Kieran Folliard is a native son of Ireland, but calls Minnesota his home now. While running a group of Irish pubs in Minneapolis, he and his staff decided they should sell their own special Irish whiskey. Two Gingers became so successful in the pubs that Folliard decided to sell his stake in the pubs to his staff and make a go of Two Gingers, which was named for his mother and aunt back in Ireland. He wound up selling his brand to Beam, while retaining control over the day-to-day management. We'll hear more from this Irish entrepreneur on this week's WhiskyCast In-Depth. In the news, Heaven Hill's hoping to raise more money for ALS treatment and research with the 2015 Parker's Heritage Collection whiskey and Old Forester honors its founder with the annual Birthday Bourbon. In Scotland, Royal Brackla finally gets its due as a single malt, Edinburgh could soon have its first malt whisky distillery in 90 years, and a forgotten time capsule yields a really old bottle of whisky!
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Remember the aquarium in Finding Nemo? After Nemo’s managed to clog the filter and it gets all scummed up? Imagine licking that filter while the dentist goes to see a man about a wallaby. Since you’ve not left your oral phase behind, you move to well-used lab equipment, burnt matches, and a corrupt politician’s (hypothetical) soul. You put on your peat pajamas and roll around in your peat sheets.
Sipping and nipping brings a bright peat—a kind trampled by the tiny exuberant hooves of mountain goats frolicking in highland bogs. I honestly wouldn’t have guessed prior to this that such peat existed, like learning about tardigrades, the honey badgers of microorganisms. A dialogue opens up between me, the essence of peat, my memories of past and future lives, mint cigars, and oatmeal eaten in an FDNY firehouse. (Unsurprisingly, the oatmeal didn’t have much to say.) This would be a perfect digestif for the lucky sinners of the flesh flying around in an erotic frenzy in Dante’s second circle of hell.
On the scale of things that are better to burn out on than fade away–
The Benriach Septendecim 17 is the pyre of an Edda-fied Viking warrior who sacked Hibernia, then succumbed to the gout at the Althing not far from Reykjavík in Iceland–Hey hey, my my! Benriach will never die! There’s more to the whisky, than meets the eye! Hey, hey, my, my. My, my, my, my, my, my goodness.
–Our thanks to Anchor Distilling, Co. for the sample!
The Peat Monster Cask Strength Blended Malt Scotch Whisky 57.3% ABV $125 (1.75 Liter) Website What the Blender Says: This is a big whisky. We’ve taken our already big, already peaty, already smoky malt Scotch whisky, The Peat Monster, and delivered it at cask strength in a double-size magnum bottle. Available only for a short … Continue reading Peat Monster Cask Strength →
This new release from the Islay distillery of Bowmore offers something genuinely unique - a Scotch single malt that has been matured in Japanese mizunara oak. This is the first whisky of its kind and stems from the fact that Bowmore is owned by Beam Suntory, the biggest whisky producer in Japan. Mizunara oak is rare and only grows in northern Japan and small areas of China and Russia. Trees are very slow growing and take 200 years to reach full size. Because of this Beam Suntory only make around 100 such casks per year and runs a sustainability programme to replant saplings for future generations.
Bowmore is the oldest distillery on the Hebridean island of Islay and one of the oldest distilleries in all of Scotland. Only Glenturret in the Highlands is older of those that are still in operation. Bowmore was founded in 1779 by John Simpson and is owned by Morrison Bowmore, who have been in control since 1963, which is now part of the larger Beam Suntory drinks company. The distillery sits in picturesque surroundings on the shore of Loch Indaal
Bowmore is one of only six distilleries in Scotland to malt its own barley on a full-time basis and the annual production of the distillery is two million litres. The core range is extensive and expands across local and travel retail markets – this helps to make Bowmore one of the biggest selling single malts in the smoky/peaty style. Last year we took a tour around Bowmore with David Turner, the Distillery Manager - to read more about Bowmore and our visit click here.
The Bowmore Mizunara Cask Finish is limited to just 2,000 bottles and these will be distributed between selected key markets. The majority of the whiskies included were initially matured in ex-bourbon casks and a small percentage were in ex-sherry casks. These were hand selected by David Turner and were all distilled in the 1990s. They were then transferred to virgin mizunara oak casks for a further three years. It is the first time that mizunara casks have ever been exported out of Japan. It is bottled at the natural cask strength of 53.9% ABV and the price will be £650.
Our tasting notes
The colour is a bright golden yellow and the nose is vibrant, fresh and spicy. The initial aromas are a elegant mix of vanilla, gentle peat smoke and tropical fruits (think of pineapple and mango). These are backed up by more subtle aromas of candied lemon and plenty of cinnamon, plus hints of cocoa and cloves.
On the palate the whisky has an initial vibrancy and freshness, which is exaggerated by the high ABV. The wood spices, especially oak and cinnamon but also mace and cedar wood, are particularly prominent and are supported by earthy peat smoke. This smoke seems more punchy than on the nose and evolves to become softer and more floral. The whisky softens with time in the mouth and there is plenty of sweetness and fruitiness that add balance to the smoke and spice, plus depth and complexity. There are notes of honey, vanilla and golden syrup and these are backed up by dried tropical fruit (especially mango) and lemon zest, plus hints of fresh lychee, cocoa powder and menthol.
The wood spices and smoke slowly fade to leave the fruity and sweet notes to the fore. This gives the whisky a long, complex and sumptuous finish with a delicious mix of candied citrus, dried mango, vanilla and honey.
What's the verdict?
The Mizunara Cask Finish is a sublime single malt and easily one of the best new releases of 2015 to date. It is simply superb, oozes class and demonstrates how good older smoky whiskies can be. It has incredible depth and complexity and takes water very well - this knocks back the spices, makes the whisky more velvety, accentuates the tropical fruit notes and gives the smokiness a floral edge. One dram at the world launch was not enough ...
This is a luxury, premium and limited edition single malt that has been priced by the producer accordingly. It may seem expensive to some but let's look at what you are getting for your money - 1) a truly innovative single malt, 2) whiskies included are of mixed ages 16-25 years old, 3) finished in a very rare type of cask that has never been transported out of Japan, 4) bottled at cask strength and 5) only 2,000 bottles ever. Each one of these five aspects increases the price of a whisky in the real world, so the final price was not a surprise to us.
The Fall 2015 issue of Whisky Advocate magazine will be hitting the newsstand in early September. Here’s a sneak preview of the issue’s Buying Guide reviews; the 10 highest-rated whiskies of the issue.
#10 – Wild Turkey Master’s Keep, 43.4%, $150
A very pricy (for Wild Turkey) 17 year old whiskey honoring master distiller Jimmy Russell. Nose is hot for the proof, with oak, dried barrel drool, warm dried corn, tobacco barn, and teaberry. Entry is not hot; rather, a thread of sweet syrup spreads out into thoroughly integrated corn and oak. Finish slides into drier oak. A fascinating journey through bourbon flavors, this is both lighter and more complex than expected. I still prefer younger Wild Turkey, but…—Lew Bryson
Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 91
#9 – Nikka Coffey Grain, 45%, $65
Sweet, with subtle, crisp, nutty oak, then comes fudge, ripe banana, and peach. The overall effect is like eating vanilla ice cream with toffee fudge and hazelnut sprinkles. The structure is thick and physical, the palate sweet and quite fat, with light hints of raspberry, fruit salad. A jag of acidity freshens the delivery on the finish. With water there’s more toffee, and it becomes slightly more yielding, with less oak. For me the gold standard of grain.—Dave Broom
Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92
#8 – Compass Box Hedonism Quindecimus, 46%, $200
How time flies! This eloquent blended grain marks CBWC’s 15th anniversary and the combination of these aged grains is idiosyncratic of whisky auteur John Glaser’s distinctive taste. Rich honey, apricot stone, crisp spices, vanilla custard, gentle oak char, and tropical fruits promise a real reward. Succulently juicy, with melon, apple, and caramel, subtly paced, with chocolate and dark fruit infiltrating. Slowly the sweetness depletes to black pepper and spiced roast meats. Defer swallowing for as long as possible. (5,689 bottles)—Jonny McCormick
Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92
When Thomas Chen introduced Canadian Rockies in Taiwan, he chose Highwood Distillers in High River, Alberta, to supply a delicate yet fragrant, fruit-laden whisky that would please the Taiwanese palate. Now launching in Canada, Chen upped the bottling strength to 46% to boost the flavor. The complex, exotic fruit salad and faint lilac-like flowers that characterized the original remain, along with blistering white pepper, sweet oak caramels, and crisp, clean barrel notes on a luxurious, creamy palate. (Canada only) —Davin de Kergommeaux
Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92
#6 – Buffalo Trace French Oak Barrel Head Aged, 45%, $47/375 ml
Nicely round flavor profile, with complex notes of creamy vanilla, subtle tropical fruit, mocha, fennel seed, and light tobacco. Lingering cinnamon spice and cocoa on the finish. An extremely drinkable whiskey that entertains throughout. —John Hansell
Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92
This select bottling of Bernheim Original comes from Warehouse Y on the 4th floor, and is non-chill filtered. Without the filtering, the nose is notably more expressive and becomes a real showcase for wheat grain, oak spice, caramel, and citrus. On the palate, this whiskey maintains a firm balance between soft and strong, with supple wheat grain entwined with caramel, oak, and cinnamon spice. A long, flavorful finish caps off a well-curated selection of an excellent whiskey. (Julio’s Liquors only)—Geoffrey Kleinman
Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92
#4 – Barrell Whiskey Batch 001, 61.25%, $59
7 year old whiskey (an unspecified “corn, rye, and malted barley” mashbill “distilled in Indiana”) aged in used barrels. Maple syrup, well-browned popovers, and Canada mint lozenges in a boozy-hot nose. Richly sweet on the palate: pastry dough, hints of anise, buttery and slightly-burnt cornbread, syrupy dark fruits: complex, rich, delicious. Water brings out more of the dough and tames the heat. Delicious, unique, intriguing. Sourced whiskey.—Lew Bryson
Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 92
This single cask, distilled at Highland Park, is an excellent example of why distilleries sell off certain casks. On the nose it’s Highland Park’s signature sherry and peat, but on the palate it’s a beast. Monster peat smoke surfs on a lush layer of berry and malt. This builds to a peak with smoke, salt, and oak spice, bolstered by the high proof. A smoky, dry finish rounds off a monster whisky, different from Highland Park’s style, but very interesting. (Julio’s Liquors only)—Geoffrey Kleinman
Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93
#2 – Evan Williams Single Barrel 2005 Vintage (barrel #292), 43.3%, $29
Complex fruit (clementine, pineapple, golden raisin) balanced nicely with honey, vanilla custard, and dusty corn, along with a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg. An extremely versatile whiskey with its medium weight, easy to embrace personality, and subtle charms. Perennially one of the best values in whiskey.—John Hansell
Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 93
#1 – The Exclusive Malts 13 year old 2002 (cask #20021), 54.2%, $ 135
This 13 year old malt from central Ireland is an uncommon foray into the Irish whiskey space for the Exclusive Malts Collection. Pure malt is the focus of the nose which supports that malt with tart green apple. On the palate this whiskey is a stunning mix of lush, sweet honey, salt, malt, green apple, and ginger spice. The balance and integration are nothing short of perfect. A long malty finish caps off one of the best Irish whiskeys I’ve had. (U.S. only)—Geoffrey Kleinman
Advanced Whisky Advocate magazine rating: 96
The post Whisky Advocate’s Fall 2015 Issue’s 10 Highest-Rated Whiskies appeared first on Whisky Advocate.
Thank you. It's been Emotional.
As posts go, this one will certainly go down as one of the most memorable ones that we have ever written on this humble website.
As many readers know, we began Caskstrength.net back in January 2008. We were fresh faced, wide eyed, particularly thirsty and in possession of a drinks cabinet stocked mainly with ubiquitous Scotch brands. We took it upon ourselves to seek out the most interesting whiskies we could lay our hands on.
Once-upon-a-time we looked like this...Hard to believe really. Here we are in 2015 and we're just perusing the sidebar and a few of our old posts, over 650 of them, reviewing over 1,000 different whiskies and occasionally other spirits. To click back and look at how our tastes have changed in that time is as fascinating for us as it is to witness just how much the whisky business has changed in a little under a decade.
When we started Caskstrength.net, there was barely a handful of online blogs or webpages dedicated to the spirit. Our influences came from inspirational spaces like Whiskyfun.com and DrWhisky, who began to deliver a voice loudly proclaiming that whisky wasn't just the domain of the over serious, wizened, ageing bore, but an accessible, engaging and, as we have seen in the passing years, spirit that offers something that almost everyone can enjoy in one way or another.
As Caskstrength.net evolved, it became something much greater than either of us had ever imagined. It has taken us to different continents and allowed us to try some truly mind blowing, once-in-a-lifetime liquids. In short, it has helped to give us a career in spirits.
But more importantly, it has been the conduit enabling us to forge some incredible friendships with people all over the world, many of them stemming from kind words and support from our readership.
in 2014, Caskstrength.net hit just under 900,000 views, around 70,000 a month, which is a figure that makes this post all the more important.
We now find ourselves in a totally different arena. Today, there are literally 100's of 'whisky blogs' and the landscape of writing about the spirit has changed in our opinion. To use a crude car analogy for a second, this once gleaming, perky sports car has now hit a very high mileage indeed and is starting to cough a little on cold mornings.
We could take it for a tune up at the garage, but in our minds, that's not the answer. In essence, we need to trade in Caskstrength.net for something brand new, fresh and with a much better, bigger, more efficient engine, capable of delivering not only the malt mileages we intend to travel, but also encompassing our huge passion for every spirit, which we realised when writing our recent book, Distilled.
So here is it then. Caskstrength.net as you are seeing it now will, after this post, be no more. Gone to the great retirement home in the sky for hard working drinks blogs.
Its replacement is going to be very exciting indeed. Over the coming weeks, we'll be introducing a brand new website: WorldsBestSpirits.com
It will be an informative curated drinks website, with news and views about everything from Absinthe to Whisky. As always, it will be packed with plenty of the original Caskstrength character, commentary and up to date news on gin, brandy, Tequila, rum, Armagnac, mezcal, vodka and as much else as we can possibly cram in. The notion of simply 'blogging'- and indeed the phrase 'blog' is, in our opinion, something that now feels tired and quite saturated- and we like energy, not tiredness.
What's more, WorldsBestSpirits.com will grow from simply the two of us penning articles into a dedicated team of international contributors from all over the world - more on them later.
Writing this blog has been a pleasure. Moving up a gear to curate, choose and deliver to you the World's Best Spirits with the same verve and vigour we have approached Caskstrength.net will be an absolute pleasure. Hopefully we'll end up looking as young again as we did the photo on page one of this journey, minus the obvious wide-eyed naivety.
To celebrate the full stop on this story, we have each chosen to link to a couple of our favourite posts from the last seven-and-a-half years, and to review one final dram with which to toast our goodbye...
Joel's Top Post: Springbank Rundlets & Kilderkins
Neil's Top Post: The Glenlivet Alpha
And so, in rather timely fashion, we reach the end of our very last post.
Our last review on Caskstrength...
We thought long and hard about what would be the whisky to sign of with and there it was, sitting on our desk staring us in the face. It's arrival was remarkably timely in fact...
So for the Last Post, we bring you.... The Last Drop.
This bottling project has now become the stuff of legend: Thee industry stalwarts, led by James Espey OBE decided that rather than retiring, they would locate and bottle some of the oldest and best whisky - and other spirits- that they could lay their hands on. The concept of The Last Drop was born in 2008 and the previous releases including a blend from 1960, a 50 year old blend and now, a 48 year old blended whisky have all been released to critical acclaim. The company is now in the hands of a younger generation of the founders, but the ethos remains the same.
This 48 year old blend is limited to 592 bottles and is priced at an RRP of £2600. It even comes with a miniature of the whisky too and a leather bound box. But that doesn't really concern us.
Question is... will it be a truly fitting send off for Caskstrength? No pressure.
The Last Drop - 48 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky - 48.6% - 592 Bottles
Nose: A hugely complex nose, the likes of which we've only recently found in a few old Armagnacs and very old grain whiskies: Meaty, waxy foundations, lead into rich vanilla sponge cake, clean linen, raspberry jam, with polished wood surfaces and Manuka honey rounding out the top notes. It would be sad to lose such a complexity with water, but a small drop releases some more tannic notes, sweeter vanilla and creamy toffee.
Palate: Broad shouldered and oaky, with a backbone stave of tannic Orange Pekoe tea, leading into chopped Brazil nuts, hints of the sponge cake again and very old grain: that unusual bittersweet toasted note that tends to emerge with this type of aged blend. It certainly isn't a polite, unconfident blend: it's powerful and uncompromising on the palate, with some dark oaky notes, just tempered with enough sweetness to bring the whole thing together perfectly.
Finish: Extremely warming, but with no overtones of spirit: just pure, rich dryness, the kind of tongue coating unctuousness that 'serious' whiskies bring. Put simply, this is as serious as Jeremy Paxman grilling a hopelessly out-of-their-depth, incompetent Cabinet Minister on Newsnight.
Overall: A remarkable whisky, that not only highlights the intricacies of blending at this age, but also the concept of longevity. Sometimes, new (old) whiskies pop up with a huge fanfare but are quickly revealed as being jaded, one-dimensional and just that little bit over-egged. One wonders the reasons why they weren't bottled sooner, but we'll put this down to simple economics. Here, we have a superb integration of old grain and malt. But alongside its experience, it brings a refreshing vibrancy to the party too.
It's a whisky that we could probably all learn a lot from.
And with that, there's nothing more for us to say than simply, adios, slante and see you all when the next phase in our plans is fully online. Thanks for making Caskstrength such a successful and fun place to work from and we very much hope you'll stick with us at WorldsBestSpirits.com
So, charge your glasses and raise a toast: The Blog Is Dead! Long Live WorldsBestSpirits!
Neil & Joel - April 1st, 2015 x
Keep Following Us OnTwitter @WorldOfSpirits
There is always a good deal of chatter when Jim Murray releases his awards list ahead of the release of a new edition of his bible, surely the sometimes controversial choices he makes are no promotional accident...
Some of the best whiskies I was fortunate enough to taste in 2014 were from Japan, and I would agree that the Yamazaki Sherry Cask is a stunning whisky from one of the world’s greatest malt whisky-producing countries, but the Daily Mail’s (expected) sensational headline and Mr. Murray’s statements strike me as remarkably unfounded. That Scotch whisky has something to be “humiliated” about, that a perceived lack of innovation has hindered Scotch producers is near nonsense.
Scotch whisky is celebrated and esteemed as much for its diversity of flavour as for its adherence to traditional craftsmanship over its lengthy history but recent years have seen these traditions used in new ways, with innovation from barley to barrel to bottle across the industry, albeit within parameters. Interestingly, many of these innovations have been in turn praised and criticised by Mr. Murray over the past two decades, from 1994s praise of finishing to his 2008 critique of the practice.
Japanese whisky was founded on the traditions of Scotch whisky making over 90 years ago, and it could possibly be argued that Japan adheres even more to the traditional methods (wooden washbacks, direct firing stills, etc) than the average malt distillery in Scotland so I do question Murray’s implied praise of generalised Japanese “innovation” over just making really good whisky that he liked.
Since the mid-1980s, when the world saw its first Single Malt from Japan, Japanese whiskies have attracted acclaim. Since 2008, Japanese blends and malts have won major titles, most notably from the World Whisky Awards. This is not to say that Scotch has stoppedwinning these awards or top acclaim from writers, including Murray. Although Scotch has, until now, won his highest accolade in all but one edition of his bible, Murray has awarded more American whiskies in recent years than Japanese. It is no news that America and Japan make excellent whiskies. Not a great headline, though, and tough to sell newspapers or magazines with a headline like that, "Whiskies Being Made to High Standard Outside Scotland"
The assumption from Murray’s statements is that Japanese whisky has an edge on Scotch because of a stronger vision or wilder innovation; innovations like the highball campaign? No Age Statements? Local barley or local oak? There are precedents in Scotch in every case. So in what way is Japanese whisky’s success due to innovations that Scotch lacks? Zero. It is due to releasing top quality malt whiskies. To infer that this precludes the ongoing (and much longer-running) success of Scotch whisky is balderdash, but a great reminder that Jim Murray’s latest book is about to be released!
Finally, in case it has not been mentioned, Jim has a new book coming out next week.
Unfortunately I let the URL www.thescotchblog.com go…
Worse someone registered it – and worse yet – his name is (or he calls himself ) “Kevin”.
I hope that no one thinks that Kevin is me – or that The Scotch Blog is related in anyway to this The Scotch Blog.
Big thanks to the folks at Deep Focus, a social media agency working with The Glenlivet, for sending me a free sample of the new Glenlivet Alpha expression that has only 3350 bottles shipping worldwide (not sure how many are coming to the U.S.). Especially since I’ve been flying under the whisky radar this past year (I’ll post more on that later). I haven’t checked out all of the marketing details, but apparently there is going to be a big “reveal” for Alpha in a few days, so I thought I’d go ahead and post some thoughts on the whisky while it is still something of a mystery (the box only states that it is a Single Malt bottled at 50% abv). The U.S. retail price is $120.
On the nose, my first impression is of cinnamon apples. Then vanilla custard, and finally some fresh wood shavings. Then back to the fruit, of the apples and pears variety. Looking online now at other reviews, I see people talking about lots of tropical fruits. Personally, that’s not the way I respond to this. It doesn’t strike me as tropical in the same way as something like Glenmorangie 18 year. But of course, this is all subjective.
On the palette, it starts out mouth-watering and juicy, sweet, then very slightly prickly on the tongue. There is a point where it becomes slightly nutty, and just as I start to expect a slight walnut bitterness, it pulls back. Very nice. It’s smooth as silk…almost buttery going down. It then becomes drying on the finish, before my mouth waters up again. A very enjoyable, if not particularly long, experience.
The Glenlivet Alpha is an extremely drinkable expression that would be great for sharing with all levels of whisky drinkers. It strikes me as a Special Edition release of their Nadurra expression. The overall flavor profile (especially on the nose) is quite similar. However, the Alpha has an extra silky smoothness to it relative to Nadurra, in the same way the 17 year finished Balvenie expressions relate to the 15 year single barrel. Though, I don’t detect anything resembling the typical “finishing” casks of sherry or wine in Alpha.
So what is it?
If this is a game, and we’re supposed to guess what the heck is in this black Alpha bottle, I’d have to guess a combination of first-fill and second-fill American White Oak bourbon barrels were used to mature the spirit. There is no sign of coloring or chill filtration (like Nadurra). Age? That’s a hard one. Is the extra buttery smoothness in the mouth over the Nadurra due to age, or is it related to the type of casks used? Not sure. I could believe a number of scenarios: 1) It’s a year or two older than the 16 year Nadurra. 2) They use a combination of refill casks and smaller quarter casks to give the impression of extra maturity, while keeping the oak in check, or 3) this is just the result of very carefully selected casks by the master distiller.
Did I really enjoy this whisky? Yes. Am I going to seek out a bottle? No. Do I think you’re an idiot if you do? No.
I really like this whisky, but for me, the 16 year Nadurra (at $50/bottle locally) is close enough in profile to keep me satisfied. On the other hand, I have no immediate issues with the price of Alpha. They are saying that it was “carefully crafted” by the master distiller, and it is a limited release of 3,350 bottles. It’s not going to be for everybody, but then, the limited run kind of takes care of that.
I’ve seen much higher prices asked for “carefully selected” expressions…how about the Diageo Manager’s Choice a few years ago? Talk about crazy pricing. These things work themselves out, though. A bunch of those Manager’s Choice bottles can still be had at 40% discounts online. So far, The Glenlivet Alpha is selling out quickly. The UK allocation disappeared immediately. If, upon commencing with their “reveal” on Facebook later this week, people are outraged by what they hear, then I’d expect that feedback to influence future releases.
If they keep their main line whiskies priced reasonably, and of high quality, what’s the harm in experimenting with various boutique releases aimed at smaller segments of the market? I look forward to learning more about the story behind The Glenlivet Alpha.
Things are changing here at Whisky Party! We’re about to roll out a new design and switch to a new blog platform.
This is all happening on Monday February 20th!
If you’d like to continue reading Whisky Party in your RSS reader, you’ll have to update to the feed URL in your feed reader:
For a sneak peak at the new sight, you can check out our staging version here.
The Ca Scotch Couple firmly believe in living below their means. They shop at consignment stores, sock away the max for retirement, and adhere to a strict 25% debt to equity ratio. Consequently, the CA Scotch Couple's move to paradise in 2004 couldn't have come at a worse time. It was at the height of the real estate boom; the only houses even remotely within the CA Scotch Couple's price range were shacks, and even those shacks had multiple bidders.
So, it is no surprise that the beloved Little Beach House was one such shack: a circa 1913, 700 square foot single wall construction edifice with outdated wiring, inadequate plumbing, precipitously sloping floors, and a hole in its roof. The CA Scotch Couple spent many (many many many) years making the Little Beach House habitable. Unfortunately, no matter what they did, there was no escaping the reality that even with its new wiring, plumbing, and roof, the Little Beach House was a shack.
So, when the real estate bust hit San Diego hard, the CA Scotch Couple decided to see if they could trade their shack for something a little more spacious. They took a financial bath on the Little Beach House, and set out on their house hunting adventures with three goals for the new home: it needed to have lost at least as much value as the Little Beach House had, it needed to be more spacious than the Little Beach House; and it couldn't be a project.
One of the first properties the CA Scotch Couple viewed was a lovely old mixed use loft conversion in a slightly dodgy area. This 1933 grand dame had started its life as an old fashioned car dealership/garage and had then become an artist's studio and residence. It had magnificent arching barrel ceilings, open architecture, exposed terra cotta masonry, and concrete floors. It also wasn't up to earthquake code, had a leaking roof, had been stripped of plumbing, appliances and countertops, and, worst of all, had birds nesting in it. It was a whopping 2700 square feet, but man, oh man, it was project. CA Scotch Chick dubbed it "the Bird Sanctuary," and the CA Scotch Couple swiftly walked the other way.
But the CA Scotch Couple kept their miserly eyes on the Bird Sanctuary, and within a few months, market forces had driven it down to the price that the CA Scotch Couple had paid for the Little Beach House in 2004. Project or not, the CA Scotch Couple simply couldn't resist. It was a remarkable space, and it was worth the pain to make it beautiful again. They made an offer.
For seven months, long before the accident and throughout the CA Scotch Couple's recovery, they fought their way through the tortuous short sale and then foreclosure process. They managed to buy the Bird Sanctuary from the bank on the final day of 2009, immediately moved in, and endured endless months of living under plastic sheets with construction chaos ringing around them.
On the day they finally closed on the Bird Sanctuary, CA Scotch Gent sat CA Scotch Chick down and asked for two favors. First, could they please, please, please, set a goal of having the renovations done by the end of summer? No more projects stretching for years. Secondly, could they please, please, please, stop calling it the Bird Sanctuary?
They set a goal of August 31st as the drop dead date for finishing the renovation, and they scheduled a party to make sure they met that goal. Then they cast around for a more suitable name — finally deciding on "Studio A" in honor of the sign over its door.
It was a long hard nine months, complicated by the CA Scotch Couple's recovery from their injuries and those all encompassing work schedules. However, on August 31st, a mere three hours before their party, the CA Scotch Couple finally removed the last of the plastic, pushed the furniture into place, and claimed Studio A as their own.
It was well worth the effort. Studio A is now up to code; the birds have been evicted; it has been scrubbed from top to bottom; and it is now equipped with new bathrooms, appliances, countertops, skylights, and roof. Gentle light filters into its spacious and gracious interior giving the CA Scotch Couple the impression that they are stepping into a magnificent cavern whenever they return at the end of the day — the perfect refuge for a pair of recluses. It has been an extremely long tough year, but the CA Scotch Couple are finally home.