Top Marathons In 2014

top marathonsEvery year there are marathons held all over the world, and 2014 was no different, however, despite there being many exciting new races to choose from, the top marathons of the year still had to be the five World Marathon Majors,  which were held in New York City, London, Chicago, Boston and Berlin. Here, we look at little more at each one. Let’s take a closer look at 2014 marathon calendar.

Boston Marathon

Held on Patriots’ Day, the 21st April, the Boston Marathon ranks among the top marathons in the world. Considered by most people to be the best and the original, the Boston marathon not only holds the accolade of being the first marathon, but also the world’s longest running, and the 2014 race was its 117th. Considered by competitors to be the toughest of the five World Marathon Majors, the race begins in Hopkington, crossing 8 towns before ending at Back Bay. The route covers a strenuous five mile stretch over four hills in Newton, including the imposing 600m “Heartbreak Hill” close to Boston College. Runners must make the 88 vertical foot climb around 20 – 21 miles into the race, and even experienced competitors often have to walk this section of the course. With challenging terrain and variable weather, this may be a difficult course, however the 25,000 runners are cheered on by huge crowds 500,000 strong who are celebrating the national holiday by participating in this social event.

London Marathon

Considered to be one of the best courses for beginners due to its flatness, this marathon passes some of the city’s most famous landmarks. Beginning at Blackheath and Greenwich, it goes over the Meridian Line, past iconic structures like Canary Wharf, the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, before it finally comes to the finishing line at the Mall. Crowds of supporters line the entire course and choirs and steel drum bands are frequently present. The London marathon is famous for its great atmosphere and many competitors in fancy dress.

Berlin Marathon

Known as the world’s biggest marathon, the Berlin event sees 40,000 runners take to the city’s streets each September. This very flat course has seen the men’s world record broken 3 times during the last few years and there are many power walking and costumed competitors.

Chicago Marathon

This course is also pretty flat, with the 2014 race being the 37th in this marathon’s history. Having grown dramatically from a humble start, this race used to be known as the Mayor Daley marathon with only 4200 runners taking part. Now, around 50,000 people compete and there are crowds to match.

New York City Marathon

Many people hold New York City marathon up as their favorite of the five World Marathon Majors. This race covers all five of the city’s boroughs and, like the London marathon, takes in many of the most famous landmarks such as Staten Island, Central Park and 5th Avenue. With great entertainment and cheering crowds, over 40,000 runners have high spirits, despite the cold November weather.

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The E-cigarette Craze

E-cigarettes and vaping have recently become popular among people of all legal ages. In fact, it is reported that over 9 million Americans use e-cigarettes. An electronic cigarette has a battery that is attached to a chamber filled with a liquid that may or may not include nicotine. Vaping is a term that describes using e-cigarettes because when one inhales the liquid from an e-cigarette and then exhales, a vapor cloud is exhaled; it also describes the act of inhaling vapor created from a vapor product.

There are many reasons people use e-cigarettes, but one of the most common reasons is to quit smoking. E-cigarettes are used as a prevention tool for smoking cessation, as it eliminates the harmful ingredients found in cigarettes but still provides that inhaling motion while offering flavored vape. Users can choose whether they want to vape liquid that contains nicotine or not, and there are many flavor options that are nicotine-free. The flavors that do contain nicotine can come in different nicotine strengths. For example, you can purchase liquid with nicotine strength anywhere from 0 mg to 12 mg, and usually in 10 ml, 30 ml, or 60 ml bottles, though different brands may carry different sizes.

Vapor shops are popping up in every town it seems and there are hundreds of flavors to choose from. Flavors that exist are menthol, candy cane, chocolate, and tons of fruit varieties like kiwi, apple, strawberry, watermelon, and banana cream pie. The flavors are enticing and that contributes to users coming back for more. Users can also purchase tobacco flavors too which may or may not be helpful in quitting smoking due to the nicotine content.

Now that e-cigarettes have gained so much popularity, they have also faced a lot of criticism. Many public opinions criticize e-cigarettes for still promoting nicotine dependency and luring smokers in with a wide range of flavors that are hard on your lungs. Flavored e-cigarettes can contain a flavoring agent called diacetyl which can cause popcorn lung, a lung disease that causes obstruction of bronchioles in the lungs. The long-term safety of using e-cigarettes is still unknown, and it still remains a popular alternative to smoking.

In addition to the enjoyable flavors, there are other reasons why people vape. Many individuals find using e-cigarettes relaxing especially if they are vaping medical marijuana (where it is legal, mind you). In fact, vaping marijuana provides a better, pungent taste and it can help with chronic pain, relaxation, and migraines. Other people find using e-cigarettes to be a little easier on the wallet which depends how heavy of an e-cigarette user you are. Another reason why vaping is popular is people enjoy the sense of community involved with it. Vaping has grown into a lifestyle that has people joining together for vape parties, creating their own flavors, designing vape t-shirts, and hats to endorse their vaping lifestyles.

Using e-cigarettes has clearly become a new phenomenon that has not been fully answered by science. That being said, there are many smokers who have quit smoking because of they are using an e-cigarette. It is advised that if you do notice any breathing issues or abnormal coughing since vaporizing to contact a physician to have it checked out. Though vaping might not be supported by everyone, it has provided an alternative to smoking expensive cigarettes and releasing cigarette smoke into the air.

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Woodford Reserve Bourbon Blowout

Woodford Reserve recently held a Bourbon Blowout tasting session at Shirt Bar and Watch & Whisky like always was ready to jump at the chance to sample of these…

Woodford Reserve recently held a Bourbon Blowout tasting session at Shirt Bar and Watch & Whisky like always was ready to jump at the chance to sample of these amazing bourbons, some of which are no longer in existence. The event was run by none other than Stuart Reeves from Brown-Forman. The evening was very well organized with not only a very wide selection of bourbons to sample, but also a variety of additional treats like a nosing pallet which included citrus, dark chocolate, cheese, nuts and dried cranberry’s. Also as part of the experience we started out the evening with a whisky old fashioned or in this case a bourbon old fashioned. However you prefer it, it’s damn good with Woodford Reserve as part of the mix. Spicy and strong, it’s not a drink that’s for the faint of heart and definitely has a bite to it.

As Stuart finished setting up for the evening we were surprised to see that he had prepared a slide show presentation for us that helped outline the company’s history and where it was today in terms of size, scale, production and where the company is hoping to go in the future. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the history right now, we’re here for the bourbon so let’s get down to it!

So let’s down to business! Starting off with the baddest dog of them all, the “White Dog”.

Nose: On the nose it had a very spicy with hints of corn and vanilla.

Palate: The taste however, was overwhelmingly spicy with a strong alcohol finish. Being a white spirit it was expected, but you could still sense the subtle hints of vanilla and corn, however the finish did make it difficult to get much more from the tasting.

Second on the list we tried the iconic Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select.

Nose: On the nose you get hints of vanilla and smoke that just envelop your senses and then the spices really hit your nose with a bang and can overwhelm you if you’re not careful. It’s a very empowering smell but still not so harsh that it kills any of its subtlety.

Palate: On the tongue you get the same spices and vanillas with hints of corn that you get from the nose, yet it has hints citrus that swirl around your mouth and give you a sense of freshness with a crisp clean finish.

Now we move onto the stars of the show, the Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection.

Starting off with the Master’s Collection Maple Wood Finish.

Nose: On the nose it had a definite sense of vanilla and maple topped with sweet spices and a hint of cherry.

Palate: As for taste, you definitely get strong maple notes along with vanilla, cherry, honey and spices. Definitely a more broad range of flavors in this one given that it’s aged in a maple wood cask but not over-complicated where the flavors confuse rather than complement each other. The finish however I felt was spicy yet rich and fuller in flavor.

Next on the agenda was the Master’s Collection Aged Cask Rye.

Nose: On the nose the aged cask rye had creamy vanilla, cinnamon and fruity notes.

Palate: The taste of the aged cask rye had senses of citrus fruit, creamy vanilla and some spice. Although it sounds like it had an amazing palate, it was my least favorite of the night.

Following on from the Aged Cask Rye we get to the New Cask Rye, second of the rye collection.

Nose: On the nose you get hints of spices and cinnamon with subtle hints of fruit.

Palate: The taste is similar to its nose but with a creamier richer finish which was a little surprising. I definitely wasn’t expecting a creamy vanilla finish but rather a crisper finish like the Old Cask Rye but it felt smoother, richer in my tastes and was my favorite of the night.

And on we go to the Master’s Collection Fourwood.

Nose: On the nose it had a strong muky and nutty aroma but with subtle hints of cherry.

Palate: The taste however, had lots of citrus, cherry and nutty flavors with some spice thrown in there just because. The finish however had hints of nuts and a sticky sweet finish.

Lastly but certainly not least, the Master’s Collection Classic Malt.

Nose: On the nose it had a buttery and vanilla essence with hints of citrus.

Palate: The taste however had hints of dark chocolate, honey, buttery vanilla, with a long warm finish.

After the tasting session was over we were catered to by the guys and girls at Shirt Bar with their signature cheese and cold meat platter which was just the perfect way to end the evening. After a long night of bourbon, meat, cheese and warm bread, we all left feeling toasty warm and fulfilled, and no not in a disgusting way you perverts!

A special mention must be made to Stuart Reeves for putting up an amazing spread for us to taste and sample with a rich insight into the company’s history.

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The Good, the Bad, the Duty Free

Whilst honeymooning in Fiji I couldn’t help but get a little excited at the prospect of going through the amazing range at Duty Free in Sydney and just devouring…

Whilst honeymooning in Fiji I couldn’t help but get a little excited at the prospect of going through the amazing range at Duty Free in Sydney and just devouring my entire quota of whisky that you are allowed to bring into the country. Fortunately I had a new wife who was only too happy to oblige and let me use her quota as well so with that in mind I set off in duty free looking at my heart’s desire at some truly remarkable whiskies. For the everyday casual drinker duty free can be very overwhelming with such a wide range of whisky available and this can lead to a lot of second guessing or bad purchases that you will regret later. Fortunately here at we are happy to provide this little article to help you sift through all the goodies in Duty Free so that your purchases feel like your own and not what other people may push you into buying.

Firstly, Duty Free shopping is an experience so treat it as such, it’s a once in a so often opportunity (depending on how often you fly) to purchase whisky that may not be readily available or available at all in your country. Get there early and with plenty of time to peruse and take it all in, if you go with the mindset of quickly grabbing a few big 1 litre bottles and rushing to catch your flight, you have missed the point completely. I would give myself 2 hours, which I feel is a comfortable amount of time to look around. For Sydney siders if any of you have been to Duty Free you know that it may seem like a small Duty Free outlet but it is very, very, deceiving if you slow down to really admire what is on the shelves.

Secondly, don’t skip past anything, that’s one mistake a lot of people make and it puts me in tears seeing people just breeze past so much deliciousness. Slow down, don’t shy away from grabbing a few bottles and reading the information provided and just take in whatever information you’re looking for. You’ll be thoroughly surprised at what little gems you can find. Me personally, I was able to grab an absolute gem in the Balvenie 14yo Rum Cask Single Malt Whisky and it puts a smile on my face every time I pour myself a dram of that beautiful nectar.

Third, don’t overdo it! You might be at Duty Free but that doesn’t mean you should just blow your money because you can get a bigger bottle than what’s available at your local Dan Murphy’s or Vintage Cellars. Really think about what you are about to purchase, don’t get suckered into the mindset of buying for the sake of buying. There are plenty of outlets you can use if you can’t find what you’re looking for so don’t feel pressured into buying anything if there’s nothing that appeals to you.

Lastly, and most importantly, drink responsibly and by responsibly I mean with friends. Duty Free shopping is a chance to give your friends the chance to experience something they may not normally be able to. Hold a whisky tasting evening and crack open a special bottle you’ve found at Duty Free and enjoy a round with them. There’s no better feeling than enjoying a dram surrounded by good friends and good company. You may be surprised to see that your friends will return the favour when they go overseas and that is never a bad thing.

And there you have it folks, a quick insight into how to tackle to hurdles of Duty Free whisky shopping.

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