Being on tour is a strange thing - from town to town, hotel to hotel - the miles add up but nothing dampens the enthusiasm. Being in a band on tour is surely an exciting adventure, but alas one where one seldom gets to actually see any of the towns and cities visited. Fortunately, for whisky writers on tour, the environment is a little different.
Caskstrength are nearing the end of our run of dates around the UK 'supporting' Athlete with tonight's show at Birmingham HMV Institute. In a nutshell, around 20 gig goers (and competition winners) have a few whiskies with the band before the show, whilst we prattle on about the world of whisky. It's been tremendous fun and top marks to Athlete and to The Glenlivet (who supplied the whisky) for making this a reality.
Last night the revolving whisky circus hit Glasgow and it seemed everybody was well up for a good time, before the band hit the stage.
Being in Glasgow also gave us a chance to pop by to say hello to good friend of ours, Mr Mark Connelly at his brand new shop, The Good Spirits Co. Opened a couple of months ago, the shop looks fantastic, with its counter all decked out in whisky barrel staves. The shop has a very homely feel - a sort of High Fidelity vibe, where you can drop by, chat with Mark and his colleagues about a few of the shop's real gems, whilst enjoying a dram to the strains of David Bowie's 'Hunky Dory', quietly playing from the turntable on the counter. If every specialist whisky retailer adopted this feel, we think the (whisky) world would certainly be a much better place indeed.
Current highlights are the shop's 'living cask' (called Cask 23) which Mark pointed out was knocked up by a fairly local cooper, from sherry staves. The current contents are a Highland Park 14yo and a 21yo Bunnahabhain, the 'solera' style system of the cask giving this vatting some real character.
The Good Spirits Co. - Cask 23 - Vatting Batch 2 - 48% - 20cl
Nose: Swathes of dark brown sugar, a minute hint of something medicinal, some aromatic fern, butterscotch and deft notes of sherry wood.
Palate: Really sweet, with some lovely toffee flavours, buttery popcorn and more sweet soft fruits. The drier woody notes of the cask begin to make themselves known further into the palate, giving a very rich, spicy note on the death.
Finish: Lingering notes of spice and sweetness, the HP perhaps still leading the way in influencing the overall flavour.
Overall: A terrific vatting and one, which will seemingly only get better and more interesting, given that this is just the 1st batch. Mark and his colleagues will be giving this little cask extra attention over the coming months, so be sure you give it a try, if you're in town.
The shop also has some really unusual vintage bottlings from Hart Brothers, (one of which was from Joel's birth year, 1979 and consumed his whisky expenses for the month) so we'll be bringing you notes on that bad boy in due course.
As we amble down past the shore line of Berwick-Upon-Tweed on the high speed train towards Birmingham, we feel in extremely good spirits indeed - throughly looking forward to our final tasting with Athlete and meeting a few more of their fans, who all seem to be as excited by whisky as we are.
Living proof that music and whisky are the very best of bed-fellows....
Goodbye Glasgow, you've been a wonderful audience....