Manatawny Whiskey Club – February 2022

A few months ago, one of my favorite local distilleries, Manatawny Still Works, opened up a Whiskey Club which involves four shipments per year of standard or cask strength selections of their whiskies.  I definitely do more damage than that every year at their distillery, so I figured this would be a fun experience, getting bottles of unique whiskies with no worrying about showing up to release day on time or placing a pre-order, plus the shipments come straight to my door.  Can’t go wrong with that!  When I told the husband about it, his only question was whether I’d go for cask strength or regular, not whether or not I’d join, so, yeah, pretty obvious I had to sign up.

My first shipment was due to arrive while I was visiting the husband who is currently assigned to a posting in the United Kingdom, so they thankfully held it for me and delivered once I returned home in the first week of March.  I think I got the call during the last week of February, so we’re calling this February’s edition since that was the planned delivery date (the delay was my fault!).  The shipment arrived packed extremely well, with a layer of bubble padding on the bottom and paper shred fill inside, and the delivery person even called before to confirm I was available to receive it which is something I REALLY appreciate.  Included along with the bottle was a Glencairn glass with the Manatawny logo, a letter about the whiskey, and a club sticker.  On to the whiskey, it’s a 750 mL bottle of a Single Barrel Four Grain American Whiskey at cask strength, 62% ABV.  The letter included with the shipment details that this was aged in new, charred American Oak barrels for 6 years and says that the nose is cherry, pepper, and vanilla with sweet oak and gentle spice on the palate.  Mine is bottle 6 of just 9 at cask strength making this super unique!

Most whiskies, I prefer to have the cask strength so that I’ve got control over the ABV.  I’ve had some whiskies at 40% that were disappointingly over-diluted, and some incredible whiskies at 50% or higher that honestly didn’t need even a single drop of water.  Everyone’s palate is a little different, so I enjoy having that flexibility with the cask strength edition, especially since I tend to drink whiskey neat.  I’m not a whiskey tasting expert, but I enjoy a fine dram and have gotten a good handle (I think) on that whole taste-to-brain translation thing, so here are my thoughts!  On the nose, I definitely get cherry – a dark, red, dried cherry, maybe a little bit of raisins too, and definitely the vanilla and caramel I’d expect from an oak barrel.  Undiluted, on the palate, it does have a fair bit of fire from the 62% ABV.  After adding a little water, it mellowed out and my brain immediately sparked to those fancy Amarena cherries we’ve used for cocktails.  That dark, rich, syrupy cherry is definitely what I’m getting on the palate with a really nice rush of dark chocolate (like a 90% dark chocolate bar) as it rolls down the tongue, and spice at the finish with a tinge of smoke from the barrel char.  I mean, wow.  Absolutely perfect for the cold and snowy day we have while I write up this post, and a great whiskey to open the club!

If you want to sign up, the club is open to Pennsylvania residents, and is, in my opinion, absolutely worth it if you enjoy whiskey.  I haven’t been paid or reimbursed to say any of this – the distillery has been one of our favorites since they opened, and it’s been a delight to see them grow and produce some incredibly good whiskey in their 8 years of operation.  I’m only here to share the love of a fantastic whiskey, and I’m so glad to have gotten a spot in the club.

Scotland – August 2012 – Part 2

Wednesday, 1 August 2012:
We didn’t really have any plans again, so we set out to see what we could get to by bus around Inverness.  We were told that the Glen Ord distillery was a short bus ride away, so we decided to do that.  Visiting distilleries is always fun (especially the sample at the end) and this one happened to produce a single malt that was not available in the US, so that was a real treat.  From there, we took the bus a few stops back to the little town of Beauly where we had lunch and explored the old Beauly Priory.  The priory is another ruin, so even though it was cold and rainy (again), I was still pretty happy to be there with the camera.  We made it back to our hotel for a quick change, then it was off for a dinner, and a pint or two at our favorite pub in Inverness.
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Thursday, 2 August 2012:
We were up to catch a 7:30 bus from the Inverness bus station to go all the way up to Orkney.  At the time, it seemed like a good way to get there without spending more than just the day there (bringing along luggage, etc).  We probably should’ve made the trip to Orkney for a day or two, but it ended up being a nice primer, should we ever get the chance to go again and spend more time.  The bus ride involved a tour guide, who did a great job explaining the sites as we went along.  Finally we made it to a very foggy John O’Groats and hopped the ferry up to Orkney where we met a smaller bus with a driver/guide.  We stopped first at Kirkwall, grabbed some sandwiches for the bus, and saw St. Magnus Cathedral.  Then it was off to Skara Brae, a site I had wanted to see since I was a child and our school was visited by the author of a book about Skara Brae.  Then it was off to the Ring of Brodgar, a quick stop at the Italian chapel, and then back to the ferry at 5pm.  We made it back to Inverness around 8pm where we got dinner and then collapsed back at our hotel.  The whole day was a whirlwind adventure, with lots of time spent on the bus, but both fantastic tour guides totally made up for the time spent sitting around.  We got a ton of information that we might not have gotten had we hopped a quick flight up and stayed in Orkney a few days.
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Friday, 3 August 2012:
After much deliberation, we decided to rent a car for the day.  We debated over it a lot – Doug was pretty worried about driving on, “the wrong side of the road,” whereas I was pretty confident that it wouldn’t be too difficult.  The roads aren’t nearly as congested as ours, they don’t drive as fast, and I had a nervous co-pilot to help keep me in line.  We picked up the car  (a zippy little diesel, manual transmission Ford Fiesta) and made our first stop at the Black Isle Brewery.  Really fascinating operation – all organic, grown on the property, brewed on site, complete with a sweet brewery dog.  Then we were off, grabbed some food at a grocery store and found a nice spot in Elgin to have lunch.  Then, with our Diageo whisky passports in hand, we made a stop at the Cardhu Distillery where we were given a sample of two of their whiskys, but skipped the tour.  Our last stop was at Cragganmore where we took the last tour of the day.  None of the distilleries allow photos anywhere inside, but we did get samples!  We had dinner, watched a beautiful sunset, and had another pint at Hootananny, and then back to the hotel.  I wish we had decided on the car earlier since we would’ve had time to see more, but it was still an incredibly fun day.
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Saturday, 4 August 2012:
We had signed up for an all day tour of the Isle of Skye, complete with an incredible guide/driver from the area.  We had originally planned on having two other people with us who were unable to make the trip last minute, so it was a little pricey, but for what we got (the information, being driven around and not getting lost, the knowledge, special little stop offs that aren’t on the maps), it was WELL worth it!  Our first big stop was at Eilean Donan castle, the famous castle that’s splashed all over travel advertisements for Scotland.  Gorgeous!  Husband wore his kilt for the day, so I managed to prod him to take a really great photo in front of the castle.  From there we were off to Skye.  We made some lovely, picturesque stops along the way including a quick stop to have a drink of fresh, peaty water coming off the hills before lunch.  From there we grabbed some ice cream and head off to see more sights which included Kilt Rock (and a hilarious warning sign).  The whole trip was amazing and I can’t get over how absolutely beautiful Scotland is.  We just have nothing at all like it at home.  We got back to our hotel around 7pm, and then were off to our dinner reservation at Hootananny.  We timed it so that we were able to have a table and see Tweed when they came on stage that night.  They’re a fantastic local band we had seen once before and couldn’t wait to see again.  They didn’t disappoint!  It was a great night.
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Sunday, 5 August 2012:
We slept in a good bit after being out a little late the night prior.  We decided to take it easy and take a walk down to Floral Hall, the local botanical garden.  On the way there, we heard this strange sound, and as we turned around to see what it was, we saw a Border Collie bolting at top speed, dragging a sign behind him.  At one point, I’m sure the sign was upright (it was weighted, but clearly not enough) in front of a coffee shop, but something spooked the poor dog and he took off running.  He was coming straight for us, so as he got closer, husband and I lined up to block the path.  I stuck my foot in the middle of the sign which was a big metal frame with a swinging sign in the middle, coming out with a REALLY badly bruised ankle, which stopped the dog.  Moments later, a woman comes running around the corner yelling, “MY DOG!  MY DOG!  STOP HIM!”  Good thing we already had!  She came over, explained that he was a new rescue and had been badly treated on a farm before joining their family and was still easily spooked.  She thanked us over and over.  By this time, the coffee shop owner had come along to collect her sign while we snorgled the dog, applying liberal amounts of love.  Then, we were on our way to Floral Hall which was really beautiful.  The weather, unfortunately, was not – a persistent drizzle and chill – so the outside areas weren’t quite as nice as we’d have liked, but it was pretty nonetheless, and much bigger than it looks from the outside.  We walked back along the canal, looking for blackberries, but it was a touch too early in the season.  We went to lunch and took our time, and did a little shopping around Inverness.  Then it was back to the hotel for more of the Olympics while we watched my ankle turn even funnier colors.
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Monday, 6 August 2012:
Hopped a train around 11am for Aberdeen.  Arrived at Aberdeen around 1pm.  Husband had a class to take which was our excuse for taking an extended vacation, so now it was time for him to get going on the class.  We did lunch at our local favorite, and were back to the hotel somewhat early for dinner and more olympics coverage.
Tuesday, 7 August 2012:
My ankle was still swollen and achy (not broken, just banged up) from the encounter with the dog in Inverness, so I took it easy and did some shopping.  Husband had his class, so I was on my own for the day.  We met up for dinner back at the hotel and got to bed early again since husband had to be up early again for class.
Wednesday, 8 August 2012:
I decided to head out to the beach with my camera since it was a nicer day and I was feeling up to a good walk.  It was still a little overcast, but the beach was empty and chilly which suited me just fine.  I wandered around, finding that a bunch of bright purple jellyfish had washed up on the beach along with a few red/orange ones as well.  The tide was out, so there was a LOT of beach to cover.  I zig zagged back and forth, watching snails inch along the rocks, wee little fish trapped in tide pools, and took great big breaths of fresh air.  I had finished my project for the Ravellenic Games, so I brought that along and grabbed some pictures of it too, since I had a nice background.  Met the husband back at the hotel for dinner.
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Thursday, 9 August 2012:
Husband passed his class earlier than expected, so we were off for a day in Stonehaven, a really lovely little town I enjoy visiting when we’re in Scotland.  We had a great lunch and some pints, and hten we were off to Dunnottar Castle.  The regular route up, along the coast, was closed for construction which was a shame, because it’s a really beautiful walk, so we ended up taking the shorter, detour route.  Then it was back down to Stonehaven and the railway station, and eventually Aberdeen.  We had dinner at Slain’s Castle which is this really neat pub inside an old cathedral.  It’s all decorated in a style Dracula himself would approve of – maybe a little goofy, but the theme works, and it’s definitely unique.
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Friday, 10 August 2012:
We were up EARLY to be at the airport by 5am.  From there we hopped through London.  On the way home, our flight was diverted to Bangor, Maine since weather, severe thunderstorms, has closed the Newark Airport.  We sat there for I think two hours until the storms finally passed.  A bunch of other planes had landed as well, so we weren’t alone.  However, since it was an international flight, we couldn’t leave the plane, so it made for a boring situation, just sitting there waiting for the go-ahead to take off and then land again at home.

 

All in all, the trip was wonderful.  If I could’ve changed anything, it would’ve been to switch days off Inverness and over to Edinburgh or take a few of the Inverness days off to Orkney.  The little taste of Orkney did give us a hunger for more though, so hopefully on another trip, we’ll schedule in some more time!  The rest of the photos exist over here on Flickr.

Scotland – August 2012 – Part 1

This is going to be another VERY belated post about travel we did last year.  Seriously, I need to get better about putting updates on the blog in a more timely manner.  I’m splitting this up into two parts since it’s going to be WAY too long otherwise.  Here’s Part 1, Part 2 to follow!

For photos of the trip, see the complete gallery on Flickr, here.

Thursday-Friday, 26-27 July 2012:
Left Newark airport late in the evening on the 26th and arrived at Aberdeen, Scotland (via Heathrow) on July 27th.  Got a cab to the hotel which was in downtown Aberdeen with both my big travel backpack and husband’s.  Originally, husband was supposed to meet me in Aberdeen and take the train down to Edinburgh, but his schedule was changed last minute and we decided to meet in Edinburgh since he wasn’t going to make Aberdeen on time.  At that point, it was too late to change any of the reservations, so I just went ahead with the plan as it was.  The only downside was having to tote around his luggage and mine (two enormous backpacker type backpacks).  Had dinner and some ale at Old Blackfriar’s and went back to the hotel early to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.  I had decided to participate in the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games, so I picked up my yarn and needles and cast on, somewhat tickled to be casting on while watching the opening ceremonies in the local time zone.
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Saturday, 28 July 2012:
Got up and walked the short walk to the railway station with both bags, and made it there for a 11am train.  Arrived in Edinburgh around 1pm where husband was already waiting for me.  He’d even checked into the hotel already!  We had  lunch and wandered around Edinburgh for a while.  Husband had been there years ago in college, so some of it was familiar for him.  Edinburgh was all decked out for the Olympics with a big olympic rings display setup on the hill, visibile for quite some distance.  We signed up for a tasting at the Scotch Whisky Experience (the Platinum Tour), so around 6pm, we headed over there.  It was totally a touristy thing to do, but it ended up being very educational, and a fun way to start our trip.  The staff was very knowledgeable and we got to see the world’s largest whisky collection.  It was REALLY impressive to see all the bottles lined up like that on lighted shelving, dates ranging from the late 1800s up through the present.  The guide explained that most of the stuff wasn’t fit to drink anymore since the seals had come undone and it had been evaporating over time, but it’s still worth a lot.  We went on to have dinner and some ales and then it was off to bed, but not until we watched a little more of the Olympic coverage.
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Sunday, 29 July 2012:
Got up and had breakfast and then it was off to tour Edinburgh Castle.  On the way up to the castle, we stopped in the gift shop where we sampled Bruadar whisky which was AMAZING.  A bottle may or may not have followed us home.  The castle was more than just a castle – it’s a whole complex of chaples, war memorials, prisons, residence for the guards, among many other things.  We were done with the castle, having seen the crown jewels and all, around noon, and headed off for lunch.  Then, it was off to The Real Mary King’s Close, a small alleyway that had been built on top of over the years and forgotten about.  The tour was FASCINATING – the way people lived, how tight and cramped the conditions were, but that they made do with what they had.  The close and the homes off the close, now underground, had largely been left as they were for hundreds of years.  Photos weren’t allowed since the Royal Exchange is above the close (security and all), but it was well worth the visit.  After that, we wandered around and had some ales, took a ghost tour of Edinburgh,  and had more ales and dinner before going back to the hotel.
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Monday, 30 July 2012:
We decided to head out to Incholm Island for the day since the weather was nice, and the trip involved a boat ride (for my mariner husband).  It was a gorgeous day for it, and we spent a good while wandering around the island – through the old abbey where we encountered a man who broke into song, inspired by the acoustics of a little chapel room.  This is the kind of place I love – a partially ruined old stone building with LOTS of character, tons of fun to photograph.  The island also had remnants of battlements from WWI and WWII.  Wee baby seagulls were almost done fledging, so the adults were still on alert.  Doug happened to step just a little too close to the edge of the path where a fledgeling was hiding on the ground and he got dive bombed by an adult gull.  Hilarious.  He kept ducking down the whole walk back, thinking he’d be attacked again.  Sometimes it pays to be the short one since they didn’t bother me at all!  The boat took us back down the Firth of Forth, underneath the bridges, including the Forth Bridge which only carries rail traffic and was opened in 1890!  On the trip back, we also saw a few seals in the water and basking on buoys as it got colder and started to rain.  When we got back, we made our way to pre-dinner pints, then to dinner where we had things like Haggis nachos, including their famous, fresh caught haggis, and sat with a couple from Wales, a family from Belgium, and another group from Scotland.  Had a blast and spent a lot of time there, enjoying the random company and food.  Really lovely way to end our stay in Edinburgh, and I wish we could’ve had a few more days there.
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Tuesday, 31 July 2012:
We woke up, had breakfast, and then it was off to the train station for a train to Inverness.  We arrived at Inverness and made it to our hotel by 2:30.  We had no real plans for the day, so we took a relaxed walk around Inverness, had an early dinner, and went back to the hotel for an early bedtime (and some more of the Olympics).

Valentine’s Day

I don’t post a bunch about daily life, but I figured this was worth it.  Husband is out on the ship for Valentine’s day, but he has access to the internet, so boxes tend to arrive at the house for holidays.  Our two dogs were gifted cupcakes from the Healthy Hound Bakery which they DEVOURED in no time flat.  I usually split one of the big cupcakes in a half for an evening treat.

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For me, there was a box of fancy Swiss truffles from Teuscher which I promptly paired with a yummy whisky aged in sherry barrels.  The whisky is a special cask strength edition from Glenallachie  (18 years, 57.1%) that we picked up in Scotland on our first trip there.  The label inside the truffle box tells me that I have to eat them within ten days.  Somehow, I don’t think this will be a problem.

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