SMWS Fireside Joys Outturn

SMWS 28.26This is the list before the "big list" in November - which will have around 30 whiskies. Accordingly, this is a 13 dram tease arriving just at the very end of October, when nobody expected it.

Two of the drams (72.28 and 9.95) are online only. There's still some 72.28 at the London Rooms bar, but I skip it as it's a repeat. I'd also like to note that owing to some family matters, I have to do all of these in one mammoth 13 dram session, during which two kind souls buy me further whiskies. It was a long day and hard work to keep a fresh palate. You'd cry to see the drams I had to have poured down the sink half finished - I know I almost did!

There are no sherry casks, but there are some good first-fill bourbon casks to make up for it. The list also has a fairly high level of alcohol, so some caution is advised.

My favourite was, by a clear margin, the Tullibardine. It's a real whisky enthusiast's dram, that's a joy to explore as it gives up its flavours. I was also fond of the Benrinnes, the Glenfarclas and the Bowmore.

If this is the warm up act, then the main event should be superb!

Incoming Clouds

Another skyscape, this one a little flat.

Incoming Clouds

I like clouds, and am on record as liking clouds.

I was recently just wandering around on a Sunday, and really liked the sky. There's a nice texture and flow to the clouds here, with a little break here and there to keep it interesting.

Even better, as I looked up and took photos of it, others in the park also looked up and saw it. So this was very much a worthwhile photo to take...

SMWS October 2015 Outturn

SMWS 3.248Another month, another outturn. This one came out over the same weekend as The Whisky Show, which made things tricky. In the end, I booked Friday off work and attacked ten of the drams then, mopping up the last four on Monday evening.

There's a sherry cask on this list, and it was one of my favourites. There's one first fill barrel, and everything else is refill bourbon barrels or hogsheads. That's not a complaint - I think a good refill cask gives a whisky a nice round flavour, and that's definitely what you get in this outturn. (When you're doing ten drams in a day, it would be nice to have a few other cask types to break things up - but I appreciate that this is a problem most people won't have!)

My favourites of the list were the Glenlivet (fruity and light), the Highland Park (shoreline bonfires and toffee), the Bowmore (lavender and bacon), the Bladnoch (toffee, fruit and hay) and the Glenfarclas (fruit, pastries and ginger).

Honourable mentions should go to the Mannochmore, the Aberlour and the Laphroaig (smoke!). In particular I enjoyed writing the notes for that Laphroaig, as I felt it was important to get across the exceptional and remarkable delivery that its body has.

In an unusual move, I'll go so far as to say that my absolute pick of the list is the Bowmore. It combined flavours in an interesting, unexpected way - but held it together superbly. I think I'll be coming back to it frequently, for the short while that it will remain on the bar...

Crane in Fog

Crane in Fog

I am a sucker for cranes. And I am a sucker for the wonderful diffuse effect that fog gives light. Therefore this photo was pretty much inevitable.

Against The Flow

Against The Flow

I really liked this when I saw it. It's down to multiple factors... The fact that the angle of shadows from other buildings line up with this one - down in the lower left hand corner, and on the sign in the lower right hand corner. A lovely synchronicity there. The lovely blue sky, which peeks through both the trees and a few holes in the building itself - yet more synchronicity. And then that's all contradicted by the way that the staircase (if that's what it is) goes against all the other angles of the building. As if the building itself is railing against the synchronicities that caught me so.

After some time trying to think about what it was that kept drawing me back to this photograph, I realised it was all about those angles, and the way they played with everything else going on right at that point in time.

And I'm just a sucker for angles.

SMWS September 2015 Outturn

The September outturn is another decent showing from the SMWS. Will their tyranny of excellence never end?

DSC_0271If you like sherried whiskies, then this list sees you SOL - "Sherry? Out of Luck!"

There's a whopping six first-fill bourbon casks though, which is pretty decent. And there's a white-wine cask too, which is a nice find.

My favourites were the Arran, the Longmorn, the Highland Park, the Glenfarclas and the Cragganmore. There was also a very pleasant surprise in the unusual Ardmore, which is the white wine cask alluded to earlier - and a must try for anyone visiting an SMWS bar! But the standout whisky for the list was the Bowmore - a wonderful dram, very much in the style I like from that distillery.

So there's obviously a lot to like about this list. But whisky is subjective, so it's worth noting that there are some people I was drinking with who will be dismayed at the lower scores I gave the Glen Moray and the Laphroaig - perhaps they just weren't the style I was looking for? Who knows. But disagreement is one of the fuels that fires the passions in the whisky world, so I'd be remiss if I didn't score them honestly, and then accuse anyone who disagrees with me of being a crass idiot who needs further education!

(That last part was a joke. It's a pity that we've reached the point where the internet needs jokes pointed out to it, but there we are...)

Overall, I think that September's list was a good one. When it shone, it really shone - and there seemed to be something to please almost everyone, except possibly the sherry fans. But you can't please all the people all of the time...

Senate House

Senate House

Senate House on a bright December morning.

Sometimes you're just in the right place at the right time with a camera...

Masks II

Masks II

When my friend Alasdair spent some time on Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth, I took up and took some photos. These fine people were around, and I'm still not sure why they had gas masks.

They did give a very good answer when I asked them. "Why not?"

Fleeting Contrast

Fleeting Contrast

I don't know why, but I like to take photos from trains. This is one of them.

I like the composition - the bridge, the building, the reflections, they all come together quite nicely.

Dawn bus

Dawn Bus

I took this way back in 2011. These days, I process very few photos immediately - I like to go back to my work much later and see my photos without the bias of immediate enthusiasm.

This one kept popping back into my mind though - I knew I'd taken a photo I was happy with. And it only took me four years to find it again, process it and publish it.


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