Categories
Alcohol

A gentleman’s guide to whisky

Let’s start with the spelling. Is it whisky or whiskey? Well, that depends on who you ask. Whisky is the Scottish spelling while whiskey is the Irish. Americans have adopted the Irish spelling, while whisky tends to be the spelling of choice everywhere else in the world.

How whisky is made

Whisky is made from distilled, fermented grains. Essentially, this means that it’s distilled beer (minus the hops). This is generally malted barley, but can be any grain. It is matured in oak barrels, usually no less than three years – but often much longer.

During maturation, several things happen. The two most important things are chemical processes in the spirit, the other is that the spirit will absorb colors, flavors and aromas from the wood.

This is a long and slow process, which is why young whiskies tend to taste a bit harsh. There might be hints of acetone (nail polish remover) and petroleum. As time goes by, these compounds will break down and form other compunds, that are more mellow and pleasant.

That is why an older whisky often tastes better than a younger one, but there are other factors at play as well, such as the quality and purity of the raw spirit and the quality, type and size of barrel.

The smaller the barrel, the faster the maturation, because there is more surface area per volume.

Different type of wood also affects the flavour. American oak tends to impart more vanilla flavours, while european oak tends to impart more chocholatey flavours. Used barrels can also impart flavours from what they used to contain, which is why sherry casks are so popular. They impart a nice, fruity flavour, that can both make for great dessert whiskeys and balance smokier whiskies. A good example of this is Lagavulin, which is a smokey Islay whiskey that is perfectly balanced from sherry casks, and hence often a starting point for really smokey whiskies.

There is a neat trick that can be used to roughly determine the age of a whisky. Take a big sip and let it roll over your tongue. The further back on the tongue that you feel most of the flavour, the older it tends to be. On the tip of your tongue? Then it’s most likely not much more than three years. All the way back? Well, congratulations, it might be 18, 24 or even older.

Types of whisky

There are three basic types of whisky. Blended, pure malt and malt whisky.

This is a bit confusing, because almost all whiskies (with the exception of single cask – which comes from just one oak cask) is blended, but in different ways.

Blended is made from a mix of malt whisky and grain whisky. Grain whisky is a neutral spirit, similar to vodka. This makes blended whiskies smoother and with less flavour. The malt whiskies used often come from more than one distillery.

Pure malt is just made from malt whisky, but contains whisky from more than one distillery.

Single malt is made from whiskies from a single distillery, hence the single in the name. It is usually still (unless it is a single cask) made from a blend of different whiskies. This is done because each single cask has it’s own characteristics. By blending whiskies from different casks, the distillery can ensure that every bottle they produce taste the same, by balancing it with whiskies from different casks.

Scotch, Irish, Bourbon or Rye?

Scotch whisky

Scotch whisky is made from barley in Scotland and must be matured on oak casks for at least three years. Other than that, they can vary widely in character, aromas and taste. Some are smokey, some are sweet and some are fruity. In general, they differ by area, where Islay is the home of the smokiest whiskies.

Irish whiskey

Irish whiskey (spelled with an ey) comes from Ireland. It is usually smoother than Scotch whisky, which makes it a good starting point for exploring whiskies.

It is also really great for cocktails, especially the iconic, warming Irish Coffee.

Bourbon / Tennessee Whiskey

Bourbon and Tennessee whiskeys are made with at least 51% corn, and are by many considered America’s only true native spirit.

Because they can only be matured on new american oak, they will mature quite quickly, and will impart a lot of the flavours and sweetness from the wood. They will often carry notes of vanilla and raisins.

Rye Whiskey

Made from at least 51% rye, rye whiskies tend to be less sweet than it’s cousin bourbon.

How to drink whisky

Whisky is both great for sipping and for cocktails. For sipping, a whisky tasting glass is better than a tumbler, so save that tumbler for cocktails. If you don’t have a whisky tasting glass, then a cognac glass or even a wine glass is better than the tumbler. This is because the rounded shape traps aromas, so you can better enjoy it with both your nose and your mouth.

Whisky is also great for cocktails. As a matter of fact, the Old Fashioned might be one of the oldest cocktail recipes of all.

On the rocks or neat?

If you truly want to taste the whisky, neat is the way to go. When buying a new bottle that you haven’t tried before, try it neat first.

Ice cools down the whisky which numbs the taste. This is the same reason why ice cold or hot coffee tastes great, but room temperature coffee can taste really nasty. Since hot or ice cold numbs the taste, the bitter off-flavours present in coffee are masked. When tasting a whisky, we want the opposite.

You can also try to add a couple of drops of water (this is commonly added by taking a straw, sticking it in water, blocking the “upper end”, and use it as a dripper. But it’s also ok to drip from a water bottle. Just be careful, you only want to start with a few drops.

By adding a bit of water, oils and other aromas that can be dissolved in alcohol, but not water, are released. This gives a rounder, bolder flavour with less harshness.

That being said, when you just want to enjoy your whisky, you should do what gives you the most enjoyment. After all, that’s what you paid that hefty price for. So neat, on the rocks or with a bit of water is all your choice. The most important thing is that you enjoy it.

Categories
Behaviour Health

A gentleman’s guide to the Corona (COVID-19) pandemic

Yes, there is etiquette concerning everything. Even the current corona virus pandemic. And no, it’s not complicated. As always, it’s based on two very simple concepts; common sense and respect for others. It’s actually quite simple, and can be summed up in one sentence.

Take precautions not to spread the corona virus

Pretty reasonable, right? If you do what you can to not spread the virus, you are using both common sense and you are showing respect for others. You could also, potentially, save hundreds of lives. If you spread the virus to a few people, and they spread it to a few more, it quickly escalates, so just stopping one person from spreading the virus – yourself – you can potentially save hundreds of others from dying.

Which precautions should I take?

This is not going to be a list of new things. The science – while not 100% conclusive on everything – is quite clear. It’s basically as simple as physically distancing yourself from others, washing your hands and wearing a face mask. That’s basically it. You should also follow the regulations and recommendations that apply where you live.

Physical distancing

This is by far the most effective measure you can do. The virus can’t spread if you are not somewhat near other people. The rules that apply where you live might differ between 1m (3′) to 2m (6′). But understand that there isn’t a certain cutoff distance. Depending on circumstances such as wind, humidity, if you cough or sneeze, the virus can potentially travel up to tens of meters.

The local mandated minimum is just that. The minimum distance that will prevent you from getting fined.

But try to keep as much difference as possible. As distance goes up, the risk goes down.

If you can work from home, do it. Don’t visit older relatives. Try to limit the amount of people you hang out with as much as possible – but there is no need to hang out with the ones you do less often.

Wash your hands

This really shouldn’t have to be stated. Washing your hands regularly and thouroughly with soap should be part of your personal hygiene habits as a gentleman.

After bathroom breaks. Before eating or handling food or drinks. After returning from outside. Etc.

Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times. While washing your hands thoroughly with soap is actually more efficient than hand sanitizer, it’s not always possible or practical.

Use the same routine with hand sanitizer as with soap. Make sure to get it all over your hands, and rub it for 20 seconds. If not, some viruses could survive.

Just wear that damn face mask

Yes, they are sweaty. Inconvenient. Will fog up glasses or shades. Deal with it. If you are in public, wear it.

Some people might think that wearing a face mask is a sign of fear. It doesn’t have to be. Remember, wearing a face mask doesn’t primarily help you from being infected. It protects the people around you, for instance if you sneeze or cough. It’s not a sign of fear, it’s a sign of caring.

By wearing a mask, you show that you are willing to sacrifice a bit of convenience for the safety of everyone. A pretty different thing from fear.

While the science is not fully clear on the efficiency of face masks yet, we are slowly learning. It seems that if everyone is wearing a face mask, the risk of spreading the virus goes down by somewhere between 20-80%. Most likely, this seems to be around 60%.

That might not seem like much, but it can make a big difference. If you are in an area where the curves are still going up, that 60% could be the difference between increasing or decreasing the spread.

And if you are living in an area where the spread is already on a decline, it could make the decline more rapid.

Basically, the more people wear masks, the less people will get sick and die. And it also means that the area where you live can open up more and faster, so that we can all more or less go back to our lives.

Categories
Style

The difference; style vs fashion

When you look at pictures of people from decades past, you might have one of these two reactions; people sure knew how to dress back then or people looked ridiculous back then. It doesn’t matter if the pictures are from the 90:s, 80:s, 70:s or older.

That difference, my friends, is the different between style and fashion.

While style – contrary to the old saying – is never truly timeless (just look at how the way clothes are cut differ with every age), there are definitely some timeless qualities that people with style possess.

Nobody can question the style of James Dean, in jeans and a white t-shirt, even though you probably wouldn’t wear that cut of jeans today. That doesn’t matter, the style is timeless.

The same goes for style icons such as Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Humphrey Bogart, Karl Lagerfeldt. Or more contemporary, Ryan Gosling and David Beckham.

Style is something that you have.

You can buy the latest, trendiest, coolest fashion. As long as you have money, you can easily be the most fashionable guy that you know.

All you need is a credit card and an issue of the latest men’s magazine of choice, and they will point out the exact outfits to wear this week and the upcoming weekend.

Style, on the other hand, is much more personal. It’s something that comes from within. It isn’t an answer to the expectations from the people around you. It’s a statement of who you are and how you see yourself. What you like and what you stand for.

“Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess.” – Edna Woolman Chase, editor in chief of Vogue magazine from 1914-1952

I lived for many years in a small town of about eighty thousand people. It was probably the most fashionable place I have ever seen. Everywhere you looked, you saw people that looked like they cane straight out of a fashion magazine.

They were wearing the latest brands, the coolest shoes and the acessories that were most in at the moment.

They flocked to the newest and trendiest bars, cafes and restaurants to the point where most bars and restaurants never survived for more half a year to a year. Crowded the first month, and slowly emptier and emptier until they weren’t fashionable anymore.

Only a handful places survived and thrived in this town year after year. They didn’t survive because they had the best drinks, food or service. They survived because instead of trying to chase after the newest and coolest, they had their own style. When people had tried out that newest and coolest place, they returned.

I think this goes for people as well. If you strive to be fashionable, you have to constantly play catch-up. You need to put a lot of effort into knowing and owning the latest and greatest, because when you don’t have the energy to do so anymore, you will feel empty. And you might be afraid of getting looks of disapproval instead of constant compliments from the people around you.

“Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is more about being yourself.” — Oscar de la Renta

On the other hand, if you develop your own style, you don’t have to play catch-up anymore. You’re not the expectations of others. You’re you. Genuinely you.

The real fashion victims

Fashion is not sustainable. Especially since the arrival of fast fashion, when what is in and out doesn’t just change every season, but with every shipment of cheap, throw-away garments from China.

It’s not sustainable for the ones who are constantly chasing the latest trends, but it is even worse for the real fashion victims – our planet, the climate and those who work in the sweatshops that produce them.

There’s little hard research on how often people generally wear their clothes, but one survey of 2,000 women in the UK found respondents on average wore an item seven times.

Think about it. Seven times. For something that took hundreds of liters of water to grow, many processes to enrich, and a long transport from East Asia to wherever you live.

Fast fashion is not sustainable. Even a garment that was made in the worst possible way, but worn 100 times, is better for the planet, the climate and the workers of the factory than anything that is worn just seven times, no matter how organic and “sustainable” the production methods are.

And even if it costs ten times as much, it’s cheaper per use.

How do I develop my own style?

The easiest way to start digging is to dig where you stand. If your wardrobe is filled with the coolest designer jeans and the latest t-shirts, you are probably a jeans and t-shirt guy, so start there.

The next step is to cancel the subscription for that trendy man’s magazine, and instead direct your attention to other sources.

Look at older magazines, image google, look at art and photography with people of different ages and from different times.

Make a list if you’re so inclined, but keep track of what you like and what you don’t. Then try to figure out what it is about them that you like or don’t like.

Types of garment. Colors. Materials.

Go to a men’s store that cater to timeless style rather than fashion. Try things on, but don’t just look. Also touch and feel the materials.

In what ways does wool, cotton and linen feel different? Which do you like? How does different weave types feel?

Bring a female or gay friend to the store. No, I’m not stereotyping here. Not all women or gay men have a better sense of style than straight men. Most do, though, but that’s beside the point. What matters is that they probably look at other men in a different way than straight guys do.

Categories
Behaviour Travel

5 tips that will help you fly economy class like a gentleman

I take about 20-30 flights per year. Most of them are shorter leasure trips within Europe. I always fly economy, both for the sake of the climate and for my wallet.

A lot of things can be said about economy, but very few things are pleasant. You sit in a tiny seet, cramped next to a stranger. Some of your fellow passangers are not used to flying, and are unaware of basic aviation etiquette.

But don’t despair, there are still a lot of things you can do in order to make life easier and the journey more tolerable for yourself and those around you.

1. Relax in the airport lounge before your flight

While flying is annoying, waiting for a flight can be even worse, but we’ve all seen them. While we’re tired and annoyed from camping out near the gate for an hour or more, with crying babies, loud talkers and commotion, just when boarding starts, they arrive.

Refreshed, relaxed and with an effortless stroll.

The lounge people. These ellusive people, who have been hiding out behind doors, clearly marked with signs saying “By invitation only”, until boarding.

The benefits of airport lounges

Airport lounges are basically calm, all-inclusive waiting areas for those who are willing to pay a little more extra for a lot more comfort. Actually, you don’t have to be willing to pay extra. You just need a basic understanding of the economics of airports (which is based on the fact that most people will spend a significant amount of money just from a couple of beers, a sandwitch and some bored shopping).

They usually have different seating arrangements; couches, arm chairs, cafe tables and workspaces, so that you can comfortably relax, have a meal or work.

They are usually equipped with a buffet ranging from light snacks to full, warm meals, a bar with alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments, a private bathroom, often with showers.

All this – sometimes except for premium drinks – free of charge once you’re in.

How do you behave in an airport lounge?

Most airport lounges have dresscodes, but they are usually informal. As long as you don’t look like a bum, you’re good to go.

Behaviour is more important, though. Since the purpose of airport lounges are to create a calm environment for people to relax, don’t be loud and obnoxious.

Be courteous to everyone, be calm, talk quietly, turn the sound off on your devices, and go to the side if you’re on the phone, so basically, how any gentleman would behave anywhere.

So, how do you get in to the lounges?

While having a Business or First Class ticket is often the easiest way, it’s also the most expensive, and usually not necessary.

Believe it or not, even though almost all of them have signs saying by invitation only (or similar wordings), a lot of them do accept payment at the door without an invitation, especially during off hours.

A lot of airlines will also sell access to economy travellers as an up-sell item. Look in their app or website.

The cost of a single entrance ranges from $35-$50, and while this might seem expensive, a couple of beers and a sandwich will not cost much less.

If you travel more than once or twice per year, a lounge access card, such as Priority Pass, is the way to go. They range in price from $100 and up depending on if the number of visits are fixed or unlimited.

The best way to get them, however, is by getting a premium credit card. Personally, I have a Mastercard Black, that cost me roughly €200/year, and apart from the usual premium credit card benefits such as excellent travel insurance and conciërge service, it also includes an unlimited Priority Pass, that also allow me to bring guests for an extra fee of €25 or so.

2. Be prepared

Be prepared before check-in, security, passport checks and boarding.

Always keep your travel documents in the same place, easily accessible. Personally, I always keep my passport and (when applicable) paper boarding passes in my right inside pocket, but find the place that suits you.

Before security, look over the signs. Wether you need to take belt and shoes off, or if you need to take laptops and liquids out differ from airport to airport, but they always have signs or screens with the information.

On boarding, make sure you have everything you need during the flight in a small bag, so that you can quickly put your main carry-on in the overhead compartment without having to dig through it, toss the small bag by your feet and be seeted within a few seconds, so you don’t create a traffic jam.

And, which shouldn’t have to be said – ensure that you have your documents ready for inspection on boarding and in passport controls.

3. Obey the armrest etiquette

The armrest etiquette can be tricky, but the rules are simple.

On a 3-chair configuration, the middle seat has priority for both armrests. This is because both the isle- and window seats are more comfortable, and you have the possibility to stretch out towards the isle or window.

In all other configurations, you have priority to your right armrest, while the neighbour to your left has priority to the armrest by your left arm.

Easy, right?

4. Dress appropriately

It’s not comfortable to fly on a long haul-flight in a business suit. It’s also not very good for the suit. If you have a meeting where a suit is required after a long flight, take the suit in the carry on and switch in to it before descent.

While comfortable, also don’t wear your home pants, that you throw on for lazy Sunday mornings.

Instead, opt for loose (but well) fitting pants, jeans or chinos. Stretch can be your friend here, to retain comfort while not looking like you’re wearing a tent. Pair this with a polo shirt and make sure you have a sweater to put on if it gets cold, and you’re good to go.

Unless you have an odor problem, it is OK to remove your shoes.

Also, make sure you are newly showered and that your clothes are clean before you get on that 10 hour flight, and that you wear deo but take it easy on the cologne before boarding. Take advantage of the shower in the lounge if you have a layover and enough time.

5. Be courteous but also understanding

While it’s not pleasant to be stuck for hours within inches of strangers, common courtesy goes along way. Greet them, assist them if they need something. Chat if you want, but be mindful of their body language and stop if it seems like they want to be left alone.

If you opt for an alcoholic refreshment at the lounge before the flight, do it in moderation.

Also, be patient, understanding and helpful to people who are not aware of proper etiquette, who have disibilities, are overweight or are travelling with children.

Remember, as bad annoying as that crying baby might be for you, it’s ten times worse for the parents…

Bonus tip: Compensate

Yes, flying is bad for the climate. But flying also has a lot of benefits. It brings people and cultures together in a way that would be impossible without flying.

It helps you grow as a person, meet new people and explore the world. I am also an expat, so flying makes it possible for me to maintain the relationships with my family and friends back home.

I am not willing to fly less. But I am willing to pay for my “climate sins”, so I always compensate.

Compensating for flights are not expensive. It adds a couple of dollars or euros to intracontinental flights and perhaps ten dollars or euros for intercontinental flights. It might not be as good for the environment as staying home, but it’s a lot better than doing nothing. You should do it.

Enjoy your flight

Follow these simple rules, and your flight will be much more tolerable, both for you and those around you.

Enjoy your flight!

Categories
Behaviour Values

What does it mean to be a modern gentleman?

The word gentleman has a long history, and the meaning of the word has changed throughout the ages. Our society has changed greatly in the last 50 years, yet when some people think of a gentleman, the image that pops up is usually someone from the 19th, or the first half of the 20th century.

The liberation of women, the equality movement and not least the #metoo movement have brought a lot of good. It has pointed out and in some cases helped us get rid of some toxic male behaviours. It has given women more power and opportunities.

While the purpose of these movements have been to ensure that toxic masculine behaviour is no longer tolerated, it has failed to strengthen the positive aspects of masculinity.

Or, rather, it hasn’t failed. It was never it’s purpose. It’s up to us to define what it is being a man today. And especially what it means to be a modern gentleman.

History of the word gentleman

Originally, a gentleman was the lowest rank of the landed gentry of England, ranking below an esquire and above a yeoman; by definition, the rank of gentleman comprised the younger sons of the younger sons of peers, and the younger sons of a baronet, a knight, and an esquire, in perpetual succession.

As such, the connotation of the term gentleman captures the common denominator of gentility (and often a coat of arms); a right shared by the peerage and the gentry, the constituent classes of the British nobility.

Yeah, the English hierarchy of social statuses is confusing, I know. But it gets easier.

The word gentleman as an indicator of rank had already become of doubtful value before the great political and social changes of the 19th century gave the word a wider, more informal meaning. The change of meaning of the world can be seen through the successive editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica:

In the 5th edition (1815), “a gentleman is one, who without any title, bears a coat of arms, or whose ancestors have been freemen.”

In the 7th edition (1845) it still implies a definite social status: “All above the rank of yeomen.”

In the 8th edition (1856), this is still defined in similar words as in the 5th edition, but the writer adds, “By courtesy this title is generally accorded to all persons above the rank of common tradesmen when their manners are indicative of a certain amount of refinement and intelligence.”

And from the mid 19th century and onwards, gentlemen has more and more come to be related to behaviour than heritage, slowly morphing into how the word is used today.

A modern definition

A gentleman is a man who treats others, both men and women, regardless of their standing, in a respectful manner and not taking advantage, pushing or manipulatong others into doing things that are not in their best interest. In other words, it’s OK to push someone to for example seek medical care or pursuing their dreams, but not pushing or manipulating someone to do you favours.

This also has some implications, for instance that you:

  • Don’t take your anger or frustrations out on others.
  • Don’t discriminate based on gender, ethnicity, sexual preference or anything else.
  • Listen to others more than you speak.
  • Don’t brag, boast or belittle others.
  • Dress and act in order to make others feel comfortable rather than to impress.
  • Especially as a leader, inspire and encourage rather than command and demand.
  • Own up to your mistakes
  • Forgive the mistakes of others
  • Are awesome!
Categories
Style

A gentleman’s guide to Harris Tweed

What is Tweed

Tweed is a rough, woolen fabric, usually woven with a plain weave, twill or herringbone structure. Tweeds are an icon of traditional Scottish and Irish clothing, being desirable for informal outerwear, due to the moisture-resistant and durable properties of the material. They are made to withstand harsh climates and are commonly worn for outdoor activities such as shooting and hunting, in both Ireland and Scotland.

While originally made for wearing in the country, as styles have become more casual, Tweeds made it’s ways into the city, and today, a Tweed suit or sports jacket is by many regarded as one of the most stylish, timeless and gentelmanly things to wear.

What sets Harris Tweed apart

Harris Tweed, often referred to as the king of Tweeds, is handwoven by islanders in their homes in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It is made from 100% pure virgin wool, which also must be dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.

The Harris Tweed certificate of authenticity in one of my Harris Tweed jackets.

The name and the characteristic Harris Tweed Orb is protected by the Harris Tweed Act of 1993 and protected by the Harris Tweed Authority.

The History of Harris Tweed

The islanders of Lewis and Harris, the Uists, Benbecula and Barra have woven cloth by hand for centuries. It was originally made for their own use, and surplus was traded as barter, eventually becoming a form of currency amongst the islanders, but eventually made it’s way to London through export.

Gearrannan, the Outer Hebrides, Scotland

The original name of the cloth was tweel, Scots for twill, due to it being woven in a teill weave.

According to legend, the name Twill came around 1830, when a London merchant received a letter from a Hawick firm about some tweels. The London merchant misinterpreted the handwriting, understanding it to be taken from the river Tweed that flows through the Scottish Borders. The goodes were adverstised as Tweed, and the name has been used ever since.

As the Industrial Revolution reached Scotland, mainland manufacturers had turned to industrialized weaving, but the traditional hand weaving was retained in the Outer Hebrides, and although the fabrics were known for their quality weaving, the cloth was still produced mainly for home use or for the local market until the middle of the 19th century.

Even as the export market grew, supplying the upper classes of London with high quality Tweeds, the traditional hand-woven home production remained, and it was eventually protected in the Harris Tweed Act of 1993.

Harris Tweed inspection stamp. Photo: Giftzwerg 88 CC BY-SA 3.0

Today, every 50 metres of Harris Tweed are checked by an inspector from the Harris Tweed Authority before being stamped, by hand, with the Orb Mark, which guarantees it’s authenticity.

How is Harris Tweed made?

The creation of Harris Tweed begins with fleeces of pure virgin wools which are shorn from Cheviot and Scottish Blackface sheep.

Although most of the wool is grown principally on the mainland, local sheep wool is also added to the mix. The two types of wool are blended together to gain the advantages of the unique qualities and characteristics of both.

Dyeing and spinning

Once shorn the wool is scoured before being delivered in large bales to the mills of the three main tweed producers where it is then dyed in a wide variety of colours for blending.

The freshly dyed coloured and white wools are weighed in predetermined proportions and then thoroughly blended by hand to exact recipes to obtain the correct hue. It is then carded between mechanical, toothed rollers which tease and mix the fibers thoroughly before it is separated into a fragile, embryonic yarn. This soft yarn then has a twist imparted to it as it is spun to give it maximum strength for weaving. The spun yarn is wound onto bobbins to provide the ingredients of weft (left-to-right threads) and warp (vertical threads) supplied to the weavers.

This vitally important process sees thousands of warp threads gathered in long hanks in very specific order and wound onto large beams ready to be delivered, together with yarn for the weft, to the weavers.

Weaving

Tweed being handwoven on a traditional loom.

All Harris Tweed is hand woven on a treadle loom at each weaver’s home on a ‘double-width’ Bonas-Griffith rapier loom in the case of mill weavers, or normally an older ‘single width’ Hattersley loom in the case of independent weavers. The weaver will ‘tie in’ their warp by threading each end of yarn through the eyelets of their loom’s heddles in a specific order then begins to weave, fixing any mistakes or breakages that occur until completed.

Finishing and inspection

The tweed then returns to the mill in its ‘greasy state’ and here it passes through the hands of darners who correct any flaws.

Once ready the cloth is finished. Dirt, oil and other impurities are removed by washing and beating in soda and soapy water before it is dried, steamed, pressed and cropped.

The final process is the examination by the independent Harris Tweed Authority which visits the mills weekly, before application of their Orb Mark trademark which is ironed on to the fabric as a seal of authenticity.

Is Harris Tweed expensive?

No, surprisingly not. I would even go as far as saying that Tweed is currently grossly underpriced and a well-tailored Harris Tweed sports jacket can cost as little as $400 when bought in, or orderd from, Scotland. This is not much more than any other well made sports jacket from a reputable brand.

When factoring in the quality, longevity, history and hand made production, it’s a real bargain.

Categories
Gastronomy Health Values

Meat, less meat or no meat?

There is a great debate currently going on, whether you should eat meat, reduce the amount of meat you eat (“flexetarian”), go vegetarian or completely vegan, for the climate and for your health. But should you?

The facts

There are two main arguments to eating less meat. The impact on climate and the impact on your health. So let’s dissect these arguments.

The carbon footprint of meat and dairy

Food accounts for 10%-30% of a household’s income. Typically, this figure is higher in lower-income households.

Out of that, meats account for approximately 57% and Dairy 18%.

Not all meats are created equal

While the carbon dioxide release for beef is almost 7 pounds per serving, and Legumes generate only 0.11 pounds per serving, switching from beef to pork (1.72 pounds per serving) or chicken (1.26 pounds per serving) will have a greater impact on your carbon footprint than switching from chicken to legumes.

This means that there are some carbon footprint savings that you could do by switching from beef or eating less meat.

On the whole, though, agriculture only accounts for about 8% of all carbon emmissions, so the savings are limited. Transportation, Energy and Manufacturing account for 70%, so it might be better to stop buying useless crap from China on Wish than to ditch that cheeseburger.

Source: University of Michigan

The impact of meat on your health

There are both benefits and risks of switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet. The benefits include slightly less risk of cardiac events and cancer in vegetarians, but the science is still unclear, and the links are weak.

At the same time, if not managing their diet properly, especially vegans can risk getting insufficient amounts of vitamin B12, Iron, Zinc and Omega-3. While rare, if the diet is not managed, there is also a slight risk of protein deficiency.

In other words, the research is unclear, but there might be a link between eating less meat and better health.

Source: Harvard

Is it immoral to eat meat?

Morality is a complex issue, and there are philosophical arguments both ways.

One thing that seems to be nearly universal, though, is that causing unnecessary suffering in animals is wrong. From that, one could draw the conclusion that if choosing to eat meat, it’s better to opt for free ranged and/or organic meat than factory farmed.

It also tends to taste better anyway.

You decide

Ultimately, you decide your own diet. You have to weigh the risks, benefits and ethical issues.

The important thing, though is that the choice is personal. Whether you decide to eat meat, become a flexetarian, vegetarian or vegan, it is a personal choice, and it doesn’t make you morally superior to anyone else, so live and let live, and let everyone else make their choices as well.

Enjoy your meal!

Categories
Alcohol

How to make a perfect Old Fashioned

You cannot get more classic than the Old Fashioned, a humble concoction of four, simple ingredients; whiskey, sugar, bitters and ice.

The Old Fashioned was developed during the early 19th century and given its name in the 1880s, so it’s literally one of the cocktails upon which all mixology is built.

It is said that the fewer ingredients, the harder a cocktail is to master. This is because even the smallest variation in preparation, down to the size of the ice cube, will affect the result.

Here is a recipe that, if followed exactly, we guarantee will make a perfect classic Old Fashioned every time, and a also works as a great starting point to experiment with different variations.

Perfect classic Old Fashioned Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 oz./6cl rye or bourbon
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 large ice cube (or 2-3 normal sized cubes)
  • slice of orange peel

Directions

Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass or whisky tumbler.

Wet it down with Angostura bitters, crush the sugar with a wooden muddler and rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining.

Add a large ice cube. Pour in the whiskey.

Stir until chilled and properly dilluted, about 30 seconds (depending on the size of the ice cube).

Gently twist the orange peel over the cocktail, so that some of the aromatic oils from the peel land in the glass.

Garnish with the orange twist and serve immediately.

Rye or Bourbon?

Because Old Fashioned is built on Whiskey, and the other ingredients are only accents, it matters a lot which whiskey you use and whether to use bourbon or rye is all up to your personal preference.

If you prefer a dryer, slightly peppery Old Fashioned, then go for a rye.

If you, on the other hand, want a slightly sweeter, rounder and richer flavour, go for a Bourbon.

Reach for the top shelf

Quality matters, and no matter whether you choose a bourbon or rye, go for the top shelf. Life is too short for bad whiskey and you don’t want your delicate work to be spoiled just because you wanted to save and extra $20 on a bottle.

The Old Fashioned glass

The old fashioned glass, sometimes referred to as a lowball glass, is a short tumbler used for serving spirits, such as whisky, neat or on the rocks.

Old fashioned glasses typically have a wide brim and a thick base, so that the non-liquid ingredients of a cocktail can be mashed using a muddler before the main liquid ingredients are added.

Common variations

A common variant is to substitute the sugar cube with simple syrup, which was the prefferred method of David A. Embury. I tend to agree with Mr Embury. Using simple syrup ensures that it gets dissolved before the drink is to dilluted with water from the ice.

Another variant is to substitute the orange peel for a lemon peel, which gives a slightly fresher aroma, great for an outdoor summer night. I prefer orange with bourbon and lemon with rye, as orange goes well with the sweetness of bourbon, while lemon gives a freshness to the rye.

The peel can also be accompanied by or substituted for a maraschino cherry.

Categories
Alcohol

A gentleman’s guide to akvavit

Ah, akvavit. The drink of the cold, dark north. Enjoyed by Scandinavians for hundreds of year, but lately gaining more and more international recognition.

What is akvavit?

Akvavit, from the latin aqua vitae – water of life – is a distilled spirit that originated in Scandinavia, where it has been produced since the 15th century.

It gets it’s distinctive flavour from spices and herbs, and according to EU law, the minimum ABV is 37.5% and the dominant flavour must come from caraway and/or dill seed.

How to drink akvavit

Traditionally, akvavit is drunk during festive gatherings, such as Christmas, Midsummer and crayfish parties, chilled, as shots during the meal. In Sweden, it is mostly consumed immediately following a song, called snapsvisa, of which the most known one is “Helan går”.

Lately, however, akvavit is getting more and more common as a drink ingredient, both for cocktails and long drinks. For instance, akvavit and tonic – often garnished with a twig of dill – is an excellent digestive after a meal.

Two main styles

There are two distinctive reginal styles of akvavit. Traditionally, the Danish and Swedish aquavit is lighter in both color and taste, while the Norwegian akvavit is often darker, due to being matured in oak casks. This also gives it more complex flavours, loved by some but which might make it too overwhelming as a drink ingredient or with food, and better suited as an aperitif.

Linje akvavit

Perhaps the most exotic style of akvavit is the Norwegian Linje Akvavits. Linje Aquavit is named after the tradition of sending oak barrels of aquavit with ships from Norway to Australia and back again. This means that the akvavite passes the equator (“linje”) twice before being bottled.

The constant movement, high humidity and fluctuating temperature cause the spirit to extract more flavour and contributes to accelerated maturation and higher complexity.

Which akvavit should I try?

If you want to start easy with a smooth akvavit that is not too overwhelming, then Swedish O.P. Anderson and Danish Aalborg are great picks. They are both versatile and can be used both as aperitifs, shots during the meal and as drink ingredients.

If, on the other hand, you want to dive in to something more rich and complex right away, Lysholm Linje, is dark, rich and complex, and best drunk sipped as an aperitif.

Skål!

Categories
Culture Travel

A gentleman’s guide to behaving abroad

In a globalized world, where more and more people get access to travel, cultural crashes happen. Most of us have probably witnessed tourists doing strangem disrespectful and rude things.

We may have laughed, got upset or just shrugged it off, but no matter how you react in these situations, keep in mind that they most likely didn’t realize that they did something wrong.

They were simply behaving the way they would do at home.

And be certain, if you travel (if you don’t you should), then you have probably been that person too, that locals either laugh at, get upset by, or just shrugging it off.

Cultures differ widely between regions, countries and continents, and what is seen as normal in one place is often seen as deeply rude by people from different cultures.

Sh how do you avoid being “that guy”?

Assume that anything you do could be deemed as rude

Talking too loudly or two quietly? Slurping or not when eating soup? Accepting or recieving a gift? Tipping, not tipping, tipping too much or too little? Greeting a woman with a handshake, or without a handshake?
Wearing shoes indoor or no shoes? Haggling or not haggling at a market?

These are a few examples of opposite everyday behaviour that are deemd as curtious in some cultures and rude in others.

With this, I want to illustrate that any behaviour – as innocent as it might seem to you – might be regarded as deeply rude when you are a guest in a different country.

Read up on the culture

Before any trip you make, read up on the basic culture. Learn a little bit about the country, the people and their habits. This does not only help you understand the social convetions, but also the context and origins of their customs.

Also, read up on specific topics, such as:

  • Tipping – when, how and where should you tip? How much?
  • Haggling – should you haggle or not, and if so, how and how much?
  • Eating and drinking etiquette – is it acceptable to drink alcohol, and if so, how much? Should you finish your food or leave a bit on the plate? How do you use the silverware?
  • How and when to greet others
  • How to behave at someon’s home. Do you bring a gift? Which type? Do you bring a bottle of wine for the meal or not? Do you wear your shoes inside? Should you be on time or late, and if so, how much?
  • Learn some simple phrases in the local language. Hi, yes, no, please, thank you and I’m sorry will get you a long way and will get people on your side.

By reading up on these basic topics before you leave for your trip helps you be prepared, and minimize the risk of commiting a faux pas.

Observe the locals

Observe how the locals behave and imitate them.

Ask

If you are put in a situation where you are not sure how to act, simply ask. While asking will reveal that you don’t know, it will also show that you care and that you want to avoid offending anyone.

While language can be an issue, ask the hotel staff, your guide or anyone else who speaks English or your language.

Apologize

Be seneitive, and if people seem to react negatively to something that you do, ask what it was and promptly apologize, preferably in the native language.

Don’t be afraid

While it might seem scary to have to behave differently or not knowing how to behave, most people in most cultures will understand, especially if you show that you try and apologize when you fail.

The worst thing that can happen is that you get told off, but this happens rarely. In most cases, a slight faux pas can lead to a shared laugh, a chat and perhaps even friendship for life. It’s not the end of the world as long as you show that you try.