Quite a celebration took place on the island of Islay, home to that fine Scottish malt Laphroaig, to mark the 200th anniversary of this distinctive whisky this Autumn. There were tastings and discussions and quite a few wee and not so wee drams taken, and all on live TV.
This was the ninth time that a live broadcast has taken place on the anniversary date, and to reach its many fans around the globe, there were links to reach New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, Stockholm and Berlin. A one-off expression marks this anniversary, the Laphroaig 15 YO, available online at www.whiskyshop.com, £75.
Spanish wine is enjoying a boom at present, with some fine, good value wines. The Wine Society has garnered a good selection for its members, on special offer while stocks last. The white Jaspi Blanc, Terra Alta 2014 is from Catalan, price £8.50 a bottle, or £102 a dozen; the red Salvaje del Moncayo Garnacha 2014, a high altitude Aragon wine at £6.95 a bottle, or £83 a dozen. www.thewinesociety.com
Aimed at those who wish to acquire knowledge of whisky rather than wine is a new online interactive site, ‘I want to know Whisky’. This provides a comprehensive guide for whisky lovers, through history, different styles of Scotch, how to taste and appreciate like a professional, with a final exam and certificate. Endorsed by the Master of the Quaich himself, Charles MacLean, it is designed to be fun as well as informative, and priced at £24.95. Go to www.Iwanttoknowwhisky.co.uk
For gin-lovers, there’s a new book out that looks at the vast array of gins now on the market. Somewhat contrarily, the author is actually the whisky expert, Dave Broom, an award-wining author on the subject, but he has applied himself to testing 120 of the best gins on sale, and to give a step-by-step guide as to how to choose and enjoy them. The Gin Manual is by published by Mitchell Beazley, price £14.944 hardback.
Port and cheese
A marriage made in heaven saw two top names come together in the refined surroundings of Jermyn Street for a convivial event. Paxton & Whitfield, cheesemongers extraordinaire, which has been selling the finest of cheeses for over 200 years, teamed up with famous Taylor’s Port, which goes back over 300 years, to host a tasting of their best products. With Christmas fast approaching, this was a timely reminder of the cheeses and port wine that can be enjoyed together over the festival – and over the rest of the year too.