I don’t think I like Scotch Whisky. There I have said it, the ultimate sacrilege that a Scotsman can commit in his country. As we speak, torches are being lighted and pitchfork tines sharpened. My reputation lies in tatters and with the nights fair drawing in, I will have to watch my step lest the whisky police scoop me up and carry me away.
I don’t think its all my fault though. I mean god knows I’ve tried to fall in love with the water of life on numerous occasions and have failed every time.
I do love the mystique and the excitement that comes with whisky, I see passionate exchanges in every pub and club that stocks a drop of the hard stuff. I have engaged in endless debates about what makes a great single malt and even argued about the rights of the individual when it comes to adding water (you should) or ice (you shouldn’t unless you are very brave or a little bit crazy). But all the time there is a voice in my head saying “but you don’t really like it do you?”.
There have been one or two sublime moments when a whisky has been just right for the occasion, but they are few and far between.
A lunch with friends, where the hotel graciously rewarded our gluttony with a complimentary drink on the house that turned out to be a Balvenie Portwood, aged 21 years (If you haven’t tasted it then shame on you). Great dram but a tad expensive for a night in at home.
Or the time that I was introduced to Glenglassaugh and their Chosen Few Mhairi McDonald 1978, a 33 year old whisky. (‘Just like a warm hug’ according to a friend). Sadly not available in the shops as far as I know, but a real treat if you can find a bottle.
In my desperation to join the ranks of whisky lovers across the globe I even decided to visit The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Surely if anyone could help me then they could…
If you haven’t been then go! The journey begins with a fantastic barrel ride through a replica distillery teaching the basics of the whisky making process and finishes with a glimpse of the Diageo Claive Vidiz collection of over 3500 individual bottles.
Suitably impressed I asked if I could do more to find my goal. Of course they said, why not sign up to The Scotch Whisky Training School ? I was intrigued. This one day course supplies you with all the tools you need to become a bit of an ambassador for Whisky in the hospitality trade and it is excellent. There is even a forty minute exam at the end (no conferring) and a proper mark and certificate (I got a distinction).
So why don’t I jump for joy every time someone produces a bottle of Scotch? Why does my heart sink if I am asked to try a dram or two? I genuinely don’t know. It is not for the want of trying.
Which is why I am going to make it my goal over the next few months to try and discover my ultimate perfect drink, hopefully it will be Scottish, but I am not going to stop at the border. I will start by sampling from around the world and will aim to have the answers by the 31 December in order to toast the New Year. Please feel free to send me suggestions, samples and anything else that takes your fancy. It can only help!