Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sometimes it all gets blurry

Sometimes it all gets blurry
We are now into our 4th month of article writing, product tasting, and decision making about whisky and wine. Please always remember we love whisky and wine we do not proclaim to be experts we just enjoy drinking them. There have been some really great surprises and I have learned things I never knew before. I also discovered that some products that I was just barely aware of are outstanding. The Barons de Rothschild 2005 red Bordeaux was just shockingly amazing and the Compass Box Hedonism blended scotch was so delightful I thought maybe I had died in the bar and had been transported to a more heavenly venue. (The story from the bar patron setting to my right that night explaining that he did not drink scotch because it made him angry and last time he drank it he threw his boss through the wall in the bar quickly made me realize I had not yet achieved heaven). At any rate, I might never have tried those except in pursuit of information on the subject so that I might share it with you. I look forward to many more undiscovered treasures but I do need your help so please write in and tell us what you like. It may point us toward something wonderful we just have not had a chance to try yet.
I have noticed that 3 or 4 of the blended whiskies I tried with a splash of water and a little ice all kind of tasted the same with very little to recommend one over the other. I have my own little 4 step method to trying a whisky. Step 1 is the nosing of the whisky, a good inviting aroma is important to the remaining steps (color is fun but not important to me as colors can be artificially modified). Step 2 is to try some of the whisky straight and here any individual differences in blends or single malts should stand out loud and clear. In the cooler months of the year Step 2 is my final step so from about November through March I pretty much drink only straight whisky. Step 3 is to add just a splash of spring water and this is (not surprisingly) where tastes start to blur but not completely. Strong differences still stand out but the more subtle ones sort of wash away. Actually on some of the really excellent whiskies a drop (just a drop) of water does open up the “bouquet” of the whisky even the experts will tell you that is ok. Step 4 is to add ice and as explained when it’s 90+ degrees here in Florida I do add ice April through October because you see 90 degrees is hot (50 for you Celsius folks). Ice drives away all the remaining subtle differences and leaves only the screaming taste of smoke or possibly the softer taste of the sherry barrel. I like it just about any way one can drink it but have not developed a taste for whisky based cocktails but perhaps I will try some later this year just to see if my tastes have changed. I don’t care for lemon in my tea or lime in my beer I just like things straight and find more personal joy in the experience of a more pure experience than from concoctions. Tea is tea and not lemonade and beer should not have fruit in it. That is just my personal feeling about it, I don’t care if you put a bushel of fruit in your tea or your beer as long as you enjoy it that way it’s all good. The whole lime in the beer thing started with bartenders cleaning the rusty steel residue off of the tops of the old Mexican beers with a lime which they had handy from the margarita makings nearby on the bar. In those days the caps rusted and some folks liked the lime taste and even started stuffing limes down in their beers. If that’s what you like it’s ok with me I am just saying it’s not for me. When I drink Beer I drink Guinness 90% of the time but I also like Newcastle Brown Ale (sometimes called the Brown Dog), Sam Adams, and a few others. I don’t care for light pilsners and most lightly brewed American beers although they are good and refreshing while doing yard work and light enough not to have much effect on you. I like a beer with a lot of body and a ton of taste. Hops, hops and more hops please.
I digress. I am getting really good at digressing. So my thought for writing this was to explain that many blended whiskies tend to taste a lot alike if you add water and ice. This is my somewhat scientific observation over the last three months. My taste of Old St. Andrews 8 Yr. and my taste of Dewar’s were really quite similar. That is not to say that is a bad thing rather quite a good thing I would think. Point being if you want to really taste a whisky drink it straight and use this as your decision point for which brands you like the best. Then add water and ice as you like. This is true for the blends as well as the single malts and for whisky as well as whiskey. I also tried the Old St. Andrews clubhouse and their 15 year old a couple of nights ago. Now I have said I don’t taste all those foo foo things that the experts talk about. I have an exception to report as the 15 year Old St. Andrews offered up an aroma and a taste of spun sugar. No it did not taste like exactly like cotton candy but there was something there, something I had never noticed before in a whisky. Neither the 8 nor the clubhouse versions had that same spun sugar taste. That is not to say it tasted super sweet, but damn it was really good and that spun sugar thing really added a nice twist to the experience, most enjoyable. Next up is Chivas Regal and Johnny Walker Red Label for me to try along with The Singleton. Kindly remember I do own stock in a distributor of Old St. Andrews albeit just a few hundred dollars worth but I am trying to sell that stock today which has nothing to do with the quality of the Scotch.
I have bottles of Pig Nose, The Singleton, and Tobermory all unopened and awaiting just the right time for sampling. Wish you were here to share it with me. Alas the Sheep Dip is no more (moment of silence).
Happy drinking and remember to try a little straight first before you pour on the water and ice. Enjoy
The Whisky Warrior

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