Saturday 29 May 2004

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© 2004 Giles Orr

I took the tube to Victoria station where I caught the Gatwick Express (passenger train). £12.00 one way - not cheap. As is fairly common on my returns, I'm loaded up like a pack horse. The whisky, film, and cameras are in the smaller bag which no longer fits in the big bag, so I'll have to check in the big bag.

It's amusing to think that I got up at 0230 Milledgeville time (0730 here). I bet Jason and Terri were going to bed about then - and they're going to pick me up in Atlanta.

Marcel's comment about Schiphol being 5 m below sea level makes me wonder about starting a list of "really cool things" I've done - international airport below sea level. Kissed my girlfriend-to-be for the first time at the Taj Mahal. Drunk whisky in Scotland, Jenever in Holland, eaten curry in India (did I?), ate haggis in Scotland ... (fish and chips too). Walked over nearly all the bridges in Venice, visited most of the churches. Visited Muscle Beach in L.A. Went up the CN Tower (several times). Got sick in Mumbai (and ate unidentified medications). Seen the Atlantic (from both sides), Pacific, Indian, and Mediterranean seas.

I'm beginning to dread British liquor stores. Their samples make me spend copious quantities of money. Gatwick airport has two duty free places that sell whisky, with large and larger selections: World Duty Free and World of Whisky. And both are more than happy to give you samples. I sampled the following:

Jura Superstition: I'd seen a good review of this, and now I know why. Similar to an Islay, smoky, flavourful, long finish. Not good enough to carry it back, but good enough that I'll look for it.

Bowmore Surf (no age statement): seems to be their next young standard after Legend - it's certainly mellower. Not the sweet I expect from Bowmore, but a good finish. Not worth buying though because Mariner is so much better ... The lady there was a huge fan of whisky, and she felt that Mariner is the best of the Bowmores, which is the way I've been leaning recently.

Cask Strength Laphroaig: The flavour struck me as half way between the ten year old and the 15 year old. Huge flavour of course.

I recommended Balvenie Double Wood to another person there, and the lady said I really needed to try:

Balvenie 15 year old single cask: Sweet smooth honey flavour, thick texture, lingers a bit longer than most non-Islays. I think I prefer the Double Wood, but it was definitely nice.

We talked some about the same company owning the miserable Glenfiddich (the best selling whisky in the world) and the excellent Balvenie.

I bought a bottle of cask strength Bowmore (again, no age attribution - one litre for £30) having been assured that all I'll pay is Georgia sales tax, and at that only on the extra two bottles (not the first two). I didn't get to try the Bowmore Cask - I hope I like it! It would be surprising if I didn't.

£170 worth of whisky ... About $300 US, or $18 tax if it's on all of them. As it turned out, I stayed safe and legal and told customs "I have four bottles of whisky with me, is there anything I need to do?" The guy glanced at me and said "not unless you want to leave one for me." "Umm, thanks," and I walked out. So I still don't know what the duties on the extra bottles actually are, because I didn't feel like asking after I'd been given a free pass.

The Brinsons were at the top of the escalators as promised, with Ashley. They even had a cardboard sign that said "GILES" on it, which made me almost as happy as seeing them. We drove around some in a bizarre and eventually successful attempt to connect with Colleen, and then we had dinner at Udipi (a great Indian restaurant in Atlanta). We delivered Ashley and Colleen and then drove to Macon, where I picked my car up from Groome Transportation. A great end to a great trip.

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