Jan 2 2014

Buying Whisky as a Present

I am often asked for advice about buying whisky as a present for a friend or a relative. I am in no way a whisky expert but I end up answering this question often enough that I thought it merited a blog post.

If you are buying whisky for someone in the UK or Europe then you should consider using The Whisky Exchange http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/. I’ve used them to buy whisky presents for people in the UK and France and I have found them to be very reliable. In the United States I suggest you check out the website of The Whisky Shop http://www.whiskyshopusa.com/ which also ships; their physical store is in the center of San Francisco. There are many other options in the UK and in the USA.

My first recommendation is Mannochmore and below is a picture the Flora & Fauna bottling which is available in the UK for £42.15 plus tax (from The Whisky Exchange). This Speyside whisky is “delicate and fragrant” which should be more approachable to whisky newcomers than very peaty, smokey and pungent whiskies from Islay like Lagavulin or Laphroaig. This is also one of my personal favourites. I think this is a safe bet when you don’t know what kind of whisky the recipient likes (or perhaps they might not like whisky at all).

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Americans can find a Blackadder bottling of Mannochmore (around $90 from the Liquor Barn or order from The Whisky Shop) and a Connoisseur’s Choice bottling (around $85) which may also be available at The Whisky Shop.

If you are buying a present for someone you know likes smokey and peaty whiskies (perhaps from Islay) then you should consider one of the modern Bruichladdich whiskies from Islay. This would be a good choice for someone that typically drinks something like Lagavulin or Laphroaig. For example, one of the Port Charlotte whiskies e.g. PC7, PC8, PC9, PC10 or (shown below) PC11.

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Personally, I don’t think it matters much exactly which PC you get and I would suggest buying the cheapest one you can get since the price varies a lot from one version to the next. You can get PC10 for £48.95 from The Whisky Exchange and for $62 from The Whisky Shop.These are very intense and quite unsubtle whiskies and they are very lovely with a cigar. They are probably a poor choice for a novice whisky drinker.

If you want to buy a very special whisky for someone that likes super smokey Islay style whiskies like Ardberg and if you are wiling to spend big bucks then you should consider one of the Bruichladdich Octomore whiskies.

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The Octomore whiskies vary in price depending on the specific batch. You can get an Edition 0.61 for £94.95 from The Whisky Exchange and you can get a batch 5 bottle for $215 from The Whisky Shop. With such a price difference, Americans may want to pay the shipping and buy from The Whisky Exchange. This would be a great choice for a younger drinker who has just IPO-ed his or her tech company.

For sophisticated whisky drinkers that prefer a little more refinement I recommend Caperdonich (Speyside) and below you will see a picture of a bottle that I drank. You can get a 1982 Director’s Cut for £169.95 from Royal Mile Whiskies and you can get a 20 year old for $245 from The Whisky Shop.

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Nose: Fresh & spicy – carrying a hard boiled sweets style with macerated oranges, bees wax & polished wood.

Palate: Mouth coating – richly spiced character developing to a gentle oak quality with a touch of dry smoke.

Finish: Long, still spicy – now running drier – still oaky with dried orange pith and dark chocolate.

This would be a great present for a self-professed whisky expert.

Finally, if you suspect the recipient is likely to add ice or Coca Cola to your present then I recommend the 10 year old Jura which is very cheap. You can get it for £26.25 from The Whisky Exchange or for $45.50 from The Whisky Shop.

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This whisky is so unremarkable that adding ice or Coca Cola to it may actually improve the taste (I can’t bring myself to do either even to a Jura). This is a great choice for anyone that does not like the taste of whisky.

Please do let me know if you find any of this useful (or the opposite).

Sláinte!

Satnam


May 17 2012

2012-05-17 Kiran’s 9th Birthday

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Sep 25 2011

2011-09-25 Dinner for Peter and India

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Seared scallops in a beetroot reduction.

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Spicy coriander and pea soup.

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Rib-eye steak with spicy crust and okra.

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Roasted bananas with lychees and passionfruit.

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Peter and India.


Sep 21 2011

2011-09-21 Dinner at Ryugin

A very good dinner at Ryugin, Tokyo.

http://www.nihonryori-ryugin.com/index_en.html

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Sea urchins and salmon roe.

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Cold soup and eggplant sushi.

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Tuttle tofu with soft rice cake and green onion dill.

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Watari blue crab with matsuake mushrooms.

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Ichiban dashi soup, asajime pike eel with deep fried eggplant.

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Stunning sashimi selection including baby squid and smoked fish.

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Seaperch grilled on charcoal.

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Fried turnip and simmered abalone.

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Fried turnip and Kuruma ebi prawn.

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Kuroge Wagyu beef filet coated in bradcrumbs with Matsutake Mushrooms in refined style and premium poached egg.

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Charbroiled large wild eel from Biwako lake.

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-196C candy grape and +99C grape jam.

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Roppongi Pudding.

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Mattcha tea.

 

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Aug 6 2011

2011-08-06 Dinner for Calle, Simon and Eleanor

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Jul 30 2011

2011-07-31 Dinner for Michi, Alex, Claire and Tim

  • Momofuku scallops, buttermilk, soy and poppy seeds.
  • Beef tartar with truffle, celery and parmigiano-reggiano.
  • Roast salmon with lobster vinaigrette and courgette fritters.
  • Michi’s chocolate mousse, puréed strawberries and Prosecco jelly.

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Beef tartar with truffle, celery and parmigiano-reggiano.I forgot to take a picture is this from the Spiaaggia cookbook but the ones I produced looked pretty similar.

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Jun 30 2011

2011-06-30 Father/Daughter meal at Midsummer House

Kiran and I went to Midsummer House in Cambridge (Michelin two star) for a lovely seven course tasting menu.

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Kiran loved the olives and she took this picture of them.

 

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Kiran was not entirely amused by the pink grapefruit and champagne foam.

 

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She did however love the pea, prawn and seaweed jelly.

 

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Salmon rillettes, pickled vegetables, lime and wasabi.

 

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Confit chicken wings, endive, Reblochon.

 

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Red mullet, parmesan, lemon and green olives.

 

 

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Kiran wolfed own all of her duck, sweet potato and orange puree. cherries and iceberg.

 

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She said the lemon posset, raspberry jelly and lime was the best dessert she ever had.

 

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The English strawberries, elderflower, lemon sorbet was her second favourite dessert ever.


May 20 2011

2011-05-20 Dinner nat Viajante with Susan, Steve, Lennart, Jessica and Derek

An outstanding London restaurant. http://viajante.co.uk

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Thai Explosion II. Crab doughnuts.

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Bread and butter.

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Fresh cheese with peas and flowers.

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Prawn, pickled radishes and sea lettuce.

 

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Razor clams and chicory with rhubarb and yarrow.

 

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White, green and wild asparagus with milk skin.

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Charred leek hearts and cured lobster with leek consommé.

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Confit salmon,, fried aubergine and braised skin.

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Cod tripe with onion and crispy potato.

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Brill with daikon and red currants.

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Bone marrow with beef gel and onions.

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Duck hearts and tongue with mushroom floss and spiced broth.

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Lamb belly with wild garlic and cereals.

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Frozen maple with shiso and green apple.

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White chocolate with grapefruit and lemon.

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Pickled and raw cucumber with milk sorbet.

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May 16 2011

Dinner with Katie at Seinpost, Scheveningen, The Netherlands

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Rustenberg 2008 Chardonnay.

 

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May 15 2011

Kiran’s Birthday Party

Two days early.

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I made a birthday cake although I probably won’t win any prizes for cake decoration.

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The girls get an Indian dance lesson.

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I made up burgers and home made pizza.

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Kavi was overwhelmed by all the girls.

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View from the kitchen.

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