Skip to comments.How to Drink Whisky
Posted on 01/05/2013 4:29:46 PM PST by nickcarraway
It smelled like bacon.
I was afraid to say it out loud, thoughI doubt any real food and drink connoisseurs compare the smell of some grand old Scotch to an everyday pork product, but thats what my nose captured.
In the heart of Edinburgh, in a room walled with brass- and bronze-colored bottles, I sniffed more and more whisky and soon captured a whole rainbow of aromas: cloves, apples, vanilla, sage and strawberries. And that smokiness I smelled as bacon? That comes from the Scottish peat they burn when heating the mix.
Not everyone loves whisky, but as alcohol goes, this bright and golden drink offers a rich taste of the land from whence it comes. Real Scotch Whisky is made with malted barley and pure Scottish water, and to qualify as Scotch, it must be aged for a minimum of three years on Scottish soil.
The range of personality in Scotch is so fascinating and explains why 90% of whisky is sold in blends as opposed to single malt (Glenfiddich is the worlds largest seller of single malt Scotch in the world).
Today, there are 107 different whisky distilleries in Scotland today and none of them make the same product. Like good wine or cheese, the individual peculiarities of Scotch bring out a thousand subjective qualities in every sip. In order to understand those differences, I spent the afternoon in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, practically bathing in whisky.
Though I am an unseasoned traveler in the world of whisky, I sought the help of a professional guideAngela Kier, the Deputy General Manager of the Scotch Whisky Experience. Angela grew up with Scotch, surrounded by distilleries and the culture of drinking Scotch in Scotland. After showing me the worlds largest collection of Scotch Whisky (3,384 bottles), she taught me how to drink Scotch in these five easy steps:
1. LOOK See the color of the liquidthis is part of the whiskys personality. New whisky is clear, but gains its color from the used oak barrels during maturation. Color can range from brassy yellow to golden reds or a pale sunshine. The color of Scotch hints at how it was made.
2. SWIRL With your hand on the bottom of a round tasting glass, swirl the whisky until it coats the sides. Look for the legsthe drips of liquid pulling back down into the glass. Watch how quickly the legs run down the side of the glassthis reveals how light the whisky is. Some whisky is very light, with lots of legs (an indication of light flavor), while others can be viscous or oily indicating an older, heavier-bodied whisky. A very thick whisky will coat the glass like the golden silhouette of Scottish mountains.
3. NOSE Tasting whisky is an olfactory experience, so in order to capture all the nuance of flavor, you must nose the whisky. Smell with your mouth open, counsels Angela, explaining how it offers a fuller nose. At first you might just get the alcohol. Adding a splash of water releases the aromas. Bring the glass back and forthnose it deeply again and again. Whisky is a sensory experience, so get your nose right up in the glass! says Angela, who told me that anyone can learn to nose whisky. The best way to improve your sense of smell is to smell everything. This allows your brain to create a kind of encyclopedia of scents. (My brain smells bacon.)
4. TASTE When youre ready to drink, let the whisky coat the palate. Some are creamy and smooth, others light and fruity, explains Angela. Adding water releases aromas, adding ice will lock them in. There are a lot of rules about adding water, but dont pay any attention to that. Different brands react differently to water, so find out what you like. The important thing is to just enjoy your whisky. Also, remember to say Slàinte Mhath! (Good Health)
5. FINISH Finish does not mean tossing back your drink like real men do in the movies. Rather, the finish is the whiskys grand finale where you feel the flavor and tempo of the drink. Once youve swallowed, see how long it stays with you. Scotch whisky can be quick and short or it can be very long and warming.
Perhaps most important of all, Angela advised me to never drink whisky alone. Whisky is a drink for sharingthats what we do in Scotland, we share one anothers whisky. It warms you up when youre walking in the hills!
Like all food (and travel), whisky is also very personal. My grandparents used to heat their farm with peat, she told me, so its a fond childhood memory that I get every time I taste a good peaty whisky. Whisky is like thatit carries a lot of personal meaning and says much about who we are as individuals. This is probably why I smelled baconsome of my fondest memories involve bacon.
But now some of my fondest memories involve Scotland, which is what I will think of every time I see a bottle of Scotch.
Did you know they sell a bottle of scotch for over $21,000. Numerous brands are $200 to $2,500 a bottle.
A nice 18 yr old Glenfiddich is about the highest I go though.
I guess I’m going to have to try Glenfiddich. I’ve seen it discussed many times on Freep threads. I’ve paid as much as $35 for some whiskeys, so I guess I can afford it.
I think you can get a young Glenfiddich for around that. The 18yr ran about $90 but it will last me a year or two.
It isn’t for mixing with coke.
I have a freind who is from scotalnd who brings me Tomatin 40 year old. Nectar of the gods.
I’m jealous. The best I’ve had was the Macallan 18 Year Old but its too pricey for me right now.
I did not know that about the effects of water and ice. I am a Scotch rocks man but it sounds like I need to do some experimenting with di-hydrogen monoxide.
Sorta like comparing fast food with fine dining.
The fast food is ok at times but doesn’t do much for the soul.
love the 12 year Solara Reserve.
just poured myself a 18yr old Glenlivet.
I’ve had a yacking cough that has woken me over the past two nights. The only way I can stifle it is to take a shot of Jack.
Today, there are 107 different whisky distilleries in Scotland today and none of them make the same product.
Does the writer really think that different distilleries would make the same end product?
My Granpa Mac was a fine man but he loved the whiskey way too much.
Ah Scotch, a rugby club I associated with had a tour set up for matches in England & Scotland. If you want to have good meal in England, eat breakfast 3 times a day. For Scotch, oh wow, its true, there is quite a few distiliaries. I shipped home about 30 liters from 12 distiliries whom’s Scotch will never make it to the USA, because of whatever reasons. Each and everyone is unique to my pallet, and is better than Chivas. I break out some libations for quality sippin with comany that will appreciate the expierience. Funny crack about Scots; what do you call a Scotsman? A Irish man whom never learned to swim;)
Never liked scotch much until I got a taste of the real stuff, a 10-year-old Laphroaig, of all things (Did you know the founder of the distillery slipped and drowned in a vat of his own whiskey, back in the 1800s?. But they said he must of liked it because he got out a few times to eat.)
My favorite these days is The Macallan. Most extravagant purchase was a glass the 25-year-old anniversary malt at a fancy restaurant. Holy moly, it was like drinking silk. Love to have a case of that stuff!
Drank Glenlivit for a number of years.
Just recently bought a bottle of Bowmore.
At first didn’t like it.
But really like the taste now. I only drink occasionally but in the winter it is scotch and it needs to be good scotch.
If you like Jack, you need to try Rebecca Creek whiskey from San Antonio. Smoother than frog fur and Texas born and bred!
The laffs of youth.
But I've grown up to respect my elders. Don't take any bottle of whiskey older than you are lightly!
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