Friday, 4 June 2010

Guzzi replaced by Triumph!

NEWSFLASH: Due to insurance problems with the Guzzis being lent by Piaggio, Tom and Rob will now be carryng out The Barnard Challenge on a pair of Triumph Street Triple 600s.

Many thanks to Triumph for stepping into the breach at the last moment.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Book now available! Launch at Whisky Live Glasgow

This is a bit of an experiment. In June, as you can read in the Journey's Blend blog, Rob Allanson (editor of Whisky Magazine) Ken Hamilton and myself completed a 1500-mile motorcycle journey around five Scottish distilleries, collecting samples and creating what we think of us 'the ultimate geographical blend'.

This was filmed for the internet TV station singlemalt tv and has now been turned into a lavishly-illustrated book, featuring written contributions from each of us (including 12,000 words of my own deathless prose).

There are only 50 bottles of the 'Journey's Blend' whisky available, in a presentation box with a signed copy of the boook. These are available only from Whisky Magazine or at the various Whisky Live festivals (including the upcoming one in Glasgow, at which the book and blend will be officially launched).

You can buy the book on its own from the magazine, or from Preview it by clicking on the link below:
By Five distilleries...

Friday, 31 July 2009

Sunday, 21 June 2009

More pictures are available on Flickr

All three of the participants (Rob, Ken and me) have been working furiously on the text for a planned book about the trip. Have to say that so far I think it's absolutely hilarious. Working title is Journey's Blend: Towards A New Theory Of Motorcycling, Malt Whisky, Scotland And Everything

There's a Flickr set of photos here, should you wish to investigate further the mysteries of Ken's moustache and other matters.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Getting it right first time, and heading for home

I'm in the Mcdonalds at Kirriemuir, heading north on the A90 to get the boat home tonight. And it's done! The Journey's Blend blend is complete, expertly put together by Edrington's head of all things blendiferous, John Ramsay, at the Glenturret distillery just outside Crieff. Also the site of the Famous Grouse Experience, hence the giant...bird thing.

It was absolutely brilliant watching John at work - using five whiskies collected on the trip - Highland Park, Kilchoman, Glengarioch, Bladnoch (most northerly, westerly, easterly and southerly, respectively) plus Glenturret itself, which is almost at the dead centre of Scotland. The exact proportions must remain a secret, but John, using his decades of experience, came up with a formula based on an exacting tasting of each whisky. I'll describe the process in more detail later. suffice to say that we did three variant blends, but the first was best. Brilliant, in fact.

Afterwards we repaired to the absolutely superb Barley Bree in Muthill for dinner - best of the trip, and one of the best I've ever had in Scotland). This morning, Rob Draper from Singlemalt TV carried out his final interviews (look out for two programmes on the trip soon) and we parted, Rob and his son Paul so impressed with the Barley Bree they're staying on, Ken and Rob Allanson heading for Cambridgeshire. Next year, America. Apparently.

The book, the magazine article, the TV show and much else to follow. I'm back on the radio tomorrow, all being well.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Some pictures from the trip...

A few snapshots: The Kilchoman cross on Islay, and the very first cask of Kilchoman whisky - now, at more than three years old, legally Scotch whisky. The bikes, first at 6.15am waiting for the ferry from Port Askaig to Kennacraig, and then including a yellow interloper, Dave's Triumph Sprint, outside Bladnoch Distillery at Wigtown.

Finally, that's an incredibly rare, restored BSA Gold Star racer, used at Daytona in the 1950s, and on display at the Scottish Classic Motorcycle Show, which I was delighted to declare open today.

Islay, Wigtown, McDonalds...

In the Broxden McDonalds outside Perth. First internet for three days. That's 620 miles, and now heading (alone - others had a long lie) for Glen Garioch at Oldmeldrum. Big Red Bathtub behaving very well.

I left the - truly excellent - Bladnoch Inn at 7.00am as I was booked to open the Scottish Classic Motorcycle show in Fenwick. Made it up the lovely New Galloway road in an hour and a half. Then thrashed it north in dry but dull weather because I knew there was free wi-fi at sad is that?

The other bikes are doing well, but poor Ken Hamilton on the Enfield is having to put up with serious discomfort and lack of speed. The (2009) Enfield looks lovely, though. Rob on the Triumph has all the benefits of classic design and modern tech.

Kilchoman on Islay was very interesting, and Bladnoch fantastic...never had a tasting session like that before. Just the most easterly distillery left now, and the actual blending. Must go. This is a fast food place, after all. Got some great pix and will blog later if there's wi-fi at the b&b. Hope the other guys make good time.