This is a report I wrote after visiting the Boutique Bar Show in Glasgow. The piece is hosted at Edinburgh Whisky Blog
This year’s Scottish edition of the Boutique Bar Show was held at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow’s Merchant City, arguably the city’s cultural epicentre. I hitched a lift on the bus organised by the Scottish Bar Network, which at a fiver including a bloody Mary and a bacon roll kicks Scotrail’s ass. Continue reading →
This is a brief OPINION piece I wrote in reaction to my visit to the CAMRA Scottish Real Ale Festival yesterday.
Picture the scene, a huge gathering of the best drinkers, drinking the best beers, brewed by the best breweries, in a country endowed with an incredible brewing scene. All of these passionate people under one roof, tittering at Tennent’s drinkers, hating Heineken fanboys, and frowning upon Foster’s fanatics. Continue reading →
‘Why do the seagulls follow the trawler?….It is because they expect sardines to be thrown to the sea.‘ As Eric Cantona eloquently displays, football and philosophy very seldom come to a sensible confluence point. If its not seagulls and trawlers its Rafael Benitez’s priests and mountains of sugar. As the professional game moves further from reality philosophical meaning becomes obscured. However the relationship between football and philosophy is far from over. From the chubby five-a-side player falling over himself doing a stepover to big clubs running community projects philosophy thrives. Critically though this relationship rarely has an impact that spreads much further than the locale of its practitioners. But there is one movement that has broken through onto the global stage and is making a difference to thousands of people worldwide. Continue reading →
An invite to a Bruichladdich tasting with matching food set in the supremely decadent surroundings of ‘The Place Hotel’ on York Place is not one that can ever be declined. The bar is a dazzling array of colour, solid black granite set underneath an intense display of Swarovski crystals strung around LED bars currently set on pink. This crystalline crapulence (a fancy word for over indulgence, Ed) is taken to the next level with the addition of wallpaper detailed with shapes made from the dust left over from the polishing process at Swarovski.
The key feature of the hotel bar’s finesse is noted Edinburgh bartender Alan Fisher, previously of the Point Hotel. Given free reign of the bar Alan has built up a superb gantry with a hefty focus on non-chill filtered single malts. With these tools and an unsurpassable knowledge at his disposal Alan is able to concoct some truly stellar beverages and proves this as he starts our night with a sublime Botanist Gin Sour.
In general my whisky experience CV does not read well at all. Between pouring an entire glass full of Laphroaig when my dad invited me for a whisky at the tender age of 14 and sculling an entire bottle of Bells at an uneducated 16 there aren’t all that many highlights. However in recent years and working in one of the ten ‘Edinburgh Whisky Bars’ I have become more enlightened and developed a passion for learning the ways of this extraordinary industry. So when Chris invited me along to write a review of the revamped Scottish Whisky Experience I was pretty keen after having been on the old tour and feeling somewhat unimpressed by it.
On entering we are greeted by a glistening vision of Scotland embodied by a velvety smooth accent and vibrant red hair. As is typical of all the staff, she was exceptionally friendly and began our experience with a smile. Chris and I were ushered into the brand new barrel ride and trundled off into the dark to be enlightened by Douglas Macintyre. The barrel ride takes us directly into the process of distilling malt whisky. The spectre of Macintyre takes us into the mash tun and the difference between this and the 1990s era animatronics is massive. Sounds coming at visitors from every angle and short but very adequate explanations of each stage are certain to entrap visiting children’s attention and bringing the joy of the water of life to a whole new generation. Continue reading →
This was a piece I wrote for Edinburgh Whisky Blog, one of the premier whisky blogs available. Originally hosted here.
Chase Vodka reviewed at Bon Vivant’s Companion by Joe; our friend, guest blogger, journalist and professional bartender
There is a refreshing trend developing in ‘premium’ spirits towards distilleries run by real people, in real places, with real cool philosophies. The days of bullshit imported neutral spirit being re-distilled with a couple of local ingredients lobbed in are long since over. This revival has most commonly been seen in the great gin uprising of the past 10 years but there exists a close circle of distillers willing to go the extra mile to apply this school of thought to creating truly artisanal vodkas.
The Chase family story is a prime example of this emphasis on the real. After five generations of farming in Herefordshire the family were declared bankrupt in the late 90s. They became a casualty of the supermarket price wars that drove farming profits into the ground. They were reborn in 2002 with the creation of Tyrell’s crisps and two years later became the first brand ever to refuse Tesco’s offer to carry their products. Continue reading →
This piece was a collaboration between myself and Ewan Angus (his gibberish is in italics, mines is not).
On racedays in Musselburgh the ‘Electric Bridge’, constructed for heavy vehicles used to build Cockenzie power station, is opened to all traffic. The whole town froths at the mouth at the novelty of trimming a couple of minutes off a journey through the town centre. Racedays are huge for the town; local restaurants thrive off them and anyone who can do gets along to watch. As we approach the racecourse itself I’m reminded of exactly how my innocence was lost in this town. Just a lad, I used to come along to the races with my mates and jump the fence and get into all manner of scrapes and shenanigans. However, after the age of eighteen going to the races took on an entirely different meaning. Once I came of age a dreadful beast was revealed to me, the terrible vice of gambling. A seductive bitch that tempts you in, pulls you to bed, tears the shirt from your back and then promptly leaves you to the will of the evil dominatrix Lady Luck. This was the downfall of my tender youth and the descent into a gambling addiction that would last until just shortly before I turned twenty. Continue reading →
Curiously for a single male student living in Edinburgh I have only ventured into one of the city’s many famous lap dancing bars once. Inside an altogether mind-altering experience awaited me. As a stag group we were targeted from the outset. ‘Twenty quid a head, lesbian show, and we’ll shove a bottle up the stag’s arse.’ Needless to say an offer like this can’t be refused and we all saw some fascinating things. Speaking to one of the girls after it was clear that once abstracted from their profession these are remarkably intelligent people, many of whom use the job as simply a means to an end, occasionally to fund degree courses. After a lengthy search and a bundle of rejections I managed to find a girl studying Architecture at Edinburgh whilst working as a stripper willing to talk to me. Continue reading →
I’m pretty sure I only own eight pairs of socks and they were all in my bag. It may have just been paranoia but I don’t think anyone wants to play Travel Scrabble with a big ginger guy wearing one pink sock and one luminous green one. I left my flat in Marchmont at 2pm on the Sunday and by the time my flight left I had done 296 miles in just under 17 hours, giving me and average speed of just over 17 miles per hour. These are the perils of a 7am flight from East Midlands Airport when you live in Edinburgh. Continue reading →