I was pretty busy today, with most of my brain trying to figure out how to re-architect something that I didn't realize needed it until recently. So a few things piled up in my inbox:
And finally, Whisky Advocate has four recipes that balance whisky and Luxardo Maraschino cherries. I plan to try them all, but not in one sitting.
Actually, I'm ecstatic that a cold front blew in off the lake yesterday afternoon, dropping the temperature from 30°C to 20°C in about two hours. We went from teh warmest September 27th in 34 years to...autumn. Finally, some decent sleepin' weather!
And though the article could use an editor, Whisky Advocate has a short bit on Aaron Sorkin's love of whisky in his movies.
Whisky Advocate finally lays out something I've wondered about: which single malts go into which blends?
“Cardhu’s at the heart of Johnnie Walker,” says Emma Walker, one of 12 master blenders that work on Johnnie Walker. “Cardhu was always a blender’s favorite,” she adds. “It was essential to Johnnie Walker. They always created high-quality spirit and it became a partnership even before Cardhu joined the Johnnie Walker family.”
Owned by Diageo, Cardhu Distillery is just one of the global corporation’s 29 whisky-producing distilleries in Scotland alone. This gives the Johnnie Walker blending team a vast library of stocks to work with.
For fans of single malt scotch, being able to identify the single malts that make up a blend is a fun endeavor that is sure to bring new appreciation for the craft of blending.
That's true, and in some cases it works inductively. Like, where does 90% of Caol Ila's output wind up?
If anyone forgot to get me a birthday present last week, Whisky Advocate has a suggestion for you:
Many of us consider an 18 year old scotch a treat, and regard a well-aged 25 or 30 year old expression as an indulgent luxury. These are mere youngsters compared to the new Gordon & MacPhail Generations 80 year old distilled at Glenlivet Distillery. Matured for eight decades, this whisky spans the term of office of 15 U.S. presidents. It was approaching 50 years old when President George H.W. Bush took the oath of office, making him the last sitting president to be older than the whisky, and from Biden back to Clinton, none of the last five presidents were even born when this cask was filled. It’s a Speyside single malt disgorged from a sherry butt filled on February 3, 1940, which extends Gordon & MacPhail’s unbroken run of releasing the world’s oldest whisky, a record the company has held since the launch of the Generations series in 2010.
Gordon & MacPhail will release 250 crystal decanters globally, although the price remains a closely guarded secret ahead of the auction of decanter no. 1 as part of a Generations package going under the hammer at Sotheby’s, Hong Kong on October 7. Proceeds from this single lot will benefit Scottish rewilding charity Trees for Life, whose work involves restoring areas of Caledonian forest habitat to the Scottish Highlands. The winning bidder will receive decanter no. 1 with a set of matching glasses, the framed cask end of the Generations 80 year old Cask no. 340, a signed lithograph of Sir David Adjaye’s original design sketches for Generations, and a whisky tasting with Sir David to celebrate the winner’s new ownership of the whisky. That event will be hosted in London by Stephen Rankin, who is Gordon & MacPhail’s director of prestige and the great-grandson of John Urquhart, who took ownership of the business in 1915.
An example of the previous release, a 75-year-old whisky bottled in 2015, sold at auction last September for a mere £16,000.
Stories from the usual suspects:
- Sweden's Prime Minister abruptly resigned Sunday, saying it's for the benefit of his center-left party.
- Following Andrew Cuomo's resignation, Kathy Hochul became the first female governor of New York State this morning just after midnight.
- The Capitol Police have cleared the unnamed officer who shot domestic terrorist Ashli Babbit as she tried to force her way into the Speaker's Lobby on January 6th, adding that the shooting likely saved many other lives.
- Economist Paul Krugman credits the pandemic for showing low-wage workers, particularly in the leisure and hospitality industry, they're worth more than they were paid in the past. (In other words, we should call the "labor shortage" by the more correct term "market forces" instead.)
- Josh Marshall once again points out that the evacuation from Kabul, while appearing chaotic, has actually been very successful.
- Jordan Michael Smith asks, "Twenty years after 9/11, are we any smarter?"
- Sarah Zhang frets about the new school year and hopes it won't go as badly as last year.
Finally, Whisky Advocate calls out a few lesser-known distilleries in Scotland worth visiting—or at least sampling.
Oh, to be a dog. Cassie is sleeping comfortably on her bed in my office after having over an hour of walks (including 20 minutes at the dog park) so far today. Meanwhile, at work we resumed using a bit of code that we put on ice for a while, and I promptly discovered four bugs. I've spent the afternoon listening to Cassie snore and swatting the first one.
Meanwhile, in the outside world, life continues:
- Ukrainian police arrested members of the Cl0p ransomware gang, seizing money and cars along with the cybercriminals.
- Amtrak, the US passenger rail network, plans to expand its service over the next few years, for example by going to places that people want to go. (Sure, Las Cruces, N.M., might be a wonderful tourist destination, but why doesn't the train go to Las Vegas too?)
- Astronomer Seth Shostak, who works on SETI, expects any aliens who visit us to have non-biological forms, while physicist Mark Buchanan tells SETI to stop trying to contact them in the first place because they'll kill us all.
- Scientists have found that a Korean War-era technique of reading weather data could reduce contrails by 50% or more.
- On this day in 1858, Abraham Lincoln addressed the Illinois Republican Convention, saying "a house divided against itself cannot stand."
- Whiskey Advocate explains how to "build your best Old Fashioned."
And right by my house, TimeLine Theater plans to renovate a dilapidated warehouse to create a new theater space and cultural center, while a 98-year-old hardware store by Wrigley Field will soon become apartments.
The deployment I concluded yesterday that involved recreating production assets in an entirely new Azure subscription turned out much more boring (read: successful) than anticipated. That still didn't stop me from working until 6pm, but by that point everything except some older demo data worked just fine.
That left a bit of a backup of stuff to read, which I may try to get through at lunch today:
Finally, summer apparently arrives in full force tomorrow. We're looking forward to temperatures 5-10°C above normal through mid-June, which will continue northern Illinois' drought for at least a few more weeks.
Today's news stories comprise a mixed bag:
Finally, a little sweetness for a cold December day: Whisky Advocate has a recipe for bourbon balls that I hope someone will try and share with me. I'll even supply the bourbon.
The first polls close in the US next Tuesday in Indiana at 6 pm EST (5 pm Chicago time, 22:00 UTC) and the last ones in Hawaii and Alaska at 7pm HST and 8pm AKST respectively (11 pm in Chicago, 05:00 UTC). You can count on all your pocket change that I'll be live-blogging for most of that time. I do plan actually to sleep next Tuesday, so I can't guarantee we'll know anything for certain before I pass out, but I'll give it the college try.
- The US Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last night by a vote of 52-48, with only Susan Collins (R-ME) joining the Democrats. It's the first time since Reconstruction that the Senate confirmed an Associate Justice with no votes from the opposition party. And in the history of our country, only two people have been confirmed by a smaller margin: Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas. I'm sure the three of them will continue to fight for bipartisanship and good jurisprudence as strongly as they ever have.
- Emma Green points out "the inevitability of Amy Coney Barrett," because the Republicans don't care. And Olivia Nuzzi brings us the story of "the tortured self-justification of one very powerful Trump-loathing anonymous Republican."
- Bill McKibben reminds us "there's nothing sacred about nine justices; a livable planet, on the other hand..."
- Speaking of the planet, Tropical Storm Zeta became Hurricane Zeta last night. The 2020 season has now tied the all-time record for the number of named Atlantic storms set in January 2006, and it's only October.
- Bars and restaurants in suburban Cook County have to close again tomorrow as statewide Covid-19 cases exceed 4,500 on a rolling 14-day average. Some parts of the state have seen positivity rates over 7.5% in the last couple of weeks. My favorite take-out Chinese place down by my office is also closing for the winter, which I understand but which still saddens me.
- The Washington Post asked TV screenwriters how 2020 should end.
- In one small bit of good news, the Food and Drug Administration has finally agreed that whisky is gluten-free, as gluten does not evaporate in the distilling process and so stays in the mash.
Finally, from a reader in Quebec comes a tip about violent clashes between a Canadian First Nation, the Mi'kmaw tribe of Nova Scotia, and local commercial fishermen over First Nations lobster rights. If you think Canada is a land without racism, well...they're just more polite about it.
Someday, historians may discover what former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker—I don't have to remind you, a Republican—got in exchange for the ridiculous deal his administration made with FoxConn. After the Taiwan-based company created only a tiny fraction of the jobs it promised in exchange for billions in tax credits, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has finally told them, no, you don't get all that money for nothing.
In other news:
Finally, Whisky Advocate has some recommendations for an essential whisky bar in your home.