The Scotch Whisky Experience: £50 on Tombola Tickets Well Spent

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The world’s largest whisky collection

About a year ago, I spent around £50 on tombola tickets trying to win a free pass for The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. I won in the end. Although, obviously, I didn’t really. A couple of months ago, I used the pass. And since Mr. Malt was on a shopping spree at Homebase, my friend Susie and I decided to go together.

I have to say I was expecting just another whisky tour much like you get on a visit to a distillery. Walk around, gaze at some barrels, fondle some barley and peer into some vats. But this was a little different.

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Whisky Waltzer- hold onto your bonnets

For starters, the tour began with us being allowed to jump the queue for tickets because we had a complimentary pass. High on our VIP-esque buzz, we lined up ready to step into the barrel ride – a cross between the waltzers and the ghost train. You sit in a shiny, painted whisky barrel with its top and side cut out. Then you put your seatbelt on and zip off at half a mile an hour into a tunnel. In the tunnel, a digital ghost (digi-ghost) tells you all about whisky production. It’s really quite impressive and the only thing I felt would have enhanced the experience would have been a cup holder with a dram of whisky in. Failing that, some whisky flavoured travel sweets. Or an old, kilted man singing Scottish folk songs.

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Scary, yet informative, digi-ghost

After our dizzying ride, we put our sick bags aside and disembarked from the whisky waltzer, whereupon we were led into the next room for a presentation.

The presentation room was a kind of cross between a kibbutz dining hall and a school classroom. Everyone sat at a u-shaped, communal table and faced a massive projection screen, eagerly awaiting stimulation.

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Scratch ‘n’ Sniff

Before the TV show and alcohol we were each given a colourful scratch and sniff card – with one scented segment for each of the four whisky regions in Scotland. Speyside smelt of banana sweets, Islay of smoky, peaty goodness, Highland was sweet and caramelly and Lowland…um.. Lowland smelt of delicious cardboard. What can I say? My card is now several months old, the Lowland bit has lost its scent and I didn’t write anything down at the time. This card was to help inform us in our choice of dram. I loved the novelty of the scratch and sniff idea, although I wasn’t convinced that any of the segments really did whisky justice at all.

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Whisky

After the presentation – delivered by a lovely and very well informed lady called Rachel – we got to choose which whisky we wanted to taste. I chose Speyside and was rewarded with a Glenfarclas 10 year old. Susie, a non-whisky drinker- was brave and went straight for the Islay whisky- Ardbeg. She’s single, boys.

As we sampled our dram we wandered through the world’s largest whisky collection. Over 8000 bottles, all collected by one man, and sold to Diageo for an undisclosed sum, which would no doubt make your eyes water. There was even a Charles and Diana commemorative bell, which again made my eyes wet as young Princess Charlotte had arrived in the world that very morning.

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Sob ‘n’ Sniff

After our basic package of one whisky had expired, Susie and I upgraded to the gold experience: a platter of four drams from each of the four whisky regions. You can have this all to yourself, but we decided to share – partly because Susie is new to whisky, but mainly because we wanted to make room for cocktails afterwards.

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Tasting Notes. Tasty.

Drinking with a whisky novice, I suddenly subsumed the role of tasting guide and presented the whiskies to Susie as if I knew what I was talking about. “Now the first whisky we are going to try is a Glenkinchie,” I burbled. “Glenkinchie is a distillery in the Lowland region of Scotland… “ And so on, through Tomatin (Highland) Aberlour (Speyside) and Bruichladdich (Islay). We both agreed on the Bruichladdich as our favourite, Susie clearly getting the hang of the big peaty lads very, very quickly.

Susie’s face at one of the other whiskies – which shall remain nameless- was that of utter disgust. And looking around the room, there were some other women making the same disgusted face as they took a sip of the dram in front of them. It made me realise how far I have come in developing a palate for whisky. And at £50 for the tickets, just how far I will go to get my hands on some.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lady of the Glen Whisky Tasting (Or, You’ll Always Find Me Drinking Whisky at Parties)

photo 3So you want to get invited to more parties? The key is to drink more whisky. I’ve been drinking whisky for eight months now and I’ve been invited to…er…well  one party. But still, it was quite a swanky affair, which saw me supping nips with some very important people in the whisky world.

OK, so it wasn’t technically, a party. But the Lady of the Glen tasting event at Whiski Rooms in Edinburgh was my first event as a whisky blogger, so it will always hold a special place in my malt-tinted memories.

Looking the part

As I’d never been to a professional whisky tasting event before I had many questions. Was there a dress code? Could I take photos? Would people laugh at my notebook? And most pertinently, would I be able to stand up by the end of it all? ladyoftheglen670x441

Dress wise, I decided on a slightly more upmarket version of what I wear to work. Choosing a notebook was more complicated. The only ones I could find looked like they belonged to a 6 year old. Options with cupcakes, gold-embossed butterflies and baby deer on them were cast aside after I finally found a plain black number. Not that the colour of the notebook would help me if someone noted what I was writing. I could just imagine it. “What an amateur,” they would think to themselves. “Imagine saying that it tastes like Jaffa Cakes when it clearly tastes like custard creams.”

On the way to the event, other questions spun through my mind. Should I turn up on time? Would the smell of my spray on shampoo put people off their “nosing”? Why was it so blooming cold when it was meant to be Spring?

Hob-nobbing

When I got there I was relieved to find only a small group of people sitting down in a corner of the bar. I’d been concerned that I would be required to sashay around the room hob-nobbing and bursting forth my whisky knowledge. The intimate group of eight suited me nicely.

The seven whiskies which we were going to taste were all set out on the table already. And that’s not to mention the complimentary Glenmorangie cocktail which greeted my arrival. This would be the most whisky I had ever drunk in one sitting. I was glad I’d prepared taxi money in advance.

IMG_2483General Housekeeping

Before I go further, here’s a nifty wee beginners glossary of whisky terms that might come up in my notes. And if you need a comfort break during any of what follows, go right on ahead.

Single malt– a whisky made at a single distillery using malted grains.

Single grain– a whisky made at a single distillery using un-malted grains.

Cask strength – whisky with an alcohol level as it was in the cask. Not diluted with any water.

Chill filtering – when whisky is chilled and filtered to remove residue or cloudiness.

Lady of the Glen is a new company. It was founded in 2012 by Gregor Hannah, the son of a piper. Impressed by his father’s whisky collection, (pipers are given a bottle for their services) Gregor decided to acquire rare casks of high quality whisky and release each limited edition bottling at cask strength without chill filtering or colourings. Some of the bottles have beautiful etching instead of a label, which also reduces the chance of counterfeits.

So, here come my tasting notes (and anecdotes). I am a beginner to this whisky tasting lark, so I fear these may not be as sophisticated as some, but I am very appreciative of the chance to learn with the pros.

InvergordonInvergordon 24 year old

The first whisky we tasted was the very first LotG release: a 24 year old Invergordon from a Bourbon cask. From the Highland area, this is a single grain whisky with a 56% cask strength. Upon sniffing it I felt there was a definite blast of vanilla. However, I am coming to realise that I always think there is a blast of vanilla. Vanilla seems to be my “go to” scent. Fortunately, Gregor advised us that there should be vanilla pudding on the palate, so maybe going to vanilla on this occasion wasn’t such a bad thing. It certainly tasted delicious to me. Sadly, the Invergordon is sold out in Europe. But if it’s a flavour of things to come then that’s certainly something to be positive about.

Ben Rinnes 14 year old benrinnes

Next up was a 14 year old Ben Rinnes single malt with a whopping 57.8% cask strength. Apparently it is very difficult to get Ben Rinnes single malt as it is mostly used for Johnnie Walker. And only 86 bottles of this were released, and sold out, by LotG, so I was in a very privileged position. I have to be honest and say that the very first thing that went through my head upon sniffing this was cheese and onion crisps. Who knows why? At least it wasn’t vanilla. The crisps soon dissipated and the red apples, chocolate and citrus fruit that everyone else was talking about arrived. The palate had hints of a sherry cask so was sweet, but was also quite rubbery. I have no idea how the rubber happens, but it was definitely there. I liked this rich, spicy, fruity big boy of a whisky (spoiler- I liked them all) but it wasn’t my BFF whisky of the evening.

littlemill_pictures_reduced_sizeLittlemill 21 year old 

The next whisky, we were told, was special. 21 year old Littlemill from a bourbon cask comes from a now-extinct Lowland distillery. Littlemill was reportedly the first distillery that existed in Scotland, but after being closed in 1997 the remains were, sadly, destroyed in a fire. Luckily for us there is still Littlemill whisky to be had. This 53.6% cask strength one went for £95 a go and sold out in just 21 days.

Now, apparently, Littlemill is not a whisky for someone with a sweet tooth. That someone would be me, and I have to discredit that theory and say that I loved this. The nose, we were told, had cut grass and soft fruitiness, which, in my mind, could roughly translate to eating a pineapple in a summer meadow. And that’s nice, particularly if you come from Scotland. The whisky did smell tropical to me, kind of herbaceous too. The palate was fruity with some custard pudding doing its thing (I knew there would be custard somewhere).

20 year old Secret Speyside Secret Speyside

Dram number four was a 20 year old, bourbon cask whisky from a secret distillery in Speyside. “Secret” meaning, the distillery get named and they set their lawyers loose. I don’t know why because if I made this whisky I would be telling people about it. The nose was melony and peachy and the palate a big slice of lemon pie. And the good news is that you can still buy this one from the LotG website for a perky £65 a bottle.

Bunnahabhain 26 year old

Moving on to whisky number five – a 26 year old Bunnahabhain. BunnahabhainTranslated from Gaelic Bunnahabhain means “amazing whisky.” OK, it doesn’t, it means “mouth of the river,” but the whisky is top stuff. Initial tones of glue (I read that someone else smelt plastic book coverings so I feel vindicated in my glue sniffing) morphed into floral notes, and as I supped it back I was searching for the foam banana sweets that Gregor said it tasted of. It was certainly a very smooth and complex whisky, with spicy fruit and chocolate and a slightly smoky finish. Someone around the table suggested salted apples. Another put it quite simply when he said it’s “Quite yummy. Yum yum.” Yes, indeed. My thoughts exactly.

The 26 year old Bunnahabhain is the first Islay cask from LotG. It’s still on sale and costs a princely £145 or £65 for a 20cl bottle. But because LotG is an emerging business, prices are currently low. If you were to buy something similar direct from Bunnahabhain it would cost you closer to £300. So get in amongst it now.

Glen Garioch 21 year oldprimary-image

As whisky number six was served I was still sitting up straight in my chair. It was the latest release from LotG –  a 21 year old Glen Garioch from a bourbon cask with 56.4% cask strength. It comes from Old Meldrum up in Aberdeenshire. A place I haven’t been since I was about 11 and was fed a poisoned baked potato by my friend’s gran. So I hoped this whisky could forge some fonder memories in my mind.

It’s funny, as soon as I smelled the Glen Garioch I thought of summer holidays. Nice ones. Not the one to visit my friend’s gran. It was blossomy and lovely on the nose. The palate was toffee and nutty and when I smelled it again I was sure I could smell those purple quality streets with the wrapper on. This was my kind of whisky. Summer holidays, toffee and chocolate all rolled into one. Might just be worth it at £87 a bottle.

bowmore-label-finalBowmore 21 year old

As a little treat at the end, Gregor poured us all a dram of a 21 year old Bowmore from a first fill sherry cask. This whisky sold out through pre-sales on his website so was very special indeed. A sniff off it and I thought the building might be on fire, such was its smokiness. This would definitely go well with that romantic night by the fire I imagined myself having with a handsome man way back when I first dreamt of becoming a whisky drinker. The palate was sweet and if there was a fire in a Crunchie factory then it would taste just like this. Amazing. I couldn’t help but think that if the whisky naysayers out there tried this they’d be into whisky in no time.

Closing timeWeb Size CMPL3015

So, that was it. I was still sitting upright and forming sentences and had thoroughly enjoyed my first whisky tasting. And then, wonderfully, one of the other guests pulled out a bottle of rare whisky from his bag and offered everyone a dram. Spectacular. And then 15 minutes later he pulled another rare whisky out of his and offered everyone a dram again. I intend no pun when I say how kind spirited I found this. What a wonderful introduction to Lady of the Glen and to the Edinburgh whisky tasting community this evening had been. Thank you to everyone involved.

There will be a ticketed Lady of the Glen tasting coming to a secret venue in Edinburgh soon. Keep an eye on the website for details. And if you want to go shopping in the meantime, click here.

My Armchair Whisky Pleasure Cruise – Part One.

IMG_2704I am currently six months into my year-long quest to learn to like whisky and it’s going pretty well. In fact, I think I am ready to graduate to a new level.

The big peaty island whiskies – those from Islay, Jura, Skye –  were always going to be the hardest to reach. You know, the ones which to non-whisky lovers taste as pleasant as a glass of Dettol and make them think they will never develop a taste for the drink. But the ones that to some whisky worshippers are the only type of whisky that really matters.

Well, I’ve deliberately left these whiskies until later in the game. I knew that, as a virgin of the malt, I wasn’t ready for them. The time to hang out with the wild island lads would be when I was mingling well with their milder mainland cousins.

So I went off tried to do just that: I started socialising with some mainland whiskies. I visited distilleries, I found bottles in overseas supermarkets, I ordered from Tesco online based on delicious sounding descriptions. And, after six months, I can now count the following among my whisky collection. IMG_2741

Edradour 10 year old

Cardhu 12 year old

Auchentoshan American Oak

Yes, we live together and it’s going well. And what these whiskies all have in common is that they were cited as smelling and tasting of things I already liked.

Edradour, they said, tasted of sherry and vanilla. Cardhu was bursting with flavours of smoke, apple peels and bruised pears. And Auchentoshan American Oak beckoned me with promises of coconut; zesty fruit; vanilla cream; white peach and sugared grapefruit. How could I resist?

But I am now ready to take things up a notch; move out of the comfort zone again. And I was thinking that a nice way to do this might be to visit some island distilleries. You know, catch a ferry and have a dram or two in each port: seagulls cawing in my ear, salty wind in my hair, my face scratchy pink from the cold.

The only thing is, because it’s the middle of winter, ferry crossings can be pretty precarious. And I’m not feeling so wealthy after Christmas. So, I’ve decided, instead, to do an armchair cruise: a journey that will only necessitate leaving the house to buy a few whisky miniatures. But once back home, with dram in hand, if I open all the windows and let the Scottish weather in it will feel like I’m on a remote, wind-blown island anyway.

The First Port

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, the first port on my living room island cruise is Tobermory, on Mull, and the whisky is a Tobermory 10 year old. This is a lightly peated whisky – a good starting point, I think. It’s not so much cheating as warming up.

So, with the fire flickering and Des O’Connor on the turntable*, I pour myself a glass, and one for Mr. Malt, too.

“How would you describe the colour?” I ask him. He decides that it’s golden. I agree, then sniff away and try to identify what’s on the nose. Together we come up with it’s lemony, citrusy fresh and has a whiff of sea air. Or maybe it’s more him that comes up with it, but I’m providing the whisky so he can’t complain.

I have a wee peek at Michael Jackson’s Whisky Companion to see what the master thought. The nose is described as “fresh and nutty” with “citrus fruit and brittle toffee.” “A whiff of peat” is also noted.

We move onto the drinking. Mr. M says that he thinks the palate is full bodied, peppery and peaty. I think it’s soft and lovely and tastes of toffee clouds (I figure I’m allowed at least one made up thing in my tasting notes) lemon, nectarines and peach juice.  And as I sniff again, I wonder if there isn’t perhaps a hint of Murray Mints on the nose. photo-42

MJ’s companion describes the palate as “quite dry with delicate peat, malt and nuts.” So, we don’t seem to have been too far off the mark.

The after taste of this whisky lingers quite a while. It reminds me of that toothpaste advert where it keeps on working long after you’ve finished brushing your teeth. It tastes nicer than toothpaste though.

My memory is now jogged to something I read about whisky toothpaste. A quick Google search confirms my recollections  You can even make your own. But this is probably a far tastier option.

I am conscious that the whisky still burns when I swallow. I wonder if this element never quite goes away but is what whisky lovers actually enjoy and see as an integral part of the experience. The warming after-glow certainly is. I try to be clever and swill the whisky round in my mouth to see what other flavours I can get but all that happens is that it catches in my throat and burns the inside of my ears. A novel experience at least.

So, in all, my appraisal of Tobermory is that it’s like clambering through a bog, eating Murray Mints and chomping on a peach. And the after-party in the mouth is a rather lively affair. The sort of whisky you could buy a beginner, I think. A category I still fall into, so maybe I will purchase a bottle for myself when I’m back on the mainland.

* actual music may have varied.

All the Single Malt Ladies

www.singlemaltfemale.co.uk Highland ParkA few weeks ago I requested that anyone who had been affected by the issues in my blog – i.e. those who were experimenting with whisky – get in touch. Three lovely ladies put their hands up, and now here are their experiences. They might entertain you, they might resonate with you, they might even inspire you to drop into a pub and order a dram of whisky.

Laura 

Get a piece of charred wood, chuck it into a bottle of methylated spirits, and you’ve got the rough equivalent of what my friend Laura tastes when she drinks whisky.

Laura, like many young ladies with style and panache has acknowledged that whisky is the drink of the moment. It’s multifaceted and cool and if you don’t drink it you are missing out. She is also haunted by national guilt. The abandoned bottle of Highland Park in her kitchen, taunts Laura. “Call yourself Scottish?” it seems to say. “You don’t even like whisky!” She ignores it, but like a drunken friend with a line up of shots at 3am, it is tenacious. “Come on, get it down you, you know you want to,” the whisky jibes, until, eventually, Laura caves in, shelves the cherry brandy she was looking forward to and pours a glass of the hard stuff. Maybe this won’t be so bad, she thinks. It’s smells a bit like Mr Kipling’s Battenburg cake. Oh yes, this will go perfectly with a night in front of the fire and a good Scottish drama.

With Waterloo Road on the TV, the lights dimmed and the flames up full, Laura wiggles her toes in her knitted bed socks and swirls the golden dram in her glass. The atmosphere is just perfect. The delicate Battenburg scent intoxicates her and she believes that, finally, tonight is the night that she and whisky will find each other.

But when Laura takes a sip, it’s just the same sensation as every other time: chargrilled turpentine and disappointment.

Laura considers that maybe her taste buds just need some more time to mature; she is still prepared to try different whiskies and let them into her heart. But she is conscious that the process seems to be going on forever and she wonders how much longer it will take. With five months experience under my belt, I tell her it will take time, I like whisky a bit more now than I used to. But as I am still a probationer myself I cannot be certain. I can only hope that Laura finds her whisky feet someday.

Juliet www.singlematlfemale.co.uk Jura

Across the other side of Edinburgh, my friend Juliet is also experimenting with the golden grain, but is a little more advanced in her studies.

A brave adult, but scarred by youthful experimentation with cheap blends, Juliet could easily have been put off whisky for life. However after many years living abroad, Scottish nostalgia fired her interest in the drink. Memories of Hogmanay parties, of people dancing, singing and scoffing shortbread meant Juliet would never drift through duty free without buying a bottle of single malt  to sip and think of home. Circa 2009, she could often be found watching a Chinese sunset and lesson planning with a glass of Scotch by her side.

Now, back in Scotland, Juliet is lesson planning to the sound of crap weather, but her enthusiasm for whisky hasn’t abated. Last year she visited the Talisker distillery and loved learning about whisky production. She also has several inspirational whisky drinking friends: one is a member of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society and another has an exciting and humorous whisky discovery blog.

But for Juliet, it is simple. Whisky is locally produced and is part of the Scottish landscape. We should be embracing it, whether it’s having a swift half in an old man’s pub on the way home from Lidl or a rewarding a dram by the fire after a day spent roaming in the Autumnal hills. It’s one of the few drinks that really has an atmosphere that goes with it.

Juliet recently went for a break to a hotel overlooking the isle of Jura. She considered the complimentary whisky sour upon arrival an original and impressive touch. She also considers that maybe if more establishments followed this lead, whisky newbies would get in the swing of things.

And I agree – because, some novices need encouragement to get into whisky. And that encouragement might just be whisky chapping on our door, wearing its cocktail jacket.

www.singlemaltfemle.co.uk Dewars CabinetDee

I should also mention my friend, Dee, another non whisky drinker. The last time Dee featured on this blog she was pretending to take photos of some whisky but was actually snapping a good looking gentleman next to the whisky. After attending that event, Dee went to the pub (on a different day) and drank the following in one sitting: a Balvenie Doublewood; a Macallan; a Bowmore and a Dalwhinnie 15 year old. She thought the Dalwhinnie tasted like a Kwik Fit garage.

And if that tasting note in itself isn’t enough to entice a non whisky drinker to give it a go, I don’t know what is.

Single Malt Female

Then there’s me. Where am I at nearly six months into my whisky tasting project? Well, I have progressed somewhat. After attending a whisky cocktail event, I lusted after such concoctions for some time, and I do believe that drinking these has helped attune my palate to the taste of whisky. For example, the Edradour 10 year old which I first thought tasted of vanilla and booze, now tastes sweet, citrusy and rich. It’s like liquid, alcoholic pudding. I have also found that whisky, when sipped slowly, is far kinder to my head the next day than wine.

So, if you are not into whisky but feel like you might want to try, maybe start with a whisky sour or an old fashioned, or pour a dram over your ice cream or sticky toffee pudding. Mix it up a bit with other things until your palate becomes attuned. And then when you are feeling up to it, stop on the way home from Lidl and grab yourself a Kwik Fit flavoured dram in the pub – the real old fashioned way.

Chocolate, Whiskies and Cocktails at the Edinburgh Fringe

IMG_2646The blurb from the Edinburgh Fringe website began with what was clearly a rhetorical question.

“Love chocolate?”

And continued with a question tailored just for me.

“Not sure about whisky?”

Then dropped in another rhetorical question.

“Fancy trying something different and matching it to carefully selected chocolate?”

The “something different” was to drink whisky based cocktails.

Absolutely I wanted to do this! How exciting! Pairing whisky with chocolate and cocktails. It was bound to be a truly decadent affair, and almost definitely my secret passage into the wonderful world of whisky. And the venue was the glorious Pommery Bar, an historical library transformed into an elegant champagne cafe bar for the duration of the Edinburgh Fringe. I was tipsy with delight at the mere possibility.

I immediately found some willing alcoholics…I mean friends, to join me on my Sunday afternoon indulgence and we descended upon our host, The Whisky Belle, for an afternoon of whisky and chocolate flavoured enlightenment. chocolate, whiskies and cocktails, www.singlemaltfemale.co.uk

The Whisky Belle, Annabel, seemed to be delighted at our presence. We were, she said, just the target market they were aiming for. By this, I presumed she meant women in their 30s (who look like they are in their 20s) with a bit of disposable income which they like to spend on cocoa based confectionary and alcoholic beverages that aren’t whisky.

And I have to say, it was easy for us non whisky lovers to be enthusiastic about whisky when Annabel herself showed such delight at sharing her knowledge. Her enthusiasm was enhanced by the careful and intricate presentation of…well, absolutely everything.

Waiting, invitingly, for us at each setting were two glasses of whisky – one a rich, toffee colour and the other a mellow, golden elixir. There also happened to be an extremely handsome South African gentleman sitting at our table, who proved something of a distraction to my friend, Dee (I’ve used her real name in case any hot South Africans want to get in touch).

chocolate, whiskies and cocktails, www.singlemaltfemale.co.ukSoon there were ushered in to each of us four beautiful artisan chocolates, crafted by The Highland Chocolatier. As these were being served we could hear lots of ice rattling from behind the scenes. It was the exciting sound of our cocktails being conceived.

And not long after, the first concoction was delivered: a Whisky Old Fashioned, resplendent with cherries and all.

The Old Fashioned went down like a glass of fizzy pop – possibly because I couldn’t actually taste the whisky in it. But maybe that was the idea. And, surely, liking a whisky based cocktail is a step in the right direction towards fully fledged whisky appreciation.

This first cocktail was matched with the chocolate covered cherry, which was quite frankly, chocolate perfection. It went astoundingly well with the drink, and I believe this was based on more than the just the mutual cherry factor.

Next up was the rich, toffee coloured whisky. And it actually did have hints of Sticky Toffee Pudding about it. Annabel revealed that it was a blend called The Naked Grouse (the scantily clad sister of The Famous Grouse).

Because I have listened to naysayers, I admit to being a little hesitant about blends, however, this was delicious. We drank chocolate, whiskies and cocktails, www.singlemaltfemale.co.uk it whilst guzzling the All Milk Velvet Truffle and another part of me just melted away. Annabel revealed that The Naked Grouse also goes deliciously well poured over ice cream. I tend to think she might be right.

The next cocktail was a Bramble – usually made with gin, but in this instance whisky – which was paired with an Enrobed Truffle. The Bramble had a very strong taste of Parma Violets and having never tried one before, I’m not sure if this is usual, but it was certainly unique. It also came with an edible flower, which I can confirm is edible in theory only.

The mellow, golden whisky was a Glenturret 10 year old single malt which was more gentle and malty than the Naked Grouse. This was paired with the glorious All White Raspberry Truffle. Bliss!

chocolate, whiskies and cocktails, www.singlemaltfemale.co.ukThe notes I was writing on a napkin seem to have ended around this time. I was doubtless starting to lose sense of where and who I was, but I do know that I was having an excellent time. My condition was no doubt exacerbated by the fact that one of my friends hadn’t been able to make it and the spare whisky at her setting had somehow managed to find its way onto mine.

I do remember this, though. From start to finish, Chocolate, Whiskies and Cocktails was amazing. The Whisky Belle fizzed with a contagious enthusiasm for whisky and there was no question she couldn’t answer. Apart, perhaps, from “do you have that hot South African guy’s number?” I truly believe my palate altered in some way during this event and I would most definitely return next year and pretend that I don’t like whisky just to do it all over again.

Whiskying by the Pool

IMG_2644I have given myself a year to develop a relationship with whisky. At the moment, I would say that I have a crush on it. I am attracted by whisky’s beauty. I could go on a date with it and quite enjoy its company. But I’m not in love. More time in whisky’s company is needed for that magic to happen. And I am looking forward to us stepping out together.

It’s August and Mr Malt and I are heading to Spain for a week’s holiday, so there probably won’t be any whisky dates during that time. There is a small chance that single malt and I could find each other in a balmy Spanish bar and develop a steamy bond of sorts, but I anticipate that opportunity may not arise, so I am resigned to going without.

***

We are holidaying just outside Valencia at a lovely converted farmhouse and there’s no whisky here. Or at least I don’t think there is. It’s hard to know what’s available as there is no such thing as a menu. You just tell a staff member that you would like something to eat, then they (every time) suggest some cheese, ham and bread, and you say yes – because their English is rudimentary and you studied German at school – and hope it won’t cost €15 (it will). La Mozaira

Anyway, we head to the supermarket to get some supplies that we know the price of. I excitedly wander over to the spirits section to see what whiskies are available. There are some names I recognise and some which are quite clearly Brigadoon in a bottle: Passport Scotch, 100 Pipers, Blended Gold Kiss, Mr Francis (who?).

IMG_2627Then I spy a bottle of Cardhu 12 year old single malt. For only €24. A quick Google check tells me that is £19 and that it costs £35 in the U.K. I don’t know what Cardhu tastes like or how cool it is, but €24 seems like a bargain. I decide to buy it.

I read later that Cardhu is actually the most popular single malt in Spain because its sweet honeyed tones go well with the warm weather. Ooh, this is exciting! I like sweet things and I like warm weather. I can’t wait to try some whilst sitting by the pool.

Incidentally, a few days later, in a different supermarket I spot the Cardhu again. They have the 12 year old for €24 and a Special Cask which is €10 more. The bottles are on different shelves and as I point them out to Mr M, a nearby shop assistant suddenly swoops in and starts moving all the bottles onto the same shelf. Passport Scotch

I instantly assume this woman doesn’t know what she’s doing and that she thinks it is all the same type of whisky. She clearly doesn’t know as much about whisky as I do (I’m Scottish, you know). I try to enlighten her by pointing at the figure 12 on one bottle then to the area where there isn’t a 12 on the other bottle. But she ignores me and carries on re-stacking.

I try again and point and say “no, no, no,” adding urgency to the tone of my voice. Still she ignores me.

Mr M has walked away by this stage, wanting nothing more to do with me.

And, to be honest, there isn’t really much more I can do. But I do now know that I am starting to care about whisky. And its image in overseas supermarkets.

***

IMG_2634We open the Cardhu after dinner in the hotel room. Because I am still learning to like the spirit, I prefer a helping hand when working out what smells and tastes I am searching for. I think this will help me to develop a more extensive whisky vocabulary. It’s kind of like having stabilisers on your bike until you are confident enough to go it alone.

The Cardhu smells kind of Drambuie-ish. It’s sweet and oaky; it’s like a log cabin; like warm honeysuckle evenings; like a syrupy satsuma; like warm buttered scones. OK, I am throwing smells out there, but those are genuinely the things coming to my mind and they must be coming for a reason.

The taste is kind of sweet and peppery. It is definitely the sweeter toothed person’s way into whisky.

The finish also seems sweet to me. I keep trying to taste different things with each sip and wonder if I should stop straining so hard and just enjoy the whisky.

I do get a big mouthful of something almost herby at one stage. Green veg maybe? Caramelised peas? Honeyed Brussels’ Sprouts? Something like that, anyway. It’s quite enjoyable and I think it does go with the warmer weather. Hopefully, though, it also goes with freezing weather as I will be taking the rest back to Scotland to consume there.

***

IMG_2632Since I have been back in Scotland I have used the Cardhu 12 year old as the basis of several whisky cocktails and have to say, I do think that both whisky cocktails and Cardhu are a great way into whisky for anyone who is finding the strong taste of the spirit a bit too much to take. More about all this in upcoming posts.

Whisky, Camping and (a Honda) Jazz

IMG_2497I’ve been drinking whisky for a few weeks now. Well, sipping it and moaning that it tastes like liquidised bandage, but, anyway… For the fully authentic whisky drinking experience, I decide that I need to immerse myself more in the world of the single malt. I need to get some wind in my face, I need to get some drizzle in my hair, I need to get some petrol fumes up my nose. Yes, it’s time to get out on the A9 and go visit a distillery.

I remember being bored by distillery tours from an early age. On a family holiday, we took my grandmother to the Famous Grouse Experience at Crieff. She didn’t like whisky but, for some reason, she wanted to visit the distillery. Maybe she was overcome by guilt at not doing enough touristy things in her own country. Or maybe she liked walking around looking at big metal pots. Either way, the whisky obligation seems to run in the family.

IMG_2476I’ve also been to a couple of distilleries on Islay. So memorable were they that I can’t remember both their names. One was Ardbeg and the other may possibly have been Bowmore. I’ve definitely done some laps in the pool next door to the Bowmore distillery, though. A lovely place.

And now may also be a good time to admit  that I even have a wee shot glass purloined from Ardbeg distillery, circa 1998. What can I say?  I was 23 years old and utterly hilarious.

Quite.

Anyway, today’s plan isn’t to head as far afield as Islay. One day, when I’m a grown up whisky drinker, I will go back and apologise. But today we are going to travel just a couple of hours up the road to Perthshire. And we are also going to go camping. This way I can realise my romantic drinking-whisky-in-the-great- Scottish-outdoors fantasy. As well as my peeing on a guy rope at 3am fantasy.

IMG_2469So Mr M and I pack the tent, a week’s worth of clothes each, and head off on our two night trip to Pitlochry.

Now, I’m not actually a huge fan of camping. Probably because my parents used to take me and my brother on quite a few camping trips when we were younger, so my instinct was to rebel against that and develop a preference for five star hotels with pools. But I want a cheap change of scene for a few days. And, as with the whisky, I like to give things I’m not fond of a chance to work their magic on me. Sushi succeeded, as did dogs (I like them, I don’t eat them) so surely camping can come out a winner too.

Loch Tummel www.singlemaltfemale.co.ukThis camping trip turns out to definitely not be cheap when petrol, equipment that we don’t already own and food are factored in. But the campsite has a stunning setting, on the banks of Loch Tummel. It was Queen Victoria’s favourite place in Scotland (the Loch, not the campsite) and you can see why. I can clearly envision myself having a wee dram by the loch side. In fact, it’s so beautiful that I forget I could have had a night at The Balmoral for roughly the same budget.

There are quite a few distilleries in the area, but having done a wee bit of research, we decide to visit Edradour – Scotland’s smallest distillery, which is tucked away in the hills behind Pitlochry.

En route to Edradour we drive past a sign signalling The Highland Chocolatier. Now, I don’t know much about this area, but I know that there are hand-crafted artisan chocolates in that building. In that building which is over 100 miles from my house in Edinburgh, but which we are driving by right now. So, I get quite excited and exclaim, “Ooh, The Highland Chocolatier”. But, Mr M keeps on driving, clearly missing my far too subtle hint to stop. Oh well, so sad, but I focus on the upcoming whisky sampling instead.

IMG_2501When we pull up at Edradour distillery, I am surprised at how pretty and polished it looks. I have clearly been quite naive. Because it is Scotland’s smallest distillery, I expected it to be in some sort of ramshackle old barn with a bearded old man in dungarees running the show, one handed (perhaps even literally). But, of course, the smallness is Edradour’s USP and, as such, it seems the distillery works hard to stay pretty and attract a healthy amount of attention. Things are kept quiet but quaint.

We do the distillery tour where the smallness factor is driven home quite a few times. In a good way, though. There is a nice feel about the place, and the guide, Leon, is very enthusaistic and informed. I also like the fact that the tour starts with two drams of whisky. None of this making you look at 12 different mashing tuns before you get a whiff of a drink.

IMG_2460 In the tasting salon, or whatever it is called, Leon asks us to work out what kind of casks we think the whiskies were stored in. I have a guess at sherry for one of them. Turns out it’s Barolo, a type of Italian wine. Hmmm, close-ish. The other whisky is the Edradour 10 year old which is aged in rum casks. Leon also asks us to try and identify other smells in the whiskies. I’m not too good at this yet, but he says whatever we think it smells of is fine – there are no right or wrong answers. Grrr, Leon. I want to be told what it might smell of, then I can search for those scents. I need something to go on.

IMG_2456I sniff into each of the glasses, thinking that maybe this time I will be overcome by the intoxicating scents that whisky lovers smell. But I don’t get much apart from vanilla, and, truthfully, that’s because Leon chucked that word out there. And, like a life preserver, I’m clinging onto it.

When it comes to the drinking, the two whiskies taste OK to me, but they’re not moreish. It’s not like having a big mouthful of sunny Chardonnay streaming onto my taste buds and imbuing them with apricots and peaches and oaky wonderment. I just can’t prise apart any flavours from the alcohol to turn whisky into amber prose. The burn is still the main sensation.

IMG_2495However, I find the whole aesthetic of whisky fascinating. I think the bottles, each with their own distinctly crafted labels, are beautiful, and the warm spectrum of colours of whisky – amber, barley, caramel, demerara –  is mesmerising.  The reams of words which can bring whisky to life on the page have my fingers all a flutter at the anticipation of writing it all down. This is why I want to like it. Why I want to love it. Whisky seems like it has so much to give.

I won’t go into the details of the tour. Partly because I can’t remember much and partly because I’m not sure it is interesting to read. Instead, allow me to fast forward to the shop at the end of the tour where, considering the size of the distillery, there is still a significant amount of whisky to choose from. We buy a bottle of Edradour 10 year old single malt, and I can’t wait to be really Scottish and drink it by the loch later. I’m chuffed that we get to keep the tasting glasses from the tour, too. I didn’t really fancy drinking whisky from my blue plastic soup beaker.

Whisky Glass Loch Tummel www.singlemaltfemale.co.uk Back at the campsite, once we have reinforced the tent to prevent it from blowing into the loch, Mr M gets to work on cooking dinner on our £2.99 Tesco BBQ and I decide to open the whisky for a pre-prandial aperitif. I also open my whisky tastings journal to make some notes. I don’t get much on the nose or palate apart from the old faithful, vanilla, but I feel there is a buttery finish to the whisky. The Michael Jackson book (a camping essential) doesn’t really match my thoughts: the nose is “floral with vanilla, caramel and faintly earthy notes,” the palate “rich, sweet and fruity” and the finish “lengthy and sweet”. I am either clueless or a total maverick.

IMG_2394 I suspect that the whisky doesn’t really go with burned Quorn sausages, so I have no more until after dinner when, as dusk is approaching, Mr M and I take the bottle and sit up on the hillside overlooking the loch. It is slightly calmer now that the wind has dropped, and the setting sun gives a whisky coloured glow to the landscape. Ok, there’s no sun, but if there were that is what I think it would look like. It is beautiful though, and I think that this is where whisky should be drunk. I may not learn to like it by just continually tasting it, but maybe I could learn to like it by association with places like this. Memories of the great Scottish outdoors will be evoked every time I knock back a dram in a musty pub somewhere. I will just try to block out the part of the soundtrack which includes other people’s children being called in for bed, or asking for “more toilet paper, Mummy”. I’m sure the alcohol aspect of the whisky will help with that.

 

Single Malt Female travelled to Pitlochry courtesy of her parents’ Honda Jazz and camped at Ardgualich Farm. Pitches start from £15 per night. The Honda Jazz starts from £11,695.

Whisky, Werther’s Originals and a Wee Nightcap

Aberfeldy 12 year old Single Malt FemaleMy quest has only been going for a week, and although I’m still not a fan of whisky, I am, officially, a fan of trying to like it.

Mr Malt and I dine out in a posh pub. After eating, we go for a drink in the bar. I suggest that we have a whisky before hitting the bus stop. Mr Malt, not quite in the spirit of things as much as I am, says, “Why don’t we just go home and have a Talisker?” For those of you who don’t know whisky and haven’t been to my house, lately – that’s a type of whisky made on the isle of Skye, a bottle of which currently resides in my kitchen cupboard.

I have to remind Mr Malt that this quest is meant to be interesting enough that people might want to read about it. If every post revolves around me sitting at home drinking a glass of Talisker – albeit in a different pair of pyjamas – then things are going to get a little Groundhog Day rather quickly.

As if to get his own back, Mr Malt then sends me to to the bar to choose a whisky for him as well as myself. I go over to the bar, stare like a sad Labrador at the bottles on the shelf before the staff ask if they can help me with my choice. What a relief. This bar is clearly used to people who like assistance in their whisky drinking; they have kindly categorised all the bottles into the regions of Scotland from which the whisky originates.

I opt for an Auchentoshan (not sure of the year) as it is sitting in the “Lowland” category and I read that the Lowland malts are slightly more mellow than others: perhaps good for an apprentice whisky drinker like me. Unfortunately, there is only a dribble left in the bottle, however, the barmaid is kind enough to let me have this remnant for free along with another selection. I choose a Glenfarclas 10 year old for myself and an Aberfeldy 12 year old for Mr M.

I love the smell of the Auchentoshan. It is sweet and warm scented. It honestly does smell like – and I am not just saying that to try and be like Michael Jackson – Werther’s Originals. The palate is still quite confronting and I taste the alcohol more than anything, but it is probably the whisky I like the most, so far.

image[5]

When the dribble is gone, I actually can’t stop smelling the empty glass, so wonderful are the aromas coming from it. It is sweet and woody. After about twenty minutes of sniffing constantly, I decide the smell is a mixture of Creme Brûlée, furniture polish, pipe smoke and the inside of a sauna. You might not think that that would be pleasant smell, but it really is.

The Glenfarclas both smells and tastes to me like vanilla and butterscotch. I am glad to be able to pick out these smells, but I feel as if I am still missing a lot and think that I would like to get some proper guidance on how to approach tasting properly.

Mr M’s Aberfeldy, he tells me, smells of coconut and has a “tropical taste” to it. He makes it sound like a glass of Lilt. I smell it. I kind of agree, and make a mental note to get a can of Lilt on the way home.

We go home and do indeed have that glass of Talisker. Now, to me, this whisky smells like a medicine cabinet. To Mr M, it smells amazing; this is his kind of malt. But, I think his whisky compass might need recalibrated when he tells me it tastes “like Scotland,” ” like one of The Proclaimers” and “like Gavin Hastings’ pants.” For clarification from a normal person, I look it up in the MJ book where it is described it as “very peppery, huge and long”. A bit like a Pepperami. It is, indeed, a strong flavour, and probably too much for my tender palate at present. I think I will temporarily retire from Talisker until I have got used to the more mellow guys. And retire to bed feeling good, so far, about where my quest is going.

The Whisky Doubter’s Quest Begins

Whisky Tasting Single Malt Female

Ok, I’ve got my Tastings Journal, I’ve got my Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion, I’ve got bags of enthusiasm. I want to begin my whisky quest.

But it’s 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon –  too early to start drinking. And I can’t even use the excuse that it’s raining because, for once, it isn’t.

There is no justification for partaking of whisky right now. And, honestly, I’m not really all that comfortable with stumbling around inebriated in the middle of the day anyway – in my own home or elsewhere.

So I opt to do some couch-based research instead. I open my laptop and read an article about a journalist who tried to learn to like whisky. She seems to have gone from whisky doubter to fan in the space of five drams. My experiment could start to get tasty far quicker than expected. I decide to use the Michael Jackson bible to investigate which whisky might be good for a novice to start with.

Trying to be a good student, I begin to read through the bit at the start of the book which describes the whisky making process. If I am honest, I find it a bit dull. I have never been good at retaining detail about processes if they contain either inanimate objects or people from long ago. I decide to skip that bit for now.

The most interesting part of the book is definitely the individual smell and flavour descriptors attributed to each whisky. I am astounded at the specificity and range. And the fact that anyone got to the tasting part of some of these malts.

Intriguing, yet not exactly mouthwatering, are the whiskies described as smelling of “cowshed”, “plastic bandage” and “an old Hornby train set”. Slightly more enticing is the idea of “plantains being cooked on a barbecue,” “a sliver of unripe plum” and “Parma Violets”. Wait! Parma Violets? I used to eat those when I was 8. They tasted like my Gran’s soap, yet I devoured them all the same. And leafing through the pages of this book it seems that quite a few confections of my childhood are represented: “Lemon Bon Bons, “Wine Gums, “Bubble Gum.” Wow! If whisky can taste like sweets then it could be ok. I start looking for Walls Vienetta and Wham Bars. Disappointingly, there is no mention.

Still, I am enthused. I definitely did not identify any of these exciting smells in any of the wound-wash scented whisky I was exposed to in the past.

I think that maybe, today, to get started, I could do some sniffing instead of drinking. In fact, I have a pack of miniatures in the kitchen that are begging to be tampered with. Yes, yes, sniffing it is.

Caribbean Cask Single Malt Female

I crack open the most exciting sounding bottle. It’s called Caribbean Cask. Now, I know from my “research” that this means the whisky has been stored in casks which previously held rum, so it should smell of rum and rum-related things: palm-fringed beaches, a sailor’s cabin, organised crime, etc.

I breathe in and take a deep, searching sniff.

Nothing. Just whisky.

I breathe in again. This time I’ll take anything: a coconut shy, banana Chewits, a Prada handbag.

Still nothing. It just smells like whisky to me. Pah!

I twist the cap off one of the other bottles – it’s more wooded, apparently – and again, my nose goes on the prowl. Searching, searching. But, nope, it also smells like whisky. Gosh, I thought I had a really good nose – I often smell things nobody else does. I clearly have a long way to go when it comes to whisky tasting.

***

In the evening, Mr Malt and I go out for a drink in our local hostelry, which happens to have a beautiful view of the sea. This is probably the closest I can get, at present, to feeling like I am drinking whisky in the great Scottish outdoors.

Starbank Inn Single Malt Female

I have no idea what to order. All I know is that I am not yet ready to drink any of the Islay whiskies. Those are the ones which are peaty, smoky and smell like the inside of a doctor’s bag. I need something a bit tamer and sweeter right now.

Mr Malt, old pro that he is, orders an Ardbeg 10 year old, and I, randomly, select an Oban 14 year old. I don’t know why. I just thought it might be my kind of thing, perhaps because I have been to Oban and had a nice lunch there. I could be going about this all the wrong way.

We sit down and I sniff my drink. The alcohol stings my eyes. This isn’t for the faint hearted, this whisky lark. But, singed retinas aside, it smells nice. Kind of like caramel and…er…caramel. I just can’t pinpoint any other smells. Damn. I wonder if I should have brought my Michael Jackson book to help me. No, no, I want to try and work this out myself. I can see later if my thought matches the master’s.

I take a sip of the whisky and try to notice how it feels in my mouth. Smooth comes to mind. Yes, it definitely feels smooth. I swallow, and the alcohol which startled my eyes, assaults my throat. I wonder if you get used to this.

In terms of taste, as I carry on sipping, I can’t get much besides caramel. I try to be clever and come up with permutations of caramel, but all I can think of is Toffee Crisp wrapper, Butterscotch Angel Delight and those yellow Quality Streets. And, to be honest, I can’t smell those things. I am just pulling confections out of my repertoire to try and be like Michael Jackson.

Oban 14 yr old Single Malt Female

I conclude, instead, that the whisky is “not bad”. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I like it. I do like experimenting with drinking it, trying to identify tastes, and how it makes me feel Scottish in a whole new way, but, enjoyment? Not quite yet.

I am conscious that I may be drinking whisky the wrong way. I am used to drinking wine which, when tasting, you swirl around in your mouth and mix with your saliva. Whisky, I think you are meant to just knock back, no messing. But I’m not sure. I note to check the facts on that one.

I sniff at Mr Malt’s whisky and compare it to mine. It smells very medicinal, as expected from an Islay malt. In some ways the smell is sort of comforting. Like the sight of Charlie from Casualty after falling off a step-ladder.

Mr Malt tells me he thinks his whisky tastes like a hospital ward. Is this a good thing, I wonder? He chose it, he likes whisky. If whisky aficionados give accolades like, “smells like a hospital ward” what hope is there for us novices?

We go back home and consult the Michael Jackson book for notes on what we’ve been drinking. Mr Malt is excited because in the book it says his whisky tastes of carbolic soap, which is used in hospitals, and he said that his whisky tasted of hospital wards. I appear to have got mine all wrong (I know, I know, it’s not a test). Oban 14 year old, apparently, smells of “pebbles on the beach,”  “a whiff of the sea” and “a touch of fresh peat”. Not to me it doesn’t. The body is “viscous” so I maybe get a point for saying it was smooth. I seem to have been a bit off with the flavour, though. The book describes the palate as “perfumey” with a “faint hint of fruity seaweed” then “lightly waxy” and “becoming smoky”. My palate needs fine tuning. I am crap at this. I clearly need to smell more pebbles and eat more fruity seaweed.

Can a Whisky Doubter Learn to Love Whisky?

IMG_2489Whisky – to some people it tastes like caramel, cinnamon and warm October evenings. To others it tastes like a glass of floor cleaner. But, whether you like it or loathe it, there’s no denying whisky is a complex and multi-faceted drink.

I have never been a whisky drinker. However, for a while now – and especially since I moved to Edinburgh, where it seems like every second shop sells the stuff – I have thought that it might be nice to enjoy drinking whisky. I want to smell smoky apple-orchards on the nose. I want to taste peat-infused bonfires on the palate. I want the Water of Life to be part of my life.

I am perhaps being carried away by romantic ideas. It is true to say that in my whisky dreams I’m reclined on an expensive leather couch, next to a roaring log fire, glass of malt in my hand, laughing wholeheartedly with a sexy, bestubbled man and having an altogether splendid time. The reality might turn out to be closer to a game of dominoes at a musty lock-in with some lobster-cheeked, bulbous-nosed gents. I don’t drink whisky, so I don’t know.

And, I will never know if I don’t try.

IMG_2672I have tried to like whisky before. But, like violin lessons when I was 8, I never really gave it my all. Often, after a night drinking wine, I would brazenly order a dram in the spirit of being adventurous (or a show off – I once ordered a Laphroaig simply because I could pronounce the word) then, after one antiseptic sip, gift it to someone who would appreciate it more. I wanted to like it, but it tasted just too awful for me to push on through. I didn’t have the staying power.

Now, however, I am older and stronger. I am tenacious and prepared to work for the things I want. And I want to know, if I get the right guidance, and if I really persevere, can I learn to like whisky?

So, for one year, I plan to immerse myself in the world of whisky to see if I can acquire a taste for the drink. I plan to visit distilleries, pubs, and whisky tasting events. I will read books about whisky, cook with whisky, and climb mountains and celebrate with a dram at the top. I even have a grand vision of hosting a whisky cocktail party. Basically, I will try all sorts of different ways to consume and learn about the beverage. Initially, I will limit myself to Scotch whisky, but, if things go well, I may promote my palate to more international flavours.

This escapade is not just about whether women can like whisky. It’s probably true that far fewer women drink it than do men, but a quick search of the web brings up details of women who are master blenders, whisky consultants and enthusiastic whisky bloggers: women who have broken through the taste barrier and found that their palates have adjusted and embraced this complex and often misunderstood drink. This, therefore, is about answering the question, can those who think they don’t like whisky – laddies or ladies –  learn to like it? IMG_2675

If, after several months, it looks like my palate is unconvinced, I fully plan to carry on anyway. I may never acquire a love of the malt, but I think the very least I can gain is an appreciation and an understanding. If, however, by July 2015, I am not a full-on whisky lover then I will accept that it is not meant to be.

There will be no criticism of whisky here – only recognition that it may not be for me. If things do not appeal to my palate, I have an enthusiastic human spittoon (let’s call him Mr Malt) who is on hand to tell me what my unfinished dram tastes like to the cultured palate.

It should also be noted that I am sponsored by no one and this is purely a self-motivated quest. I simply like a challenge and I love writing.

All business proposals and crates of Scotch will be considered, though.

The following are what I am starting with at the beginning of this quest. I like to think of these items as my Whisky Starter Kit.

Whisky Starter Kit

Whisky Starter Kit

A whisky tasting journal and pen

Michael Jackson’s Malt Whisky Companion (not the Moonwalker, the whisky expert)

Some money for the bus to whisky drinking venues

Feel free to join me in this quest. I would love to hear other non-whisky lover’s stories.

 

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