opened bottles

I’m a member (but mostly lurk) of a couple of facebook groups on whisky: the Australian Whisky Appreciation Society (AWAS) and the Highland Park Appreciation Society. I’m on the former cause it’s sorta local and I’ve been getting more and more into whisky. I’m on the latter as I think it was Highland Park that first made whisky click for me and it remains one of my faves. I have even been to the Orkney Islands, north of mainland Scotland, where Highland Park is located but that was before I’d gotten into whisky. I visited a few distilleries on the mainland via a backpacker’s bus and must have picked up some Highland Park duty free. There’s only two distilleries on Orkney, Highland Park and Scapa though I’ve never tasted the latter and they seem to be much smaller whereas Highland seems huge and expanding.

Anyways, there was a recent thread on AWAS about how many bottles people had, and how many they had open. I figured that bottles owned would range from a few to lots, while bottles opened would range from a few to a few more. I was a little wrong on the latter assumption. Most folk seemed to have a third to two thirds of their collection open. This is ok if you’ve got 10-20 bottles but beyond that it gets sort of scary. Some folk have 70 bottles with 60 opened, or several hundred with a few hundred open. I can see easily, how whisky can be as dangerous as book collecting.

Once you open a whisky it is affected by the air that gets in, some well some not so much. I know from my own experience that if you open a whisky and leave it a few years it can go a little off. For some whiskies, additional air improves it over several months. Others need to be drunk quickly. I recall having an 18 year old Glenfiddich that tasted horrible by the time I finished it a couple of years after opening.

Taking stock of my current state of play: I have 5 bottles open out of a total of 9. To be honest, I’m a bit staggered I have so many: both open and unopened. Every time I buy a new bottle it is tempting to open it immediately. Thankfully, regular tastings and whisky fairs has reduced that temptation and improved my appreciation. Plus I have a significant understanding of collectivitis via books which are my first priority. So far at least whisky collecting has proven cheaper than book collecting.

The 5 I have open currently include:

  • Highland Park Viking Scars (10 year old) – very smooth, easy drop. It’s relatively cheap at $75 though lacks complexity. A nice, regular quaffer.
  • McHenry 6th barrel release – oh my! I love this so. Molasses and toffee. A delish Tassie whisky. The distillery in Port Arthur was alas shut when we were in Hobart last but keen to visit next time. I did meet the man himself at the Oak Barrel’s Whisky Fair and it was lovely chatting to him. Last week I picked up the 3rd barrel release.
  • Ben Nevis 1997 – 20 year old single cask, bottled specially for the Oak Barrel Whisky Fair. I have bottle 8 of 60. Delish but much improved with a few drops of water. At 48.6% alcohol it tastes much stronger but the water really opens it up.
  • Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve – was on special recently at my local for $99 (from $134). The ultimate Yamazaki is the 18 year old that sells out quickly, even at $1,000+ and then re-sells for several thousand. I have tasted the 18 year old and it is yum but I ain’t paying stupid money. This one is nice and works well as a quaffer with a bit of character.
  • Overeem sherry cask – this is probably my favourite whisky and comes from the last cask that Casey Overeem made before selling to Lark. This is my second bottle from that cask and it is oh so good. Overeem mostly mature in either port or sherry casks and while I don’t mind the port, I usually prefer the sherry cask.

avoidance

I drank the McHenrys 6th release 3 nights in a row this week and it’s like a lovely toffee verging on rich christmas cake. I know where I can a bottle from their 3rd release, and 4th for that matter, but avoiding it as it’s a little pricey. Though today I picked up a discounted bottle of the Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve, at $99 it’s a wee bit cheaper than the 18 year old that seems to sell in uncomfortable four figure amounts.

Somehow I have found myself on Amazon…just looking at stuff, minding my own business. I could for example get a whisky flask that looks a game cartridge, or even a dodgy looking steampunk version. On the other hand, the Disruptor Rifle looks rather cool but I’ve got nowhere to display it currently and it might not be quite the thing to put on my filing cabinet at work.

I occasionally, and this may surprise some, look longingly at Richie Rich collections. I had lots of comics as a kid and I’d like to say they were really cool in a pre-hipster sort of way but nyah, I bought the regular stuff not the niche. I had lots of Richie Rich comics, the story of the poor little rich boy. Though I did also have the english whizzer and chips with its stories of Mustapha Millions. Actually I did have a bunch of Captain America too. In later years I think I even have a complete run of the Babylon 5 comics. There’s a new book on gaming that came out a month or so back that looks rather interesting: Blood, Sweat and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made.

Other temptations include omnibus collections of the original Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy, and even a couple of books on Soviet bus stops. Every other week there seems to be a new omnibus featuring Captain America and The Avengers though the really big temptation at the moment is the Complete Collection of S.H.I.E.L.D. as I’m currently enjoying the 3rd season of Agents of SHIELD via DVD. Also glad to see that an omnibus has been released of the new Ms Marvel of which I’ve read the first couple of releases. I tend not to buy much in paperback these days and prefer to wait for the hardcover omnibus releases…afterall they look rather nice on the shelf and hopefully last a bit longer.

Haven’t bought any books so far but may revisit later in the evening.

random mutterings

Following a tweet this morning:

I’ve fallen down something of a rabbit hole. I made references in my response to that tweet to usenet and newsgroup creation groups. Of course, I popped into google groups and found usenet posts of my own from the early 1990s in aus.net.news and aus.sf, some of which are a wee bit cringeworthy. Oh well, it’s all about the learning…I tell myself.

Tonight, I revisited one of my earlier blogs, 2002 this time, and found an entry that I could turn into a tweet:

as sure enough, it’s still running and is in its 23rd year. I am saddened, but unsurprised at how many links no longer work. Yet shocked to discover that my link to mutt, an unix based email program, not only works but is still being updated in 2017. The link still works for pine, another email program, but development ceased in 2008. Even slrn still exists (last update in 2016) and can be grabbed in linux via apt-get.

a shipping crane by the waterSpeaking of apt-get, a tool for installing software on linux, I am liking having linux running as its own machine. Been a long time since I’ve had it on a dedicated device. I’ve set up my new box as dual mode with windows but I’m barely touching the windows side and I’m already musing on wiping it altogether. Running it in a virtualbox always had an edge of frustration, it was slower, a little clunky, and some things just never worked as you were dealing with linux and virtualbox. Now it’s just linux and stuff mostly works; muscle memory in my fingers seems to guide me through.

In other news, I am conscious I should blog more on whisky stuff. I’ve been learning lots in the last year and have a good sense of what I like. The most important lesson however is to keep trying new things and being open to things that you might otherwise expect not to like. I’m very fond of whisky matured in sherry casks, but port casks not so much. Yet I am currently sipping a delicious drop from McHenry’s in Tasmania, matured in ex bourbon barrels and finished in a port cask. So utterly delish. Also I think I need to dedicate a post to Highland Park as I’ve had so many of their releases, yet know there’s so many I haven’t had. Have also been enjoying their new 10 year old Viking Scars which is a relatively cheap whisky at $75.

Here’s my blog entry from October 2003 that I suspect includes my first mention of eating seahorse. I had a busy month in December 2003 with much to think about including the dreaded digital divide and longevity of URLs ironically. A year later, my final post noted that of the then top 100 movies screened in Australia (by box office takings), I’d seen 92. I know now that it’s not 93 as I have definitely not seen Ghost. Whereas December 2004 is full of thoughts regarding my first NLS, and my first attempts at live blogging. I think I live blogged using a psion 5mx (which I still have) connected via infrared to my mobile phone which in turn handled a dial up connection to my ISP. Also thoughts regarding how to set up some sort of group blogging thang for the following NLS though I think we ended up using ALIA’s forum for discussion in the end. December 2004 was also when I finally registered my own domain that now points here.

I continue to enjoy browsing the casualness of my blogging in those early days; blogging was about random bits and pieces, content in response to links I stumbled upon. A sentence here, a paragraph there; mutterings on this and that. Was fun. Is still fun.

a little booze…

…is better than a lot of booze, and occasionally abstinence is even better. I was reading the thoughts on alcohol from one of the organisers of the next iteration of the New Librarians’ Symposium in Canberra in a couple of weeks and really like that they made a conscious decision for non boozy social events. There’s a bunch of reasons why this is a good thing which she covers, not least about ensuring a comfortable, inclusive environment.

Drinking at professional events is a bit of a tightope at times mixing with concerns about mixing and social engagement, yet ensuring that you remain professional and the old chestnut of the grey areas around the overlaps of personal and professional. Different people have different tolerances for alcohol and behave differently after a few drinks. I used to argue that I needed to have several drinks before I could be comfortable enough to dance :)

abseiling down a canyon in CreteLooking back over my own history of booze, in my early days of conferencing, my attitude was along the lines of “free booze, yes please!”. I didn’t get full on drunk very often but I liked to be tipsy and maintaining tipsy is a tricky thing and it’s too easy to tip over beyond tipsy. I think mostly I did okay and as far as I’m aware didn’t do anything too  stupid…I tend to do the really stupid stuff sober. At the same time I’m now conscious that I don’t need to drink and stay to the end of the festivities; staying for a while and then leaving can be rather healthy.

At a personal level, sometimes my drinking has been good and sometimes bad. I used to argue that wine should be an essential part of every meal and would always have a glass or two. Then I’d like to have glass while cooking, in those rare times I actually cooked (I hate cooking but cook well enough to get by) and I eventually noticed that I was moving from a glass or two a night, to half a bottle, to most of the bottle…thinking so long as there’s one glass left all is well. That’s not healthy nor sustainable, and I did manage to ease back from that direction when I took stock.

A few years ago, I stopped drinking entirely for several months. I’d been concerned for some time about my sleeping and partners reported that I was often restless and snored horribly; they expressed concerns re sleep apnea too. Following a breakup, I saw a sleep specialist and had an overnight sleeping test with lots of diodes on my head. Slacker that I am it took me a couple of years to get round to finding out the results. I didn’t have sleep apnea however that was a period when I was drinking more and when I went back for the diagnosis I was drinking less and sleeping better.

As a result of my decision to stop drinking altogether I found that I slept a lot better and lost a significant amount of weight. I’d like to say that it stopped my snoring, however it remained the case that like my father, I am a world-class snoring champion. These days, I try to avoid wine on weekday evenings though I occasionally lapse and when I do, it does affect my sleeping. I do enjoy a dram of whisky in the late evening, preferably around 9pm, after 10pm is too late and might affect my sleep.

On the weekends, I like a nice beer or two in the afternoon while spending a few hours on the couch engaged with the playstation. Catch-ups with friends usually involves an afternoon of drinking at one of the many craft distilleries in the inner west. Serving sizes are small and the environment is more conducive to chatting than bingeing. I still like to drink but try to ensure that I don’t drink too much these days.

thoughts of pedro

One of these days I may get round to blogging a list of all the whiskies I like though it’s fair to say I have strong leanings toward sherry casks and regular strength whiskies, cask strength is mostly not for me. I’ve just opened a bottle of 16 year old Balvenie (triple cask) which is rather pleasant. My current favourite at the moment however is a newish one from Laphroaig that was matured in Pedro Ximenez casks and is 48% alcohol: Laphroaig’s PX Cask. Interestingly I bought a litre at the airport for about AD$110 but have seen it retailing locally for around $200.

five overdue

It’s been over a month since I last blogged and even longer since I did a round-up of interesting articles. I blame post #blogjune recovery. I’ve had a quick dash back through the last month or so of tweeted articles and chose these 5. I was going to include this list of gaming terms but decided I didn’t agree with some of the definitions. So here’s an overdue list of five things:

#blogjune 2016 recap

So that’s it then, blogging over for another year. Here’s where I promise that I’ll start blogging again and do so more often. Like I do most years and then fail to deliver :-) With that said, I did manage to increase my blogging rate a couple of months ago and have had a steady increase in advance of June this time round. That suggests I might have enough ticker to keep going. I could point to the list of 20 or so ideas on my list of potential posts but I can do that most years…even in 2014 where I only blogged 4 times during June. It’s less the ideas and more the inclination; getting round to writing and expanding the idea on one device or another.

As I often state, I blog for me and noone else, to inhabit an online space of my online. However I do like to look at the stats though I care not whether they’re good or bad. 2010 was my best year ever on this platform, coincidentally that was also the first year of #blogjune and 2012 seems to be the last, really good year before the drop off and general decline. Stats perked up in 2014 but that was also my second best year for blogging with 30 posts in June.

blog statistics

#blogjune has been running for 7 years now and I’ve managed to make it to 30 posts for 3 of those 7 years, including this year. I’m pretty happy with this year’s effort:

  • 33 posts
  • 10,000 words, averaging around 300 words per day

In 2010, my first #blogjune, and my most prolific, I managed 19,000 words in 34 posts, around 560 words per day. I’m sorta curious what my stats are like for each June rather than the annual tallies, graphed above. However, I haven’t worked out how to export the data easily and to be honest my stats, like my care factor, are pretty low :)

My top 5 posts were:

I also started, or attempted to start a series on alcohol, or at least whisky:

I have another post semi-written on whisky and feel like I can probably write a few more. One idea that’s on my list is to go through all the beers I’ve rated via untappd and list them, pointing out my favourites. Perhaps I should also write a post on how much I drink which is actually less than you might assume from all my alcohol references.