Haggis, a hundred times, haggis!

Being American, I have come to realize that a number of laws we have were created based on hyperbolic (and often unfounded) fear. America’s founding is littered in the “live and let live” or “don’t tread on me” type mindset but as of late, it seems everyone is trying to tell everyone else how to live, specifically through legislation. With all of this in mind, I’m here to talk about one of the most heinous food bans we have in America…

Haggis.

Banned from import into America in 1971 because it contains sheep lung, haggis is little more than a leftover-sheep-meat-mashup that I’d affectionately compare to scrapple. It has a very similar texture to scrapple but is (in)famous for being served encased in a sheep’s stomach. Once removed from it’s stomach-y packaging, it’s very often prepared in a myriad of ways. Let’s explore some of those ways!

Below, we have haggis making an appearance on nachos in a nifty little pub called “Scotch & Rye” in Inverness.

They also have popcorn haggis…

At this point you’re hopefully thinking “man, oh man, I need some haggis in my life!” but I’m afraid you’re probably thinking “This guy’s gone of the deep end about some Scottish scrapple!” Either way, this haggis inspired train ain’t stoppin’! Let’s head up to Helgi’s in Orkney and see how many more ways we can have it!

Below we’ve got some haggis fondue!

And what’s this? Haggis mac and cheese? I think so!

This next sandwich is known as a Haggis and Whiskey Rarebit Sandwich.

Rarebit (which rightly sounds like rabbit) doesn’t actually contain any rabbit. It’s just a fancy name for a savory melted cheese sauce over bread. The only thing that makes the above sandwich different from a normal rarebit sandwich? You guessed it: HAGGIS. ❀

Continuing the haggis mashup below is a haggis grilled cheese from a tiny coffee shop called Square root cafΓ© in Keith!

You might be thinking “Grilled cheeses are okay but I only love pizza.” Well you’re in luck! That’s right, at Black Isle Bar in Inverness, you can get HAGGIS PIZZA Y’ALL.

This haggis train is slowing and I’m sad to see that but I only spent a week in Scotland this time around so there was only so much time for haggis lol. Below is the most classic way to enjoy haggis. It’s “Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties” which is haggis, rutabaga, and potatoes. Thanks to the Kirkwall hotel in Orkney for the beautiful table setting.

And last but certainly not least, just plain haggis. I actually had planned to have a scotch egg at this spot (The Classroom in Nairn) but alas, they had just taken it off the menu. So a side of haggis had to do.

And there you have it. Hopefully my rabid enthusiasm for this delicious delicacy drives deep the dedication to find good food and enjoy it as many ways as you can. Like whisky, food can be just as interesting and thanks to laws that don’t inhibit the way it’s made, it can be even more interesting than whisky. Wait, there are laws that can inhibit the way it’s made? Ah, welcome back to America.

Distilleries from above…

Annnnndddddd BACK from Scotland! For the second time, I’m sitting at home unpacking my luggage and reminiscing about all of the memories that were just created. From the distillery visits to the friends made to the whiskies shared to the haggis devoured, Scotland was an incredible (but short) time! Luckily, this time around, I ended up taking a drone to Scotland to compliment the slew of pictures I took and I just wanted to share those here before I post them anywhere else. (Granted, if you follow ScotchNSniff on IG, you’ve no doubt seen these in my stories AND the video footage)

The first distillery visited this time around was Highland Park and due to a number of technical difficulties (read: fear of breaking the law), I actually didn’t get any pictures of the distillery from above. Just one lack luster video of the distillery and it’s dunnages before I quickly brought the drone down.

The second distillery visited was Glenrothes. Unfortunately, Glenrothes isn’t open to the public so getting the tour was a hookup but I made sure to take a ton of pictures that can’t usually be taken. Here’s that drone shot:

Gorgeous isn’t it? You can see the still house on the left of the pagoda and the dunnages on the right side in different colored roofs.

The third distillery visited was Macallan and though I had mixed emotions about seeing the new distillery, I’ve come to grips with what it is they’re trying to do as a brand. That’s all I’m going to say about that for now.

The concept of a distillery that matched the rolling hills was accomplished by the design of same people who designed terminal 5 at heathrow in London (and 140 million pounds). It’s definitely overwhelming and a dauting distillery to visit. If you’ve never visited the old distillery, I think you might like this one. Definitely let me know if you’ve visited and how you feel about it.

Next up was anCnoc in the charming area of Knockdhu. It’s a small but fierce distillery. Churning out good tasting whisky with just a few guys running the entire operation. Plus, the distillery manager Gordon is an hilarious human being.

The last distillery visited this time was Balblair! What a ton of fun John McDonald can be when he’s sharing the history of the distillery and where they’re headed now that they’ve switched up their bottlings from vintages to the age statements (less confusing for the customer to calculate ages). Here’s a gorgeous shot of Balblair from the sky.

They’ve got a ton of storage for barrels!

So there you have it! Scotland was a great time and I hope to share more from the trip but for now? Just these few aerial images for your eyes to feast on.

Slainte.

-Sniff

 

A walkthrough of the Macallan 1824 Master’s Series

Today we’ve taking a small video adventure with Macallan national brand ambassador Nicolas Villalon. I really hoped that this video would be educational, accessible, and not overwhelming to a beginner whisky enthusiast… let me know what you think in the comments below or on YouTube!

SNS in Scotland (Day 3)

Day three.

I know, it’s been hundreds of days since I updated you on the Scotland trip from May of 2017 but I’ve been busy with a lot of things including new youtube videos and tons of IG content so if you’re not following on YT and IG, you know what to do πŸ˜‰

Day three in Scotland was Glenfiddich Day lol. A day spent at “Disney world” of distilleries. The pictures will do most of the talking but I’ll try to add as many interesting details as I can remember!


A view from the parking lot.


On the far side of the parking lot there’s a really nifty looking tree created from barrel staves. A lot of distilleries have pieces of art at their entrance but this was pretty unique in terms of size.


This mini-lake is actually warm due to its part in the distilling process…


Where I wanted to be πŸ˜‰


The hustle and bustle of getting ready for visitors.


The entrance of the visitor center reeks of history and polish.


If every bar looked like this….


Ludo, the King of the Ambassadors, is our tour guide for our first stop at Kinninvie. Kinninvie, Balvenie, and Glenfiddich all sit on the same grounds separated by short distances.


Kinninvie is just a warehouse with stills in it at this time.


Back to the tasting room in Glenfiddich for a special tasting…


A mash tun as seen from the tasting room!


Ludo explaining what we’re tasting and why.


Lunch in the Malt Barn.


I ran over to the gift shop after lunch because I knew it’d be closed if we tried to visit the shop after the tour.


The Glenfiddich handfilling station where you can fill your own or have one of the kind employees fill one for you. This week was a part of the Spirit of Speyside week so Glenfiddich only had peated whisky on tap.


A little video about the distillery to start the tour.


Lorna, our tour guide, was an amazing wealth of knowledge.


There are malt mills… and then there are GIANT malt mills.


You can see the tasting room window on the left. This is just a closer view of the mash tun above.


Piping in real spring water!


Big, beautiful washbacks holding what is soon to be a 9% alcohol “beer”, essentially.


❀


In most still rooms, the blue painted things mean “low wines” or “wash still” or the first distillings of that wash (beer) we spoke about earlier. Low wines clock in around 20-27% alcohol and are distillied a second time in spirit stills. Red painted things tend to mean that they’re coming from the spirit stills at anywhere from 70-80% alcohol. Finding the sweet spot of the spirit still’s output is the goal of every distillery.


The grounds are gorgeous.


Water from the Robbie Dhu spring if you’d like some!


The backside of the dunnages.


Heading into the Glenfiddich Solera vatting warehouse.


You’re not allowed to take pictures in the vatting room but I snapped a quick one as we were leaving.


The vent for the kiln styled malting floors of old.


Nifty flowers.


Lorna giving us details about the bottling room.


Lorna walking us through the Solera 15 deconstruction and the process to blend our own 15 year πŸ˜€

Et voila. There were some things I left out

Happy Repeal Day?!

Good day whisky lovers!!!

Last night was an incredible time at the legendary Jack Rose Dining Saloon in DC where the entire bar celebrated the repeal of prohibition a short 84 years ago! The entire ordeal of prohibition (and really the current secondary whisk(e)y market) is a great demonstration of the futility of laws against free will but that philosophical conversation should be saved for another time. πŸ˜‰

Jack Rose was looking as incredible as ever even with a Christmas tree obstructing the bottle view. It only looks empty because being the NERD that I am, I love being first to events like this. Getting to soak the atmosphere in from pin drop quiet to across the table yelling about the effects of wood on the spirit of whiskey absolutely cracks me up inside.

Here is the motley crew that I was seated with tonight. Two friends and a handful of friends-of-friends that were all here to drink whiskey and learn new things. Lucky for us, the wealth of knowledge in JR surprises me EVERY TIME. I mean, yes, I carry around a lot of whiskey information in my head but holy moly do some people carry even more!

(Being a scotch lover, I couldn’t help but order a scotch egg appetizer. It wasn’t as good as haggis covered goodness I had at The Classroom in Nairn, but it wasn’t bad considering haggis is banned in the states.)

My buddy Sean really wanted to try a Willett flight so he could figure out which Willett he’d like to find and buy so I suggested that he talk to the owner, Bill Thomas, who is a rabid Willett fan. So we did!

Bill, who introduced himself as “just an employee” dropped giant knowledge bombs on us about the history of Willett, single barrel picks, and even some details about the preprohibition whiskey that he had acquired for the night. It was humbling to hang with another enthusiast who is just as excited about whiskey but with ten times the knowledge!

I had this boring flight above so I could answer the questions that I get all the time on instagram about the Basil Hayden Dark Rye and the Joseph Magnus Cigar Malt Blend. The Van Winkle 12 Lot B was on sale and ironically, I’d never tried it… so I got that too!

The Basil Hayden Dark Rye actually contains a portion of port wine in it and that seems to translate into a cough syrup-y thick mess of sweetness shrouded in a touch of rye. Some of the folks who’d never had whisky in this capacity loved it. It was just too sweet for my palate. It was like a speysider on sugar steroids even with the rye spice finish. The Van Winkle 12 Lot B was a pleasant noser but is so far from the 15 and 23 mark that it was hard to take it seriously. The fact that it fetches more than four times it’s SRP on the secondary is mind boggling.

Our Whiskey Somm made some great suggestions and did a great job of helping folks pick the directions of their flights. I was impressed with all of his suggestions but one… but it’s amazing that our palates were even that closely aligned when it came to picking whiskies for the noobs in the group. The best recommendation he made was the try the Monticello PreProhibition Maryland Rye…

I surprised a few of the friends at the table when I told them to look for the smell of cream when they nosed it… I wasn’t trying to autosuggest flavors but it was so rich in cream on the nose and the palate that I was blown away. Something about a hundred year old whiskey being so vibrant was so impossible and so amazing at the same time.

The exact notes I typed into my phone read: “Notes of cream on the nose. The rye is subtle and veiled behind strong caramel. The palate is incredibly soft. Holy soft vanilla hiding behind the lightest spices. It’s still creamy. The rye spices bring up the rear in a light and inoffensive way. A second sip and that candied sugar center is ridiculous. The finish lingers for dayyyyyys.”

The raw sugar and cream blend kept making me think of how awesome coffee would be if it could have its bitterness balanced by this incredible hooch. *drool*. At $40 a pour, it’s pricey but it’s worth it to try at least once in your life!

There was ONE more bottle that got brought to the table by Bill but we’ll save my feelings on it for another blog post. Let’s just say the current version of this companies offerings and their offerings from 30 years ago are miles apart. Which is great if you were alive to enjoy the better version 30 years ago…

So Slainte! Cheers! Kanpai!

Have a great day and remember… prohibition is bad, mmmmkay.

One Minute Whiskies, Random Thoughts, and Stranger Things 2

Happy Whisky Wednesday fellow scotch lovers!!

I have to admit, I didn’t expect to write this entry today but with so many small things happening all at once, I definitely feel compelled to type up some magic for you.

***** EDIT: ScotchNSniff glasses are NOW available on SIPDARK.com!!!!! *****

Right off the bat, I need you to know that ScotchNSniff finished recording 25 new videos for the youtube channel. Nineteen of them are One Minute Whiskies and the other six are typical ScotchNSniff videos but they’ll be hosted by myself and Tim and Brian from The Whisky Library DC. Hopefully you’ll find them all entertaining as we covered a gamut of topics and even had one wild rant video. Here’s the newest of the OMW videos:

For everyone who’s been following along, remember, the OMWs are lighter reviews meant to give you a quick overview of a whisky while you’re out and about. It’s not an in depth set of notes. πŸ™‚

In terms of random thoughts, you guys might have noticed that the end of this year has been an absolute barrage of new whiskies from a number of distilleries everywhere around the world and though I hope I can review most of them, I know it’ll be super difficult so expect everything coming to be in the Scotch Versus Scotch type format.

The last thing I wanted to throw out there in this post are a few pictures that I’m excited about related to Stranger Things 2. Yes, these pictures include a set of toys from the show. No, I have no intention of doing what ScotchTrooper does. He’s a freight train when it comes to Star Wars toys pictures but these are just my own excitement for a TV show manifest in the form of some images. Enjoy!! Happy Whisky Wednesday!!

(Okay, I’ll add some other ones in there too!)

I might start selling prints of this one:

Balvenie 50 year? Pinch me, I must be dreaming.

A few weeks ago I got an opportunity to indulge in some of the most expensive whiskies available from The Macallan. It was a dram come true for many a whisky lover. The No 6. The M. The dream. Just when I thought I had woken up, like the movie Inception, I must have been subject to a dream within a dream. Even with the first kick of leaving the Macallan event, just a few short weeks later, I found myself drinking one of the most expensive whiskies to have ever existed.


[The Balvenie 50 Year Cask 191.]

I don’t know what you’re thinking but I know what I was thinking… did it taste like $40,000?

Some would argue that no whisky is worth that price of admission but for something distilled in 1952 only to be disturbed again in 2002, it’s hard to say that the cost per bottle wouldn’t be astronomically high considering the years of storage, care, and the angel’s share.

The color was a dark red. So dark red that it looked black any time you were looking at the edges of the dram in direct light. It was impossible to see through the bottle.

The nose had hints of fruit sweetness and actually made me believe that the pour would be on the lighter side of the palate. I was expecting something more typical of Balvenie’s signature profile but I am so glad I was wrong.

Uncharacteristic of Balvenie, the palate was an explosion of flavor. It’s typical of older whiskies that they can lose a lot of vibrancy and life from so many years in the cask but this 50 year old was alive and kicking! David Stewart, MBE., continued to try and assure me of the sweetness that I was tasting but my palate disagreed quite a bit. Yes, about 25% of what I was tasting was similar to raw sugar but the other 75% of the palate was definitely filled with spices. It wasn’t over whelming but it was definitely in your face. Amazing.

The finish was soft and unassuming, not too short and not too long.

I’m not sure what my brain was expecting beyond the honeyed and softer notes we’ve come to expect from Balvenie as of late but I definitely didn’t mind being surprised. This was bold. This was borderline brash. This was brilliant.

I’m so thankful that I had an opportunity to try it. It was certainly once in a life time and lately I’ve felt like I’ve been living enough to last a few.

Without further ado, my video interview of David Stewart, MBE. is below along with pictures from the event.

Enjoy! Slainte!


[The setup for the interview]


[@TheScotchFather and @theScotchWhisperer talking]


[Aaron of @whisky.arch interviewing DCS MBE]


[David C. Stewart, MBE.]


[A little group picture action! (thanks Jason for snapping this)]


[Tracie from Glenfiddich (@glenfiddichtf) with DCS MBE]


[Tim of @Whiskey_Library_DC speaking with Jack Rose owner @Mashbill_Thomas]


[Eric of @ScotchAndTime being ridiculous :P]


[Signature Time!]


[Tim of @Whiskey_Library_DC with DCS MBE]


[Raising a toast to @theScotchFather]


[Tracie (@GlenfiddichTF) exchanging a glance with Jen H. of Momentum who handles the marketing for WMG&S in the DC area!]


[All eyes on David]