Tag Archives: Scotch



I am a strong and virile man, with a gruff disposition no tolerance for all that namby-pamby shit. In fact, I am best known three things:

1) Chopping wood with the sides of my hands

2) Scaring off neighborhood ruffians with a glare and a low growl


3) Stirring boiling liquids with my fingers

Despite this overflow of machismo, even I find myself emotionally vulnerable at times. Like that time the lithe and lean Mrs. Pax Arcana and I went to the (awesome! kick ass!) Museum of Science to watch “Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure” on the IMAX screen.

It turns out I can watch movies of orphans being dismembered by roving bands of Nazi werewolves with zero emotional attachment, but the story of one man’s struggle to save his crew from icy death in Antarctica made me tear up like a fat kid who dropped his cupcake in the mud.

So you’ll forgive me for getting overly excited to hear that workers New Zealand’s Antarctic Heritage Trust are preparing to unearth several crates of scotch that Shackleton buried in the snow. The bottles of McKinlay whisky have been lodged under the floorboards of Shackleton’s makeshift hut for almost 100 years, though producers say the ice around it may have preserved it perfectly:

Richard Paterson, Whyte & Mackay’s master blender, said the Shackleton expedition’s whiskey could still be drinkable and taste exactly as it did 100 years ago.

If he can get a sample, he intends to replicate the old Scotch and put McKinlay whiskey back on sale.

“I really hope we can get some back here,” he was quoted as telling London’s Telegraph newspaper. “It’s been laying there lonely and neglected. It should come back to Scotland where it was born.”

I think I speak for all scotch enthusiasts when I say this is the single most touching story ever told.

*tears up, grabs bottle of Bruichladdich*

I mean, to think of what that man went through…



*now openly bawling*



I love you guys

Lost Scotch Whiskey Cache Buried in Antarctica [Discovery News]

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Friday Random 10: Viking Scotch Edition

Pax Arcana

Just because they love monkeying about with the British Isles, the fair-haired cousins of Pax Arcana have decided to pillage the international scotch market by creating their own version of the stuff.

“Hvor er du, Hven?”

Via the Scotch Blog, the latest distillery to get into the game is Hven, named for the island in Sweden on which it is produced. Of course it ain’t really scotch if you don’t use the right ingredients from the right place, so the Vikings sent a few boatloads of marauders (one beserker per boat) abroad to collect:

Initially the cereal is travelling back and forth from Scotland for process, including malting, peating and crushing. Casks for maturing will predominantly be made by US cooperage from selected stocks of American white oak. The micro climate on this ‘island-in-the-stream’ is expected to contribute with a maritime influence to the whisky during its maturation.

I can only assume there’s Irish monk blood used in the peating process.

The songs:

Superfly — Curtis Mayfield
Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye — The Black Crowes
Theme from the Black Hole — Parliament
The Equestrian — Les Savvy Fav
Yoland Hayes — Fountains of Wayne
Alpha Rats Nest — The Mountain Goats
Requiem — M. Ward
Gumboots — Paul Simon
Emily Jean Stock — Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Cannonball — The Breeders

Bonus video:

Sixteen (live) — Iggy Pop and the Destroyers

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.


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And so it begins

Pax Arcana

Like thousands of men my age, I renamed my fantasy football team Client 9 (nee the Jersey Turnpikes) about two minutes after the Eliot Spitzer sex scandal broke last week.

By next fall, of course, Client 9 jokes will have come and gone more often than a high-priced hooker from the Jersey shore. See what I mean?

For now, though, there is still sport to be made of the fallen crusader with the pricey doin’ it habit. Our favorite so far is this ad, found by The Scotch Blog, for the 21-year-old Portwood from The Balvenie. Rumor has it the ad was submitted — but refused — by a financial periodical of some sort.


Laugh now. Soon it will get annoying.

‘Allo Guv’nor [The Scotch Blog]


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Put a cork in it

Pax Arcana

Here the answer to a question I’ve never wondered about: The last dram from a bottle of Scotch is less potent than the first. The reason? Scientology.

Oops. I mean science.

giant-cork.jpgThe Scotch Blog begins with a simple question submitted by a reader:

Does the alcohol content of my whisky decrease as I near the bottom of the bottle?

I ask this because (1) there seems to be less alcohol burn as I wind through the bottle and (2) because alcohol being a light, fairly volatile liquid, could be in vapor form at the top of the bottle and released when I remove the cork.

Kevin, the eminent Scotch blogger himself, runs the question by a number of master distillers and discovers that yes, alcohol burns off of Scotch into the air above. If the bottle stays open a long time, that alcohol evaporates freely into the living room. Even if the bottle is closed, though, the emptier the bottle, the more headspace of air for alcohol to evaporate into. Unseal your bottle and the alcohol goes floating away.

Or as Dave Pickerell, master distiller at Maker’s Mark, says:

If the bottle is tightly sealed, only a relatively small amount of alcohol will evaporate … and then an equilibrium condition will set up where alcohol evaporates and condenses at the same rate and the concentration of alcohol in the vapor state is constant throughout the space…. it will not stratify… The proof in the liquid will remain essentially unchanged. Even if the bottle is opened and partially consumed, and then tightly re-sealed, this same equilibrium will be achieved, and there will be essentially no proof reduction … even as the liquid volume decreases. (Theoretically, there might be a minuscule proof reduction here, but I don’t think you could notice it).

Of course, if you are really worried about losing any of the good stuff evaporating into the air between the booze and the cap, there is a quick solution. Anyone know the answer?

Perry, put your hand down. Let’s give someone else in the class a chance to answer. Anyone? No?

OK, let’s let Chris Morris, master distiller at Brown Forman, answer:

If you desire to return the alcohol vapor to the spirit you would have to chill the bottle to condense it. That of course is not standard storage procedure. I wouldn’t worry about it.

WWW – the Weakening Whisky WoundTable [The Scotch Blog]


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Coming in 2026: Pax Macallan 18

Pax Arcana

The venerable Whiskycast podcast last week featured whiskey writer Jonny McCormick, who wrote a cover story for the current issue of Malt Advocate magazine on a growing trend among whiskey lovers — buying your own cask. The article itself isn’t online, but the interview with McCormick is pretty interesting.

casks.jpgHere’s how it works. You plop down anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 for an entire cask of fresh whiskey (or whisky, if it’s Scotch). The price depends on the quality of the whiskey and the type of barrel (sherry is more expensive than bourbon barrels). The distillery then ages the cask for you, sending you periodic samples upon request. Some whiskies peak at 8 – 10 years, while others can go as long as 25 years or more in the barrel.

Once the good stuff is ready, the distillery will usually help you contract out for a special bottling and labeling (they won’t put the stuff in their bottles for legal reasons). In the end, you get about 100 bottles of your favorite whiskey with a customized label. Then you drink yourself silly, lie down sideways on the carpet, and try to eat a hamburger.

McCormick himself bought a cask of Bruichladdich for his wedding a few years back, and intends to leave it in the cask until his 25th anniversary. In related news, Father Scott bought a six pack of Budweiser that he plans to age at least until next Tuesday.

Whiskycast [Podcast home]
Malt Advocate [Home]


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Pax Valentino: Flaming Heart

Pax Arcana

compass_box_flamingheart.jpgThe cuddly and sanguine Mrs. Pax Arcana knows the way to her man’s heart is through his blood stream. While she had to settle for 20 white tulips and another small gift — which DHL has not seen fit to deliver yet — I was rewarded this Valentine’s Day with a bottle of Compass Box Flaming Heart scotch.

I’ve written about the unique Compass Box distillery before. I have bottles of the now-discontinued Eleuthera and high-minded Asyla in the liquor cabinet (next to a bottle of Glen Moray that seems embarrassed in the presence of such glory).

This is actually the second iteration of Flaming Heart — which derives its name from an M. Ward song. The first batch was only sold in the European market, and was such a hit that Compass Box brought it back for another go. I only tried a small taste sample last night, but I’ve already sent Flaming Heart straight to the top quadrant of the official Pax Arcana scotch pyramid. There it shares space in the pantheon with Highland Park and The Macallan 12.

We’re not good at writing scotch descriptions 12 hours after our last taste, so instead I’ll reprint what the editor-in-chief of Malt Advocate had to say about it:

Balanced Islay whiskies combine peat smoke characteristics with a sweet foundation. They’re not one-dimensionally smoky. This whisky is an excellent example. This is a peat-laden whisky with refinement and grace. Creamy vanilla, caramel, and honey harmoniously marry with persistent—yet controlled—peat smoke. Crisp spice notes and dancing fruit throughout add complexity. Well done.

Well done, indeed.


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Pax Inebriata: Compass Box Eleuthera

Back in October, we brought you the story of Compass Box, the small-batch Scotch whisky producer that has won both praise and opprobrium from the rest of the Scotch world.

compassbox_eleuthera.jpgThis weekend, we finally found some. In fact, we found Compass Box at two local establishments. The first is Downtown Wine & Spirits, a large-ish liquor store in Davis Square that the coquettish and booty-shaking Mrs. Pax Arcana and us stopped into after bumping into Perry Ellis and the dashing and Yogic Mrs. Perry Ellis at Mike’s Pizza Friday night.

That store carries only Compass Box Hedonism, a superpremium blend which, at $83, was a bit too dear for a non-paycheck week during the holiday season (which puts us in a much different tax bracket than the jackass who paid $54,000 for a bottle of 1926 Macallan last week). We left it on the shelf.

Sunday we dropped into the Porter Square Liquor World, where we encountered a different style of Compass Box, Eleuthera. This bottle sells for $54 — just enough to justify the purchase (we’re writing it off as a business expense pending approval from Pax Arcana’s corporate headquarters).

Our review after the jump:

Continue reading


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This is the best Scotch in the world

ardbegten.jpgThe hooch pictured at right is Ardberg Ten, an Islay single malt that was just named the top Scotch in the world:

Aficionados say that Ardbeg has an overtly peaty, smokey flavour. It is also said to be surprisingly smooth on the palate with a warm finish.

Jim Murray, Whisky Bible 2008 author, who awarded the honour to the 10-year-old single malt, praised the drink as a unique product.

He said in his guide: “To me Ardbeg is – and always has been – the most complex malt on earth.”

We’ve never sampled Ardberg — and judging from the description of it as “overtly peaty” and “smoky,” it wouldn’t be our favorite style of Scotch — but we’re always up for an adventure.

Like that time we ventured far into the woods armed with only a pocketknife and a jar of peanut butter. We stabbed the shit out of that peanut butter.

Island whisky wins top accolade [BBC]

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