Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Malt Mission 2008 #306

Grand Macnish
Blended Scotch Whisky
40% abv

$22.75 (CAD)

Right, let's get back to the Malt Mission. In no particular order, here come some tasty treats starting with Grand Macnish today, a blend I bought in Ontario some time ago. Will try to get a few MMs done before I am off to Scotland for ten days. Am certain I will try some treats while there, as well.

If you know Dr. Whisky at all then you will know how he loves the obscure no-age-statement blended whiskies to be found in various markets across the globe. Though, Grand Macnish isn't exactly obscure. Created by Robert Macnish in 1863, this blend is no longer easily found in all markets, although it has been consitstently produced for 145 years. Hemingway even wrote about it in 1954 and was an avid fan of its nectar. Or maybe the dimples in the bottle just served well as a pillow for passing out on the beach.

Tasted with IM.


Old leather coats, bananas, has a congnac-y edge. Some citrus fruits, red grapes and caramel. Still some musty vintage clothes shop and a bit like Inder's memory of a doctor's office when growing up, "Dr. Ham, if you must know."

Toffeed and generally sweet with a corn flour element. Salt and vanilla, a mix of spices. Quite a long finish of sweet and dry woody impressions with gentle smoke.


Some off-notes on the nose, for sure, but a pretty decent drop with a big and confident, if simple, finish. Great value and ridiculously retro bottle: you will either dig the dimples or not. And on that point, are there any practical point to them or are they simply for design?

Malt Mission #305
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Malt Mission #309
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Best Pubs in Edinburgh, Part 10

Best whisky bars in Edinburgh
Bennets Bar
8 Leven St.
Edinburgh, Scotland

So we made it to ten posts under the BEST PUBS IN EDINBURGH banner. Should it stop here?

If so, there is no better place to end than one of the pubs I miss most. I could walk in here any time of day (and I mean ANY time) and find friendly folk and the creamiest pint of 80/- at the ideal temperature. It would never take long to slug back one of these barley milkshakes.

Add to that a bar with great history: from the private nook up front to the dimples from canes on the bar to the embedded water taps for cutting your whisky (they have nearly 100, and some oddities, too!) to the gorgeous woodwork and beautiful Victorian mirrors. I left my heart in Bennets, and it is lovely to know that I can always go back there to pick it up.

Something visitors always noted was the fact that the men's room has a great urinal as well, if that is something even worth mentioning. I always loved the acoustics in that room. As a result, men can often be heard singing their way through a slash.

And please remember, as a good friend once put it, "one does not go into the Green Room."

For more of Dr. Whisky's picks of the best pubs in Edinburgh, click HERE.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Best Pubs in Edinburgh, Part 9

The Cloisters Bar
26 Brougham St.


0131 221 9997

A wonderful pub that is regularly busy and therefore doesn't really need my promotion, but a pub this good cannot go unmentioned on a list of this nature.

With an ever-changing selection of guest ales, this is an excellent place for real ales that comes complete with a seal of approval from CAMRA. Add Dr. Whisky's seal of approval for their excellent selection of single malt whiskies all served in 35ml servings AND in appropriate glassware. Excellent dramming to be had.

Furthermore, you can add to the drinking benefits of this pub the fact that their is no music played, that there is a working fireplace, gorgeous old beer and spirits mirrors. Yup, add all this up and you have the makings of an absolutely wonderful pub experience, which is why you will rarely be the only folks enjoying its pleasures.

For more of Dr. Whisky's picks of the best pubs in Edinburgh, click HERE.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Best Pubs in Edinburgh, Part 8

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society
87 Giles St
Leith, Scotland

Like the first installation of this series, here's another pick that is not really a pub but is among the best places in the world to enjoy good whisky. Actually, it is not even in Edinburgh, technically, but whatever.

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is an international members club with "club houses" in several countries around the world. There is one on Queen St. in Edinburgh, but this location in Leith is the real gem. With 30-foot ceilings, a working fireplace, cozy couches, and charming staff, its as if the 100+ whiskies are superfluous, never mind the free tea and coffee.

But yes, it is a members club, so how do I get in? Well, thank goodness, this club lacks the stringent stuffiness expected from the format. Anyone can join (you don't need to have been a graduate of Eton or whatever) for £100, which gets you your membership card and lapel pin, a regional tasting pack (it used to be a bottle... hmm), a SMWS file box, a map, and a subscription to their bottling catalogue and unfiltered magazine.

Also, if you want a taste of what the society does without fully committing to membership, guest day passes are available for the venues. They cost £10 which is refunded off the cost of your membership if you join up. You just pick them up at the time of visiting and they allow you access to both Edinburgh venues throughout that day.

The whiskies are all single cask, and cask strength, and can be ordered by distillery number (a system the SMWS derived for labelling their bottlings, by distillery name, or by what you feel like "got anything that tastes like beeswax and grapefruit juice?" See some SMWS bottlings tried on the Malt Mission HERE.

And although many of my friends and colleagues are already breaking my balls about revealing too many of their secret spots in Edinburgh, it is worth a walk down to The Shore (to the right as you leave The Vaults) and explore the pubs and restaurants in a charming little stretch of Leith.

For more of Dr. Whisky's picks of the best pubs in Edinburgh, click HERE.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Best Pubs in Edinburgh, Part 7

...continuing our ever-extending list of the best pubs or bars in Edinburgh to enjoy all the good stuff one does in pubs and bars...

Royal Oak
1 Infirmary St.

Edinburgh, Scotland


So it's last call at the pub you love and you couldn't stomach going to a ra-ra dance club on George St. or a no-entry fee, 5 floor meat market (Espionage, anyone?) in the old town, and your drunk logic insists on consuming one more pint. The best place to keep taking your medicine like an old man is at The Royal Oak.

Usually about 15 single malts to be had, well kept ales and cold lagers, and live "folk" music (meaning acoustic music played by some old folks) in the corner, the Oak will always provide you with one last drink while reinforcing the fact that, really, you should go home.

Sunglasses advised if you can't bear the brightness of this gem. And if you can't handle te vibe upstairs (really, the place to be) check out the basement, often as uncomfortable as it is unforgettable. For a full Royal Oak experience, talking to strangers is strongly advised.

For more of Dr. Whisky's picks of the best pubs in Edinburgh, click HERE.