If learning to drink Scotch is on your to-do list, here are a few tips.
First, if you’ve never had it, try some real cheap-ass blended Scotch Whisky (note the lack of ‘e’ in Whisky – this is important – Scotch is Whisky, not whiskey). Cutty Sark should do. It will be terrible, but you will respect the drink. Now don’t fade out on me here. Get back on the horse and get some GOOD Scotch. Easiest-drinking stuff out there (that’s reasonably affordable between US$40-$60 per fifth) is the Glenmorangie “Quinta Ruban”, or my personal favourite, the Balvenie 12-year “Double wood.” Their “Caribbean Cask” is also heavenly.
You also might like to try a Scotch from Islay, like Bowmore or Laphroaig (pronounced, la-FROY). Laphroiag is well described by people who enjoy it as, “Like getting kicked in the mouth by a horse who’s been galloping through a peaty bog.” Also, I’ve heard it said that, “A nip of Laphroaig is akin to licking the wet residue of a chimney sweep’s broom.” Yumm! (No, really – I seriously like that kind of thing.) In all actuality, it is just a very smokey-tasting whisky from an island internationally known for distilleries that produce liquid camp fires and bottling it as Scotch. It is truly a phenomenal experience to try.
How to drink it:
Do not EVER put more than one ice cube in a fine single-malt Scotch, or else you’ll be wasting your money and some burly lad will show up at your door in a kilt, Tam O’ Shanter on his red mass of curly hair, and a Claymore on his hairy back, seize your bottle of whisky from your startled grasp with a silent glare telling you in no uncertain terms that you’ve been very naughty indeed, and if you’re lucky, do you the honour of punching you in the mouth for insulting the homeland. If you must have it on the rocks, one ice cube is enough, and you won’t be run out of the Highlands for it; some distillers actually recommend a single rock. Traditionally, it’s either neat (nothing but Scotch) or a splash of pure, distilled water which is good for cutting through the ‘skin’ layer and opening up the whisky so you can have a proper taste. Don’t waft it like a wanna-be wine connoisseur. Give it just a minute to breathe, then stick your nose straight doon the glass to take in the aroma. Get a breath of fresh air, then do it again. People put their lives into this drink, some went to prison for it, and some have died defending their family distillery. It’s worth-while putting a little effort into enjoying; stories always add to the flavour.™ Take a careful sip, slosh it around, hold it for a moment, and let the gold liquor slide down your gullet into a grateful belly. Now think about what you’ve done. The malt from which it came grew and was harvested in one of the most beautiful places on Earth (Don’t believe me, bring up Scotland on Google Earth and see for yourself – better yet go there — even better yet, move there and help the economy by dutifully paying taxes). You’ve got water that’s filtered through the graves of a million Scottish and Pictish warriors, poets, inventors, and farmers travelling through your pipes. Just what the hell are you going to do with the rest of your life to compare with that one sip, eh? Now their story is a part of yours.
Quite a responsibility, aye.
Think mebbe I’ll go and have a wee dram more responsibility.