I have already blogged all the pubs I can easily run to during an extended lunch or that I can catch a bus back home from unless I make a day out of it, so the count is on hold until I do some more UK travel (which should be soon). As an alternative, I have been doing my runs in search of some of the odd bourbons on sale here: they are true bourbons, distilled and aged in oak in Kentucky but I believe most of them are bottled in Europe as I have never heard of most of them before (and I would have). I was tipped off that some Morrison’s branches have such a bottle but on today’s run I found only Jim Beam and a very generous collection of Scotch. Not wishing to go back empty-handed I grabbed the house Irish and trotted out to the hilly paths home.
The stuff ain’t bad, but I was a little surprised at the peat (subtle, but definitely there despite the label stating whiskey and not whisky). If I had noticed ‘From the summit of Slieve Na Gloc’ I would’ve sussed it as a malt but then I wouldn’t have brought it home, nor would I have stopped by Paddy’s Gym for a quick shot (photographic and fluid).
I didn’t go to Holland to find a new bourbon to try, but this one was cheap (in Holland), smooth, woody with hints of vanilla, and a treat to come home to at our B&B. We siphoned off most of it in the late evening twilight Thursday and Friday, with splashes of Spa Rood. Plus, the name is just fun to say…Pennypacker!
I was going to swing by Aldi for some of that fine Clarke’s bourbon but I got lost during the run and opted to shortcut back to the house. Luckily, I passed the Sainsbury’s at the Brunel Centre and figured, what the hell, the house brand isn’t so bad. They don’t always stock the bourbon, opting for Jim Beam white label at £20 - £25 per bottle (or Jack Daniels, which is foul swill and NOT BOURBON, brits…NOT BOURBON). Anyway, it was pretty nice for a change on the weekend and it really makes Saturday breakfast better. No idea who supplies this, but it is a little harsh like Early Times (don’t get me wrong…I drink a lot of Early Times back in the States, but it is a little harsh).
Winston Churchill was travelling by train with Harry Truman. The president suggested having a whiskey and Sir Winston was delighted. Upon his first taste, he exclaimed, “This isn’t whiskey, its bourbon!”
We settled into the hotel for the night and then realised we were dry. I had remembered to pack the travel shot glass but no beverages; this would not do. So, I put my shoes back on (checking first that I was still wearing trousers, of course…don’t need another one of THOSE incidents, do we?) and headed out to find an off license nearby. Instead, I popped into an Aldi Supermarket and found this little gem, some Clarke’s bourbon, which apparently is only sold in Germany and Austria (and German stores like Aldi) although it is truly bourbon, made in Lawrence, KY.
I have stopped drinking bourbon for the most part because if you ask for it in a bar they tend to pour Jack Daniels (vile swill and NOT bourbon). All you can usually find on the shelves in Offies is Jim Beam or Four Roses, bland tipples at best and yet they tend to be £20 for a 700 mL bottle. Clarke’s is smooth but with a strong oakieness that I really like; it reminds me a bit of Evan Williams without the medicinal edge. And, at £10 a bottle, I think we have found a winner.
Here are some whiskey quotes to make this an interesting read despite my ramblings (W.C. Fields may be a little heavily represented):
“Never eat on an empty stomach.”
“No married man is genuinely happy if he has to drink worse whiskey than he used to drink when he was single.”
H. L. Mencken
“I was brought up to believe that Scotch whiskey would need a tax preference to survive in competition with Kentucky bourbon.”
Hugo L. Black
“A woman drove me to drink and I didn’t have the decency to thank her.”
“I’m a simple man. All I want is enough sleep for two normal men, enough whiskey for three, and enough women for four.”
“What contemptible scoundrel stole the cork from my lunch?”
“What whiskey will not cure, there is no cure for.”
“Yes, honey…Just squeeze your rage up into a bitter little ball and release it at an appropriate time, like that day I hit the referee with the whiskey bottle.”
“A man should always carry a small bottle of whiskey in case of a snake bite. A man should also carry a snake.”
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough.”
“So long as the presence of death lurks with anyone who goes through the simple act of swallowing, I will make mine whiskey.”
W. C. Fields
“Let’s drink to California, way out by the sea, Where a woman’s ass, and a whiskey glass, Made a horse’s ass of me”
“Drown in a cold vat of whiskey? Death, where is thy sting?”
W. C. Fields
“The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year; Not cold enough for whiskey but too damn cold for beer”
“The advantages of whiskey over dogs are legion. Whiskey does not need to be periodically wormed, it does not need to be fed, it never requires a special kennel, it has no toenails to be clipped or coat to be stripped. Whiskey sits quietly in its special nook until you want it. True, whiskey has a nasty habit of running out, but then so does a dog.”
W. C. Fields
“Listen. If we can’t break the ice, how ’bout we drown it?”
Paul Bettany’s character in ‘A Beautiful Mind’
“If you can’t drink a lobbyist’s whiskey, take his money, sleep with his women and still vote against him in the morning, you don’t belong in politics.”
“When it’s third and ten, you can take the milk drinkers and I’ll take the whiskey drinkers every time.”
Here’s an item of interest to the Americans out there…we went to the grocer in Ely–Waitrose, part of the John Lewis family of retail businesses–and enjoyed a sample of the wares in stock. This happens at American stores, too, and you can usually find a stand with a retiree pushing samples of hot frozen pizza or cured sausage slices or whatever.
Here, however, the old woman was handing out shots of 12-year-old scotch. No shit, single malt fine whiskey. In the states the malt is behind iron bars and you need an employee of Brinks to come and unlock the damn thing to buy a fifth of Lagavulin. Here, pensioners are handing it out next to the bread aisle. I love Britain.