Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Wine & Whisky: Pedro Ximénez Sherry

I'm in the process of putting together a series of posts about whiskies and wine casks. It's a nice little bit of revision for me, particularly since my fortified wine diploma exam seems like a lifetime ago now! Rather than straight tasting notes on whiskies I'm going to talk a little bit about whisky casks' previous inhabitants, the wines whose character will bring about a change in the whisky's personality, and see if I can detect how the wine has affected the whisky in some examples.

The Wine:

Pedro Ximénez sherry is another great example of the vinificational ingenuity that has been shown in the sherry region in terms of making a wine that withstands the effects of time. Rather like the Oloroso I covered previously, oxidation is embraced, despite it being a more conventional winemaker's enemy. Pedro Ximénez is a grape variety that lends its name to a type of wine, although it's far more than a simple varietal wine. Once picked the late-harvested the grapes are laid out on grass mats to dry for 7-15 days in the searing southern Spanish heat; the soleo or pacificación process. This concentrates the grape juice, increases the sugar levels and ups the potential alcohol that the must can achieve once fermented - in practice this means that there will be a lot of sweetness left after the wine is fortified.

Pedro Ximénez is a favourite of mine, something I always pick up for accompanying Christmas pudding - delicious and decadent.
Pedro Ximénez: This dark, ebony coloured wine, with its pronounced tearing, looks stcky and dense. It has [a] very rich sensual bouquet in which sweet dried fruit notes (raisin, figs and dates) predominate, accompanied by aromas of honey, grape syrup, jam and candied fruits, with toasted (coffee, dark chocolate and cocoa) and liquorice notes accentuating as it gets older. Velvety and sticky on the palate, with enough acidity to mitigate its alcoholic glow, it has a very long finish that encourages the drinker to take another sip.15-22% abv, 180-500 g/l sugar.1
The Whiskies:

Lagavulin 16 and Lagavulin Distiller's Edition: Lagavulin is a whisky that stands on its own. The big broad stills, wide cut (72-59%) and lack of copper contact result in a rich, full-bodied whisky, contrasting with the lightness of Diageo's other Islay distillery; Caol Ila, and indeed with its other Islay bretheren. The 16 year old expression is one of Diageo's 'Classic Malts,' and as such has a Distiller's Edition as its companion. Some of the regular (mainly second-fill bourbon) sixteen year old is transferred into a Pedro Ximénez cask for a few months. Don't, however, be fooled into thinking that short extra maturation can't have an effect on quite an old and powerful whisky; this is Pedro Ximénez, and it's rarely shy. On the nose the 16 is classic Islay; peat, iodine and smoke but with more fresh bonfire robustness than others. On the palate it is spicy and mellow, a lovely relaxing armchair of a whisky. The PX influence on the Distiller's Edition possibly makes it even more so. For me Lagavulin is about the mellow smoke and richness, and this is why I think the extra sweetness, coffee and dried fruit flavours make it all the more luxurious and juicy for me, like the difference between a fruit cake and a Christmas cake. Not hugely different, but the difference is crucial, and delicious. The Distiller's Edition is one I've mentioned before when I had it at a Burn's Night Tasting if you want some further musings. It's always interesting to go back to these whiskies, especially to compare them to others in the range.

Glendronach 12: Glendronach is without doubt one of my favourite distilleries. I can see why some wouldn't be such big fans - the use of sherry casks is hardly subtle. That's the great thing about Single Malt whisky though, there's so much room for so much whisky that this sort of thing can be enjoyed, or ignored. Since they're owned by the same folk that own Benriach I think they can cater to all tastes anyway! This expression starts off in Oloroso sherry barrels than moves to PX, so you wouldn't go into it thinking that the sherry's going to be hiding in the background. As Billy Walker, managing director of Glendronach says '...with Pedro Ximénez you've gone to the next sherry level, if you like.'2 Don't say you weren't warned! On the nose the Glendronach 12 has aromas of brandy-soaked sultanas and toffee. On the palate it's seriously smooth, with a marzipan sweetness that moves pleasantly into a drier, nutty finish. This is described as 'The Original' Glendronach and so there's nothing really to compare it too, but it wears its sherry influence across more than just its sleeve. One further note, Glendronach have just brought out a new expression, so maybe one day this particular Glendronach will come my way... I can but dream.

Another PX influenced whisky that's well worth trying is Auchentoshan's 'Three Wood' - another delicious marriage of sherry casks resulting in a glorious dessert whisky. Quite similar to Pedro Ximénez are Moscatel wines. They are made in a similar way to Pedro Ximénez wines but from the Muscat grape variety. Casks that have previously housed Moscatel are used to ace Caol Ila Distiller's edition.

Next post, another fortified wine that's become the victim of going somewhat out of fashion... Port.

Pedro Ximénez sherry image taken from, and reproduced with the permission of, the Consejo Regulador Jerez website all about sherry. Well worth an explore.

1. Various Authors. The Big Book of Sherry. Regional Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Department of Publications and Dissemination. 
2. Roscrow, D (Ed.). 1001 Whiskies You Must Try Before You Die. London: Quintessence, 2012. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Caol Ila 2007 Feis Ile Release

This one from Islay's Caol Ila distillery was bottled for the Feis Ile Festival back in 2007 and was available only through the distillery on release. You can still pick it up for around £100 should you so wish but someone I know was kind enough to let me have the last of their bottle to try.

One of the things I like about single malt whisky is that in a way a bit of a leveller. Caol Ila is owned by Diageo, the world's biggest drinks company. Their estate is huge, running to over twenty active malt distilleries, but in the end Caol Ila is still only one distillery. While that number of distilleries sounds like a lot, just to put it into perspective their output of single malts from all of those distilleries combined is a mere 4% of their total whisky released every year.1 So one distillery among many, one year, one release. These behemoth drinks producers are in a way as far removed from 'craft' products as you can get, and are often pigeon-holed and portrayed as one dimensional, the ultimate purveyors of the bland and the mainstream. It is a cliché that so often runs true in the drinks industry, but that makes it all the better to see that the biggest of them can sometimes think it is important to do something on a different level. It's almost impossible to see how it could make a difference to the accounts at the end of the year, but not hard to see how it can make a difference to the whisky drinkers up there at the festival, and to me. Credit where it's due.

It's bottled at a cask strength of 58.4% abv. The nose is mellow, gentle peat, with a hint of strawberry boiled sweets.* I also got some maritime aromas; seashell and seaweed, but all served with lashings of rich butter. The palate was somewhat surprising - I was expecting peat but it was dominated by tangy Granny-Smith apple and lime. Once this had passed the dry-ash sooty smokiness took over, and there was a peppery finish. From powerful alcohol on the nose I was sure it would need water but it was surprisingly palatable at full strength, although adding water definitely lifted the sweetness, bringing a cinnamon note to the apple.

I also had the chance to try a sample of Ardbeg's latest Feis Ile release, the Ardbog, recently too. It's great, with lovely toffee and bonfire flavours. That said, it seems crazy to me that it's already trading at double the original (last month's) retail price, when something like this is still around from six years ago at around £100 (or even if it's twice that). I guess that's indicative of what's happens with Ardbeg's 'cult' releases at the moment!

* I was told by a colleague that this has spent some time in a port pipe, which would explain any sweet red-fruit, but I couldn't find any evidence of this. It just says European and American oak casks on the bottle. If I find anything more out I'll update.

1. Ronde, I (Ed). The Malt Whisky Yearbook 2012. Shrewsbury: MagDig Media Limited, 2011. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Some Summer Wine

Well, some beer from Summer Wine Brewery anyway...

This isn't a fair review. I ordered these beers back in May and they went out of date a couple of weeks ago. It seems that years of pub management has started to remove itself from my subconscious, and basics such as stock rotation are now escaping me. I blame the wine and the whisky... No dates of course, not because I've drank too much of either... Ahem.

Summer Wine Brewery are a brewery I've been chatting to (well, James at least) on Twitter for ages, along with reading their blog, without ever actually getting round to trying their beers. Probably a bit rude of me really but they seem like nice enough guys so hopefully I'll be forgiven!

So here they are, a brace of slightly out of date beers, which like I said means that a proper review isn't really fair, so feel free to ignore it. But of course there's a but...

First up was the lovely looking cherry-red 'Rouge,' described as a Red Hop Ale. There's loads of big hops on the nose, lots of toffee-apple and pine resin. On the palate it is bitter, and if the bitterness has been diminished because it's a couple of weeks out of date then it might well take your head off when it's in its prime! Lots of grapefruit pith but with an elegant finish that doesn't scrape your tongue, rather leaving you wanting more. 5.8%, £2.70 for a 33cl bottle.

The curiously named 'Surfing Monk' was next. A 'South Pacific Belgian IPA.' I was tempted by the sound of Kiwi hops with a Belgian twist... It poured a pale amber, and promised a little less on the nose than the Rouge. It was lighter in body, and more citrussy than the Rouge too, balanced nicely between all that lemon and grapefruit pithyness and the spicy, yeasty 'Belgian' angle. A terrific beer, big hops but with complexity too. 6% abv, £3.15 (33cl)

Funnily enough, the one I had while it was in-date was my least favourite, the Barista Espresso Stout. Don't get me wrong, it was good, but not outstanding like the other two. Next time I'll be checking the dates, because if this is what they're like when they're past their best I can't wait to try them when they're in their prime!

NB: Prices quoted are from Ales by Mail.

Edit: I've just remembered that Ade from Summer Wine is on Twitter too.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Nottingham Kilchoman Tasting with Peter Wills

This is a post I wrote for the Whisky Shop's W-Club blog, but I thought others might be interested in having a read. We had a tasting hosted by Peter Wills from the Kilchoman distillery, Islay's newest distillery.

Kilchoman was set up by Peter’s father Anthony, who had previously worked as an independent bottler. Due to issues trying to get hold of good stock as a bottler Anthony decided that the best route to ensure a supply of good whisky was to make it himself. Peter got involved from the age of fifteen, learning the ropes early when he wasn’t contributing to distillery ‘teething troubles’ by watching the Six Nations instead of making sure the old wood-fired kiln wasn’t burning down six months into the project! Islay was a natural choice because of family roots, and it meant they were already connected with a huge established tradition of whisky from the island. Back when the last Islay distillery prior to Kilchoman was built there would have been over a hundred distilleries on the island, albeit mostly on a tiny scale. All the raw materials were there to make whisky, but it’s peat that defines the industry on the island. After all, since the island is mainly peat bog, there was nothing else there to burn!

Kilchoman goes back to these grass roots of Islay distillation. It’s built in a farm building, and for the first of the whiskies we tried all the barley is taken from the farm too, and the whole lot is matured in warehouses on the island. I think it’s fair to say that Kilchoman’s 100% Islay is the expression that represents the company the best, as pure an expression of Islay as is practically possible. All the farm-grown barley is malted on-site at their own floor malting, and peated to around 25 ppm. It’s all bourbon cask matured giving a whisky that is full of fresh, ripe honeydew melon, light citrus and sweet tropical fruit which all complement the peat beautifully.

The peating levels put the 100% Islay right in the middle of Islay’s whiskies. The other three we tried, because they are distilled from malted barley bought in from the Port Ellen maltings at around 54 ppm, are as peaty as Ardbeg, at least in terms of the raw materials. So moving on to the Machir Bay meant the peat was cranked up a few notches. Like the 100% Islay this was the second edition. It’s a vatting of four and five year old whiskies finished for four weeks in sherry hogsheads. Once again it’s quite a light whisky, but less creamy and malty than the 100% Islay. The sherry finish does give it a bit more weight to support the extra peat, and there’s less of the melon fruit than the 100% Islay.

From the outset, working with whisky consultant Dr James Swan and later with experienced ex. Bunnahabhain manager John MacLellan, a light, fruity dram was what James Wills had in mind. So it was through working with these experts that the Kilchoman recipe came about. It meant that the shape of the built-from-scratch still (tall, with a reflux bulb), cut length (5-55 min) and level (68-72%), along with mainly ex-bourbon maturation were all tweaked and geared towards the lightness that I’ve mentioned before. What wasn’t quite so planned was the expensively made to measure bottles weighing in a little too heavy and pushing any postage up a Post Office weight bracket! The original £1.5 million investment had to be turned into three times that, through a combination of cask and futures sales, generous friends and family, and venture capital from less-likely sources such as Domino’s Pizza.

The last of what is planned to be the core whiskies, the Loch Gorm, is a departure from the bourbon cask norm, in that it is matured in a mixture of hogsheads and butts that have previously contained oloroso sherry. The result is an expression with a lot more nuttiness and dried fruit spice. Kilchoman’s independence means it is free to experiment, hence when the first Loch Gorm was hugely successful they could easily introduce it into the core range. While there are no plans to go to the cask experimentation levels of someone like BenRiach I don’t think they’d ever say never, and there are apparently casks quietly maturing that have previously held Port and Sauternes as well as the ones they’re using for the core range.

This leads us on to the last whisky, a single cask offering selected for The Whisky Shop by Darren Leitch. It’s bottled at cask strength and the cask provided just 260 bottles. I found it quite closed on the nose, its 61% abv meant that the alcohol kept things somewhat under wraps until you got on to the palate, but once you do it explodes with all those lovely fresh tropical fruit wrapped up in sweet peat smoke, which goes right through to a superbly clean, briny finish. 61% alcohol and moreish? While it’s potentially a dangerous combination, it is certainly an enjoyable one. With the addition of a little water the nose opens up and it shows some of the citrus and pear that you get with the first two expressions.

Finally we had a bit of a try of the new make spirit; Kichoman before it becomes whisky. At cask-strength rather than how it comes off the still, it has yet to integrate the fruit, although it is still quite noticeable underneath the herbaceous core that mellows as it becomes whisky.

It was fantastic to hear the stories Peter had to tell about the various trials and tribulations of opening Islay’s newest distillery. They certainly had their fair share of growing pains, but now they’re in a position to be commercially sustainable, they look like being here to stay, although you might not want to visit when England are playing Scotland in the rugby.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Wine & Whisky: Oloroso Sherry

I'm in the process of putting together a series of posts about whiskies and wine casks. It's a nice little bit of revision for me, particularly since my fortified wine diploma exam seems like a lifetime ago now! Rather than straight tasting notes on whiskies I'm going to talk a little bit about whisky casks' previous inhabitants, the wines whose character will bring about a change in the whisky's personality, and see if I can detect how the wine has affected the whisky in some examples.

Ex-sherry casks are the most widely used casks in the whisky industry behind those that have previously held bourbon. The Macallan in particular forged a global reputation off the back of some incredible sherry-matured whiskies, but other distilleries such as Aberlour and Dalmore owe a lot to a somewhat unfashionable wine from the south of Spain.

Wine character is generally a product of the viticulture of the region it comes from, it's why wine is said to exhibit a sense of time and place, far more than a less terroir-influenced product like whisky or beer. The climate can drive the vinification process - Champagne as we think of it would probably not exist if everyone had been happy drinking the region's acidic, austere table wine. Marco de Jerez is at the other end of the climate scale from Champagne; it's hot, and the grapes ripen with low acidity and high sugar levels. The most commonly grown grapes are of the white Palomino variety, but don't expect to find this as a varietal wine on the supermarket shelves next to the Chardonnay - these grapes have a very different fate.

The Wine: Oloroso Sherry. The first thing to get your head round with Oloroso sherry is that it is a white wine. In terms of whisky this is a bit odd, one of its most desirable characteristics being the generous colour that ex-Oloroso casks impart (think Aberlour A'bunadh). The reason this 'white wine' is no longer white is simple; it's oxidised. In the same way as the flesh of an apple that's been cut open and exposed to the air will turn brown, the juice of the grapes has turned brown. It is this oxidative ageing process that makes Oloroso sherry so individual a wine.

Vinos Generosos, the dry wines of Jerez, are made from Palomino grapes. The must is fermented, racked and the sobretablas are analysed and earmarked to become one type of sherry or another. They are then fortified to different levels depending on the type of sherry required. The wines selected to become Oloroso sherry are fortified to 17-18% abv in order to kill off the flor, a layer of yeast that forms when the wine settles that would otherwise protect it from oxidising. The 'preferred and most common' wooden cask for the crianza (ageing) process is a 600 litre American Oak 'butt' - oak has been imported on the return journey ever since Spain started exporting wine to the Americas centuries ago. About 3-5% of the wine per year is lost through evaporation - the angels, it seems, like a sherry as an apéritif before their whisky. Sherry's ageing process involves a solera system, which again provides a whisky link, since Glenfiddich use a similar arrangement to age their 15 year old from their core range. It's a slow process, the sobretablas are placed in a row of barrels, where space has been made by removing mature wine out of the row at the bottom, and moving no more than one third per year down at once. Over the years the wine becomes oxidised, and turns into something very different to the white wine it started as.
Dry wines (Vinos Generosos) Oloroso: Amber or mahogany in colour, this has strong nutty (hazelnut, walnut) bouquet with toasted, vegetable, balsamic notes evocative of noble wood, Virginia tobacco and dry fallen leaves, and spicy, animal notes suggestive of truffles and leather. It is full of flavour and very structured in the mouth, the noble wood notes creating an elegant dry finish. 17-22% abv, less than 5g/l sugar.1
I was up in York the other week and I had a glass of Alfonso Oloroso from Gonzalez Byass before my dinner at Ambiente. It's not something I've had very often outside of doing wine exams, but I really enjoyed how different it was, a tremendously complex wine for the price, well worth trying!

The Whiskies: Dalwhinnie 15 & Dalwhinnie 'Distiller's Edition'. Dalwhinnie is one of Diageo's 'Classic Malt' range, all of which have a 'Distiller's Edition' counterpart which are aged in a range of different casks. Dalwhinnie's extra maturation occurs in Oloroso sherry barrels, for an extra year, but the questions I'm trying to answer are 'What difference does it make?' and 'What characteristics of the whisky can be attributed to the sherry?'

The whiskies are noticeably different in colour, the Oloroso finished expression being that much darker than the original. On the nose the 'regular' Dalwhinnie is all creamy vanilla and honey. By way of contrast the Distiller's Edition seemed more complex, with the honey intertwining with golden syrup, and the vanilla giving way to almond notes. Moving on to the palate and the 15 is full of sweet malt, it's phenomenally smooth, like a rich malty drinking chocolate. There's a whiff of smoke on the finish but nothing to rock the boat, everything works in harmony! The Distiller's is an entirely different animal, it still has some of that sweetness but with a harsher mouth-feel. You definitely get the green-apple and balsamic tang from the sherry through the mid-palate. The finish has more sooty smoke, like burnt toffee. Tasting these two in parallel does somewhat highlight a difficulty. Dalwhinnie really is a very good whisky at 15 years so it begs the question as to whether it needs an extra year in a sherry barrel? Obviously that's a moot point, and not really the point of this article, but I personally would stick with the regular 15 year old.

Deanston 12 (distillery bottling) & Deanston 12 from The Whisky Shop's Glenkier Treasures range. Another highland pairing; both the same age but one is entirely bourbon cask and the other sherry finished. There is still plenty of scope for the distillery character to come through even with different maturation methods. On the nose I got hay, cream and porridge, with more wood on the sherry matured version. On the palate I got honey again, spice; ginger, liquorice, herbs and peel on the palate. The sherry cask matured was more spicy (clove), with more of a burnt note and a sweeter almond finish, the extra sherry-oakiness complementing the creaminess nicely in the finish too, while the distillery bottling keeps a depth of character at the same time as maintaining a lighter touch, and a faint whiff of smoke.

Some great whiskies, and a shockingly under-rated wine category, although I do get the impression that Sherry is coming back from the brink. Since the regulations now mean that all sorts of 'sherry' that was really nothing of the sort can't get away with spoiling the wines' reputation, hopefully it will carry on making a come back. Next up, more sherry in the form of a personal favourite; Pedro Ximénez.

Oloroso sherry image taken from, and reproduced with the permission of, the Consejo Regulador Jerez website all about sherry. Well worth an explore.

1. Various Authors. The Big Book of Sherry. Regional Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Department of Publications and Dissemination.

Friday, 5 July 2013

What’s the Big Deal With IPAs?

I've not done a session post for ages but this one hosted by Justin over at Justin's Brew Review appealed! Justin's wondering what the big deal is with IPA?

For me modern hop-forward American-style IPAs bridge a gap. They are a beer you can drink on a hot summer's day that quench like a standard big-brewery lager but actually taste of something (however unsubtle) even when served cold - by which I mean colder than you'd serve a cask beer. They are also a convenient way of getting round 'that' question. The conversation which could go something like:

A: What's 'craft beer' when it's at home then?
B: Well it's kind of micro-brewed beer that's not necessarily governed by things like it having to be served in a certain... Oh, you know what...  Just have a Jaipur.


A: Bloody hell!
B: Yeah, that's the hops...

But most of all. I just really like them. I don't care if they're 'real' or not. I don't care if they're trendy. In fact I think that's great - it means they're more widely available which means I get the chance to drink them more. I don't care if people who probably get far more opportunities than me to drink them are bored of them, or if the hipsters have moved on to the next big thing. I just really like them. I also like more traditional British IPAs, and pretty much every other sub-style I've tried so far, so long may IPA rule!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Another Day in York

This is a continuation of the last blog post I did which was in danger of getting a bit too long, but since most of the places I went to in York deserved a mention it seemed wrong leaving any of them out entirely!

Pride of place for the day had to go to the magnificent beer selection in Pivni. I could probably have spent the whole afternoon in there but as it was I had to be content with a glass of De Molen Citra. This was a great single-hop IPA, really beautifully light without too much overbearing tropical fruit character, erring more towards the lemon and grapefruit end of the IPA spectrum, which I felt worked well with the lower (4.8%) abv.  If you are a beer fan and find yourself in York, then Pivni is a must visit, although if you come by traing I'm guessing you may find yourself stuck in the station. York Tap or York trap?

More wandering after lunch saw us ending up in the shop part of Trembling Madness, yet another beer paradise, and saw me leaving clutching a couple of carrier bags full of beer, including another El Dorado single hop beer, tying in nicely with the one I had at York brewery. More on those to follow. I also managed to pick up another sample of whisky, this time a spicy 13yo from Braeval, courtesy of Vom Fass. I'll be writing that one up soon too.

We had our evening meal at El Piano, something of a spread out chain - with the others being in Granada and Málaga. Good as the food had been so far this was the best we'd had. The variation in flavours that they managed was fantastic, and I had a meal that was 90% sourced from within 30 miles. Since I was in York I felt I had to revisit an old favourite from back in the lost days of my youth, I had a bottle of Black Sheep with my dinner. It's a beer that's quite common nowadays so probably not worth my input since I'm sure most people have tried it, but have a look at Matt's piece over on his blog, a great story (sort of) about the beer.

So that was York. It had been so long since just the two of us had some time away it was great to make the most of it in a friendly city that really fit the bill for us. Great food, great drink! I'm not sure where the next destination will be but it has a lot to live up to.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A Day in York

My wife and I had a couple of days up in York last week. Due to the kindness of grandparents being willing to babysit we were well and truly able to indulge ourselves with lots of great food and, of course, drink.

Pretty much the first port of call was Goji café, for a great burger and an Elphin Brook. Even given the wide choice of places to eat and drink in York we ended up going back to Goji the next day too, giving me a chance to try the Mytholm Mist Helen had the day before.

York brewery is well worth a visit, nestling nicely within a few minutes walk of the city centre. I popped down after lunch to do a brewery tour and it wasn't until I walked in that I realised I'd been there before. When I ran a pub for Castle Rock we'd had a day out in York and we called in there since the two breweries had a connection from way back in the set-up days of York brewery. The liquid accompaniment to the tour was a half of York Gold and one of El Dorado. While I was at the brewery I heard a rumour there that Jaipur was on tap at The Old White Swan, which made a post-meal drink location an easy selection. The lack of Jaipur was potentially a disappointment but it was made up for by the presence of Roc Fall, a new Thornbridge beer for me.

Whisky cravings were sorted out courtesy of Demijohn, the 'liquid deli' where I picked up a wee sample of 15 year old Clynelish which I am very much looking forward to trying - more to follow on that one! I also had a nip of an 8yo Caol Ila to ward off York's notorious ghosts.*

We had our evening meal at Ambiente Tapas bar. Ambiente is a modern, fashionable, sort of bar, and I thought the emphasis on sherry to accompany various parts of your meal was a real plus - I opted for an Oloroso as an apéritif, and while I was tempted to indulge in a PX with (or maybe just as) dessert I resisted in favour of the excellent white Rioja we still had on the go.

* My theory of whisky warding off ghosts remains unproven. However, since I wasn't harassed by any, I am going to carry on drinking it, hopefully to continue the protection. You can't be too careful after all.