Mark's blog

Memorial Day Festivities: Orange County Scotsfest!


If you're looking fro some great Scotch to taste in SoCal this weekend head over to the Scotsfest!

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Wed, 05/26/2010 - 09:08.

Hot news for George Dickel fans!

Well folks, I just got some great news for everyone coming to Whiskies of the World. I have learned that John Lunn, Master Distiller for George Dickel will be joining us for the evening. I have not met John yet, but I look forward to spending some time with him at WoW.

There are so few Master Distillers that make themselves accessible to the public, and this is a great chance to meet one for yourself.

Join me in welcoming John to San Francisco, and I'll see you there!

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Fri, 03/12/2010 - 12:32.

First Look: Smokehead

It is a great time to be a peat-freak. The popularity of the bold and smokey malts has lead producers to create an ever increasing variety of expressions for us to enjoy. We're seeing new heavily peated, some say over-peated expressions from many distilleries that are coming to us very young. That coupled with new peaty blends and blended malts and there is a flood of new tastes to explore.

The latest Islay to cross my desk is Smokehead. This one, from Ian Macleod Distillers has just barely made it to US shores and apparently is flying off store shelves. It bills itself as an Islay single malt Scotch whisky without an age statement or distiller, but don't let that fool you, this is a bottle worth having. I finally got a taste of this new immigrant this week, and you can too at Whiskies of the World on March 27th.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Wed, 02/24/2010 - 17:05.

Via con dios amigo

I am way behind the news cycle. I just learned that Conellia Marie captian Phil Harris has passed. If I have any regular readers, they will know that I'm a fan of the Discovery Channel show, "The Deadliest Catch" due to my relationship to crab fishing here on the coast.  Phil had been battling deep vein thrombosis (DVT/ economy class syndrome) and suffered a stroke while offloading.

Tonight my wife and I raised a Duck Fart for Phil.

Submitted by Mark on Tue, 02/16/2010 - 09:38.

Caol Ila Distiller's Edition Coming to America!

Not so long ago a friend of mine picked up a bottle at the whisky shop in heathrow airport. Litle did I know that it would become my absolute favorite whisky and cement Caol Ila as my favorite distillery. Talisker and Caol Ila are responsible for my appreciation of peated Scotch.

2009 looks to be a great year for Scotch in America. Diageo has announced their line of 2009 Rare Edtions to be released world wide and there are some beauties in there (which we will talk about as soon as we get some).

Here is what the official releases say about this wonderful whisky:

With its abundant fresh sea air and robust, yet easy going disposition, Islay is birthplace to a unique malt Scotch whisky named Caol Ila (pronounced “Cul-Ela”).

The Caol Ila Distillers Edition finished in Moscatel casks creates an extraordinarily stylish and complex expression of Caol Ila; the Moscatel cask wood not over-evident; richly flavoured yet also drying and finely balanced.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Tue, 10/13/2009 - 17:01.

[UPDATE] Now we know what the hype is called...

UPDATE:  "sources in Scotland" have confirmed that the list below is accurate, but no concrete details on which malts will make it to us here in the states. Also Caol Ila DE is coming to the states in October. Here's hoping we get to sample some of these newsmakers at WhiskyFest SF 2009!

A couple of days ago John Hansel clued us all into something special coming from Diageo regarding their malt whiskys on the 4th of September. This always leads to rampant specuation and more than a few google searches. I don't know exactly what is coming, but at least it has a name now;

The Manager's Choice Single Cask Selection.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Sun, 08/30/2009 - 21:35.

Back to Dutch

In seven days, The Discovery Channel premieres a new season of The Deadliest Catch. That means it's time to practice layering Duck Farts again.  I have loved this show ever since it first started beaming into my home in 2005. I'm certain that I feel such a connection with these captains and deck hands because I grew up next to the ocean. I spent many afternoons fishing off the docks at Pillar Point  and talking with the guys working the boats. We still get our crab directly off the boats as our harbor is a hub for Dungeness Crab fishing.

When we first moved to California in December of 1980 we lived on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco for about two weeks. 1980 was a record season for Dungeness and we ate a ton of them. Coming from Utah, the freshness and quality of the crab was amazing. We moved to Moss Beach before the year was out and continued feasting on crab.

WhiskyFest San Francisco 2008

For those who don't already know, WhiskyFest is a great show put on by John Hansel and Malt Advocate Magazine. They hold 3 shows every year in Chicago, San Francisco and New York.

The focus is squarely on our favorite brown spirit and the products represented are predominantly whiskies. Brandy,  Vodka, liquers and Rum make appearances but are in the extreme minority.

For us, it's a whisky wonderland.

Every one of these shows has its own personality and character. Some of that comes from the format, some from the attendees and a health chunk comes from the sponsors. People like John Hansel and Riannon Walsh work very hard to keep these three forces in alignment and aimed in the right direction.

WhiskyFest is very much an industy showcase. The major players and minor importers are on the same footing here. Everyone has the same space to work with, but that doesn't imply that the presentations are at all equal.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Mon, 11/10/2008 - 14:37.

Jameson Bartenders Ball 2008

Once again proving that no sacrifice is too great, I boldly ventured on to the Jameson Bartenders Ball last night. Oh... what I won't do for my readers :)

This event is hosted By Jameson 3 times a year here in Northern California and last night was the last one for the year.  It's a heck of a party and nothing like what I expected.  I was imagining something with the lights up, music mellow and insiders chatting about products, promotions and other aspects of the spirits industry. This was just a wet tshirt contest short of spring break.

The drink menu was extensive: Jameson neat, Jameson on the rocks, Jameson and soda, Jameson and ginger ale, Jameson and cola, Jameson and American Honey or American Honey. All of the open bars were stocked with cases of Jameson and it was flowing freely.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 15:12.


Life has a way of pushing things around. Mine has been a roller coaster for the last couple of months and pushed writing off the cliff of available time. Now that Baycon 2008 is behind us and my release schedule at work is starting to gain sanity I can get back to writing of our adventures in the land of whiskey.

Bear with me, thar be great tales a comin!

Submitted by Mark on Sat, 06/07/2008 - 09:28.

Help Change California Law!

There's a very interesting law being worked on in Sacramento:

This bill would also permit an out-of-state distilled spirits importer, out-of-state beer manufacturer, beer manufacturer, distilled spirits manufacturer, rectifier, beer and wine importer, distilled spirits importer, beer and wine wholesaler, or distilled spirits wholesaler to provide entertainment, food, and beverages to invited guests, as specified.

The current law limits these activities to local companies. Out of state (or out of country) companies are very limited in the ways that they can provide product for events. Product launches and promotions are very limited by the CA ABC. With this change we would be able to open up the market for sponsored parties and tastings to a much wider base.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Tue, 04/15/2008 - 11:07.

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2008!

I'm so happy St' Patrick's day is here again. The one day a year I can convince a large number of my coworkers to join me in some good Irish cheer. Every year I celebrate at the office by making a large pot of coffee, bringing in some whipping (or whipped) cream and a bottle of Irish Whiskey. I have a feeling that Guinness might make an appearance as well.

This year, in honor of Bushmills 400th anniversary, I wll be making them with Bushmills Original Irish Whiskey. I was considering going with Bushmills Black Bush or Bushmills Malt 10 but settled on the Bushmills Original for economic reasons.Not the least of which is that I can get a full liter of Original for less than a 750ml of the other two. Also just to sweeten the deal a little bit more, I'll bring in the Carolan's Irish Cream. I normally stock Bailey's Irish Cream but I'm out at the moment and the Carolan's was a very good deal at Christmas.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Sun, 03/16/2008 - 21:55.

Free Stuff from Bushmills!

Bushmills has given me a couple dozen Black Bush / 400th Anniversary key chains to give to you my lucky readers. I'll have a picture of them here tonight, they're quite nice.

This is part of the 400th anniversary celebration and a reminder to go vote for the Bushmills Twin city in America.

Use the form here to send me your mailing address and I will get it out to you right away. I only ask that you pay the shipping. ($1.50 US)

Use the paypal button for US delivery:

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Fri, 03/14/2008 - 11:22.

[UPDATED] Ratings and Scales

UPDATE: I've decided to catch up with the rest of the world and start using a 100 point scale. We probably will never rate anything below 30 points (because we're not planning on rating anything that doubles as an industrial floor cleaner) but the conversions to the old ratings will be easy enough.

  • Bushmills Original - 50
  • Jameson Original - 50
  • Crown Royal - 50
  • Crown Royal Special Reserve - 55
  • Midleton 2007 - 85
  • Bushmills 21 - 87

I think this works, considering I also placed Bushmills 1608 at an 88


Original Story:

The other night, Mike, Travis and I got together to do some serious tasting. Before we began we had four new bottles to open. We tasted Bushmills 10, Bushmills 21, Midleton 2007, The Balvenie Doublewood, and Scapa 14.

This is hard work. There are so many great flavors there to try and quantify, codify and categorize them is very difficult. But that is what we do and we try to do it well.

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Fri, 03/14/2008 - 09:29.

Good News or Bad News

One of my idle daydreams is to take possession of and restart a silent distillery. The two news stories here and here point to good news for the Scotch industry but bad news for me and my idle daydreams.

Soaring demand for Scotch whisky around the world has prompted another major distiller to announce expansion plans, this time on Speyside.

Chivas Brothers yesterday said it was reopening its mothballed Braeval Distillery and extending its Glenlivet production plant.

Diageo is also adding capacity like crazy:

Work started recently on the £40million plant at Roseisle in Moray - part of a total £100million investment in whisky by Diageo.

as is everyone else in the industry:

Posted in Submitted by Mark on Tue, 03/04/2008 - 17:07.
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