Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bringing young people into preparedness

In August of 2011, my wife and I had a child. Well, not had so much as acquired - a bouncing teenage girl! As you can imagine, going from childless to parenting a teenager was pretty life changing, on both sides. One thing our "daughter" (technically our niece) had to come to grips with was that she was now in a preparedness household. I figured I'd recount some of the ways we broke her into it and how she's adapted.

Food - One thing a teenager can do is eat. A lot. So shortly after arriving, she went with us on a run to our local bulk-food store. She found it fascinating that when she said she liked a particular cereal, I'd add 2 to the cart instead of one. I didn't make a big deal about it, but I did mention we like to have extra on hand. Having siblings, she understood it but found it odd for just 3 of us that we would buy hundreds of dollars of food all at once.

Over the next few weeks, she learned just how much food we had. When we ran out of tuna fish, she immediately cried for a store run. I told her where to look for more. I believe she made some comment to the tune of, "Holy cow, do you know how much food is down there?", at which point my wife pointed out the food in the closet as well. That prompted our first real discussion about what we do. She thought we were odd, but rolled with it.

Now, 1.5 years later, she's rotating food and letting us know what's low in various containers. She's even begun recommending things that should be added to the list!

Firewood - a wood stove wasn't completely alien to her, but she grumbled about helping lug in wood. Of course, when we lost power for while last winter and were able to keep warm with that same wood, it started to click a little why we have all that. She's helped stack and carry since then with a little less grumbling.

Finances - this is an ongoing battle. Honestly, and oddly, the holiday season seems to be what is driving home to her how much finances play into preparedness. Additionally, paying for her own rock climbing has made her notice how fast her money goes. This from a kid who had little to know experience with her own money before moving up.

Having a job has also been critical. While she doesn't get enough hours to pay for everything she wants, she's learning that needing to be somewhere on time and planning for your meals takes effort. Is this hardcore survivalism? Heck no! But these are the blocks that build towards that.

Security - A touchy subject to many, this is an area she's taken a slight interest in. After a date that we put a stop to, and a few poor choices since that time, she's started to carry the pepper spray I gave her a while back. She's expressed interest in some basic self-defense, and actually locks the doors when we aren't around. I think that having a large dog helps. We still have to work on letting strangers in for directions (which she did the other night while we were out), but she's moving forward. And no, she is not likely to ever carry concealed. She isn't interested, and honestly, she isn't responsible enough. She knows that and is good with it. So am I

Prepping on her own - this was a long time coming. For the past 18 months, my wife and I have planned around needing to have things in our Bug Out Bags (BOBs) to help support the teen if things required it. We both tend to over-plan, so that wasn't a hardship. However, after my last post on the 2013 plan, she said she didn't have a BOB of her own and wanted one. Well, no need to tell us twice! For Hanukkah this year, we picked up a pack at EMS (a very sweet Four Wheel Jive) and gave her a bunch of items to go into it. This was a hodgepodge, including a travel toothbrush, some snacks, wet wipes, hair-ties...the list was pretty long, but focused less on things like fire-starting and the like. Don't get me wrong, some of that's there, but we tailored it to here.

And the best part? She's now coming up with things to start for herself! In fact, she spent many hours this weekend working on her kit, making lists, and talking about when things would come in handy. They grow up so fast!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Macallan's 12

Because I like Scotch, I often find myself in social situations being asked, "What should I get?". This is often limited by where I am at the time. Recently I found myself at a social gathering with a friend's wife who likes whiskey but is fairly new to appreciation of it. I asked the bartender what she had that wasn't shown (FYI, ALWAYS ask!) and she went through her list, it ended at Macallan's 12.

I'll admit, I'm not Macallan's #1 fan. I enjoy their whiskey, but I think they're a little inflated for what they are. I've seen their 25 y/o go for $35 a glass, which seems like robbery, but they do make a mighty fine dram. Had Oban 14 been around (likely the same price), I likely have opted for it, but I was limited and went for the big M.

This is a Scotch with a lot to offer. There is a bold taste, but complexity to boot. Boasting a subtle peatiness and smoke, it offers the complexity that a more experienced Scotch drinker yearns for, but has a smoothness that a less seasoned aficionado can use for accessibility. The young lady in question thoroughly enjoyed her glass, and, I hope, broadened her whiskey world a little from the experience.

At around $50 bottle, it isn't my first pick for a general Scotch pick, but you can't go wrong with a bottle of Macallan's 12.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hogshead Whiskey

While I absolutely love Scotch, it is not the only whiskey on the block. OK, technically, Scotch might be the only whisky, but not the only whiskey (the spelling without the 'e' is used traditionally for Scotch, while all others use the 'e'). I've recently been making an effort to expand my horizons, specifically into the American offerings. This decision was made, in part, thanks to Edgefield's Hogshead Whiskey.

I travel to Portland, OR, a lot for work and ended up dining at McMenamins Edgefield, an incredible destination for many reasons. McMenamins is a strange phenomena that could only really work in the Northwest. They acquire unusual properties (along with a few fairly mundane ones) and turn them into restaurants and brew pubs. The Edgefield location is the grandaddy of all these. Originally a county poor farm, they have turned it into 75 acres of drinking, eating, and entertainment. There's even a hotel onsite for those who prefer to spend their entire weekend in an unusual resort.

To complement the food, golf, theater, and beautiful gardens, Edgefield boasts the trifecta of alcohol happiness onsite; a brewery, a winery, and a distillery!

This entire post could be about the beer, but we're talking about whiskey here. McMenamins makes more than just one type. In fact, they make more than one spirit, branching into brandy, gin, and more. Here's what they say about their Hogshead Whiskey:
Hogshead is an original. Continuing the independent and innovative styles of Northwest brewers and vintners, this whiskey is distilled with only a passing nod to the great Scotch, Irish and Bourbon distillers, before striking off on its own. Boasting a palate-pleasing combination of malty spirit – reminiscent of the malted barley grain that began the process – and the smoky, vanilla sweet-wood that surrounds the spirit until bottling, Hogshead is a rich, amber-hued whiskey.

I may have remembered part way through to shoot this

The whiskey itself is aged for an undisclosed amount of time. I've heard anything from 3-5 years from the staff, but it seems to be about when they think it tastes good. It is a single malt from barley they use in their brewing process, some of which they grow themselves. Combined with their brewing experience, they should be able to turn out a passable draught.

Turns out, they do. The nose (smell) is a little hot, meaning there is an alcoholic aroma to it. This isn't always the case in whiskey and it might turn some people off. If you get past that, there's a fruitiness underlying it all that I enjoy. Coming from Oregon, the malt never came close to any peat - maybe a Pete, but not the burning soil - so there isn't that to turn off non-Scotch fans.

Some folks care about how the whiskey clings to the glass. This generally translates into mouth-feel, or how the liquor clings to your tongue. Words like silky or astringent tend to be applied here. The Hogshead has quite a bit of cling to it, which does translate into the way it sticks in your mouth. Now, onto the best part. Drinking!

The flavour is more complex than I was expecting from a small distillery that does a variety of spirits. There is some heat to it, especially in the back of the throat, and it clings briefly to the tongue before the alcohol takes it all away. I find the first sip of a hotter whiskey like this hard to notice much about, but the second one brings a surprising sweetness, along with vanilla, oak, and some of the fruit from the nose, specifically cherry. The aftertaste is one of my favorite things about this whiskey as it reminds me of Vanilla Coke, one of the lost loves of my life as I no longer drink caffeine. I guess they were right when talking about the vanilla in their notes! Despite the initial heat, further sips are remarkably smooth and mellow. this is something you can choose to nurse...or not.

To say it's an astounding whiskey would be a stretch, but honestly, I quite enjoy it. I've gifted it to friends who are very into the US whiskey scene and been asked to get additional bottles, which is always a good sign. Running around $35 for a bottle, it certainly isn't the most expensive date in my cabinet but it's not the cheap date that, say, JD might be. Certainly worth trying out if you find yourself able to get your hands on it!