20 November 2016

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19 November 2016

Whiskey Sour, what is that?

I have been wondering about Whisky Sour. I am clueless what it is and in this blog I will try to find out:

  • What is a Whiskey Sour?
  • How to make a Whisky Sour?
  • What does a Whiskey Sour taste like? 
  • What glass to use for a Whisky Sour?
There is nothing much on here now, but I will add content as I learn it.

What is a Whiskey Sour?

I have looked it up and the general opinion is that the ingredients are:
  • bourbon
  • lemon juice
  • sugar syrup
  • egg white
  • Cubed ice
Garnish like:
  • a cherry
  • a cranberry
  • an orange slice
  • a lime slice

This sparks questions: 
  • why bourbon? 
  • any bourbon?
  • why not a malt?
  • if bourbon, than why isn't it calles "bourbon sour"?
  • are there more "sours?"
  • ice in whisky? normally that is not done!
Looking up some of the answers. Ah, there is also "bourbon Sour"! Interesting! That would mean there might be "malt whisky sour" too! Or a "Rye Whiskey Sour".


I'm not going to say how its done, so here are some of the recipe links i found.

more to come. 

Experiment: I will not mention this blog on my facebook, instagram or twitter. I want to see if this blog gets read regardless of any advertising on my end. 

18 November 2016

Compass Box Hedonism, Triangle Test ISO 4120

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Compass box shares information on internet via multiple channels one of which is twitter. 

Compass Box Tweet, screencaptured
Consistency in whisky is important for blends and single malts alike. I took this tweet by compass box as an opportunity to find out how whisky-makers do this.

What can we learn from this tweet and what can we learn from the photo?

The first thing I see are the three black ISO 3591:1977 sensory analysis - apparatus - wine tasting glasses. There glasses are prescribed when doing sensory evaluations of liquids, such as whisky. I have blogged about these glasses before. See this link.

The black glasses are to prevent the assessor from identifying any visual differences between samples by looking through a transparent glass. This prevents identifying the odd one out and thus influencing the assessor.

Photo by Compass Box, linked to twitter URL
The "blind triangular tasting" that is mentioned is standardised via a number of ISO standards, depending on how the tasting is performed and for which purpose the tasting is performed.

In total there are 17 ISO standards in the "Sensory analysis -- Methodology" section.

These are:
  1. ISO 5497:1982 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Guidelines for the preparation of samples for which direct sensory analysis is not feasible
  2. ISO 8588:1987 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- "A" - "not A" test
  3. ISO 11036:1994 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Texture profile
  4. ISO 16820:2004 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Sequential analysis
  5. ISO 5495:2005 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Paired comparison test
  6. ISO 11056:1999 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Magnitude estimation method
  7. ISO 4120:2004 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Triangle test
  8. ISO 10399:2004 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Duo-trio test 
  9. ISO 8587:2006 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Ranking
  10. ISO 6658:2005 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- General guidance 
  11. ISO 13301:2002 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- General guidance for measuring odour, flavour and taste detection thresholds by a three-alternative forced-choice (3-AFC) procedure
  12. ISO 5496:2006 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Initiation and training of assessors in the detection and recognition of odours
  13. ISO 29842:2011 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Balanced incomplete block designs
  14. ISO 3972:2011 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Method of investigating sensitivity of taste
  15. ISO 11132:2012 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- Guidelines for monitoring the performance of a quantitative sensory panel
  16. ISO 11136:2014 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- General guidance for conducting hedonic tests with consumers in a controlled area
  17. ISO 13299:2016 Sensory analysis -- Methodology -- General guidance for establishing a sensory profile
From the word "triangular" in the compass box tweet I deducted that this could be the ISO 4120:2004 methodology. So I asked on twitter and the answer was positive. I found a legal copy of this standard and started reading.

Photo by Compass Box, linked to twitter URL
In the photo you see the glasses standing in a triangle. This is according to point 7.2 of the standard. Tasting is done from left to right. Two of the glasses are filled with the same sample of the product. The third glass is filled with the other sample product. Six sets of combinations of these samples are possible and the assessor is not aware of which set sample is in which glasses.

Below the glasses are three numbers. These are chosen at random by the person that is setting up the procedure. Only the person setting up the tasting knows which numbers correspond with which product. The numbers intentionally mean nothing to the assessor so to not cause bias.

The assessor in this form used by compass box fills in the number of the sample that is the one that he or she thinks is different. What is not part the standard is filling out the level off similarity on a scale from one to ten. So maybe this is not the ISO 4120 after all ;)

This ISO 4120 test can be done in order to either
- see if the assessor is able to spot the odd one out in order to show that the odd one out is indeed different,
- see if the assessor is not able to spot the odd one out in order to show that the odd one out is indeed "similar"

This last kind of test is what compass box wanted to show here. Is the new batch of hedonism so similar that the assessor cannot spot the odd one out.

The standard gives a definition for “similar” which reads: situation in which any perceptible differences between the samples are so small that the products can be used interchangeably

That is off course what John Glaser wants, consistency between two batches of hedonism. The batches of hedonism used here are two glasses of the May batch and one glass with the February batch.

I trust the batches were indeed found similar.

In other blogs I will go into the other ISO standards that give details on how to properly taste, nose, make tasting notes, rate etc. As a whisky nerd I find this all very interesting indeed. I would love becoming an assessor. The training of the assessor is also standardised in an ISO standard. The training of the coordinator is standardised, the glasses are, the preparations of the samples, the cleaning of the glasses, the room, the layout of the room, the tasting notes, the scoring etc. Etc. All is standardised in ISO standards.

I wonder how many bloggers follow these standards. I hope a lot. But I suspect very little even have the slightest notion. This needs to be remedied. In blogs to follow I shall go into these standards one by one so I can educate myself. That is, if I can find copies of the standards ;)

13 November 2016

Bruichladdich: Laddiemp4 tasting

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I had a night to myself last night. My wife's sister had come by to talk and this was an option for me to retreat to my "office"  and really take the time to nose and taste the Laddiemp4 drams.

Laddiemp4 side by side
I had wished I would have been able to join the live tasting on October 13th when I rather coincidently was on Islay. I had asked at the Laddie Store to the guy behind the counter if he could do me a really really big favour. He called in the aid of Ailse and she asked Adam. Adam was Adamant ;) ... the place was full. I got a bottle of the 16-062 so console me ... it has consoled me as the picture below shows.

I had been tasting my second bottle of the 16-062 more than the others. I had postponed it till a propper time. The time was now. I had cleaned three glasses. I had gotten a glass of water and a teaspoon. I had also gotten a pack of "Katjan Pedis" nuts, which I sat aside for later because this stuff will totally overpower your palette.

Guided by Adam Hannett on Youtube I am all set.

I have made an excel version of the scotch whisky tasting wheel. Divided into the Wishart taste groups. I plan to use that to log my tasting notes. It doesn't work editing an excel file and at the same time nose and taste, so this nerdy need needed to wait for later. Make notes with pen and paper is what I do.

  • Cask #361 - distilled in 2008 and matured full term in a French ex-Syrah (red wine) cask. It is at 58% alc. vol.
  • Cask #16-062 - distilled in 2006 and matured in ex-bourbon before being finished in an ex-sherry cask is also at 58% alc. vol.
  • Cask #1062 - distilled in 2005 and matured full term in bourbon is at 59% alc. vol.
Cask #361
Starting of with the Cask #361 Syrah matured whisky.

Cask 361
  • Orange, 
  • Chocolate, 
  • Salty, 
  • Oak, even more so after adding water
  • Little mint, 
  • Floral (dandelion), 
  • Salted Cashew-nuts, 
  • Brie (cheese), 
  • Tobacco.
  • Small bitter, 
  • Warming, 
  • Drying, 
  • Hazel nut, 
  • Cola, 
  • Chocolate, 
  • Ginger, 
  • Light Coffee, (added while typing on youtube)
  • Liquorice, (added while typing on youtube)
  • Light tannins on the aftertaste.
iLaddie instagram
If you are wondering why the Heineken can is on top of my glass. That is because I did not bring covers from downstairs. Got some fun comments online on my instagram

Anyways, with this Syrah I had been wondering what notes I would get from this. Turns out the dried dark fruit notes which you typically get from Sherry matured casks are not in here as the predominant notes. My first reaction to this dram was "Cask 361 is friggin amazing". The orange and chocolate you would also get in a sherry matured dram are there. But not so much the salty influences of the floral notes. Interesting!!

Cask 16-062
Cask 16-062
  • Buttery, I used buttery but could also used "creamy" 
  • Figs, truthfully, i noted this because The guys on youtube did. I will need to sniffle some figs to be sure ;) 
  • Leather, 
  • Sweet and sour Pickles, 
  • Melon, 
  • Raisins, 
  • Bit peppery
  • Toffy, 
  • Pear, 
  • Vanilla, 
  • Raisins, 
  • "Wokkels", see below
  • Orange zest
Wokkels? Yes Wokkels. I had gotten this note before on a USA Dram from Koval also. I am suspecting the crispy cloy taste of these pretzels find their origin in the malt. This is where tasting notes don't translate internationally. I actually blogged about culturally dependant notes in the past. 
This dram is also not a typical Sherry. This is probably because it is a combination of woods. I re-watched the part where Adam explains. Its matured in first and second fill bourbon and from 2014 in PX and Oloroso casks. So this is a hybrid whisky with lots of different woods. This explains the combination of notes I got.

The third dram Cask 1062 is a Bourbon matured dram. It was matured in a Buffalo Trace cask.

Cask 1062

This has an obvious American Oak influence

  • Peppery / Nutmeg, 
  • Cinnamon, 
  • Custard, 
  • Vanilla ice cream, 
  • Lemon, 
  • Pear, 
  • Melon


  • Peppery, 
  • Salty, 
  • Creamy, 
  • Oaky, 
  • Pineapple, 
  • Clove 
This one for me had a real "oomph" to my palette. An "oomph" I like. I do like the notes from the sherry, but I find the floral fruity tad spicy notes from first fill Bruichladdich a beautiful thing.

I will spend more time with these drams and improve and reconfirm my notes. I found that tasting these side by side really improves the sense of differences in smell. I makes the notes stand out more. I kept the Heineken cans on there as I sat and re-smelled them all. Some notes were gone, some became available. Its beautiful how these drams develop.

my notes

Time to eat the spicy nuts and destroy what is left of my palette ;) ... Yikes! Good thing I held back for these nuts, this would have blown the night! lol

11 November 2016

Selling my Lego UCS Super Star Destroyer 10221

Some of you may know I used to buy and sell Lego as a hobby. I stopped doing so and after much internal debate I am also selling the one Item I am most proud of owning MISB. I had a weak spot for collectable Star Wars UCS Lego. So when it got cancelled some years back I bought the 10221 at retail price. Now its price almost exploded and this is the time for me to get a nice Return on Investment. 

Information copied from Lego Wiki Star Wars site: 

The Super Star Destroyer measures 124.4 cm (50 inches) long and is made of 3152 pieces. This set includes a redesigned IG-88 and Dengar and a new minifigure, Admiral Piett, along with a Darth Vader minifigure. The set features a smaller representation of the bridge featuring the walkway for Darth Vader, the computer panels on either side of the walkway down below where Admiral Piett takes command and the bounty hunters standing by the exit of the bridge.

The bridge.
Bossk makes his second appearance to date but his variation remains identical to the one from 8097 Slave I released in 2010. Dengar makes his second appearance to date with his first being in 6209 Slave I. Dengar has been re-designed with extra details. Admiral Piett makes his first and only appearance in this set featuring the same face used for Professor Snape in the 2010 Harry Potter sets. Darth Vader appears in his latest variation for the second time with his first being in 10212 Imperial Shuttle. This variation of Darth Vader features a cartoon like face featuring white pupils and added detail.

The set also includes a new Palpatine hologram piece which also appears in one other set, 7964 Republic Frigate.
The Set 
The Box
The Executor was Darth Vader's personal flagship, serving in the Battle of Hoth, and the subsequent asteroid chase with the Millennium Falcon. The battle over Endor saw the destruction of the massive 19 km ship when Arvel Crynyd, Green Leader, rammed into its bridge in a kamikaze attack when he was hit. The Super Star Destroyer plummeted into the unfinished Death Star, causing enormous damage and killing most of the Galactic Empire's best officers.

I am selling this set so I can further finance some hardware I need for my Whisky Hobby. Hope it fetches a nice price. Now that the New Movie "Roque One" is set for later this year it should spark interest in any older vintage Lego Star Wars UCS series sets like this one. I also own a "Slave One" with Jango Fett, but I am still to emotionally attached to that set to part with it!

So Bart, from the Scotch test dummies, if you are interested ;) ..

10 November 2016

Islay Trip: day three: Bruichladdich tour (part 1)

The visit to Bruichladdich would be three fold. First a tour at 11, then a warehouse tasting at 12 and later the purchase of one of the Valinch bottles.

Our Tickets
We payed the tickets and the tour began. First up was the barley mill. The tour guide explained how we could take pictures of everything but any photos of her would mean an added £5,- . She was naturally kidding! But we got the message.

Mill and transport

The background of Bruichladdich was given. How it was set up by the Harvey brothers back in 1881. How the slope of the hill was used in order to use the natural flow of water through the buildings. The mill for the barley is the original one (minus spare parts and repairs). The steam engine that powered the belt was replaced by an electric motor, but other than that the whole place is original. I'm sure some of the wooden parts have been replace over the years but all in all it looks all very 1881-ish. Very cool indeed.



wooden parts

Victorian looking driver belt
There is a basked next to the mills to show the different stages of milling from barley to flour. The basked with flour was empty. It is emptied out by a lady who uses the Octomore barley for her bread! Would love to buy a loaf of that!!

Anyway, the flour/grist is moved to a container where it is contained until the container is emptied in the mash tun. I tried making another "contained" reference here by but I can't. Sorry.

Moving to the mash tun we learn that the cast iron mash tun is still in use even though modern regulations prescribe a stainless steal one. The mash tun predates the regulation. Hell it predates the invention of stainless steel! I wanted to ask of the rathe brown rusty looking cask iron is not a Health risk, but i didn't. It looked beyond further oxidation so I'm sure it's inert.

The blender was damaged during a particularly firm mash. It was out of commission for a lengthy time. The parts that are broken were replaced. This is where the legislation kicks in because the new parts do look rather stainless steel like. As an engineer I wanted to ask why the new parts were a round turned part and not milled in an square shape like the old ones. The fluid dynamics around a round part would be rather different to a square section. Wouldn't it adjust the blending function? I didn't ask. I'm sure it has something to do with available machines on Islay or just plain cost driven. I was pretty sure the tour guide would not know. Plus the answer is not important.

Since the mash tun is open the efficiency of the process is less. Also the temperatures used during mashing differ from the ones I noted at Ardbeg. Seems logical. A different set of conditions ask for a different set of process parameters. Mashing is done using two "waters". Ones the mashing is done the wort is move to a free clean wash back. A 3th and 4th water are added and kept as the 1st and 2nd water of the next mash. Next we moved to the next room.

Wash-back 2
The wash-back room where all the fermenting takes place.

Friend at the wash-backs

There are six wash backs at Bruichladdich. All Douglas Fir wood. All pretty tall. I made a photo down to get the height, but in a photo you just loose the sense of depth. Our tour guide lifted some of the ends to see which tank was a what stage. The ones we looked in were producing lots of CO2 and thus alcohols. The fluids were happily bubbling away so to speak.

looking down the side of a wash-back
The lads at Bruichladdich don't work during the weekend so the tour guide explained that the time spend in a wash-back, for some of the production, is increased by 48 hours depending on when it's put in the wash-back. That doesn't sound rather consistent but there you have it. (If i misunderstood any of this I'm sure someone will correct me)

We could smell the content. Our tour guide did not put her face in the hole like most of us did. To much CO2 she explained. So I scooped the smell with my arms. Got some frowns from the other people in the tour, but they started copying my approach and learned why I did so. The theory I got from my tour at Ardbeg the day before. Handy stuff.

I cannot remember if I had the same reaction to the beer like smell that I got at Ardbeg. I'm sure it had. I'm sure it had fruity malty cereal banana beer-like notes. I just can't remember as I am writing this weeks later (November 10th). Now I need to redo the tour and make notes! Darn!!

We were asked if anyone would have a taste. Are you kidding!? Bottle the stuff and sell it!! It's amazing tasting brew!! After the tour-guide put it down I snuck over and helped myself to another drink. Savouring the taste and smell as much as I could. Closing my eyes to lock out unneeded sensory input. Shame I can't remember! Me dork!

Looking at the still room we could see a familiar face. It was the Swedish tour guide Mia and her group. We waved.

On to the still room. There is a purpose build platform you can stand in to watch the room. Its safe during operation hours to stand there instead of walking between the operation. Clever stuff. Bruichladdich has 5 working stills. Two wash stills, two spirit stills and a Gin still called ugly Betty.

The Gin made at Bruichladdich is called "the botanist". All herbs that go into the Gin are on the wall on a big placard. We are told that when Jim McEwan made this Gin he was told that the maximum of herbs would should needs to be 5 maximum. So he put in 22. I have never took the time to understand Gin making but I will.

The process of whisky making was explained. How multiple distillations are sorted by different temperatures, cuts etc. I choose not to go into that to deeply since it's all very well documented on this Bruichladdich webpage https://www.bruichladdich.com/article/how-bruichladdich-islay-single-malt-scotch-whisky-made

reflection of me in the wash-still
We were free to take any photos we wanted of anything, so I did. I took some panoramas and detail photos. It gives a nice overview of the whole setup.

Selfie at the spirit safe. 
Round about this time a group of people walked in. I spotted Ailsa, the kind lady who had given me the laddiemp4 bottle as consolation for not being able to be at the live tasting of laddiemp4 that past Thursday. She was touring with guests and her family.

Making a cut
After pretending to make a cut and making selfies at the stills I thought i recognised Allan Logan, former mashman and now distillery manager, so I addressed him as such. I was close. It turned out the be mashman Graham Hayes. I knew that! Just tad dyslectic with names and faces.

Meeting a maker
He said he and Ailsa had recognised me as being iLaddie. Was I indeed? Yes I was/am! Great to meet one of the makers. Selfie time! We had a short but excellent talk. We shook hands and were both on our ways. We were off to the the laddie shop to start the 12:00 o'clock warehouse tasting!

That's for the next blog!