Whisky, who’d have thought it?

Whisky has never really done it for me. Many years ago I spent much money trying the best single malts I could find and, whilst I appreciated their complexity and characterful nature, I just didn’t like them very much.

Enter Dan and Non-Stinky Jeff. Already Dan and NSJ have converted me to liking iced tea, the bad fellows, and what was about to happen has been even more of a revelatory event.

Toward the end of one of our customarily light evenings NSJ and Dan say they’d like a whisky, and an old blended whisky at that. I immediately leap on this and suggest blended whiskies are boring and don’t have the true character of a single malt. “Perhaps,” they reply, “But try this.”

I hold a small whisky tasting glass with the enthusiasm of a piece of road-kill, then I smell it, and smell it again. I’m aghast! It is smooth and refined with complex, heady aromas which just want to charm you. A blended whisky smelling nice, bugger me backwards with a barge pole. Then I have a tiny sip and let the flavours explode on the tip of my palate. Smoky, peaty but subtly smoky and smoothly peaty. It tastes highly polished and refined. Damned good, for a spirit. Am I starting to like whisky?

Dan and NSJ go to the whisky cupboard and get a few more bottles out, serving precious drops of their quality nectar and we try more blends and some quite serious cask-strength single malts. The blends, including a quite revelatory snort of Johnnie Walker Blue, are all smooth, refined, serious drinks which are not short of class and, dare I say it, enjoyment value. I’m scandalised.

The single malts from a variety of locations had some of the smoothness of the blends, but were largely about rugged individuality. That is how I like my tasting notes so I found myself thinking these single malts really spoke to me as a fellow characterful entity.

So the upshot is I have found that I bloody like whisky! After all these years of sneering and not enjoying the stuff, suddenly it speaks to me and so I look forward to when I next sit down for with a glass for further enlightenment.

This presents me with a bit of a dilemma. In two months I have been converted to liking things that once I would never have let past my lips. I’m worried, what has happened to me? This calls for another fantastic Elitist Review poll!

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Readers of my RSS feed will have to come to the site itself to vote.


  • Keith wrote:

    You’ll be going a bundle on claret before we know it… though I seem to recall you knocking back the “Ballantine’s filth blend” in Alaska…

  • David Strange wrote:

    Keithy old bean, you will also recall me fixing you in the eye and saying, “I *need* Australian Chardonnay. Now”, with only the merest suggestion of violence. There are time when even the lover of fine things gets desperate.

  • David Strange wrote:

    Now I think about Alaska, I took a Cadenhead bottling of cask-strength, 18 year old Highland Park with me. I really liked that. It had an incredible purity of expression, and was 62%.

  • David Strange wrote:

    Liking Claret or becoming less bloody minded are not options; these are qualities I have based my life on.

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