07 November 2013

Cutty Sark - Not Just for the Big Girl's Blouse

Cutty Sark by F.M. Tinseth, oil on canvas, 1976

Cutty Sark in Flagler College dorm room, 1983

Cutty Sark in September Esquire, 1961

Rare Cutty Sark tie on even rarer yellow university stripe oxford, 2013

Cutty Sark by A. J. Tinseth, 2013

My old man was very proud of his Cutty Sark.  His painting...not the Scotch. He was a gin martini  man through and through and Beefeater gin was his go to.  I don't ever remember him drinking anything else except beer, of which he gave no brand his loyalty, or the occasional glass of wine, which, if he knew anything, he learned from me.

His Cutty Sark painting was about an image - he knew - was instantly recognizable...at least by himself and his peers in the officer's clubs he frequented. My connection to Cutty Sark is through Berry Brothers and Rudd.  A wine merchant in the Pall Mall area of London, I was first introduced to the 300 year old merchant via their catalogs a London friend, Vodka Ronnie, kept by his toilet.  Not the most glorious of beginnings but Vodka Ronnie had very good taste in wine.

Barry & Rudd, as it's more commonly known, came up with the idea for a light blended Scotch as they were wine merchants and I assume didn't want to blow their customer's palettes outta the water with a double barrel Islay. Their target customer were Septics (Septic Tank- Yank) who were about to get back into Rub a Dubs (Rub a Dub- Pub) as Prohibition was coming to an end. With the Septic in mind, a 20 single malt blend was used with mostly Big Girl's Blouse Speyside (Glenrothes) being the predominant malt.

"Whis-KAY" as it's pronounced over there also sounds a lot like "Cut-TAY."  When I hear one, I think of the other.  I'm not sure why.  It's a Lemmon-NAY Whis-KAY.  Light and dry and being that it's not too dear, I think it's best to be mixed, which I did, with a $20 bottle. I  tried it with Polar Bitter Lemon (find it - far better than Canada Dry) and it wasn't bad. I mixed it with lemon flavored seltzer and thought it completely changed the Cutty with the soda giving it a rounder and fuller taste of a scotch double the price. Impressive for those like me who are mean when it comes to their Whis-KAY.

I used it to make a Side Car replacing the brandy with Cutty -- A favorite of the tasting and something I look forward to ordering in a Rub a Dub, "Make mine a Cut-TAY side car, To-NAY." If you're thinking a Manhattan -- I wouldn't -- Although I did.  There's just not enough backbone to the Cutty. Having said that, if you're a beginning Scotch drinker, this is the tricycle for you, in much the way Barry & Rudd always intended it to be, even if you are a big girl's blouse; I wear a 14.


Main Line Sportsman said...

As we discussed, I am a devout Bourbon man. I always think Scotch tastes like good Bourbon sucked through a Kingsford briquet. The exception was the 25 year old McCallum.
Hey, I know squat about wine, but I like a good 20 year old port, I know my rums,I have a peasant's taste for beer and like your dad have no loyalty(well maybe regional for (Yuengling) but at least I never shook a G&T.
I always thought the Cutty labels was splendid bottle art.

Anonymous said...

Not a Cutty Sark drinker but have walked her decks once, in Greenwich, where you may visit her.

Still a great painting by your dad.


Smitty said...

Nice piece Tintin. I was ordering my first Cutty Sark while on leave in Honk Kong, thought it was a cool brand for a squid. Kowloon side, Juno's revolving restaurant, two Pan Am stews in tow. What did I know about scotch? Not a thing, but as you point out, good place to start....

GSV JR said...

Oh, man. It's been a while. Forgot how sharp you are, JT.

Grandad was a Pinch man, but he ordered Cutty out. Not really sure what that means, or if it means anything really.

Anonymous said...

And a really good shot of the bottle by you. You could design a magazine ad around that shot with plenty of room for copy reversed to white on the right side...


Anonymous said...

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but BB&R sold "Cutty Sark". I am friends with a wine merchant there and I was telling him over sushi in Mayfair about my memories of "Cutty Sark": as a Marine kid on Okinawa in the 1970's the brand was omnipresent. My dining companion "learned me" that BB&R had sold "Cutty Sark" in 2010. Here are a couple of links:
http://www.harpers.co.uk/news/berry-bros-and-rudd-sell-cutty-sark/308742.article and http://www.bbr.com/about/cutty-sark

WmBTravis said...

BBR: Former situs of the Legation of the Republic of Texas. And it is greatness. Pretty professional saleswoman; clarks typing away at a standing, sloped desk in a room little changed from Georgian times. And it ajoins one of those great, tight, London passageways giving way to another mystery.