An Irish Whiskey Tour

Last summer my wife and I took a trip to Northern Ireland to celebrate milestone birthdays and to explore our Irish family roots. On St. Patrick’s Day this year, we stayed home, recreated some of the traditional Irish dishes, and opened the Irish Whiskey we brought back in our luggage. The cuisine of Ireland is comfort food, drawing from the land and sea. Potatoes, salmon, sausage, cabbage, oats and cheese are the most popular ingredients.

Traditional Irish whiskey differs from Scottish and American whiskies because it is distilled three times instead of twice. The more a liquid is distilled, the lighter, smoother and more alcoholic it becomes.” Single pot still whiskey” is used to describe a particular style of whiskey made in Ireland at a single distillery in a pot still. It is made from a mixed mash of unmalted green barley and malted barley. We tried lots of different brands of whiskey on our trip (after all, we WERE celebrating). Slàinte (a toast meaning “health” and pronounced “slahn-cha”) #IrishWhiskey

1.Old Bushmills Distillery, based in Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is the world’s oldest licensed distillery. King James I granted the governor of Antrim a license to distill in 1608, giving the distillery bragging rights. We had a lovely lunch and tried their selection of blended whiskies. We also learned that this institution was purchased by Jose Cuervo in 2014.

2. Redbreast 12 is regarded by critics as one of the foremost examples of excellence in the single pot still Irish whiskey category. It tastes like Christmas with its fruitcake nose, full bodied spicy marzipan palate and custard finish. It has been named Irish Whiskey of the Year multiple times.

3. The Powers John’s Lane Release 12-year old single pot still Irish whiskey is one of the best balanced that we drank. Smooth and earthy with spice and honey.

4. No longer in operation, The Old Jameson Distillery in Dublin is now a tourist attraction. Jameson blended whiskey is our choice for Irish coffee, so we had to try the Dublin version. The bar also serves Jameson cocktails and single pot still Jameson whiskey.

5. Tulamore Dew. The Tullamore Dew Single Malt whiskies contain both malted and unmalted barley-based whiskeys, triple distilled and aged between 12 to 15 years in old bourbon or sherry casks. Some pot-still whiskey is included in the blend. This was my wife’s favorite because she loved the vanilla-caramel-toffee nose, palate and finish.

6. Teeling Whiskey was distilled for 300 years in Dublin until 1976 when economic times closed it down. With the recent craft of distilling making a comeback, Teeling is now producing incredible whiskey. Our favorite was the small batch blended single grain whiskey with a sweet nose and woody finish.

7. Green Spot. This single pot still whiskey does not carry an age statement . It matures for 7-10 years in a mix of bourbon and Sherry casks which creates the sweet, minty, malty experience.

8. Midleton Very Rare. Before leaving for Ireland we heard that Midleton Very Rare was THE best Irish whiskey, but also very expensive because it is released in limited quantities. It is triple distilled and aged 12-25 years. We found a pub in Dublin that sold a relatively well-priced glass of it and savored the taste from our single glass. We enjoyed the experience but wouldn’t call it our favorite.

9. The Tyrconnell. Tyrconnell was the name of a racehorse in the 19th century that won at 100-1 odds. We love single malt scotch, so it is only fitting that we would try the pot still single malt whiskies in Ireland. Flowers, citrus and vanilla… what’s not to like about this Irish whiskey!

10. We had a glass of the mass produced whiskey, not the reserved or 18-year-old Kilbeggan. The inconsistencies are the fact that is double not triple distilled and the finish is not long and sweet.




St. Paddy’s in Fort Collins

MARCH: St. Patrick’s Day, Spring, Daylight Saving Time, Spring Break, National Nutrition Month, Palm Sunday, Easter….lots going on this month.

So, I would like to start with our town’s Irish roots…there are none! Camp Collins, later Fort Collins, was named after Lt. Col. William Oliver Collins, the popular commander of Ohio Cavalry troops whose headquarters were at Fort Laramie. The genealogy of Collins is English and/or Irish (Ó Coileáin) and that is as close as we get to Irish heritage in Northern Colorado.

Last Friday, we met friends at Lucky Joe’s in Old Town for their tasty Irish coffee: Jameson Irish Whiskey, brown sugar, fresh hot coffee, and homemade sweet cream. The presentation is what really elevates their coffee to “the best Irish coffee in Fort Collins!” Each cup is topped off with a cinnamon design. My wife and I ended up with a shamrock and our friends had a panda bear. #bestirishcoffee

One of the McElroy St. Paddy’s traditions is making Irish coffee. Our recipe of choice is from the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco. Real cream is used, not whipped cream in the can.

Irish Coffee…the drink of music and magic…was conceived by Joe Sheridan at Shannon Airport. Stanton Delaplane discovered it there and brought it back to San Francisco. In 1952, Delaplane asked The Buena Vista to recreate the drink and today you can head to the end of the cable car line to get a cup of authentic Irish Coffee, just as it is served in Shannon. (Or, come to my home!)

1.    Fill glass mug with very hot water to pre-heat, then empty water.

2.    Pour hot coffee into hot glass until it is about ¾ full. Drop in 3 sugar cubes.

3.    Stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.

4.    Add a full jigger of Irish Whiskey.

5.    Top with a collar of lightly whipped whipping cream by POURING GENTLY OVER A SPOON. (by pouring over the spoon, the coffee and whipping cream do not mix and you have a beautiful layering of your Irish Coffee).

What are your favorite Saint Patrick’s Day traditions?

10 Free March Things to Do in Fort Collins

Where is all of our March snow? Thankfully not on the ground. This sunshine has been wonderful…it certainly has me thinking of Spring already and I’m sure you are as well.

Whether you’re feeling the call of Spring or just want to get out of the house, try one or all of these FREE (or mostly free) events in the month of March. #FreeFort CollinsThingsToDo

1. Spend 2 hours on a Fort Collins Historical Walking Tour by downloading the free brochure,

2. The Margaret Brown Collection is among the largest and most important donations of historic costume to the Poudre Landmark Foundation. The exhibit offers a beautiful, extensive range of fashion of fine womenswear, mid-1800s to mid-1900s. Saturdays & Sundays, 1-4 p.m. Free but we suggest a donation of $3 per person.

3. The Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising is Colorado State University’s historic costume and textiles collection. Its mission is the exploration of the aesthetic, social, cultural and physical significance of textiles, dress and interior furnishings. Blackwell: Artist of Subtle Witchery, Free admission.

4. Winter Farmers Market, March 12 and 19.Free music, food and drink samples and a great downtown vibe. Opera Galleria,

5. Lucky Joe’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 12, 10:00AM and Old Town Irish Party 10:00-5:00,

6. Spring Holistic Fair March 12-13. $6 one day, $9 weekend, $1 discount with non-perishable food donation or go to website and BUY 1 GET 1 FREE.

7. Foodie Walk, March 18, 6:00-8:00PM. A different theme each month with participating businesses offering free samples.

8. 9th Annual Seed Swap & Giveaway in partnership with the Poudre River Public Library District and The Growing Project. Saturday, March 5, 2016, 10:00-2:00. Old Town Library, 201 Peterson St. Trade your seeds, knowledge & resources. Free seeds, seed-starting soil, seed packets, talks by expert gardeners. See the website for times:

9. First Friday Art Walk:

10. Poudre River Public Library District not only has books and media to check out, but there are FREE classes, discussions and concerts. Explore genealogy, computer programs, Ugly Craft Night, meet authors, participate in global discussions and be part of a book group. March 11, 7:00-8:30 Harmony in the Round traditional Celtic music performed by the trio, “The Unfortunate Rakes”.

What are your favorite free things to do around town?

First Time Homebuying

Our favorite youngest daughter is getting ready to decide whether or not to buy her first home. She has made a list of Owning  vs Renting, recognizing that owning is an opportunity, but also comes with its own list of responsibilities.

As we discuss the pros and cons of owning, we have put together our Top Ten list of considerations for moving forward with a purchase. Getting your “ducks” in order is a priority.

1. Interview local REALTORS®. Find one who can give you recent market statistics, buying scenarios, financial direction and has experience negotiating in today’s marketplace in Northern Colorado. Not all markets in Colorado are the same so make sure your REALTOR® understands differences between Fort Collins, Loveland, Wellington, Windsor and all surrounding towns.

2. Gather credit information for your lender. You will need to provide recent 401 k statements, recent bank statements, recent pay stubs.

3. Preapproval from a lender is THE most important duck, not prequalification. The lender will tell you what you can afford and what your monthly payments will be. This step requires a preliminary review of your credit information. Do not increase your credit card debt, buy a new car, or apply for a new credit card. Make sure you have a copy of your last two most recent tax returns.

4. Avoid making large cash deposits to your bank account.

5. Do not make a major career change.

6. What do you have for a down payment and what are your options? Will you be gifted money, co-signing, or do you have cash saved for approximately 20% down.

7. Do research on the area/s that you want to buy. Walk the neighborhoods at different times of the day and on the weekends to observe activity and age groups. Check walkability scores, crime rates, number of rentals.

8. When negotiating your contract, realize there will be additional funds needed beyond your down payment. Inspections, appraisals, HOA transfer fees and warranties are not necessarily provided by the seller. After closing, expect the unexpected. Inspections are not foolproof and Murphy’s Law is ever present.

9. When closing on your purchase, NEVER WIRE FUNDS TO ANYONE BUT THE CLOSING AGENT. Scams are rampant. And beware of unexpected emails that ask for money to cover additional inspection costs. All of these costs should flow through your agent.

10. Before, during and after your closing, your REALTOR® should be your trusted advisor for any questions that you may have. From finding handymen to paying taxes, call your REALTOR®.

The Five Points to a Contract


As a Colorado Real Estate Commissioner, new contracts are part of the Commission’s responsibility. Five Commissioners from the real estate and legal professions are appointed by the Governor for 3-year terms. The contracts are designed to protect all parties to the contract. Commission-approved forms avoid the need to “reinvent the wheel” and are the basis for consistency in all Colorado real estate transactions.

Recently I helped a couple with the purchase of their first home. In my experience, there are Five Points To A Real Estate Contract and it is important to understand where the strengths and weaknesses lie in your offer (buyer) or acceptance (seller).

  1. Asking price. This is the price the homeowner sets with the aid of a Realtor. I provide the homeowner all of the latest information of range in value for their home. It is up to the seller to set the price. The homeowner has control over the price they set.
  2. Market price. This is the price that buyers will offer based upon their needs, desires, and what other homes have sold for in the neighborhood. It may be different from the asking price.
  3. Bidding War”. The Northern Colorado market is tight, especially under the $400,000 price range. Never before, in my 40 years of real estate, have I been involved in so many Bidding Wars. A Bidding War is basically multiple offers that are reviewed at the same time by the seller. A Bidding War usually starts at the Asking Price and accelerates from there. Keep in mind, All Five Points To A Real Estate Contract come into play, not simply the price.
  4. Inclusions/Exclusions. The seller determines what to include with the home sale and that is provided as Inclusions/Exclusions (may be appliances, mirrors, light fixture, et al). Although those items are/are not part of the listing, they can become a negotiating point. I like to tell the story about the $8,000 refrigerator. Years ago I was involved in a contract negotiation. The buyer wanted to include the refrigerator (and willing to pay extra for it) but the seller insisted on taking the refrigerator. The buyer “walked” and after a considerable number of days on the market, the seller sold the home for $8,000 less than the original contract.
  5. Pre-approval. Today, the strongest offers come with a” Pre-Approval” from a lender, not a Pre-Qualification. The lender furnishes a letter with the exact dollar amount for a loan that the lender will fund. During negotiation, this type of letter holds a considerable amount of weight since there is no guessing whether or not the buyer can secure a loan. Once pre-approved, the sale will only be subject to appraisal, title verification, and in some cases, additional viewing of personal financial records.
  6. It would seem a cash offer holds the most strength, but the funds must be substantiated. Therefore, the buyer must be willing to show proof they have the assets.
  7. Lots of options for loans, so a buyer who chooses their lender PRIOR to looking at houses has more leverage that someone who needs to go through the process.
  8. Additional Provisions. . There is a separate Commission form for Additional Provisions. Some of the highlights include the following.
  9. As Is and With All Faults. Property being sold based upon Buyer’s investigations through inspections.
  10. Under the new TRID rules, there are loan parameters, deadlines and limitations that need to be monitored.
  11. Home Warranty. I ALWAYS make sure my clients have a pre-owned Home Warranty to protect themselves after closing if a buyer, and during the sale process if a seller.
  12. Buyer needs to sell their home before buying the new home is “Conditional Upon Sale of a Property”.  Or not subject to an appraisal.  Contingencies protect the buyer but if there are multiple offers on a property, the contingencies can affect positioning in the offer.
  13. Closing Date and Possession. Normally, the seller has a particular reason they are selling their home, therefore the closing and possession dates are of utmost importance. The closer a buyer can come to meeting those parameters, the stronger the contract.

A Bit of Denver Broncos History…

My wife and I have had season tickets to the Denver Broncos games for 40 years. Coming from Nebraska with a great tradition of football, we jumped at the chance to buy season tickets when Kathy, our next door neighbor, announced that her father was in charge of the ticket office for the Broncos. Mile High Stadium was expanding and new seats were available. She said, “how many season tickets do you want…6?…8?” Being in our 20’s without lots of disposable income, we opted for 4 tickets.  It would be fun to drive to Denver with friends for the games and our car could only handle four passengers. We have lots of memories of the team that has been so much a part of our lives.

P.S.  Our favorite middle daughter is a HUGE Broncos fan. My wife went to every single Broncos game in 1981 when she was pregnant. Our daughter was due on Super Bowl Sunday 1982 and we joked that the new baby could be named “D”troit because of the location of the Super Bowl. When she was born, we swear she came at screaming GOOOOOOOOOOOBroncos! #DenverBroncosMemories

Here are Ten Things You May Not Know About Denver Bronco History:

  1. Mile High Stadium was expanded 1975-1977 by extending the north side upper deck and building a movable set of stands along the east side. Our new tickets were in the North Stands. As we soon learned, the South Stands were known as the “rowdy” section.
  2. Even in 1976, fans had fun with the wild and the weird! The guy across the aisle from us had a rubber chicken tied around its neck with a rope and attached to a stick. Each week he dressed the chicken in the uniform of the opposing team and would wave it in the air when the visiting team would falter. In 1977 Barrel Man appeared and then became a legend. Then in the early 80’s the Leprechaun showed up and is still part of the fabric of Mile High.
  3. Our first Bronco game was in 1975, the year Bucky the Bronco was installed at Mile High Stadium. Having grown up in the 1950’s, we were thrilled to hear that Bucky was/is an exact replica of Roy Roger’s horse, Trigger, that was made for the Roy Rogers museum. For years Bucky’s twin could be found outside the Roy Rogers museum in California and then the museum was moved to Branson, Missouri. When the museum closed, all memorabilia was sold.
  4. Part of the history of a team is the additional uses for its stadium. Our first time inside Mile High Stadium was the summer of 1974 when we moved to Colorado. We attended a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Concert with the Beach Boys as back-up! After the success of the Broncos going to the Super Bowl in 1978, Bronco player Lyle Alzado became a household name. In 1979 I went to the stadium and watched Lyle Alzado, a former boxer, and Mohammed Ali in an exhibition boxing match. The first Colorado Rockies Baseball Game I attended was at Mile High Stadium in 1993. As incoming Colorado Association of REALTORS® President we had a promotion for the association and my wife and I were lucky to be on the field prior to game time. We saw Sammy Sosa “up close and personal”. I remember thinking, “this is a strong man!”
  5. We loved listening to the big band sound of the Denver Broncos Band that played in the old Mile High Stadium. Located in the southeast corner of the end zone bleachers, they brought a touch of nostalgia to a football game. Never too loud or overwhelming, their sound was a perfect complement to the game. In the early 90’s, a DJ took over for a brief time and today, we can hardly carry on a conversation without being drowned out by the sound system.
  6. In 1977 Red Miller was signed as the new coach and he brought with him an aging Craig Morton (34 years old) as quarterback. The team was revamped and revitalized. What a season we experienced! I remember driving back to Fort Collins on Christmas Eve after defeating the Steelers. We could barely talk above a whisper after yelling and screaming for 3 hours. New Year’s Day we defeated the Raiders to become the AFC Champions and went on to our first (disastrous) Super Bowl appearance.
  7. When a team gels, the media loves to give pet names to players and the
    offense/defense.  As we all know, DEFENSE WINS GAMES! The Denver defense was so powerful that in 1977 they became known as The Orange Crush. That same year, The M&M Connection was coined: Quarterback Craig Morton completing passes to wide receiver Haven Moses. In the mid-80s with John Elway as quarterback, who could forget the Three Amigos: wide receivers Vance Johnson, Mark Jackson and Ricky Nattiel. They took us to the Super Bowl in 1987.
  8. The Denver Bronco Cheerleaders debuted in the early 70’s and in 1977 were known as the Pony Express. After a scandal in 1980, the Pony Express was disbanded. Some years we would see college cheerleaders on the sidelines and then in 1993, the official Denver Bronco Cheerleaders dance team was organized.
  9. I have always loved the story of the Broncos’ vertically striped socks the first two years in the league. At that time, the team colors were brown, mustard and white. The socks were so ugly that the team held a public bonfire to burn them all in 1962. That is the year they changed their colors to orange and blue.
  10. From 1976-1981 the Denver Broncos training camp was at our own CSU! You could take your lunch hour and watch them practice. Or, you would be walking around downtown and run into one of the players. Then UNC took over as the official training camp site for 20 years. Northern Colorado lost the pre-season training fun when Dove Valley in Denver was constructed.

What are your Broncos memories?

Home Inspection Advice

Our daughter in Austin just purchased her first home and she had lots of questions about her inspection items. Even after your inspection resolution, during the final walk-through, make sure you check the home. Sometimes it is weeks after the resolution before the walk-through.

As a real estate expert (40 years in business), I have compiled a list of inspection items that you should not miss if you are buying a home. Home inspections often rely on that which is most visible. With my clients, I make sure there is a home warranty in place that helps to protect the buyer and seller for a year after closing, especially with appliances.

1. Go through the home inside and out and run the faucets, flush the toilets, and fill the bathtubs. Check inside the toilet tank to see if there is evidence of rusting bolts. A few years ago, we had an awful experience with a leaking toilet due to a corroded bolt.

2. If  it’s an older home, you may consider hiring someone for a camera inspection of all plumbing and sewers.

3. If the owner DIY upgraded the home, make sure the work is to code with all of the proper permits. Open drawers, doors and closets to see the “inside” of their work.

4. Check balconies and decks for cracks, rusted flashing, warping and soft areas for water damage.  There are horror stories of home buyers who purchased the beauty of outside decks and later found that the supports have rotted, costing tens of thousands of dollars to cure.

5. Open and close windows and screens to make sure of their functionality.

6. If you are the home buyer, make sure you know where the main water shut-off valve is located, what kind of filters for the furnace & how to change, how to work sprinkler systems plus any other pertinent information about the workings of the home.

7. Is the main electrical panel properly labeled?

8. Are smoke detectors and CO2 detectors properly installed and operating?

9. What is happening on the roof and in the attic? Make sure there are no critters living up there.

10. Make sure the ventilation and insulation is adequate. When we moved into our new home 20 years ago our bath pipes above the garage froze. The builders forgot to put insulation around the pipes.