Eye Of The Beholder

So this Paris-based fitness blogger (no, I don’t know what that is either) decided to give us two views of herself — as men might see her and as she does. Here’s the object in question:

Here’s what I see: a reasonably-pretty woman, decent boobage (the bra doesn’t help), with the bandy legs and slightly large nose of the typical Parisienne. In a stone-cold sober state, I’d rank her somewhat above average: about a 7, maybe a 7.5 if she cleans up nicely. If she has a sexy walk or carries herself with confidence, she’s a definite 8, and I’d wager that most men would happily ask her out on a date.

Here, however, is the comparison she draws:

Good grief. This just goes to prove that there’s no fiercer critic of a woman’s body than the owner thereof.

Suddenly, she’s a lot less attractive. Ladies, take note: self-hatred is not sexy.

And if Miss Aubery is just doing this to attract attention to herself — what’s known today, cruelly, as “attention-whoring” — to build up her self-esteem, then that’s even less attractive.

Scotch

I’m on my way Up North to Scottishland today and don’t have time to post something current. By pure coincidence, however, a Longtime Reader asked me to rerun my old treatise on Scotch whiskies, which seems appropriate; so here it is, from March 2006, and as you may imagine, not much has changed since then:

I drink Scotch in three ways:

1. Single malts (sipping). Neat, no ice, with a glass of water consumed on alternate sips. This has less to do with style than it does with my frigging gout. I refuse to dilute the lovely stuff in my mouth, but I don’t mind diluting it in the stomach. My favorite single malts are typically from the Speyside region, and I’ll drink pretty much any single malt from those distilleries, but my absolute favorite is The Macallan 25-year-old, with Glenmorangie 10-yr-old as my “everyday” choice. For a “change”, I’ll drink The Dalmore 15-yr-old, which like Glenmorangie is a Highland malt.

Also in the cabinet right now are all the aforementioned, plus Glenfiddich 18-yr-old and Talisker 10-yr-old, for those with different tastes to mine. When Mr. FM comes to visit, I usually lay in a few bottles of Laphroiag, his favorite.

2. Blended (thirst quenching, or at parties). J&B, ice and water — and only J&B. Forget even offering me anything else. No J&B, and Kim drinks something else altogether, like gin. I actually dilute my J&B quite substantially — that gout thing again — and this also allows me to drink for longer periods of time before intoxication sets in.

3. As an after-dinner liqueur. Here I prefer the smoky, peatier singles like Laphroiag or Talisker, because I’m only going to drink one, and I can take my time in the drinking of it.

I’m not a Scotch snob, by the way, even though the above may make me sound like one. My tastes and favorites have come after some fairly extensive errrr trial and experimentation, and like in many areas of my life, I see no reason to change something with which I’m comfortable, and which has come about after considerable experience. I’ve tried most of the major single malts available internationally, and a couple available only in Scotland, but I’ve come to settle on the above because, well, I love their taste.

The wonderful thing about Scotch in general, and single malts in particular, is that it doesn’t matter how you drink it: that distinctive taste will always shine through. (However, I pretty much draw the line at drinking single malt with, say, Diet Coke, because that’s just barbaric — and once you mix any Scotch with Coke, the subtle differences between brands and types pretty much disappear, making the choice of a single malt under those circumstances just pretentious. But hey, if that’s how you want to drink that 40-yr-old Talisker…)

Just be aware that adding water to a single malt doesn’t just dilute the taste, it may change it completely. I find that this is especially true of some Highland malts. Some people happen upon such a taste, and thereafter prefer to drink their favorite single that way. Your call.

Still on the subject of taste, some say that coastal distilleries’ malts are different from those made by inland distilleries because of the salty sea air. I can’t taste it, myself, but I’m not a seasoned Scotch drinker, really.

Finally, it’s a common mistake to assume that the older the malt, the better the whisky. Some malts taste better in their “rawer” state — the malt becomes more bland as it ages — whereas others need the time to “mature” into smoothness. It’s all about your taste and preferences.

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Afterthought: It occurred to me that not everyone might be familiar with the Scotch thing, incredible as that may seem. So, for the benefit of anyone who might be interested in pursuing Scotch as a career (as so many have), here are a few pointers.

Single malts are the exclusive product of one distillery, made from barley. They will be bottled and sold as such, or else sold to other distillers to be blended with other malt- and grain whiskies (in closely-guarded secret and “proprietary” recipes) to produce “blended” Scotches such as J&B, Haig, White Horse, Bell’s, Cutty Sark and so on.

Blended malts are malts from different distilleries, sometimes called “vatted” malt. (The wonderfully-named “Sheep Dip” is a blended malt. Also, if the brand contains the words “Pride of”, or “Poit”, chances are it’s a blended malt.)

Proprietary (blended) Scotches are also broken into blended grain (grains from other distilleries) and blended Scotch (malts and grains from different distilleries). The actual number of distilleries used can be large. J&B, for example, uses the product from forty distilleries (and almost none from Islay, which is why it’s one of the smoothest Scotches on the market). Johnny Walker Red contains malts from 35 distilleries, and grains from 5 others.

As a rule of thumb, the higher the malt proportion (30%+) in the blend, the more expensive the Scotch. The most expensive (sometimes called premium) blends are at least 40% malt (eg. Johnny Walker Black, Chivas Regal). The “premium” can also be a factor not of the malt/grain mix, but of the number of malts used — the lower the number of malts in a brand, the more expensive it will be.

Single-grain Scotch whisky is rare (Black Barrel and Loch Lomond being the most famous).

(For all the info on Scotch whisky brands you’re ever likely to need, go here.)

The age of a single malt is denoted by the time it spent maturing in its cask: once bottled, it ceases to age altogether. If you see “single cask” on a single malt’s label, it means it came from one cask exclusively and was not mixed with whisky from other casks within the same distillery. Usually, this variant is hideously expensive, for not much more flavor — we’re well up the curve of diminishing returns, here.

Now for some pointers on the distilleries and their brands. The list is by no means complete (there are dozens of distilleries in Scotland — here’s a map), but I have actually tried all the ones I’ve listed.

The malts differ by region (sometimes by even smaller geographic differences) because of the different waters used, and in the distilling processes. I’ve made a few generalizations, however, just to give people an idea.

One last note: when you see a “The” before a single malt’s name, it’s not generally an affectation. Sometimes, the name is an area, not just an actual distillery (eg. Glenlivet), and “The” is usually added to denote either that it’s a single malt, or that it comes from the distillery of that name.

Speyside whiskies have a smoother taste, lighter flavor and softer aroma than most other Scotches. They are distilled, as the name suggests, in distilleries which are found along the River Spey on the northeast side of Scotland. Some of those distilleries (there are at least twenty major ones) are: Knockando, Glenlivet, Aberlour, Balvenie, Glenfarclas and Macallan.

Island/Islay whiskies come from the islands on the west- and north coasts of Scotland. Typically, they are much heavier, more aromatic, peatier-flavored whiskies, and some of the distilleries are very well-known: Laphroiag (la-froy-yag, from Islay), Talisker (Skye), Ardbeg (Islay), Highland Park (Orkney) and Bowmore (Islay).

Highland whiskies come from the north of Scotland (sometimes split into northern and southern Highlands). They tend to be darker than the Speyside malts, but not as peaty as the Island ones. Brands include such names as Dalwhinnie, Glen Ord, Dalmore, and Glenmorangie.

Lowland whiskies come from points around the Edinburgh – Glasgow axis, and there are really only two major ones: Rosebank and Glenkinchie (which is the main ingredient of Dimple Haig). I’ve tried Rosebank and didn’t really like it that much, but others (not put off by the “Lowland” appellation) swear by it.

Some factoids:

  • Glenmorangie is the #1-selling single malt in Scotland.
  • Glenlivet is the #1-selling single malt in the world.
  • Glenfarclas is the strongest “production” single malt sold.
  • The Famous Grouse is the most popular Scotch in Scotland (it’s blended, not a single).
  • Johnny Walker Red (also a blend) is the most popular Scotch in the world.
  • Johnny Walker Black (also a blend) is the most popular “premium” Scotch in the world.
  • Chivas Regal (also a premium blend) is the most overrated Scotch in the world (okay, that’s just my opinion — OMD).

Feel free to add your comments and opinions in the regular place. Remember that taste in anything is highly personal, so no flame wars, please.

Now: on to Edinburgh.

Seldom Spoken, Truer Words, Mankind For The Benefit Of

Sarah Hoyt sometimes makes me want to give up blogging, because she so often makes me think, “I should have written that. Why didn’t I?” Her latest, on what constitutes duty, starts off high with a brilliant Heinlein quote, and then soars up into the heavens. Sample:

Fulfill those duties you freely assumed, yes, even unto death, because that’s the price of your honor and your adulthood.  But those obligations imposed on you by force majeure?  Accept the need to do it, if there is no other alternative, but do NOT under any circumstances internalize it as your duty or feel guilty for not fulfilling it.

This is why you should harbor absolutely no feelings of guilt about avoiding taxes as much as you legally can, why you should never volunteer information to the police unless you’re an uninvolved witness and why (in 2020) you should tell the government’s “census”-takers to fuck off with their snooping and intrusive questions. And those are just the first three which came to me as I was reading it. Feel free to add your own suggestions in Comments.

Read Sarah’s whole post, please. It will clear your head and make your whole day brighter, as it did mine.

Selling It Short(s)

Apparently, the LPGA is cracking down on female golfers’ attire, because dignity or something.

Clearly, this is to make professional women’s golf even less attractive to male TV viewers and -spectators.

If we take the lovely Paige Spiranac, for instance (and who wouldn’t?), we’d be going from this:

to this:

All nonsense, of course. As I’ve often said before: if anything, the LPGA should loosen dress codes on their circuit — hell, let them play topless — if they want more men to watch the women play their inferior golf (and thereby get more sponsorship and TV money).

Imagine if we could watch the lovely young Paige playing in this (forbidden) outfit:

Okay, maybe she could lose the heels, just for the tournament. But let me tell you, even without the heels I might be persuaded to watch women’s golf again…

 

Range Report: Mauser M12 (6.5x55mm)

Just got back from the range, where I gave the new Mauser M12 its first serious shooting. Here she is, topped with a Minox ZX5 2-10x50mm scope (with an illuminated German #4 reticle) and tipped with a moderator (a.k.a. “suppressor”):

…and for those interested in such things, the stock detail:

“Yes, yes, Kim; that’s all very well, but how does it shoot?”

First I fired a few lighter bullet weights (120 grain), just to warm up the barrel and foul it up a little. I left the sights at 1″ over center, and then got serious, using some RWS 140-grain hollowpoints:

Yikes. With only a tiny sight adjustment, I ended up getting sub-MOA (1cm) groups (with apologies for the metric nonsense, but that’s how the spotter called them) — that’s slightly less than 1/2″ groups at the 100-meter mark.

I took off the scope (via the quick-release Mauser ring system) and put it back on again — same zero, same groups. So that operation works.

Then I removed the moderator — which, by the way, I want to marry so it can have my children — and added a simple muzzle brake, just to see the difference, and popped off a couple of rounds. Much louder, same point of impact.

Mr. FM tried it out, and although the point of impact shifted (he’s a left-hander, ’nuff said), his groups were similarly sized.

He, by the way, was practicing with his Blaser R8 in .300 WinMag:

…which shall henceforth be known as the “DANE” (Death To Anything At The Naughty End) rifle.

Come to think of it, mind you: that could also be the name of my M12. Another few hundred rounds, and I’ll be really comfortable with it, although it must be said that I’m more than halfway there already. What a lovely little piece.

Here we both are, after a good cleaning:

Prison Work

While driving through the Cotswolds last week, Mr. FM and I stopped off for lunch at a place intriguingly named, “The Old Prison”.

The cop shop was on the other side:

While eating my ham ‘n three-cheese panini sandwich in the little restaurant, my eye happened to catch sight of this commemorative sign:

Try as I may, I cannot think of a reason why this excellent form of prison work should not be introduced into our modern U.S. prisons. Think about it: it keeps the inmates busy, keeps them fit, keeps them out of mischief and, for those interested in such trivia, it’s a completely green source of energy.

And speaking of energy, here’s a quick pic of Mr. FM’s little conveyance which had carried us up into Gloucestershire:

Not very green, of course; but then again, I’m not one of those who are interested in such trivia.