Scotch whisky, and the new Belle and Sebastian album

Friday, March 17th, 2006 @ 10:36 pm | Pop Culture

For St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to buy a $45 bottle of scotch whisky. (I had no plans, and besides, I’m 1/4 Scottish, and not at all Irish). Having only very recently gotten into Scotch, I decided to dive in and buy a bottle of peaty, smoky Laphroaig (pronounced La-froyg, easier to pronounce than to spell.)

About a half-bottle later, I can definitely say that I’d like to take a trip to Scotland, if only to check out the square foot of land I just acquired. On the Laphroaig website, you can register to claim a square foot of land at their distillery. (The UPC from the bottle is required.) This aerial photograph shows the approximate location of my “plot.”

Quite precise, eh? Supposedly, if you visit the distillery, they provide you with size 12 boots to pace out the exact location of your plot. Oh, and they give you a dram of whisky as “rent.” (A dram is an informal term for a small amount of whisky, not necessarily related to the imperial unit of measurement.)

As an interesting aside, the Bruichladdich distillery (a neighbor of Laphroaig on the isle of Islay) has produced a limited quantity of 184 proof whisky (92% ABV), based on a centuries old recipe.

‘In his travel notes of the Hebrides, explorer Martin Martin (so good, they named him twice!) described a quadruple-distilled drink he called “usquebaugh-baul,” or perilous whisky…

“The first taste affects all the members of the body. Two spoonfuls of this liquor is a sufficient dose and if any man should exceed this, it would presently stop his breath and endanger his life,” read Martin’s description.’

Apparently, the distillation of this powerful spirit led the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency to monitor the distillery a few years back, under suspicion that the distillery could possibly be producing chemical weapons.


Since we’re discussing things Scottish, I must declare my love of the latest Belle and Sebastian album, The Life Pursuit. I’ve been listening to B&S since the days of If You’re Feeling Sinister, and in my opinion, The Life Pursuit is their best album since The Boy with the Arab Strap.

Of course, with every B&S album, there are fans (or shall we say detractors) who feel that the band’s latest album isn’t quite as good as Sinister (considered by many to be the band’s definitive album.) To this I say, of course not. The Life Pursuit is better than Sinister! Seriously, if I hear one more person compare the latest album to Sinister, I’m going to punch them in the face. That album came out eight years ago. Grow the fuck up already.

Belle and Sebastian played the Ryman in Nashville last week, which was the highlight of an otherwise uneventful Spring Break. If they come to your town, I urge you to see them. They’ve become quite the consummate performers in recent years. And oh yeah, buy the new album. Listen to it a bunch, it’ll grow on you.

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