There’s no plural or possessive Paddy

Monday, 2 July, 2018

Paddy is a whiskey that has been produced in Cork since 1879 by Irish Distillers, now a subsidiary of Pernod-Ricard. By the way, the shameful sell-off of the company that once controlled the island’s whiskey industry to the French conglomerate was thoroughly documented by James Morrissey in 1989 in Hot Whiskey.

Anyway, Paddy is Paddy and there is no plural or possessive form.


Will Cecilia Malmström tax Bob Dylan’s Bourbon?

Monday, 30 April, 2018 0 Comments

The trade philosophy of the EU is based on the principle of the free movement of goods. And, so far, so good. Disruption may be coming to Brussels, however. A trans-Atlantic trade war looms after Washington hinted it will reject the EU’s demand for an unconditional waiver from metals-import tariffs. The Trump administration is asking allies to accept quotas in exchange for an exemption from steel and aluminium tariffs meant to kick in tomorrow, 1 May, when a temporary waiver expires. This puts the EU in a rather awkward position: either yield to US demands or face punitive tariffs.

Brussels is not shying from the fight, though. Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, says she could apply 25 percent tariffs on around $3.5 billion of imports from the US — targeting iconic US goods including Levi’s jeans, Harley-Davidson motorbikes and Bourbon whiskey. Which is where Bob Dylan enters the picture. According to the New York Times, the great singer-songwriter and Nobel laureate has teamed up with a liquor entrepreneur to turn a deconsecrated church in Tennessee into a whiskey distillery. Their “Heavens Door Spirits” will produce a straight rye whiskey, a double barrel whiskey and, what Cecilia Malmström might like to tax, a Tennessee Bourbon.

Cecilia, should note however, that Bob has rather firm views on whiskey and taxes. Here’s a couplet from Copper Kettle, which appeared on his 1970 album Self Portrait:

“Daddy he made whiskey, my grandaddy he did too
We ain’t paid no whiskey tax since 1792.”


Drink of the Year

Thursday, 17 December, 2015 0 Comments

And the Rainy Day award goes to Caol Ila 12 Year Old Single Malt. Why? Because winter is here and ‘flu prevention measures have to be taken. Seriously. And this is a seriously medicinal single malt. Check out the Official Tasting Notes: “Nose: Subdued, citric fruitiness; a whiff of bath oil and dentist’s mouthwash. A little water raises almond oil and old-fashioned oilskins; still a fresh fruitiness (lychees?), a trace of olive oil, and after a while pot pourri or scented hand-soap.”

Kills bad breath, doubles as a deodorant and protects against the hospital bug — what more could one want? But that’s not all. Based on personal tasting, we can confirm that this remarkable whisky also delivers a tang of seaweed, a whiff of smoke, a glimpse of green barley, a hint of lemon pudding, a taste of treacle, a perception of salt, a smidgen of creosote and, depending on one’s temperament and temperature, wellness. Seriously.

Caol Ila

Tomorrow, here, the Rainy Day Video of the Year award.

Protection from internal parasites

Friday, 2 May, 2014 0 Comments

Agriculturally, sheep dip is a liquid insecticide that farmers use to protect their herds from parasites such as ticks and lice. But the term was also a synonym for home-made whisky, which was made illegally and stored in plastic containers marked “Sheep Dip” to protect it from the inquisitive eyes of policemen and revenue collectors. In the 1980’s, British farmers were ordering hundreds of cases of “Sheep Dip” from distillers and including it in their accounts as insecticide until the scam was exposed and the customers were fined for tax evasion when it was discovered that most of them didn’t have a lamb or a ewe or a ram on their lands.

The legal version of the drinkable Sheep Dip is made of pure malts from the four distilling regions of Scotland. It is a mild and pleasant drink made all the more charming by its backstory and the fierce-looking sheep on the label.

Sheep Dip

The Shady Grove of Orkney

Saturday, 6 April, 2013 0 Comments

The islands of Orkney in the cold waters of the North Sea are the most remote of Scotland’s whisky-producing areas. Along with Arran, Jura, Mull and Skye, Orkney is part of the Islands whisky region. Today, there are only two distilleries on Orkney: Highland Park and Scapa. Apart from whisky, Orkney has given the world the excellent Kris Drever.

Wish I had a banjo string
Made of golden twine
Every tune I’d play on it
I wish that girl were mine

Wish I had a needle and thread
Fine as I could sew
I’d sew that pretty girl to my side
And down the road I’d go

Bukowski on women

Thursday, 27 December, 2012 0 Comments

Among the myriad delights that Santa Claus put in the Rainy Day Christmas stocking was Women by Charles Bukowski. In his introduction, Barry Miles says, “Women is Buwkoski’s punk novel. Written in 1977, it is fast, conversational, uses few long words, and just zips along.” In the book, we meet Henry Chinaski, a low-life writer […]

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The Botanist: Gin from… Scotland

Thursday, 24 May, 2012

New in the Rainy Day drinks cabinet is the latest creation from the island of Islay, a dry gin called “The Botanist“. The aroma is classically gin floral but with a Hebridean character that evokes hazy hills, bogs, turf and Atlantic surf. Upon sipping, The Botanist reveals itself as a tonguetaste of purity, a mouthfeel […]

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Saving the Laphroaig from the Taliban

Thursday, 19 January, 2012

Brrrr! It’s cold and dark, wet and windy out there. Looks like it’ll be a weekend for a good book and generous glasses of single malt whisky. Up for a rereading is News From No Man’s Land by the legendary BBC foreign correspondent, John Simpson. This is the third in a series of three autobiographical […]

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Aye. Scotland takes the high road

Thursday, 12 January, 2012

So, Scotland wants to take the high road to independence. The English taxpayer will be relieved, no doubt. It’s a pity that the brand is generating some unfortunate headlines at the moment, though. There was the weekend tragedy of Brian Ettles, a longtime worker at the Glenfiddich Distillery, who drowned himself in a vat of […]

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Saturday, 17 December, 2011

When the late Christopher Hitchens sang Carrickfergus, the lyrics were personal: “For I’m drunk today and I’m seldom sober / A handsome rover from town to town / Ah, but I am sick now, and my days are numbered / Come all ye young men and lay me down.” And soon he will be laid down to rest for ever, that wonderful voice stilled, never more to inform, provoke, entertain and enrage us.

In the Q&A session following a speech Christopher Hitchens gave to the Commonwealth Club of California on 9 July 2009, one audience member asked what was his favourite whiskey. Hitchens replied that “the best blended Scotch in the history of the world” is Johnnie Walker Black Label. He claimed that it was the favorite tipple of, among others, the Iraqi Ba’ath Party, the Palestinian Authority, the Libyan dictatorship and “large branches of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family”. For one night only, the Rainy Day team will join that list in remembrance of Christopher Hitchens, who brought us so much happiness in the course of the past three decades. Sláinte!