Credit: HBO, Helen Sloan
If looks could kill they probably will, Cersei
Credit: HBO, Helen Sloan

Neat Stuff 20: Game of Thrones Scotches, Tasmanian whiskey and 10 topnotch bottles

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GoT whiskey: Game of Thrones pours it on one last time

Death is so final, whereas life—ah, life is full of possibilities. Taking that chestnut to heart, Game of Thrones fans are scheming like Littlefinger to guess how it will all end. Whatever happens, we can’t get enough of the acclaimed series, whose eighth and last season launched April 14.

Its product spinoffs? Not so much. With the shamelessness of Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), showrunner HBO has lent the GoT name to the likes of Adidas, Oreos and Mountain Dew, Rolling Stone details.

Hard eight  Credit: Diageo
Hard eight 
Credit: Diageo

House Scotch

To be fair, there’s also Diageo’s line of eight single malt Scotches celebrating the houses of Westeros and the Night’s Watch. Becky Paskin of gives most of them a thumbs up, plus a soundtrack for each one.

The show is a lifestyle as well as an entertainment brand, pop culture pundit Marissa DiBartolo tells MarketWatch. That goes double for whiskey and other booze: most GoT characters imbibe, and fans love to hold viewing parties. We’ve said it before, but there’s no story so good a drink won’t make it better.

TOAD trip! Credit: The Oxford Artisan Distillery
TOAD trip!
Credit: The Oxford Artisan Distillery

Brexit, Schmexit—time to hit some English and Welsh distilleries

What do you really need to know about England and Wales? At, the musically inclined Felipe Schrieberg obliges with an alphabetized guide to every whiskey distillery he can name in both countries.

His rapid-fire list of 19 includes The Oxford Artisan Distillery—aka TOAD—located in the college town that figured heavily in our formative years. On offer: your own cask of Oxford Rye, delivering 200 litres of cask-strength enjoyment crafted from organic grain. Geeks among you will appreciate Oxford Artisan’s Mr. Toad nod and its Ashmolean Dry Gin, named after one of our favorite museums.  

Single and available in Wales Credit: Dà Mhìle Distillery
Single and available in Wales
Credit: Dà Mhìle Distillery

It’s on me, Your Royal Highness

In a less posh patch of Old Blighty, Hackney’s East London Liquor Company is the area’s first whiskey, gin and vodka distillery in more than a century. The three-year-old outfit’s only whiskey to date: its 46.8% ABV London Rye.

Among the three Welsh establishments is Dà Mhìle Distillery, whose limited-edition Single Grain Welsh Whisky spent four years in sherry casks. The joint also sells a 1992 single malt Scotch that its founder calls “the world’s first organic whisky of the modern era,” whatever that means. He’s been known to give the stuff away to Prince Charles, who can afford to pay.

Not all fun and games Credit: Tony Menechella
Not all fun and games
Credit: Tony Menechella

In poor taste: Why this whiskey judge sometimes dreads the gig

Think being a whiskey judge is a dream job? Tony Menechella of The Whiskey Wash knows different. Being asked to share your expertise is an honor, but many competitions expect you to pay your own way, Menechella relates.

Judging is also a chance to make new friends, he says—but expect to suffer a few crashing bores, too. “Some love to see the word ‘judge’ associated with their name, and are quick to tell you all about it, along with their expertise and prowess, for hours!!” Spoken like a man who knows his stuff.

There's whiskey in them thar hills
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Devil we know, but Tasmanian whiskey? Ripper

We have an aunt in Tasmania, where we keep meaning to visit soon. Now there’s even more reason to go: besides unique and sometimes unsettling flora and fauna, this Australian island state is home to about 30 of the nation’s 120-odd whiskey distillers and bottlers, Jovi Ho of CNA Lifestyle reports. Oh, and August 12-18 is Tasmanian Whisky Week.

As Vicky Frost of the Guardian points out, temperate Tasmania often feels more like Scotland than Oz, and there’s even some peat around. Many local distillers make whiskey in pot stills like their Scottish ancestors did, Distiller’s Philip Morrice explains.

A trail ride Down Under

If you find yourself in Tazzie, hop on the Tasmanian Whisky Trail, which covers all nine of its distilleries. Among them: Sullivans Cove, which took Best Single Malt at the 2014 World Whiskies Awards and Best Single Cask Single Malt this year.

“Fruity toffee, with a hint of burnt caramel,” the judges declared of the 2019 winner. “Leathery touches. Palate is sweet and candied with a rich toffee core. Spiciness and black liquorice build from the middle, along with rich apple sauce. Finish has apple skin, liquorice and sweet cinnamon sugar. The apples linger.” So would we.

We get it, you're an Icon Credit: Chivas Holdings
We get it, you're an Icon
Credit: Chivas Holdings

Season’s best: 10 whiskies worth springing for

Sometimes you just need someone else to do the heavy lifting. Thanks, Whisky Advocate, for rounding up the 10 top-scoring whiskies from the magazine’s Spring 2019 issue.

No. 1: Chivas Regal The Icon Blended Scotch Whisky (95 points), yours for a cool $3,500.* “A spectacular citrus nose with incredible freshness,” Jonny McCormick says. “An intense array of citrus on the palate…accompanied by baked brioche, Ling heather honey, vanilla and oak, with a hint of eucalyptus on the extraordinarily long finish.”

Something to chew on

Moving to the bottom of this topflight list, we’re all over Booker’s 2018-03 “Kentucky Chew” Bourbon (93 points) from the Kentucky distillery founded by Jim Beam descendant and small-batch bourbon pioneer Booker Noe. If you’ve never done the Kentucky Chew, swish, swallow and smack your lips, Susannah Skiver Barton instructs.

Her take on this $70 bottle, whose ABV sits north of 63%: “Aromas of peanuts, cherry cola, candied ginger, blackberry jam and curing tobacco are echoed on the palate, which has grape jelly, blueberry pie, peanuts in Coke, Mexican hot chocolate and a hint of licorice. The finish is warming, lengthy and sweet, with a lift of cherry and spice undercutting chocolate and oak.” Hot dang.

*All prices in U.S. dollars

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