Donna had an appointment at the hair salon in Tempe on Tuesday. We rode the Spyder there – about a 20-minute ride from ViewPoint RV Resort. I dropped her off at 11am and continued on to the Total Wine store at Tempe Marketplace. Total Wine is a big box discount liquor store. They have a huge selection and good prices.
I was looking for a bottle of Scotch whisky. I like to sip single malt Scotch occasionally. There’s a difference between American whiskey and Scotch whisky – beyond the spelling and geographic origin – they are made from different ingredients. Scotch is malted barley that’s been distilled twice and aged in oak barrels. American whiskey is distilled primarily from corn.
The aging process for Scotch whisky takes place in oak barrels – usually in barrels obtained from American distilleries after they’ve been used to age whiskey. Some Scotch distillers will then transfer the whisky to used European wine casks – like sherry casks. The aging process takes place while it’s in the barrels or casks. Once it’s bottled, the aging process stops. So, if you have a bottle of 10-year-old Scotch and put it on the shelf for five years, you still have a bottle of 10-year-old Scotch.
Scotch whisky also has distinct flavors depending the region it’s distilled in. The largest region is Highland which is known for a warm, smooth product. A sub-region is called Speyside and it’s similar to Highland Scotch but also produces fruitier flavors. Scotch produced off the coast in the islands (Islay) is often peaty and/or smokey.
My preference is Speyside or Highland Scotch that’s been aged a minimum of 12 years. Scotch that’s aged 18 or more years is usually far superior but the price jumps exponentially. A lot of people will say not to waste your money or taste buds on inexpensive Scotch. I disagree – to a point. I look at it like shopping for red wine. Anyone can spend $30 or more and come home with a decent bottle of red wine. To me, the trick is finding a decent, affordable daily glass of wine for about a third of that cost. I shop for Scotch in this manner also.
My fallback position on single malt Scotch is Glenfiddich or The Glenlivet 12-year-old Scotch. These are very popular and affordable. I like to try out different offerings from time to time. When we’re in California, Trader Joe’s carries their house brand of Scotch which they obtain from a brokerage called Alexander Murray. Alexander Murray buys from various distilleries and bottles under private labels. They carry 750ml bottles ranging from cheap 8-year-old Scotch to very expensive 25-year-old Scotch. I’ve had their 13-year-old and 15-year-old and it’s quite good.
At Total Wine, I found a bottle called Glen Ness 12-year-old Highland Scotch. It’s their house brand and I thought I’d give it a try. It was a couple of dollars less than Glenfiddich and I found it to be fairly comparable – although I think Glenfiddich has a little more complexity. That was probably more than you ever wanted to read about Scotch.
After we returned home, I took it easy for the rest of the day. The temperature reached the upper 70s and things are blooming all over the desert. Tree and grass pollen counts are high and I’m suffering from pollen allergies. Donna rode her bicycle to her physical therapy session and afterward continued on to complete a 16-mile loop.
Donna prepared one of our favorite fish recipes for dinner. She wrapped individual servings of cod with asparagus, orange juice, butter and fresh tarragon in parchment paper. She put the parchment wraps on a baking sheet and cooked it in the convection oven. It’s very easy. She makes four servings and we enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Here’s Donna’s recipe…
Fish in Parchment with Asparagus
4 15×15-inch squares parchment paper
4 5-to 6-ounce fish fillets (such as halibut or cod; each about 1 inch thick)
12 fresh tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces plus extra for buttering parchment paper
1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed (and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces if desired)
4 tablespoons orange juice
Preheat oven to 400°F. Place parchment squares on work surface. Generously butter half of each parchment square (I rub the parchment with one end of a stick of butter). Top buttered half of each with 1 fish fillet. Dry fish with a paper towel and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top each fillet with 3 tarragon leaves, then 1 piece of butter. Arrange asparagus around each fish fillet; pour 1 tablespoon orange juice over each. Fold parchment over fish and asparagus, folding and crimping edges tightly to seal and enclose filling completely. Place on 2 rimmed baking sheets, spacing apart. Bake fish packets 17 minutes. Slide packets onto plates and serve. NOTE: Can be made 4 hours ahead and chilled, making it a great dinner for company.
On Wednesday morning, I played in the round robin pickleball matches. In the cool morning hours, my allergies seem to be a little more subdued. By the afternoon, I was going for eye drops every four hours or so. I took it easy for the rest of the day. Yesterday the temperature reached 86 degrees and we should see upper 80s through the weekend.