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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

WHAT IS THE #1 SCOTCH TODAY?

It was eight years ago that Nikka's Yoichi 20-year-old won the World's Best Single Malt competition at the 2008 World Whiskies Awards.  This was the first time a foreign entrant was selected #1 and is the scotch equivalent to the 1976 Judgement of Paris, when a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay (six years ago a bottle was sold for $11,325, but a 2013 can be had for $40) from Napa Valley bottle-shocked the French.  Off the media radar, another California Chardonnay from Chalone Vineyard located south of San Francisco, came in #3 that year.  In 2008 a French company from Bordeaux tried to purchase Chateau Montelena, but the transaction failed.

The World's Best Single Malt this year was actually from Scotland:  a 27-year-old Old Pulteney (hard to find, but a 30-year-old can be found for $430, while a 12-year-old sells for $40).  A 21-year-old Hibiki from Suntory took the World's Best Blended Whisky title.  More of the world's best for 2016:
  • Single Cask Single Malt:  Kavalan Solist Amontillado Sherry ($120)
  • Single Pot Still:  Green Spot Chateau Leoville Barton (Ireland$60)
  • Bourbon Whiskey:  Abraham Bowman (Virginia$86)
  • Corn Whiskey:  Balcones True Blue 100 (100 proof, from Texas, $90)
  • Flavored Whiskey:  Knob Creek Smoked Maple Whiskey (Kentucky, $30)
  • Rye Whiskey:  Pikesville (Kentucky, 110 proof, $38)
  • Design Award:  Puni Alba Italian Malt Whisky (also known as whiskey, First Year sold, $60-$170)
You'd never guess which country was #1 in 2015.  TAIWAN, with their Kavalan Solist Voinho Barrique Single Cask Single Malt Whisky ($274).  Or what about 2014?  AUSTRALIA's (Tasmania) 12-year-old Sullivan Cove French Oak Cask Single Malt Whisky ($187, but can't be found).  2013?  Back to Scotland, with their 1999 Ardberg Galileo ($254).


Just as wines are made just about everywhere (can you believe every state in the Union has at least two wineries--California has 2025), whiskies, and something close to "scotch," are now distilled the world over:
  • Switzerland has 20 distilleries.
  • Arctic Whiskey is produced in Norway, which has nine distilleries.
  • India consumes about as much whiskey as the rest of the world.  However, 90% of "whisky" produced in the country derives from molasses, and the quality ranges from rum to "true" single malt (right).

While Johnny Walker is the best-selling scotch brand in Scotland, Officer's Choice from India is now not only the best selling "scotch," last year OC overtook Smirnoff Vodka to become the world's largest selling spirit brand.  OC is made from grain, unlike most India whiskies.  The company began operations out of Delhi in 1988.  Officer's Choice Blue sells for $18/bottle.  There is one list that shows Jack Daniels is the largest selling whiskey with 11 million cases in 2013.  OC will this year sell three times more.

So what is the #1 scotch in 2016?  By volume sales, Officer's Choice Blue Label from India.  By World Whiskies Awards annual selection, Old Pulteney from Scotland.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

15 CRAIGSIDE: Pink and Purple

The colors of 15 Craigside change with the season.  Last month, it was yellow:


When I returned to 15 Craigside yesterday, I saw this beautiful white flower:


To my astonishment, when I entered my apartment, I saw that both Pearl's Sunburst and a Honohono plant had bloomed:


Honohonos mostly flower in March.  No one watered them for two weeks.

There is, of course, a story about the sunburst.  When Pearl had breast cancer surgery a third of a century ago, I bought her a sunburst.  She brought it home and it turns out it grows from a bulb.  One bulb had become two, and she took good care of them and gave bulbs to friends.  All these years, even with our travels, the plants survived.  This photo was taken a year before she passed away.  When I came home from Kuakini Hospital upon her passage, a flower was beginning to bloom.


So, anyway, now comes the pink and purple part, for when I returned yesterday, this cattleya was still blooming in the lobby of the 12th floor, where I had left it nearly three weeks ago:


Looking down from the 12th floor, you can see a graveyard with pink and purple flower trees:


In the bottom right hand corner are pink shower trees:


In the center of that photo is a beautiful Jacaranda tree:


So I walked down to the graveyard and took these photos:


As you might know, the Jacaranda bloom comes with a pleasant fragrance.  When you add Plumeria flowers, the combined aroma comes across as a powerful perfume:


I was surprised to see that the Jacaranda flower is just about the same shape and size as that of the Gold Tree.


But Tabebuia donnell-smithii does not seem close to Jacaranda mimosifolia.  In any case, I'm still considering the Jacaranda if the problems with the Gold Tree cannot be solved.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

FROM MOUNT FUJI TO DIAMOND HEAD

So here, again, is Mount Fuji:


I hardly ate anything in the United Global First Lounge, but the food looked worthy:


The flight itself to Honolulu was pretty good for United. The service was exceptional and cuisine, actually, excellent.  I ordered the Japanese assortment which was totally different from the traditional small dishes on a tray.  The first course had four cold Japanese beginnings.  Then a salad plus mushroom soup.  Came cold sushi and hot chicken on a stick.  Finally, the entre, two kinds of cod preparations:


The audio-visual system in Unted First sucks.  They all use the same wired remote control, which does not react well.  Plus, they all have a place to store your favorite songs in a playlist, but no way to accomplish that task.  No staff member on any of the flights had a clue.  I somehow was able to watch The Fifth Wave, which was skewered by Rotten Tomatoes reviewers with a 17% rating.  My seat converted to a horizontal bed, and I actually fell asleep.

I awoke in time to photograph Diamond Head on landing:


I could have added Punchbowl Crater to those mountains in the title:


My basil and arugula plants survived well in my high tech hydroponic system.

I have no  trips planned into the foreseeable future, save for that January 2018 World Cruise.  The search for a cabin-mate was further solidified on this stopover.  Here is one list showing the range of options:

World Cruise Deals (Except some do not completely circumnavigate Planet Earth.)
Title 
Sailing Date 
Cruise Line/Ship 
Depart/End 
Starting Price Per Person 



134-night Full World Cruise1/3/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Mary 2®
New York City
New York City
$22,398
Request Pricing
180-night Around the World Voyage1/3/2018
View Itinerary
Oceania Cruises
Insignia
Miami
Miami
$43,799
Request Pricing
71-night Around the World Voyage Segment1/3/2018
View Itinerary
Oceania Cruises
Insignia
Miami
Singapore
$19,049
Request Pricing
129-night World Cruise 3: Storied Treasures & Journeys1/7/2018
View Itinerary
Crystal Cruises
Crystal Symphony
Cape Town
Rome (Civitavecchia)
$56,805
Request Pricing
66-night World Cruise Segment1/7/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
London (Southampton)
Osaka
$10,198
Request Pricing
122-night Full World Cruise1/7/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
London (Southampton)
London (Southampton)
$19,998
Request Pricing
75 night Discover South America1/7/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Victoria®
London (Southampton)
London (Southampton)
$11,799
Request Pricing
82-night World Cruise Segment1/7/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
London (Southampton)
Hong Kong
$12,598
Request Pricing
137-night 2018 Full World Cruise1/8/2018
View Itinerary
Regent Seven Seas Cruises®
Seven Seas Navigator®
Los Angeles
Los Angeles
$58,799
Request Pricing
120-night Full World Cruise1/10/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Mary 2®
London (Southampton)
London (Southampton)
$19,998
Request Pricing
112-night Full World Cruise1/17/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
New York City
London (Southampton)
$18,298
Request Pricing
76-night World Cruise Segment1/17/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
New York City
Singapore
$12,398
Request Pricing
72-night World Cruise Segment1/17/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
New York City
Hong Kong
$11,799
Request Pricing
109-night Full World Cruise1/20/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
Ft. Lauderdale
London (Southampton)
$17,898
Request Pricing
93-night Full World Cruise2/5/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
San Francisco
London (Southampton)
$15,198
Request Pricing
87-night World Cruise Segment2/12/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Mary 2®
Perth (Fremantle)
London (Southampton)
$14,698
Request Pricing
77-night World Cruise Segment2/22/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Mary 2®
Melbourne
London (Southampton)
$12,898
Request Pricing
76-night World Cruise Segment2/23/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
Auckland
London (Southampton)
$12,398
Request Pricing
71-night World Cruise Segment2/28/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
Sydney
London (Southampton)
$12,498
Request Pricing
68-night World Cruise Segment3/3/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Elizabeth®
Brisbane
London (Southampton)
$11,898
Request Pricing
62-night World Cruise Segment3/9/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Mary 2®
Sydney
London (Southampton)
$10,298
Request Pricing
60-night World Cruise Segment3/11/2018
View Itinerary
Cunard Line®
Queen Mary 2®
Brisbane
London (Southampton)
$10,098
Request Pricing
84-night Grand Continental Odysseys - Full World Voyage1/13/2019
View Itinerary
Crystal Cruises
Crystal Serenity
Los Angeles (San Pedro)
Monte Carlo
$26,285
Request Pricing

These were the luxury options.  Ships like Princess (Remember The Love Boat TV Series?  This was the line.) and Holland America also fully cruise around the world, and the cost is in the range of $20,000.  Of course, one would not want to have an inside cabin for months, so you will want to upgrade.  Thus, choosing the cruise line, plus extent of upgrading, will need to be considered by the touring group.  This decision will be made before the end of this year.

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