Drink a Dram with Delin: Flasks & Blends

by Delin Watmough


Hello all! I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and Happy Hogmanay. As I am writing this in early December, I don’t know what restrictions we all had to face but I do hope everyone got a chance to at least talk to their families.


Before I get started I would like to say thank you for all the positive feed back I have received from the first of my little blogs and just touch on one of the comments. The Flagstaff Scottish club is not just for Scottish people to join. We have many members in many positions who aren’t Scottish. For instance, I am mostly English (sorry), Danish, and Norwegian with a smattering of Irish, Welsh and about 1% Scottish. What I do have is a love for all things Scottish. The Flagstaff Scottish Club (FSC) welcomes everyone who would like to be involved with celebrating Scottish Culture and Heritage in Flagstaff County and beyond, no matter their ethnicity.


Flasks

If you've spent any time with some of the members of the FSC, you know most of us enjoy a wee dram now and again. Band members have also been known to have a wee nip before and or after performances and apparently one of our pipers have been accused of his pipes smelling like whisky, (okay it was me, but if you played as poorly as I do, you would need a nip now and again too). Now the question is, how do those pipers get the whisky there? The answer: Flasks. There are so many different flasks out there that it's impossible to cover them all so I am just going to cover basic shapes and materials.


Material

I have seen flasks made from plastic, glass, stainless steel, pewter, and even silver. In my humble opinion, good whisky should never be drank from a plastic container. Plus, with the myriad of inexpensive stainless steel flasks, there really is no reason to. Glass, while being a excellent container for whisky, is just too fragile to be practical. Stainless steel is a excellent material for a flask as it is durable, inexpensive and readily available. However, if you leave your whisky in one for more than a day or two, you get a tin taste. While I have no personal experience with pewter flasks, they do not impart a tin taste to your whisky but they tend to be a little less durable and are considerably more expensive. With a silver flask, you are going to spend a lot to get one- if you can even find one- but again, you won’t get that tin taste either.


Shape

There are 2 basic shapes flasks come in: the hip flask and the round sporran flask. Now, there are tons of novelty shapes and sizes out there but for our purposes, I am just going to stick with the 2 most common.

The hip flask is rectangular flask that is curved to allow it to ride in the hip or jacket pocket with comfort. ( I am a bit of a rebel, I had a holster made for mine to ride on my belt and my smaller one rides on a key chain latch also on my belt.)


The round sporran flask is just that- a round flask that fits perfectly into your sporran. It's definitely more covert than having it hang off your belt but I find my sporran is full of other junk, like my wallet, keys, phone, handgun, (I am kidding about the handgun- just seeing if everyone was paying attention), so to add a flask to that would be difficult. Round flasks tend to be more highly decorated and a lot classier (yet another reason I don’t have one).


(Both flasks shown above are both available at the Flagstaff Scottish Club Store, along with various other flasks.)


Please keep in mind though that some police officers take a dim view of flasks in public and you could end up with a ticket for illegal possession if you are not careful.


January's Whisky Selection

This month I have decided to do something that’s going to make you think I have lost my mind, but there is a reason for it. With January being upon us, comes the bills from Christmas so I have chosen to talk about blends that prove you don’t need to spend a fortune to have a decent glass of whisky.


Now, I can hear all the purists screaming NO!!! But to be completely honest there, really are some very nice blends out there and to discount them outright is a disservice to yourself. Personally, I am mostly not a fan of most blends but there are a couple which I keep in my collection.


Blended Scotch allows distillers the opportunity to use both single malt and grain whisky in their products in order to reduce costs and thereby passing those savings on to the consumer. Generally, this makes blends easier to drink. However, a lot of the time, blends do not have the complex flavors that single malts do. This month I am just going to do a list of a few of the popular blends, a little about them and their flavor profiles in order to allow you to chose what may be best for you.


Grants Family Reserve

Flavour Profile

- noses of cereal grains, citrus, honey, and brown sugar

-medium body with hints of butterscotch and oatmeal

About

-readily available everywhere, this company has been blending whisky for 5 generations

-Balvenie and Glenfiddich single malts are used


J&B Rare

Flavour Profile

- Amber color with a light peat and iodine

- Dry clean finish

About

- A blend of 42 malt and grain whisky’s

- The most single malt than any other blend

- Available in most stores

- Blended in Germany


Famous Grouse Black

Flavour Profile

- Blended for smokiness, mixed with golden sugar and traces of malt and oak

- This is a blend that is an easy drinking introduction to peated whisky’s that finishes smooth and sweet

About

- A local favorite of many in this area also readily available in most local stores

- One of the most popular blends in Scotland

- Featuring peated whisky from Glenturret distillery


Ballantine’s Blended Scotch Whiskey

Flavour Profile

- noses of barley and very light peat

- tastes soft and slightly sweet

About

- second highest selling blend in Scotland

- readily available and blended for balance

-malts in this blend come from Miltonduff and Glenburgie distilleries


Teachers Highland Cream

Flavour Profile

- Fruity malty nose with a soft smoke, and barley malt taste

About

- A very famous blend that was awarded 90 points by the same guy who gave Alberta Premium Cask Strength Rye whisky of the year

Opinion

- I bought a bottle of this and after tasting it gave it to my wife in order to make Cranachan. In my humble opinion not worth buying.


Kirkland 12 year old Blended whisky

Flavour Profile

-noses of flowers and beeswax

-fruity medium body with a hint of honey and smoke

About

-available only at Costco

-reportedly distilled in the Speyside region but no one is telling who the exact distiller is

Opinion

- one of the best blends I have ever tasted and I highly recommend it as a budget whisky for all pallets.


Chivas Regal 12

Flavour Profile

- Noses dry and malty

- Light bodied and starts mild and finishes with dry spice notes

About

- A little more expensive, almost approaching single malt territory

- Not as available locally but can be found in some stores

- Reasonably complex for a blend

- Contains malts from Pernod Ricard, Glenlivet, Braeval, Miltonduff, Allt-a-Bhaine, and Strathclyde Distilleries


I could go on and on and on but the list is a few of the more popular blends and just like single malts, there is one for every pallet. Do yourself a favor and try one of the many blends you can find. You may be pleasantly surprised.


In finishing, I just have to thank my beautiful wife Stephanie, without her these blogs would not happen. She has always encouraged me in my quest into the world of whisky, putting up with countless trips to liquor stores in every town we come across and the hundreds of dollars I have spent, even though she hates whisky (I am determined to find one she enjoys LOL). Not to mention me smelling like whisky quite a bit. She truly is the reason I am able to do this.


May your days be long and your glasses full

Slainte


Delin Watmough