Globally, it’s still a mad world….

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Blimey, it’s been beastly cold, what? Who’d be an Eskimo? 

Mostly this week we’ve been wishing we were a little bit more Australian, or at the very least in Australia for a little bit – 26 Celsius at the moment, and it’s midnight, admittedly with 78% humidity, but currently a double figure temperature is something we can only dream about.  Plus, the prospect of a long weekend in the sun, celebrating Australia Day with a barbecue and a cold one in hand, feels like something we’d be so much better at doing than standing here, in the persistent gloaming, with cold hands.

But stood here we did, with multiple sweaters and scarves on, feeling more Michelin Man than Pirelli Calendar, with fridges that felt warmer than the outside air and listening to Test match cricket direct from baking Barbados desperately trying to squeeze some warmth from the radiowaves…

Oh for godsake, stop moaning and cheer up, have a word with yourself.  This is meant to be the chirpy, end of week email that gets everyone through their lunchtime and reminds them that there is loads of fun to be had in Wimbledon Park as the weekend looms into view, not a diatribe on your wardrobe shortcomings plus it’s positively sweltering today in comparison – why don’t we look at what’s been going on in the world?

So, Tim Martin, the Wetherspoon equivalent of Michael O’Leary, has announced that from now on his prestige pubco (?) will no longer sell European wines or beers as a metaphorical two fingers to the ‘protectionist’ European Union.  They’ve already binned Moët and Prosecco last year, which for many people is no great loss, but now they are going to get rid of Pinot Grigio, Rioja and the rest.  Bold and impressive moves indeed but perhaps this stand against the evil European empire would feel more bold and impressive if he wasn’t planning to continue selling Stella Artois!

However, the one piece of sense that Tim did espouse was the suggestion that the government drop the duty on draught beer and thus encourage punters back into the pubs – whilst that’s clearly in his interest, I don’t think it’s such a daft suggestion.

Globally, it’s still a mad world.  Shutdown continues in the US and sadly nothing has changed really since last week; Greece and FYR Macedonia seem to be closing in on a name change agreement; Catherine Deneuve is selling her clothes and, in a supremely morally bereft move, three paintings attributed to Hitler are being auctioned in Berlin – where are the snowflake protests about this then?


Whilst Sydney swelters, the good people of Alloway on South Ayrshire woke up this morning with the mercury showing a quite Bahamian 10 degrees and a nice bit of drizzle. 

But why on earth do we care about the weather in the south west of Scotland?

Well, we’re not sure we do really but it does work as a clumsy lead in to the acknowledgment that Alloway is Rabbie Burns birthplace and today is his day.

So it’s all about haggis, it’s about neeps and tatties and Cullen Skink, about whisky and kilts and faux Scottish accents assassinating the Address to a Haggis; it’s about cultural appropriation in monster form and it’s all a load of fun.

Especially the whisky bit.  Serendipity was our friend last week, as a gentleman called Graham Hadley dropped in to see us.  We had never met Graham before but it transpires that he owns the trademark to the words ‘Mary Queen of Scots’.  I know, who knew?  Anyway, as a consequence, he was in town to support the launch of the film of the same name and at the same time pop around a few shops to see if anyone was interested in selling his whisky, again, of the same name.  We were one of those shops.  To be honest we were a little nonplussed by the whole thing – but being professionals that we are, we took a sample of his wares, obviously.

Introducing Mary Queen of Scots 12 Year Old Blended Malt – £35

This blend is produced for Graham by the Master Blender at Ian Macleod Distillers of Broxburn, near Edinburgh.  It comprises a minimum of 12 Premium Single Malts, all 12 years old, to reflect the 12 years in total which Mary Queen of Scots spent in Scotland.  We know that there is Glenfarclas and Glengoyne in the Blend but the rest remain the Blender’s Secret, which is quite standard practice. 

We sampled it after Graham had left, slightly concerned that it might be a bit of a gimmick and also unsure of how much it was going to cost – to be honest we were both slightly apprehensive.  However, we pulled ourselves together and gave it a try and we were very, very pleased. 

Quite dark in the glass, as can often happen with a blend, and really, really moreish.  A floral nose with sweet hints of heather honey is followed by a deliciously smooth palate with no sharp edges and plenty of warming floral character again and some characterful spiciness on the finish.  We thought it was absolutely delicious and perfect as a foil to haggis or as a suitably warming digestif, so we bought some so you could try it too!

We do of course have all our other whiskies available too, should you fancy something single malt or smoky – here’s what we have in stock:


Ardmore 1998 – £70.00

Royal Brackla 1999 – Connoisseurs Choice – £60.00

Tomatin 12 Year Old – £41.75



Bunnahabhain 11 Year Old – Discovery Range – £50.00

Caol Ila 13 Year Old – Discovery Range – £50.00

Finlaggan Old Reserve – £32.99


Ledaig 12 Year Old – Discovery Range – £50.00


Linkwood 15 Year Old – Distillery Label – £65.00

Benromach 15 Year Old – £60.00

The Glenrothes Whisky Makers Cut – £54.00

Strathmill 2002 – Connoisseurs Choice – £50.00

Benromach 10 Year Old – £37.99

However, if you would prefer your drinks to be less highly spirited this weekend then rest assured we’ll have a couple of bottles of wine open to try too which will work perfectly with your haggis tonight or even your barbecue tomorrow:

Pulenta Estate Chardonnay 2016, Mendoza, Argentina – £14.99

Pulenta Estate is located in Alto Agrelo, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, one of the most prestigious winemaking areas in Argentina.  Its high altitude, at 980m, ensures a wide temperature range and a slow ripening of the grapes.  This Chardonnay has citrus and tropical fruit notes, gently underlined with vanilla from the oak, which is delicately balanced with both fruit and freshness.

Imperio Reserva 2011, Valdepeñas, Spain – £10.99

This is made by Bodegas Navarro Lopez, who have been making wine in the area since 1904.  Absolutely classic old school style Tempranillo, aged and rounded, with a colour heading to brick at the rim, liquorice and balsamic aromas combining with vanilla and spiced rich fruit on the nose.  Berry and cherry fruit flavours with spice again and a smooth satisfying finish – enormously food friendly but equally as fab as a glass of wine on its own!


Usually something we are record-breakingly poor at, so don’t get used to this… Anyway, as a warning we will be opening later next Tuesday, 29th January.  We’re going to steal some warmth in the West End as we have three supplier tastings to charge through – we will be back in the shop for 4pm, hopefully with a sheaf of tasting notes and teeth that aren’t too black

So, that’s it from us for now, come in and taste wine or whisky or perhaps both and marvel at our impersonations of Bibendum whilst we stand awestruck at your impressions of the Ploughman Poet!


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