Blends have had something of a resurgence lately, gaining huge support from bloggers, writers and drinkers. They gained a less than positive reputation in the mid 90s as single malts increased in popularity and exclusivity; the latter highlighted their status as a sign of class and refinement whilst blends became the representation of the lowest common denominator, often priced as the cheapest brands on the whisky shelves in the supermarket. However, with long established brands such as Famous Grouse and Johnny Walker either starting to develop new whiskies or simply advertise existing products more effectively, higher priced, higher quality blends are now visibly supplementing these brand’s ranges and are being taken more seriously again.
There seems to be a certain collection of patients that tip me, as a dentist, by telling me a joke. It always cheers me up but also amuses me that it is definitely from a very specific group of patients, almost always male and a very specific age group. I occasionally get a box of chocolates or biscuits at Christmas and, if I’m very lucky, I might get something a little more special. Very occasionally, I get a bottle of whisky (although this happened more often when I lived and worked in Glasgow); this is normally a bottle of Teacher’s, Ballantine’s or the infamous Grouse.
The sherry industry and the whisky industry appear to go hand in hand with the passing of old sherry casks from Bodega to distillery to allow such “sherry-bombs” as Aberlour A’bunadh and the Macallan sherry oak range. Despite being the leading fortified wine in the UK market, with figures of £89million, it still, to some, seems to retain its reputation of Grandma’s Christmas tipple.
I recently went to Andalusia and had an opportunity to head to Montilla. Whilst it is not in the sherry triangle, Montilla is a major centre for wine production and has inspired the Amontillado style sherry – Amontillado meaning “in the style of Montilla. I went to the Alvear Bodega and enjoyed their very welcoming hospitality. Unfortunately, due to EU directives on overproduction of wine, 65,000 acres of vineyard has been reduced to 6,000 acres with a massive increase in olive groves. For the last hour and a half of driving towards Montilla, nothing but olive trees were visible in any direction, as far as the eye could see.
There is a universe where I am not a dentist, I am a purveyor of whisky. There is another where I am a photographer. Technically, there are an infinite number where I am a dentist, another infinite amount where I am a drinks seller and a further limitless total where I am a photographer. There are unlimited more where I do jobs I don’t want, or have never heard of. And then there are the further imponderable universes where I simply do not exist.
In the summer I play cricket. I cannot claim to do it well, but I do enjoy playing. I think I would probably fall into the category of bowler over batsman since, although I enjoy batting, I never seem to spend any quality time at the crease. My most effective work seems to be based around using the length of my limbs to hurl the ball at (reasonable) speed.
One of my friends from University, who helped me through my training, saw me through times good and bad, would probably best fit into the stereotype currently known as a hipster. Although I’m sure he’d tell you that he was a hipster before it was cool. He’d also probably hate me for making that joke. The defining feature for me labelling him as such, besides the skinny jeans and ridiculous hair, was his insistence that once a band became mainstream and became popular, they couldn’t possibly be any good. Even if the same song he had been listening to just weeks before became popular, he would stop listening, seemingly out of spite.
There are many things I have inherited from my father. There are the good – some aptitude for sports, my height my ability to grow facial hair and, according to him, my looks. Then there are the not so good – the receding hairline and grey edges which belie my youthful status and, perhaps most worryingly, my pyromaniac tendencies.
If you have seen my photo stream over at flickr, you may have seen some of my light painting pictures – achieved by leaving the shutter open for a long time while manipulating light sources to creative effect. Once I had grown tired of using torches and luminescent wire, I discovered that small garden fireworks could be relatively easily twirled, moved and generally manipulated to great effect. The ultimate culmination of this came about two years ago, when my father and I decided to set fire to a beach.
In April 2010, as part of an April Fools’ campaign, KFC announced the Double Down sandwich in America. The idea was simple: KFC do chicken “well”; people wanted a chicken sandwich; so why not leave the bread out and use the chicken to sandwich bacon and cheese? Although it started as an April Fools’ joke, demand was so high that, less than two weeks later, they released the Double Down to a test audience. Response was overwhelming; in four months, they sold 10 million of these “tasty” beasts. They are now sold internationally. They took what they did “well” and decided to do it “better”.