March 2007

A colleague and friend of mine (a talented software guy and big fan of all things Scottish) created a screen saver that programmatically iterates through an infinite array of feasible tartans.

Note that by feasible, I mean that the thread patterns and colour ratios follow the rules that tartan designs follow. That does not necessarilly mean that the tartan displayed at any given time actually exists, but it is a lot of fun none-the-less.

I’ve already given him a bunch of features ideas that might make it in there over time, and if you want to pass any ideas on please add them to the comments and I’ll make sure he gets them

Check it out at


Very occasionally a sad event occurs when most bottles in my collection have dwindled to a few drams. This seems to occur every 3-4 months or so and at that point I try and build the collection back with a few different single malts. This has happened again, and the first new purchase is a newly available whisky here in NH – the Double Cask matured Aberlour 12y.o.

This is basically the regular 10 year old, with a portion of the maturation in sherry casks bringing the total aging to 12 years. First impressions are very good, although I think I do prefer the 10 year old.

Coloring is a dark caramel color, a much deeper reddishness than the basic Aberlour. The aroma is fairly simple, with a sweetness and fruitiness that strongly resembles a dark Sherry or even a good Port.

The first sip is confident and spicy. I mostly agree with the bottle notes, indicating hints of chocolate, spices (the heat of cinnamon?) above the warm sherried flavour.

As this whisky finishes, a slight dry smokiness comes out as the flavour tails off to a subtle warmth.

Overall I like this whisky, and it fits nicely into the Aberlour range. I would rate this at 7.5/10 as a great whisky for the price.

Bruichladdich has been a relatively new find for me, given that a new whisky takes a while to make it into the (state owned) liquor stores here in New Hampshire. I was first drawn by the magic words on the bottle “non-chill filtered” and “colouring free” on the label. This is typically a sign that the producer cares about the quality of the product rather than the number of units it can sell to the mass market.

The amazing thing is how purist the Bruichladdich distillery is. Having been opened relatviely recently, they are creating many different and new expressions while making sure that they maintain much of the original techniques. There are no computers on the production line, and it is difficult to distinguish their mode of operation compared to, say, a hundred years ago.

For a great introduction to Bruichladdich from the point of view of Managing Director Mark Reynier, check out Single Malt TV (the price of subscription is well worth it for some excellent quality videos and the library is constantly growing). Mark obviously has passion for a great product, that shines through when tasting any of their products. The base 10y.o. is very bright (in colour, aroma and flavour) and has a light refreshing palate. The 15 year old is more robust and more recognizable as an Islay. Each whisky has its own purpose and time of day, and the 10y.o. is a great aperitif.

The main point of this post, however, is the exciting news that the Bruichladdich company are not resting on their laurels and are reopening a distillery in the town of Port Charlotte on Islay. Port Charlotte distillery was open between 1829 and 1929, but recent news is that Mark Reynier and company plan on starting production sometime in the next couple of years. Given the excellent product line from the award winning stable of Bruichladdich, this has to be great news for all whisky lovers. They even purchased a distillery from the mainland and dismantled it for use on Islay. Many of these parts will come to good use when resurrecting Port Charlotte. More information on the Bruichladdich website.

[Correction: According to the Bruichladdich website, Jim McEwan was responsible for the idea of buying the Inverleven ditillery. Thanks Armin for spotting that]