Scotchy, Scotch: It’s cold out there

Laphroaig distillery, Islay, Scotland. Credit: Kevin R. Kosar.

By Kevin R. Kosar

I grew up in Ohio, just south of the snow belt. My favorite home was a wood frame on a street without sidewalks. Drafts made their way in, and the single pane window near my bed got frost on the inside, which I like to scritch-scratch with my thumbnails. Sometimes we wore stocking caps to bed.

Which is to say that cold does not much bother me. Or, at least it didn’t when I was young. I went coatless and wore t-shirts no matter how low the Mercury went. As I have aged, I am a little less hot blooded. A little.

Chilly weather changes my appetite for drink. I’ll drink a cold lager in January, but my thirst for dark spirits is strong. The more powerful, the better. Harsh cold merits an intense spirit.

Scotch frequently fits the bill. I enjoy malts from the Lowlands to the Highlands, but my favorite whiskies tend to be the spirits made in the most weather-exposed parts of Scotland. Here are a handful of reasonable priced hearty Scotches I like, from mildest to the most beastly. All of them should be enjoyed neat, but add drops of water if you want to cut the intensity and open their flavors. Continue reading “Scotchy, Scotch: It’s cold out there”


Distillery Visit: Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, Scotland

Here’s one from the archives. We made the trek to Islay in July of 2002. Jim Murray, master distiller and true gentleman, had extended us an invitation some months back. If we covered the airfare, he’d feed and house us, and let us work in the distillery. We leapt at the opportunity.

Ah. what memories we have of the beauty of Islay. When our puddle-jumper plane landed at Islay’s tiny airport, we smiled wide at the sheep grazing at side of the runway.

Lush green hills all about…. Night spent quaffing whisky at the Lochindaal Inn; mornings spent regretting the nights and choking down the 5,000 calorie English breakfast…. Glorious.

The Bruichladdich distillery is a beauty. (See it at We spent a morning or two with “Young Davey,” followed Duncan about during the afternoons, and spent a night with the unbelievably loquacious “Budgy.”

Check out this video of the Bruichladdich mashtun at work (turn on your speakers):

It is a heavenly place. Go see it soon.

More of our distillery visit videos may be seen at