Had a walk up through Dovedale on Sunday to have a look what conditions were like...not too good as it turned out. The river was running pretty clear but well up and it was the wind that was causing the havoc on the LADFFA section of the lovely Dove.
As I walked back to the car park I noticed that an angler had sensibly sought a sheltered swim and was having some success with it too. As I neared the angler I was surprised to see that it was Stoke on Trent's very own 'vital spark'..none other than Glen Pointon..a rare sight indeed since summer last year. His identity was confirmed to me as I got a little closer and he glared at me in a broad potteries accent....."WWWwwoooddddyyyyy you ***t!".
Anyway, great to see Lord Rocher back in his natural environment...skiving as usual and pulling fish out left right and centre like he'd never been away from the river. Jammy git.
I thought I'd post a wee note or two about my favourite whiskies that I was lucky enough to taste and imbibe over the festive period. These are 3 amazing whiskies each with their own individual characteristics. All are incredibly complex, all suite my palate perfectly, all were perfect for Xmas drinking, and 2 out of the 3 are incredibly rare.
Festive Whisky Number 1
Caol Ila Single Cask Bottling Feis Ile 2010 Islay Single Malt Whisky Filled to cask 19th August 1999 Bottled 2010 Bottle Number 064 Cask Number 305646 61.9% abv
Nose: Cinnamon, winter spice, honey marmalade, rich red fruit, raisins, sultanas, hint of bonfire smoke Palate: Winter spice and marmalade right at the front of the tongue with an amazingly rich and oily mouthfeel Finish: The red fruit and winter spice are huge with a fading waft of bonfire smoke
What a monster of a winter dram! This Caol Ila has been bottled from a single sherry cask and the overwhelming characteristics are of red fruit and sweetness rather than the usual, medicinal, peaty flavours of this Islay classic.What a Caol Ila to taste at Christmas. Bottled exclusively for the Islay Festival of Malt and Music 2010, I probably should have kept this beauty for another couple of years just to keep an eye on it's value as rarities like this can quickly sneak up to a price tag of £500 per bottle. I'm glad I opened it though and it is one that I shall enjoy sharing with friends over the next year or so....
Festive Whisky Number 2
Glen Grant Single Cask Bottling Feis 1987 Speyside Single Malt Whisky Distilled December 1987 Bottled March 2010 Bottle Number 104/272 Cask Number 44648 57% abv
Nose: Olorosso sherry, raisins, vanilla, parkin, bled radiators. Palate: Huge hit of Xmas cake and parkin then classic Spanish oak vanilla. Finish: Very long, deeply rich finish, perfect accompaniment to rich festive deserts.
This was a gift from Leonie for Xmas and is just a classic, does what it says on the tin, sherry cask matured Speysider. If you don't like this, you don't like whisky. The type of sweet sherry monster that took us on trips to Speyside again and again to look for the odd special bottling forgotten about in a dark corner of a whisky shop or bar. Cigar anyone?
Festive Whisky Number 3
Benriach 'Importanticus Fumosus' Tawny Port Finish Peated Speyside Single Malt Whisky Aged 12 years 46% abv
Nose: Strawberry jam, cranberry, peated barley, a hint of peat reek Palate: Strawberries, raspberries, giving way to increasing peat smoke, tar, and jeyes fluid Finish: Drying, the peat smoke quickly takes over from the red fruits.
I'm a great fan of what the Benriach Distillery Company is doing with it's range of Speyside whiskies from both it's Benriach and Glendronach distilleries, the latter having been acquired by the company in the last two years or so. Although it does produce non-peated whiskies, of late, Benriach has become more renowned for it's peaty spirit. The company has also dabbled in 'finishing' some of it's peaty whiskies in particular in different pre-used casks. On the whole I'm not a great fan of these finishes, particularly when the spirit has been decanted into ex wine casks as I think that the whisky can become overpowered by the previous occupant of the casks very quickly. Benriach, however, always seem to manage to get the balance right where the second cask has added an interesting subtle twist of flavour to the whisky without detracting from the intended distillery character. In this case, the peat is predominant with an extra dimension of red fruit that hasn't overpowered the whisky. It makes a good introduction for those who haven't dabbled into the world of peaty whiskies, it being not too much of a monster. For those already used to a little waft of smoke, the addition of the fruity factor does make this a little too easy to drink! Unlike the previous two whiskies, this is not a limited edition bottling and you should be able to find this at any decent whisky shop, especially those found in Russell Street in Leek......
I had quite a pleasant surprise yesterday on speaking with Mr Pointon. I had been under the impression that fishing on the Haddon Estate Wye for Grayling finished on the 1st of January when in fact the last day is the 6th so I managed to sneak in an extra morning's fishing. I checked the weather and all looked quite well for this time of year. I was up bright and early only to find that it had been snowing so wondered whether my extra trip would go ahead after all. Nonetheless I packed up the car filled one jeans pocket with pork pies the other with Quality Street, and made my way up the Buxton Road. All was not well as I drove over the tops, the road was covered in snow and I was sliding everywhere. I'd texted Jan the keeper early in the morning to see if it had snowed over Bakewell way and he'd replied that it hadn't, so I plodded on hoping that the weather hadn't changed.
As I got closer to Bakewell the weather improved vastly and as I parked up near to Caudwell's Mill I noticed that the air temperature was a good couple of degrees warmer than at home in Leek too. I got tackled up and made sure I'd got a few extra layers of clothes on. I hadn't fished since the beginning of December probably the longest I've gone without fishing in the last three years so I was hoping that a dip in confidence wouldn't affect things too much.
The going was tough. I visited all my dead cert spots and for a good couple of hours I didn't have a bite. What made it worse was that on bumping into Jan on the river bank he assured me that the river was fishing it's head off just a couple of days ago.....
I eventually managed a few small grayling but thought it might be time to head back up towards town, near to the pumping station to try some faster, shallower waters. I was soon into one or two fish, the best of which being the one in the pic above that came to a tiny pink shrimp on my top dropper...a beauty...
Farewell wonderful Wye....I look forward to fishing for the troots with the dry later on in the spring...
At last it's the new year is here. The busy Christmas period means that this angler gets out on the river less than any other time of year but as soon as the festive period is out of the way, I look forward to where I'll be fishing and which pals will join me on the way. Tomorrow I'm hoping to embark on my first day's fishing in 2011, I'm hoping to pop over to the Wye for a couple of hours in search of some silvery ladies. I'm looking forward to fishing a wide variety of waters this coming season. I'll retain my Leek and Moorlands ticket so that I can fish the upper section at Eaton Dovedale and the Derby Railway ticket so that I can fish the lower section at Eaton Dovedale plus the excellent stretch of the Dove at Ellastone.
This year I'm looking forward to fishing the Wye quite regularly along with many of the lads I've fished with previously on the Leek and District ticket at Dovedale and on the Churnet in Alton. I've renewed with Leek and District too, I was reluctant to waste my joining fee and the proximity of the waters to where I live make the ideal short fishing outing....Pointon, Squire and I acquired the tag of 'pop along possy' a couple of seasons ago because of how easy we could get to our waters.
I'm hoping to take a few more anglers up to the Isle of Islay this year. I'm fully booked for the week of the Islay Festival of Malt and Music 12 of us are travelling to the magical isle to once again stay in Finlaggan House and to fish all the nearby lochs specifically Loch Gorm, Loch Ballygrant, Loch Inver on Jura and Loch Finlaggan itself. I'm hoping to arrange a trip in the early part of the season too so if you are interested in joining me on an angling adventure to the western isles with a few drams thrown in please get in touch ASAP.
I'm a keen angler and whisky enthusiast. I'm lucky enough to have lived and worked on the Isle of Islay in the Scottish Hebrides, angling and dramming paradise! I fish for wild brown trout and sea trout whilst up North, back in Leek in the beautiful Staffordshire Moorlands I like to meet up with my pals and fish for wild brown trout, grayling and other river species in the Dane, Dove, Churnet, Manifold and Wye.
(email@example.com if you'd like to contact me)