A new year is now in full swing and for us whisky bottlers it can be a bit of a struggle to get going in January.
After a couple of weeks of consuming anything with an ABV above 3% or cheese in the ingredients, motivation can be hard to find. Add to that, the phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of many in our industry – Dry January!
It does not seem unreasonable to purge the body of the excesses of the festive season. Far from it. My waist-line has put forward a solid case, calling on my pasty complexion and general lethargy as witnesses.
But a whole month? Not even at the weekend?
For me that’s an impossibility. I have work to do and that does involve tasting whisky. Your sympathies are welcome but unnecessary.
I’m not one to ignore the groaning of my internal organs though so I will have to submit to some essential maintenance and drop a jean size or two, but we’re certainly going to get at least a bit damp this January whilst avoiding the drenching of the previous month.
There’s some useful information on how you can Shed a few pounds with The Sipping Shed later. But first…
Is there a Haggis in the Shed?
It would be remiss of me not to mention arguably the most significant date in January for whisky fans. No, not Red Squirrel Appreciation Day (21st). No, not International Zebra Day either (31st) However, it is sandwiched between the two on the 25th – Burns Night.
By day we take to the hills in search of wild Haggis for the evening’s meal. They’re hard to spot on these gloomy overcast January days but it’s worth the effort. If you don’t live in a Haggis hotspot then you can buy them ready prepared from the supermarket.
In the evening we prepare to celebrate the birthday of the Scottish poet Robert Burns – he’s probably busy at his mum’s eating birthday cake during the day – which consists of reciting ‘Address to a Haggis’ by the man himself whilst toasting said Haggis with a dram of whisky before tucking in with an accompaniment of tatties (potatoes) and neeps (neetatoes).
More poems and toasts follow and a jolly good time is had by all.
It’s well documented that Robbie was a big whisky fan and what self-respecting marketing department wouldn’t seize the opportunity to upsell some products on the back of a historic figure with no trademark implications.
So please buy our whisky, it’s
Your Birthday Christmas Burns night after all!
And buy a Haggis* too.
If you want to go full Burns, then bagpipes are essential. It is for this reason that I will never voluntarily go full Burns. Love the poetry, the haggis and, of course, the whisky but we all have our limits. One of mine is listening to an instrument that looks like a man struggling to resuscitate an orangutan with a baritone recorder and sounds quite similar**.
How Burns you go is up to you, but I would recommend whisky and poetry as the minimum.
As well as rehearsing poetry and checking our Haggis nets this month, the team at Shed Quarters have been readying our next bottlings.
Our Glenshiel is bottled having reached 10 years old. It has spent its life in a 1st fill bourbon barrel which means it’s got lashings of vanilla and coconut, a lovely dusty oak character and plenty of the distillate on show. When it all comes together it’s like a lovely homemade apple crumble drenched in thick custard.
Glenshiel is the code name for whisky distilled in Alexandria at the bottom of a very large Loch who’s monster is not quite as magnificent as the famous one at Loch Ness. You shouldn’t need to go too Columbo to figure out the distillery – answers on a post card.
It’s also not far from a portal into the world of elves, fauns and fairies. No, I have not been relieved of my last few remaining marbles. The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies is a book penned in 1691 by clergyman Robert Kirk, who, in all seriousness, wrote of a portal not dissimilar to one found at the back of a well-known wardrobe. No mention of a lion though. Or a witch. And it was in the woods somewhere as opposed to a stately home. Still, pretty bonkers stuff.
It wasn’t printed until the early 19th century when, presumably, someone got hold of his texts and thought ‘yeah that makes sense’ and, after some deliberation ‘would be good with a lion though’.
Anyway. It’s very tasty whisky and we’ll have 102 bottles up for grabs very soon.
We’ll be bottling the rest of the Aultmore from the infamous leaky cask. There’s too little left in the cask to let it continue for much longer as it will pick up too much oak. In a change from our normal offerings we’ll be reducing the strength on this one to somewhere in the high 40s.
This expression of Aultmore is one that needs the addition of water to get the best out of it, so we thought we’d pop in some soft Scottish water for you. Normally we leave that bit up to you, but we figured you could do with a break now and then and we have been asked if we’d consider dropping the abv on some releases, so we are happy to oblige. We’re not cask strength snobs and it’s good practice to mix things up now and then.
We’ve also got batch 2 of our sherried Blair Athol coming soon. At 13 years old this has a greater sherry influence than the previous bottling but the refill cask still leaves plenty of room for that distinct, delectable distillate that brings us so much joy. I’m looking forward to this bottling as our Blair Athol 11 year old was one of my faves and it’s the same juice from the same cask, just a little further on. Otters may feature again but it’s yet to be decided – they’re notoriously tricky to work with.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you they’re each a fine single malt whisky from single casks, but I do have to type that somewhere for SEO purposes that I frankly don’t understand.
Anyway, there’s plenty of lovely stuff coming to help you Shed a few pounds (Sterling).
Yes I agree – the gag really wasn’t worth waiting for but we’ve come this far.
That’s all for now but if you want the NFT to this article, then pop a squillion quid in our account and it’s all yours. It’ll no doubt be worth 10 squillion quid*** in a few years so it’s pretty much a bargain.
*Regrettably we don’t sell Haggis.
**Probably. I mean we don’t know this, but I once knew a guy**** who used a clarinet to inflate a dead fox and that sounded awful.
***We cannot guarantee the future value of poorly written whisky blogs and, as with all risky investments, probably best not to tell the wife.
****I imagine he’s in prison now.