Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Urgent action on alcohol.

Dick Puddlecote passes along news of the campaign to make 50p per unit a maximum. not a minimum. That would certainly be of benefit to me - that bottle of Lagavulin I've been eyeing up is currently selling at over £1 per unit. Even to a dedicated single-malt drinker, that's serious money for one bottle.

Nevertheless, urgent action on alcohol is called for so I donned my cape and Spandex and became Captain Whisky-Remover. My one and only superpower is to save the Cheeldren from the evils of alcohol by putting it where they can't get it. Down the toilet. After suitable processing to remove all the alcohol, naturally. A process in which I selflessly, as a public service, use my own liver and internal organs as a filter. There are a few of us still around and we are in danger of having our superpowers discovered, so don't tell anyone. Some turncoats are selling out, it seems. No, you can't have my DNA to see how my liver grows back so fast.

Tonight I made my first foray into the new Lidl here in town. Well, it's not new, it's been here for months but it's not conveniently located. Tonight I made the effort and it's an interesting place, for sure, although don't ask for help from the staff unless you speak Polish. There seemed to be only one guy running the whole shop, and no queue at the checkout, which was impressive. I think the prices are 'before VAT' but that's not clear on the price tags.

This Lidl opened opposite a bathroom shop I once went into, but left when I found it was one of those shops where tweed and Range Rovers are almost an entry requirement and if you have to ask the price, you shouldn't be there. Directly opposite was a most amusing place to site Lidl, I thought.

Some time ago, someone mentioned a whisky called 'Hunter's Glen' (I might have misremembered the name) which is found in Lidl at extraordinarily low price. It was there but I passed on that for a bottle of Glen Orchy, a 'pure malt' at £11.99. It doesn't say how many units are in it but it's 40%, so somewhere around 35 units probably. About 34p a unit, enough to give a Righteous idiot high blood pressure just by looking at it. At 50p per unit it would cost £17.50 and I wouldn't buy it at that price. That's getting into low-end single malt prices. In fact, Ledaig and Glen Grant are often around that price and they're both good malts.

Lidl also sell a three-year-old whisky which I will never try. It's desperately cheap but at three years old we're talking drain cleaner. Even Bells is eight years old. To be fair, it's a blend, and a blend is dated by the age of the youngest whisky in it. It could be 99% eight-year-olds and 1% three-year-old and it would be dated as a three-year-old. Even if that were so, it's still not for drinking. Three-year-old whisky isn't whisky. It's aftershave.

The tag 'pure malt' and the £11.99 price on Glen Orchy clued me in at once that it wasn't a single malt. If it was a single malt it would say so because that commands a higher price. It's one of those rarities, a blend of malt whiskies. Blends are more usually associated with cheaper grain whiskies, malt blends are normally 'own-brand' malts these days. Even then, a lot of the own-brands are actually single malts, just not the best barrels.

Glen Orchy is an eight-year-old blend of malts. I'm about a third of the way down the bottle and it's not bad at all. Feels like Highland and Speyside dominate the mix. There's not much evidence of Islay in there. It's a good blend though and it's far better than Grants or Stewart's Cream of the Barley, both of which are very decent grain blends.

I think I'll have to take a few bottles off the shelves. For the sake of the Cheeldren, naturally. Can't have the little buggers drinking my whisky.

This stuff is cheap enough to take two bottles to Smoky-Drinky evenings. A night of smoking (indoors- ha!) and disturbing levels of alcohol for an outlay of £23.98. Try getting that from a pub night, you'll spend twice that at pub prices and you'll have to go outside to smoke, and be abused by antismokers while you're out there.

You know what I'd like to see? Just once, I'd like to see a pub ban an antismoker for abusing smokers in the smoking area. It has never, to my knowledge, happened. We have to go out there in all weathers, yet when the weather is good enough for the fair-weather drinkers, they can come out and slag us off with impunity. If we retaliate, we get told off.

Pubs, you want our support? Then support us in summer, support the smoking customers who shivered outside all winter. If they are going to suffer abuse all summer, then one by one, you'll lose them to Smoky-Drinky places.

Otherwise... Smoky-Drinky is the new pub. Or rather, it's the old pub. Smoking in comfort and cheaper booze.

Let the pubs close. They don't want our custom anyway.


hangemall said...

LI, my Collins Gem Guide to Whisky Second Edition (1995) tells me that a "blend" of malts is called a "vatted" malt.

As for Lidl, so far as the food there goes, my German ex's brother refuses to shop there, suspicious of the additives therein. He'd rather swim through a shoal of piranhas with a rancid old kipper stapled to his scrotum.

My home town (Chester) has a Lidl and an Aldi and if you don't look at the writing you could be back in Germany.

This Singleton of Dufftown is rather nice.

Bloodyell it's getting light and the birds are singing. I'll never get to sleep now. Bastards.

Night night or day day.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid you got the maths wrong. A standard bottle of 40% whisky contains 28 units (70x40%). This makes the alcohol unit price 43p, still below target and pretty good for a vatted malt.

At 50p per unit the bottle would sell at £14.00, a 16.7% increase which is not quite as scary as your calculation

PT Barnum said...

You do realise that you have just offered a hostage to fortune, don't you? The Righteous reading this will instantly conclude that disposing of your processed whisky into the sewage system is tantermount to making tiny little children drink your secondhand alcohol? Not to mention fish and newts who may develop a nasty addiction.

Let us wait for 5 minutes before the Safe Disposal of Drinkers' Urine Campaign begins.

Ghillie said...

Have you tried Islay Mist - a "deluxe" blend which is heavy on Laphroiag? About £16 and knocks spots off Ledaig for smoothness and complexity. Delicious, and at its best 50/50 with water.

john miller said...


Anonymous said...

just stumbled bleary eyed on your blog, what a relief, people who feel as i do. I am a 43 year old married mum who never goes out now. My pals and i used to spend a fortune on nice restaurants with mucho wine and cognac. Since the smoking ban, its all back to mine. Much cheaper, more convivial, cleaner loos and shorter stagger to bed. All good. But i am so angry at this effing ban. Of course, the puritans will say i am endangering my sons life by smoking at home. No, my ceilings are twenty foot high, the rooms are never smokey. And the booze is better.

Junican said...

Well, good for you, Anon 18.14. The only way in which we are going to get the powers-that-be to see sense is to keep cutting down on pub custom so that pubs start to complain more loudly (if the pubcos are not already complaining, even in private, then they must be mad. I mean, since most pubcos own the bigger pubs, how difficult could it be for them to have a well-ventilated seperate smoking room?).

I, personally, have cut down on my pubgoing by over 50%, (I used to be a 9 sessions a week man (retired!) and I enjoyed it. Now, it is four. I don't miss the pub much - I get myself a bottle of red for £4 quid and enjoy blogging and such. I save about £10 per session = about £50 per week. Blogging to me is not that much different to talkling to my erstwhile 'friends' (brackets, because once the ban came in, I realised that they were not really friends at all. Being non-smokers, they were quite happy to see me being persecuted).

Keep on doing what you are doing. AS you say, everything is cheaper and, probably, better quality. Eventually, the worm will turn and it will become more and more obvious that the total ban was way, way over the top. It will be amended. When it is, we people who enjoy tobacco may just condescend to go back to them, but the pubcos should not bet on it. We have our pride!

Junican said...

@ anon 18.14.

A little bit more.

When you buy your booze from the supermarket, the government may well still be gaining tax from the DUTY on alcohol, but they are losing masses of tax revenue from VAT on pub mark ups.

Anonymous said...

Hey LI,

I just bought a friend a bottle of Talisker 10 YO (partially in the hope he'll invite me around for a few drams). Have you tried it?

Cheers (hic!)

Man with Many Chins said...

Hey LI, how are you getting on with Electrofag these days as you don't seem to have mentioned it for a while.


hangemall said...

@Junican 01:34 In the days before the smoking ban I also had a "friend" in my local who was an ex smoker. He would go on about how unhealthy it was for him to inhale second hand smoke. When I mentioned that he must be some sort of alcoholic to continue to come to pubs if he was that worried about his health he shut up.

@ anon 07:34 I bought a bottle of Talisker once (it was on special offer) and it went down very nicely. Whiskies are very much a matter of taste, but I hope you get the chance to try it.

Anonymous said...

I don't like smokers but, if you're not forcing me to breathe it in then I don't care. Before the ban I could avoid smokers if I wanted to. Now every time I enter a building I have to go through a cloud of smoke. I would much rather pubs and restaurants decide for themselves whether they want to be smoking, non-smoking or have two sections. Since tax on cigarettes is so high surely it could be used to provide smoking rooms for smokers in buildings such as train stations.

Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...

Well, I've started homebrewing again - not quite done the still...

If I could be so blatant Mr LegIron, the highlights of the fun and frivolity of PMQs on Wed 12:00 via Guido can be highlighted here weekly:


Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs said...


Dioclese said...

Sorry, mate, but if you need to look at the price then you're not drinking enough...

I don't drink whiskey because it doesn't seem to effect me at the time - I still feel sober - but it gives me a hell of a stomach the next day, especially after finishing the first bottle. I have been known to drink two in an evening, so that's when I decided to stop!

My wife drinks Hine Rare & Delicate brandy. It's £37 a bottle but she maintains that while we still have money in the bank, why should she drink shit stuff? I'd certainly support 50p and unit for a bottle of that!!

Shug Niggurath said...

Even at 28 units in a standard £12 bottle our ever present friends in government take 18p per unit of the selling price leaving the other 25p between the manufacturer, distributor and shopkeeper.

How much of the additional 7p per unit do you think the taxman will allow (he'll definitely take 1p for the VAT to be getting on with, but I doubt duty will stay the same - currently at around £5.60 on that standard bottle)

Shug Niggurath said...

Just to sicken us all, buying that £12 bottle of spirits is gonna give around £11.50 to the taxman by the time Income, NI, VAT and duty are paid on the earnings you made to afford it. Nice work if you can get it.

English Pensioner said...

And by the time that they reduce the drink driving limit to half a pint, pubs will cease to exist.

Leg-iron said...

English Pensioner - by then it won't matter because nobody will be able to afford petrol either.

There are a high proportion of non-car-owners at the Smoky-Drinky I visit. Okay, part of that is because this town has unusually good bus services - it's where a lot of routes cross - and a good if somewhat random rail service. None of it is running by closing time so out-of-town pubs can only be reached by car. Or by phenomenally expensive taxi. Which can refuse to carry you if you're drunk (when else would you need them?)

A lot of it is down to the running costs - petrol, fixing, MOT, servicing, insurance, road tax and so on. Unless you need to regularly get to somewhere that's not on a bus route, a car isn't worthwhile.

Which means those out-of-town pubs are out of reach. We'd have to come home at 8 pm and we don't normally start until that time.

Once in a while we persuade a driver or two to take us out there but when they're scared that they can lose their licence just for smelling a beer, well that's the end of those pubs for sure.

If the limit hits zero, then sales of aftershave, perfume and cough medicine will plummet too.

And nobody will ever use that alcohol-gel hand cleaner in hospitals again. Not that many do now.

Ah, unintended consequences...

Leg-iron said...

Junican - we have our pride, but we also now have Smoky-Drinky evenings. Set up as we want them at prices we like.

If the pubs allow smoking again, the comeback of smoking custom might be a trickle, not be a flood, now.

It's their own fault. They left it too long. We've made other arrangements and we're getting used to them.

Leg-iron said...

PT Barnum - if they want me to not use the sewage system, no problem. I have rhubarb which will be delighted at the extra nitrogen (and if it were to grow up whisky-flavoured, I'd be delighted too).

The neighbours might complain about the smell but I can solve that by smearing dogshit on all the vents around their house. Then they won't smell anything else.

Besides, if I did grow whisky-flavoured rhubarb, there might be a market for it.

Perhaps I'll try it anyway.

Leg-iron said...

Man with many chins - it's time for an Electrofag update. I'll put one up.

Leg-iron said...

Anon 17:02 - look again at your wording.

You said 'I don't like smokers'. Not 'smoking' but 'smokers'.

You define a group by one characteristic and declare you don't like any of them. Even though you cannot possibly have met more than a very few of them.

Now, replace 'smokers' with 'gays' or 'muslims' or 'Jews' or 'Pakistanis' or 'blacks' or best of all, any group that you're a part of and imagine you'd read it written by someone else.

How would you feel about it?

Can you see where the anger is coming from yet?

Leg-iron said...

Anon - I'm not blaming you for your wording. It's all part of the programming. And I'm not saying you're stupid to fall for it.

It's a very well-honed programming system that's worked over and over again against many groups. Subtle and pernicious.

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