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Blair Bowman and Nikki Welch prepare you for World Whisky Day

Following on from last week’s blog post by Blair Bowman and Nikki Welch, authors of The Pocket Guide to Whisky, we give you another guest blog from these two guides, who will take you on an amber adventure into the world of whisky. In this week’s blog, Blair and Nikki give you some golden tips on how to explore some of your favourite whiskies, and how to edge onto a new line on the WhiskyTubeMap.

The Pocket Guide to Whisky - flexi-cover artwork‘To help you get started we have created a couple of journeys around the WhiskyTubeMap and some fun ways to ‘pimp’ your tasting to test all your senses.

Sightseeing tour
Our sightseeing tour takes in a stop on each line of the WhiskyTubeMap, giving you a broad spectrum of whiskies to try. Each line on the WhiskyTubeMap represents a different flavour profile, and alludes to the types of flavours and textures you’d expect from whiskies situated on that line. If you don’t want to do all seven you could just pick four or five that you fancy to start with.

Easy Loop
The Easy Loop, does what it says on the tin, here you’ll find easy going, every day whiskies.
Suggested stop: Johnnie Walker

Intrepid line
Here you will find whiskies from the ‘brave new world’ of whisky distillation. Expect bold and perhaps sometimes foreign flavours.
Suggested stop: Hibiki

Heart Line
The ‘heart’ of a distillation run is the part of the spirit that is held back to make whisky. The Heart Line cuts through the landscape of the WhiskyTubeMap, with a broad spectrum of flavours and origins of flavour are represented as you go along the line.
Suggested stop: Glenfiddich

Amber Line
These are simply classic sweet, honeyed and fruity tasting whiskies but are not in the least bit boring. Expect good bang for your buck in terms of flavour from your dram.
Suggested stop: Glenrothes

Decadent Line
These whiskies are rich, deep and unctuous. Luxury in every sip, to be savoured and enjoyed.
Suggested stop: Macallan

Coastal Line
This is where influences of sea, smoke and peat start to appear on the WhiskyTubeMap. There is a gradual build up in intensity as you begin to approach the Outliers island.
Suggested stop: Highland Park

Outliers Line
A welcoming dram awaits you on board the ‘ferries’ to the Outliers island. Once you are on the island you will start to find more smoke in your whisky. With a gradual build up of smokiness at the terminus, Ardbeg.
Suggested stop: Lagavulin

Just starting out tour
If the map feels a bit daunting, you are totally new to whisky or it has been a long time since you’ve had a dram the sightseeing tour might be a bit much. To help ease you in we have created three ‘starting’ points on the map, these stations are marked with an arrow. Try these three first, then decide which one you prefer and go exploring from there.

Starting point 1: Johnnie Walker
Start here if you want to begin with a very easy drinking, not overly-complex blended whisky.

Starting point 2: Glenfiddich
Start here if you want to begin with a juicy, fruity and sweet single malt whisky.

Starting point 3: Highland Park
Start here if you are after something a bit more complex with a hint of smoke.

Getting Braver Tour
The Getting Braver tour will take you out of your comfort zone and show you some whiskies you might never have thought of trying before. Prepare your taste buds for exciting new experiences and flavours.

Stop 1: Glenfiddich
A tasty starting point for your ‘getting braver’ tour. Look out for apples, pears and green fruits in this whisky.

Stop 2: Virgin Wood Finish
Whiskies from this station might be more woody than you are used to. This gives you a great way of tasting how important the influence of wood is on whisky.

Stop 3: Sullivan’s Cove
A deliciously rich and slightly spicey single malt from Tasmania, Australia. Probably the furthest you could get from the highlands of Scotland but a tasty whisky.

Stop 4: Single Grain Whisky
An often misunderstood cousin of single malt whisky. Single grain whisky is complex and peppery but offers a refreshing alternative to traditional single malt.

Stop 5: Springbank
A malty and slightly maritime dram. This is whisky is like an iron first of flavour in a silk glove.

Pimp your whisky tasting

Why not ‘pimp’ your next whisky tasting by adding fun multi-sensory elements or music as part of the tasting.

Blindfolds
It’s all gone a bit fifty shades of whisky! Give everyone in the tasting a blindfold and try tasting the whisky with the blindfold on. Does it taste different without the sense of sight?

Textures
Now try tasting the whisky again while touching a rough texture like sandpaper, or a soft texture like silk. Did the taste or texture of the whisky change?

Chocolate
Try one whisky with a piece of dark chocolate and then milk chocolate. The darker chocolate will bring out the bitter flavours of the whisky and the milk chocolate will give your whisky a smoother texture.

However you do it, have fun!
Happy Exploring!’

And remember The Pocket Guide to Whisky is available from World Whisky Day on the 20th of May, but you an pre-order your copy here.

WWD_Master_LogoAnd don’t forget, you can find out more about World Whisky Day, which is on 20 May 2017, here. Events are popping up all over the globe. If you want to get involved and raise a dram with the world, head over to the website where you can register your own event. It’s completely free, and anything goes – whether that’s a dram with friends at home, a tasting flight put on at a local bar, or a full-blown street party.

Peter Pan Give-away Competition!

It’s Edinburgh International Book Festival this month (in case you hadn’t noticed), and we’ve been celebrating our wonderful authors’ appearances with fun and games and, more importantly, FREE BOOK GIVEAWAYS. Today it’s no different. At EIBF today (Monday 24th) Stephen ‘Stref’ White, illustrator, and Fin Cramb, colourist, will be talking about their latest project – the recently published, first ever Peter Pan graphic novel, based on J.M. Barrie’s original text. Earlier this month, Tom Pow appeared at the Festival to discuss his own take on Peter Pan – his book tells the story of Barrie’s childhood, and the inspirations derived from it which led to the creation of Peter, Wendy, the Lost Boys, Hook, and Neverland.

SO, we decided we’d put together a short quiz, the winner of which will receive these two stunning new books.

All you have to do to be in with a chance is to answer the multiple choice questions below, in a tweet sent to @BirlinnBooks or @BCKidsBooks, and we’ll announce the winner tomorrow morning!

Question 1: What was J.M. Barrie’s childhood nickname?
A) Sixteen String Jack
B) Yellow-Bellied Jim
C) Dare Devil Dick

Question 2: What happens to the Lost Boys when they grow too old?
A) They join the pirates
B) They’re forced to leave Neverland
C) Peter thins them out

Question 3: How does Captain Hook originally plan to kill Peter and the Lost Boys?
A) In a surprise attack whilst the boys are sleeping
B) Poisoning their water supply
C) By luring the crocodile into their den
D) Tricking them into eating cake before swimming

Question 4: What was the name of J.M. Barrie’s inspirational childhood home?
A) Mount Brae
B) Moat Braille
C) Moat Brae
D) Mount Braille

Get answering, get tweeting, and you might just get winning!

BC Logo Master Maroon

Sixty Degrees North (Extract 5 – Norway)

To correspond with BBC Radio 4′s ‘Book of the Week’ shows – featuring of course our very own Sixty Degrees North by Malachy Tallack – we will be releasing short extracts from the book each day this week!

Today, in episode five of ‘Book of the Week’, Malachy reaches the last point of land on his journey along the sixtieth parallel – a small island just off the west coast of Norway. In this extract, Malachy sits by the ocean and reflects on his journey, home, and where he now finds himself:

“My destination was the island of Stolmen, a little further south along the coast. It was the last point of land on the sixtieth parallel before it dropped back into the North Sea and then returned to Shetland, and it seemed the most appropriate place to complete my journey before going home.

[…]

Sitting there beside the sea, two hundred miles from home, I thought back to the traffic that had ventured west from this coast towards my own shores. To the Vikings who had sailed in the eighth and ninth century, and who had made their way ultimately to Greenland and beyond. To the refugees of the Second World War, who were carried in fishing boats and other vessels, in what became known as the ‘Shetland Bus’. And then to the oil tanker Braer, which left the refinery just north of Bergen in January 1993, carrying 85,000 tonnes of crude oil. She was bound for Quebec in Canada, but made it only as far as Quendale on the south east coast of Shetland, where she hit the rocks and spilled her cargo. It was a few years after my family moved to the islands, and a few miles from the spot where, later, I would find the parallel.

I’d come to Stolmen by following that line around the world. Once there, I had nowhere else to go but home. I’d known all along, of course, that this was a journey with only one possible destination. But faced with that last stretch of water that separated beginning from end, I felt nervous and uncertain. Would the place I was going back to be the same place that I had left? And did I even want it to be? Perhaps I’d expected answers, but I hadn’t found any. I’d been left with only questions. Ahead, the sky was like a welt, blue and purple ringed with pink. A crack in the clouds brought sharp fingers of light down onto the blackening waves, and the cold chafed against my face. I sat for ten minutes more, perhaps fifteen, and then it was time to go. I stood and flung a stone into the water, towards Mousa, as though to reach as far as I could towards home, and then I walked away.”