It doesn’t always go as planned

Posted Posted in Tasting

Tech is not always the solution
Drew can do amazing things if you give him a glass of scotch, a computer, and 20 minutes to work. He runs our live show like a one man production crew while he oversees the chat and throws in random extra stuff that makes our show a lot of fun. (In my opinion, anyway) Sometimes we have a situation that is out of our hands, and this week was one of those times. Our internet has been problematic for a few days, and we didn’t have the ability to stream our show like normal. That was disappointing because we really love the interaction with our subscribers and we had a few cool announcements that will have to wait a week. We were able to have a live conversation on Discord with a few people and that was a lot of fun. We were also fortunate to have time to introduce a neighbor to the world of whisky.
Where do we begin?
We have more than a few bottles on the bar and almost everything is opened or can be. If you have watched us for any length of time, you know we don’t have a reserve section; we drink everything on the bar eventually. With so many choices in whisky, where do you start someone who is new and also has to work in the morning? We decided to start with some basics and let him try a sample from different whiskey producing areas and go from there. We began with Irish whiskey and chose Sexton to make the introduction. It is light and approachable like most Irish whiskey.sexton-irishwhiskey

The next stop was bourbon country, and we let Mike take him through Heaven Hill 6 year Bottled-in-Bond and talked through a few more.

heaven-hill-bib-bottle-vertical-01a We introduced scotch through Glenfiddich 21 year rum cask finish. I chose this one mostly because it was the lightest thing I had on the bar at 40 ABV and it is a unique flavor to contrast the other whiskeys.

Screen_Shot_2018-06-24_at_5.51.08_PM After thinking about it, the choices were pretty good considering the choices available and the short notice, but I think I would have maybe made a few substitutions if given more time to prepare.
What did I learn:
I have tasted many different whiskeys over the years, and that fact alone makes sampling scotch or other whiskeys with someone who is just discovering this world an enlightening experience. Once you have sampled and had an opportunity to compare scotches against one another, you forget how difficult it is to separate different flavors or to describe that subtle finish or mouthfeel. That is why I enjoy watching others and helping them to express what they smell and taste. We will have an opportunity next week to sample with newbies and well seasoned veterans at the Vine & Table Whiskey Expo, and I would encourage the veterans to help guide the new people in tasting and introduce them to your favorite distillery or bottle. It is all about the community after all, and I enjoy giving new arrivals a hearty welcome and a healthy dram.

Cheers!
Shawn

 

Men’s Health – Prevention is better than cure. “Vincere vel Mori” by: SpudMurf

Posted Posted in Blog

Hello everyone.  I wanted to share with you a great story from one of our Patrons and friends, SpudMurf.  It’s fantastic that we’re all on this journey to love whisky and share our love and passion, but it’s always good to have a reality check or reminder to take care of ourselves so we can enjoy them for many years.  His story has encouraged me to take a step back and appreciate life and to take care of myself so I wanted to share it with you all in hopes that you do the same.

Cheers!

-Drew

Hi fellow Whisky Enthusiasts’,

During a social chat with Drew while on Discord, I raised my recent battle with Stage 4 Bowel and metastatic Liver Cancer, the purpose of sharing this was to show the importance of having a colonoscopy and not to rely on simple tests alone.

Drew suggested I put something together for a Blog, as we all know raising people’s awareness in respect to their own health is extremely important, particularly with men. As we all think “it will be right Mate.”

USA Car racing fans will know these two; Scotty Lagasse Jr & John Andretti. Both these seemingly invincible guys have had colon cancer, so take time to watch their story.

This is my story.

I am a male, aged 53 at the time and in generally good health, so I thought.

I have always taken my good health for granted, as I rarely fell ill and was reasonably active.

It all started with an upset stomach while I was travelling overseas (Sept 2016), so I dismissed it as a tummy bug. A few weeks later it occurred again, I just thought it was indigestion as a little pain and discomfort was associated after I ate.

Having already made an appointment to see my GP for my annual check up, I advised him what was happening. As part of my annual consultation, he requested full blood tests, a physical prostate examination and a stool sample to be provide.

A couple days later my results came back all clear.

The doctor prescribed some Nexium to see if that would assist with the indigestion.

At this stage nothing sinister was suspected and a routine follow up was scheduled for a couple of weeks later. As pain persisted and my tests had come back clear he referred me to a specialist for a routine colonoscopy.

This appointment took 6 weeks to arrange as it was not considered urgent.

The big day came and the procedure was attempted, they found 3 tumours, one the size of a squash ball which was obstructing my colon. After the procedure and recovered from the anaesthetic, I was immediately advised of the result “I have Cancer” and sent for a CT scan for further investigation; where they found another 3 small tumours in my Liver and several suspect lymph nodes as well.

The next step was a PET Scan for further confirmation, this was scheduled for the next morning. Results all being confirmed, now I had to wait for surgery scheduled for the following Thursday.

Diagnosis was not good, although either through my naivety or just being my positive self, I did not think this was life threatening.

Murphy’s Law. Over the weekend I was in severe abdominal pain, so I convinced my wife to take me to our Hospital’s emergency in the middle of the night, here they treated me for the pain and had to wait to contact my specialists later that morning. What had occurred, the colonoscopy irritated one of the tumours that lined my colon wall and it had now ruptured into the perineal cavity. (not good)

Obviously now it was a priority to have surgery. However, due to this complication they dosed me up with a load of drugs, antibiotics etc. IV machine loaded to the max to minimise infection prior to any surgery.

72 hours later Surgery is scheduled.

During this time reality sets in and all the expected mortality questions are asked however, it’s funny how your mind works; the preparation for a colostomy bag was my greatest concern.

Surgery was a success they removed just over a foot of my descending colon, a portion of my traverse colon, a section of my small intestine, along with several lymph nodes which were positive as well.

I now have a zipper from my sternum to my pubic bone as a reminder.

During my recovery further education of what my options are given and I found it interesting not all people wish to fight this fight.

The next stage … Chemotherapy preparation commenced after 6 weeks recovering from major surgery. I had another small procedure to have an IV Port implanted in my upper chest for easy access.

I was on Chemo for 12 months which was a huge journey, fortunately my side effects are acceptable to me as the alternative was not.

First 6 months comprised of Fortnightly visits of 3 day sessions, sitting in a chair for 6-7 hours while they pumped through the chemo, actually I was continually connected for 60 hours at a time. When I went home each day I wore a pack containing a small bottle of Folfox 5 it would continue to administer the chemo overnight.

The following 6 months were with fortnightly one day treatments.

Now I have 6 weekly visits to flush out my IV Port which will remain in for a further 12 months along with the quarterly CT or Pet Scan, blood tests and visits to my Oncologist and Liver Specialist.

During the treatment my Platelet levels fell significantly and a bone morrow procedure was done. On a good note, since chemo treatment has finished my platelet levels have started to improve however still well below the norm.

In reality, it was a struggle at times with severe Peripheral Neuropathy in my hands and legs, balance and mobility issue, loss of mental sharpness, memory and speech issues at times. But it could be a whole lot worse.

The good news is I’ve been in REMISSION since April this year.

My strength has been my family & friends support; of which I couldn’t have done without.

This brings me next to Mental Health a whole other topic.

To cope and escape the reality; I relied on my love of life, focusing on Photography, Bush Walking, Fly Fishing, Camping, Clay Shooting and Golf; albeit at a slower pace when able.

Now you probably are thinking what does the Scotch 4 Dummies have to do with any of this?

In my opinion, here we have 4 guys enjoying life and sharing their experiences with the broader Whisky Fraternity. Providing us with some light hearted therapy, a sense of belonging and some great information.

What a great medium it could be to remind people; particularly us men, the importance of taking care of ourselves be it medical tests or just talking and sharing our thoughts.

It’s all a form of medicine, not to mention the elixir of life.

My Grandfather insisted, that a wee dram every night was the secret to a long life. Being a Scotsman and living to his mid 90’s who could argue.

Seriously; In regard to mental health I would encourage everyone to find someone who you can talk to, in a discrete non-judgemental way and discuss whatever that may be on your mind.

I hope by sharing my story, it will encourage you all to have a colonoscopy, particularly if age or symptom appropriate.

To find out more; go to your country’s bowel cancer association web page.

Slainte mhaith

SpudMurf.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=30&v=LrYsP-3BeyQ

Community

Posted Posted in Blog, Other

Hey Scotch Lovers, Mark here! I figure it’s high time I get involved in the blog conversations and thought I’d start off with a topic that I’ve been thinking a lot about of late…..community! So, what does that mean, in this context? Well, let’s start with you. When we decided to put a camera in front of our Thursday night scotch gatherings we had no idea of what it would become or where things would go. We knew we wanted to share our journey with others, help others with their journey and all without losing the fun we were having! Well, along comes you and things have only continued to get better. We thoroughly enjoy everyone’s comments (even the ones that aren’t so nice) and we have an absolute blast with everyone that joins the live shows! In short, you are a part of this “community”!

But, it is more than that! Looking across the “whiskytube” on Youtube, you’ll find so many other channels out there that are on this journey too! Truthfully, when we started we had a minimal idea of maybe 3 other channels that were in the same “space”. And although it may make sense that we are competing against each other, I honestly think if you look closely (hopefully you don’t have to look to close) you’ll find that we’re not competing at all, but really celebrating each other on this journey! I’m purposefully not naming any in fear of forgetting one, but if you are reading this then I’m positive you know of some of the other channels and people for whom I speak! They’re all doing some great stuff and sharing in their knowledge or network and in the end, we all increase our love and knowledge of great whisky! It really is pretty cool and humbling to be a part of!

Now when you start thinking about this you’ll notice that there are so many people that you recognize or converse with on the various channels and how it really overlaps to the point of us being one big community! A few examples if you will….

Last year Drew and I vacationed to the UK with our families.  We happened to do a short live show from Dublin and mentioned how excited we were to be heading to Scotland in the coming days. Low and behold a subscriber reached out to us and ended up not only meeting us in Edinburgh, but really laying out a full day of incredible scotch from the Whisky Experience to both SMWS locations! Consequently, he now has his own channel on Youtube and is really putting out great content. His actions really opened my eyes to the possibilities of “community”!

This past summer, I vacationed in NYC with my family. Low and behold a couple of subscribers reached out to me and were adamant about meeting up for a dram. Not only did it happen, but I took my wife and son and we had an incredible time visiting with these guys. They had a great spread of snacks to sample scotch (and we sampled some GREAT scotch) and then proceeded to order a ton of Mediterranean food for dinner. An absolute awesome time that has now led to all 4 of the Dummies heading out to NYC for the WhiskyFest 2018!

My point is that if you’re reading this, then you are a part of the very community I’m speaking about. If you’ve not ever commented on a review or tuned in for a live, that’s ok. But, I’ll tell you you’re missing out on some of the best parts of the whiskytube community! Don’t be shy, you’ll find that there are some great people out there that are worth getting to know. Whether they are running a Youtube channel or frequenting them, they’re here to share in the journey and if you’re here, then it’s your journey too!

As we continue to grow our opportunities to meet some of these very people (like yourself) continue to increase and we do truly look forward to sharing a dram with each and every one of you. But, until then we’ve always got the virtual bar and you always have a seat!

~ Sláinte, S4D

What are you mixing together?

Posted Posted in Blog, Other

Classic cocktails

This week we released the first in a series of videos on blended scotch and cocktail recipes.  This series is a side project for me and I am not exactly sure where it will end or how it will get there.  It started as a revelation to me of how much scotch is sold as blended scotch.  If you don’t know the answer, it is a lot.  In fact, most scotch is sold this way and has been for a long time.  My first thought upon learning this was “I hope they don’t discover single malt, because I won’t be able to afford it.” My second thought was “What are they doing with all that blended scotch?”  I know from years of working in bars that almost every drink I sell is mixed with at least one, and sometimes many, ingredients to craft a good drink.  Scotch is one of the mainstays of any bar and there are many cocktails, both new and old, that showcase some of the best traits scotch has to offer.  This new series is my effort to talk about some of the most prolific scotch producers and show you how to make some of the cocktails scotch inspired.

The Essentials

One of the things I will not be doing with this series is using crazy gadgets or strange ingredients.  I really hate when someone describes a cocktail to me and it sounds wonderful until I look at the ingredients and realize I don’t have ANY of those ingredients at home…or at my fully stocked bars at my restaurant!  I may show you how to make things like syrups or shrubs, but nothing will be complicated and I don’t think it needs to be.  All of the tools I use will be basic and readily available.  A lot of people probably already have some of these or can find suitable substitutions.  Here is what I use at my home bar:

IMG_2125

It covers all the basics including pour spouts (not really necessary but kind of cool), a shaker and mixing glass, a peeler for citrus fruits and garnishes, a couple of jiggers to get an exact measure of ingredients, and some nice glassware to serve the drinks.  I also have a muddler stashed under the bar just in case, but a spoon will work fine if you don’t have one.  This is all you need to make most classic drinks, and I am not going to be using anything you wouldn’t likely have around the house.   The series does give me a chance to use some of these fun bar tools for a change.

 

Let’s get to the Drinks

I was happy to see so many positive comments this week about the series.  When you are thinking about doing a one-off video or a series, you never know if people will understand what you are trying to do and the scotch I am using is not top shelf so I just had to hope it found an audience.  As usual, our viewers do not disappoint, and the comments have been encouraging to me that I am on the right track.  I hope to release one of these a month for a while (as long as I can get volunteers to drink cocktails with me), and I am excited to take a jaunt through history and discover some older, classic drinks as well as some cutting-edge cocktails.  I may even show you how to make a smoke inversion.  I would also love to hear about your favorite scotch cocktail if you have one and may feature it in the series.  Thanks for watching and hope to see everyone on Thursday!

 

Cheers,

Shawn

All part of the Journey

Posted Posted in Blog, Deanston

Greasing the wheels

This week we reDeanston PXviewed a bribe bottle.  Not a huge bribe, but the kind no one really had a problem with in the first place.  I felt I had to buy a bottle of Tamdhu to complement a bottle we were gifted and, the best place to search out anything that may be challenging to locate is, of course, on the internet.  I quickly located my bottle at www.caskers.com and added it to the cart.  This is where the bribe comes in.  It is only a couple of dollars more to ship 2 bottles instead of one, and so I went to browse the selection.  That was where I discovered this beautiful bottle that we had heard some great things about and added it to the collection so no one would ask too many questions.

The journey is the best part

While getting ready to shoot this review, I went back to my notes about Deanston history.   I love the fact that this distillery is young in terms of scotch distilleries, and was actually a cotton mill since the late 1700’s.  The history of the community centered around the success and expansion of this business for almost 200 years until the mill closed.  This is the best part of the story for me because rather than allow the community to decline it decided to reinvent itself.  They began a distillery in the 1960’s and I am so happy this was the way they chose to revive industry in the village.  The whisky they produce here is flavorful, complex, and thoroughly enjoyable while remaining affordable.

The flavor of this scotch would be enough to keep me coming back, but I love the story of this distillery.  Deanston feels like the underdog in this story since the shutting down of the only industry in a community has been the downfall of countless towns and villages before.  That could have been the story here as well, but it turned out they beat the odds and now we all have the chance to enjoy a great dram from an underdog.

Scotch 4 Dummies really started as a reason to get together and discover new whisky.  On our journey, we have been introduced, by chance or by more knowledgeable peers, to several distilleries that I can’t say enough about.  They are the reason I will throw down $50-$100 to buy a bottle from a distillery I know nothing about on the chance it is amazing.   Deanston is one of those distilleries.  I had never heard of the distillery before we started reviewing scotch but, now that I have tried a few bottles, I will never forget it.  The story plus the amazing scotch will keep me coming to the bar every Thursday for a long time.  If you don’t believe me, buy a bottle and have a dram while you watch the review.  It’s the best way to watch us anyway.

Shawn

 

A difference of Opinion

Posted Posted in Balblair

This week we released a review of the Balblair 90 2nd release and there was some difference of opinion about the flavors of the scotch and what we enjoyed about the bottle.  We were all very grateful to have this one and were looking forward to a formal review.  Mike has been dying for us to shoot this video, so he could get another glass and take one more step towards being a scotch guy.  We had not tried anything from Balblair until now and we do love a new distillery.

Are you tasting what I’m tasting?

Our review was one of my favorites and not just because I enjoyed the scotch.  It turned out that while I was a big fan of this bottle Drew was not impressed and found it to be pretty bland.  I pulled a lot of flavors out of this bottle and found it to have nice depth and a pleasant finish.  Andrew and Mark both enjoyed it but not to the same level, but Drew did not have the same experience at all.  After enjoying the initial nose, his experience went the other way and he gave a final score of 2.  So why were the four of us so far apart on our scores this week?

A rose by any other name

I have learned many interesting things about taste over the years and factors that can change how and what people taste.  There are experience factors such as what foods you ate growing up and how much exposure you have to new and different tastes.  There are physical factors such as how many Papilla, the bumps on the tongue, each person has or their sensitivity to different flavors.  The last factor is the wild card.  You may be tired or have a cold.  Maybe you had something to eat earlier that is throwing off what you are tasting.  Many things can change your perception of the whisky in your glass.  You can, over time, teach yourself to pick out flavors and get better at discerning more subtle tastes.  It takes practice and exposure to new foods and drinks to train your senses, but even then you will still have flavors you just do not enjoy.

If you are tasting that scotch that everyone raves about and you just don’t see what the big deal is, maybe you aren’t alone.  It may just not be your wheelhouse and you should try something else.  It could also be a bad night and maybe try it again in a week or a month and see how you feel about it.  I am happy that our viewers get a chance to watch us disagree about bottles.  I believe it makes it a little easier to say what you actually think about what is in your glass.  However, if what is in your glass is Balblair and you don’t care for it, I will take your share.

-Shawn

How we pick a scotch for camping

Posted Posted in Blog, Camping

It’s time for one of our annual camping trips, and this time we talked our families into joining us for the weekend.  This means packing up 5 families and basically moving our street to a campground for a few days.  It is amazing to me how much gear it takes to support a few people for 48 hours in a campground, but that’s the state of affairs on the street for the trip.  We usually overpack and have enough stuff to make it a week if necessary.  One thing we never forget is a couple of bottles of scotch to enjoy, but we have quite a few so the question is: “What method should we use to pick the lucky bottles?”

Peat at the Fire

We almost always take a peated scotch with us for camping.  The smoke and peat flavors go great around the campfire in the evening, and it improves with the addition of a nice cigar.  In warmer weather, I will choose a lighter peat flavor like Wolfburn Morven.  The subtle smoke and light peat aren’t too heavy for the July heat and the light fruity notes are easy to find as well.  In colder weather, it is almost always an Ardbeg.  It’s kind of tradition for us to take a bottle of Ardbeg Uigeadail with us on a camping or fishing trip when it is just the dummies.  In fact, that was how we first learned to love the heavy peat flavors we all crave now.

Something from the highlands

Summer always reminds me of fresh fruit and floral aroma, so a nice Highland single malt scotch never disappoints when the temperature gets high.  The lighter body and clean finish don’t overpower the taste of smores around the campfire, and there are some nice bottles that don’t break the bank.  The Aberfeldy 12 year was sitting on the bar and I looked at that one for a while, but I also had a bottle of Glenmorangie Lasanta that would fit the bill nicely.    The difference between these bottles is the casks: Oak casks for the Aberfeldy or oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for the Lasanta.  Both bottles have the light fruity character that would pair up with a camping trip nicely so hard to go wrong with either.

And the winner is…

I know you guys probably thought I spent a lot of time trying to figure out which was the perfect scotch to bring, but the truth is I only had about 3 minutes to decide so here was the final selection.  I try to stay away from expensive bottles on a camping trip because I am not in the right place to appreciate them.  I skipped the Ardbeg for two reasons: it was hot outside, and the other three dummies have put a sizable dent in my bottle so I didn’t have enough to bring.  I decided to go with the Aberfeldy because it is a nice dram and the bottle was almost full. (You know how I pour).  We also ended up with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Rye Cask and Monkey Shoulder mostly because those bottles needed to leave the bar, and a bottle of JW Black because we almost always have one of those and that gives the smoke we enjoy.  The most important part of the scotch we bring is the company who is enjoying the bottle and we all feel lucky sitting at the campfire.

Sláinte

The Dummies

Glendronach, lie to me any time

Posted Posted in Blog, Glendronach

Businesses stretch the truth with consumers every day, and most of the time we are disappointed when our purchases do not live up to expectations.  We are used to products letting us down which is why it is so amazing when we find something that is better than anticipated.  Our reviews this week cover two expressions of Glendronach that were superb, and we were happy to find out that the distillery misled buyers with the label on one of the bottles.  I like when businesses mislead us in a good way since it happens very seldom, but the real question is “What were they hiding?”

Glendronach 18 Allardice

The Glendronach 18 Allardice is one of the core expressions of the Glendronach line and is named for the founder of the distillery, James Allardice.  It is labeled as an 18 year old single malt but this is where the truth is a bit stretched.  The distillery was closed from 1996 until 2002 and no whisky was produced during that time.  Simple math tells us that if it was bottled in 2017 it should have been produced in 1999, but since the distillery was not in operation it must be older than that.  It must be at least 21 year old scotch in an 18 year old label!  That is a fabrication I can sink my teeth into and so we did.  The scotch from Glendronach has never let us down and this one was no exception.  The scotch is rich and flavorful with a full body and beautiful color.  It is matured in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 46% which gives it the great nose and depth of flavor of a classic sherry bomb.  I am sure we will have this bottle again.

Glendronach 1993 24 year Single Cask, Abbey Whiskey

There are a few scotches that you have a pretty good idea you are going to love just by looking at them.  It’s like love at first sight and this was one of those bottles.  We have been sitting on this like…well dummies, for several months and this was going to be the big night.  The camera rolled and the four of us dove in head-first, and it was magical.  We were all witty and insightful with the scotch and we wrapped up the review with a perfect score.  It was great…..then we looked at the video and realized we had a technical problem and only recorded about half the review.  No problem, we will just pour some more and, wait there isn’t any more.  We had to go back and try to remember everything we said about this bottle.  I think the most important aspect to remember about this review is that the single casks can be a thing of rare beauty and if you have a chance to buy a bottle of single cask scotch from a distillery you love do not hesitate.  We have yet to regret a single cask purchase, but I do have regrets about not buying more.

Sláinte!
– The Dummies

Challenge Coins Are In!

Posted Posted in Blog

We’ve finally made it!

What is “IT” you ask?  We’ve decided that we need to start documenting this journey through something tangible, something that everyone can enjoy in!  That’s right, our Challenge Coins (Fill 1) are in and will be released to everyone this Thursday.
We will be working on our next “Fill” soon, but we want to take a moment to feel prideful about the first batch!!  Our e-Commerce page on our website may be going through a few tweaks over the next few days as we get comfortable with this process.

We’ve decided to keep it simple and only accept Paypal, but that’s easy enough.

Check our our live show this Thursday as we reveal them to the world and turn on the site for ordering!

-S4D