable Malts Of The Highlands for a bunch of pasty-skinned, too-serious gentlemen (at least on someone else’s dime – I’ll let you know when my Questionable Whiskies Of The World tasting masterclasses are scheduled in Los Angeles).

In the spirit of standing up on one’s own, let’s take a look at Amrut Peated. Amrut? Who’s that?

Well, India is producing whisky. A lot of people still can’t wrap their heads around the whole “Japan makes really good whisky” idea, and I’m bringing the subcontinent into things. What a jerk! A lot of Indian whisky is crap and wouldn’t necessarily legally meet the definition of whisky in most whisky markets – distilled from molasses and such. Amrut, however, wisely said, “people don’t like garbage, we should make a whisky people actually would like to drink and sell it instead of something that makes you worry about imminent blindness.”

So, sitting down with Amrut, what do we get? The nose is a touch watery. There’s a light touch of smoke, some faint leather, some gentle fruitiness and younger malt notes. It’s a touch waxy, but more paraffin than the big furniture polish waxiness of a Clynelish.

The palate has light smoke on the roof of the mouth. It’s slightly thin (it’s 46% so that’s not entirely surprising), but not objectionable. It’s got a fair amount of malt and straight barley notes; and a vague impression of white pepper wafting in from the next room over. There’s also a faint touch of fruit sweetness on the palate.

The finish leads with smoke and follows behind with a really clean waxy apple note, which is uncommon on younger malts but welcome here. There’s some maltiness again as well as straight barley.

Amrut Peated is a bit simple, and it drinks like a blend that’s malt-heavy, but the light peating gives it some grounding and weight. It’s a nice straightforward number – though I can’t deny, I’d like to see an older/stronger/more intense version. Honestly, to me, this is a nicer, lighter, easy-drinking peated malt that could be called on anytime. It’s super accessible, and I’d probably keep this one on hand if I couldn’t keep some Hakushu Heavily Peated.

At a glance:

Amrut Peated Single Malt – Batch 5, Jan 2010 – 46% ABV
  A little watery; some light smoke, a faint touch of leather, some gentle fruitiness and young malt. A touch waxy – more paraffin than furniture polish.
Palate:  Light smoke on the roof of the mouth. Slightly thin on the mouthfeel but not bad. Reasonable malt and barley, some white pepper kind of wafting in from the next room over, a faint touch of fruit sweetness on the palate.
Finish:  Smoke leads on the finish, followed close behind by a little waxy apple note. Some maltiness and straight barley on the tongue.
Comment:  It’s a little simplistic and drinks a touch like a malt-heavy blend, but the light peat on this really gives it some weight. Pretty nice and straightforward number. Would love to see an older/stronger/more intense version of this.
Rating: B

†Last year I did a tasting of a dozen Glenrothes expressions with the intention of blogging them. They all sucked. Even the one from the late 60s that just sat in a cask for decades. There’s no point in writing a depressingly long entry about why I hate Glenrothes. Robur Reserve is the best out there and it’s a B. Now you know. If you like Glenrothes, I don’t think you’re a bad person but please don’t ever buy me a bottle of it (or even a dram).

20 thoughts on “Random Thoughts, The Manifesto, and The Subcontinent”

  1. Welcome back to the fun side of whiskey!

    ” at no point going forward will S&I review samples provided to S&I by a producer”

    For what it’s worth you just went up a couple of notches in credibility. I would rather read something honest any day, rather than some site pushing out brand PR material. You and Ralfy, ftw.

    1. Well, thanks so much! I don’t think I can hold a candle to the sheer Ralfyness that is Ralfy, but it’s great to be held in such regard. I’m sure I’ll break you of that sooner or later. :)

      In all seriousness, I’d rather just make this “stuff I bought, my rambling and sometimes connected thoughts” and dig in with a bottle rather than trying to chronicle every whisky ever here. Maybe I’ll keep thoughts on provided whiskies to Twitter. Though, in light of this, they’re probably gone. I’m OK with that!

      Best Ralfy ever? Stewart’s Cream of the Barley. That is his high water mark for me. I honestly had to cut back on his stuff after that just because nothing held a candle and I kept waiting for more absurdist takes from him. Still great fun.

  2. The traffic numbers can definitely be an ego-stroker, even if they don’t get you money or even samples. I’ve definitely fallen into that trap before, but am slowly backing away from it. If I’m not posting as much, so what? It feels a little silly to get stressed out by a hobby.

    1. Yeah, my turning point on the burnout was remembering that I’m already way beyond my wildest imagination of what would happen, and that even if I only had 2 hits a month, both from me, I’d probably still be doing this.

      Still, the self-examination did give some ideas for new content which will definitely be coming in the weeks and months ahead. As long as I’m having fun, screw everyone else. ;)

  3. good to see you getting your mojo back. as for the amrut peated, i think the cs version hits all the marks you would like this one too.

  4. As someone new to the world of whisky, I’d rather read your reviews/opinions as opposed to those of the whiskey celebs.

  5. There is this lovely woman in your life. She looks much younger than her age but still very wise who has been saying for about 2 months or more that you should just write about whatever the heck you want. If you don’t even want to write about whiskey *gasp* anymore, who cares. Its your blog. I have just heard through the grapevine about this woman. I am just saying…sometimes you should listen to this lady…she seems nice. ;)

  6. I can relate. It’s all too easy to forget the fact that people generally give much less of a shit than you think. You start worrying about what other people care about, pretty soon you have a paragraph made out of death sentences… Any exhalation, no matter how messy, is a step in the right direction. So, right on!

    1. The launch of S&I was itself a going-against-my-gut exercise in not waiting until I had a perfect manicured thing to put into the world. I got off that track to chase something that wasn’t really my goal anyway. Here’s to messy, sloppy, warts and all… imperfections are what makes it interesting.

  7. Thank you. Your honesty and openness regarding whiskies and the tangents you take are the main reasons why I visit your site and consider your opinions credible. Stay happy, and post when and what you want.

    1. Carl, thanks so much! I’ve gotten such an unexpected response on this and I really composed this in the heat of the moment, just staking my territory. To get such a great response and so many new responses really underscores that the right thing here is to follow my gut – so I will!

  8. “I am waiting for you, Vizzini. You told me to go back to the beginning. So I have. This is where I am, and this is where I’ll stay. I will not be moved.”

    – Inigo

    1. Thanks much, Rob. Hopefully I can keep them tighter than in the past; I’m not a fan of stuff that just gets needlessly didactic and heavy-handed with the metaphors and I think at times I’ve gone way, way, way too far off into the weeds there. We shall see….

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