Daytime drams…

26 Apr
I love whisky. Single malt rocks my world. But, I know many who don’t indulge in the “water of life” to the same extent – including the boy (ie: the boyfriend, Lee). Unfortunately, like many, he had a disastrous encounter with some cheap and cheerful whisky back in the day which left him with a horrid two-day hangover (more than once). Understandably, his perception of whisky is mainly that it’s rough. I shared this view until I went to a tasting a few years back, which turned my taste buds around and made me bat for the other side: the side that likes a wee dram, that is. A lingering goal of mine is to convince others that this beautiful spirit can be so subtle and complex, that it can take your breath away (and not just from its sharp bite).

SO, after a recent whisky event at the fabulous Albannach bar in Trafalgar Square ( – at which I received one of their whisky taster sets – I decided what better way to try to convince the boy that he WILL like this golden liquid than to have a mini taste-testing sesh.

Now, as many Londoners will know, April’s weather has been more encouraging of Pimm’s consumption than whisky, but even so, I believe the “winter warmer” can be loved year-round. So even with the sun rays darting into our lounge, we decided what the heck! we’ll give these bad boys a taste. It was a Monday after all…

The three whiskies in the tasting set are elegantly presented in a white, silk-lined box (adorned with the Albannach symbol) and come with a Glencairn glass (the industry standard tasting glass). It includes a 10-year old Islay, a 14-year old Speyside and a 10-year old Blended.

A wee dram anyone?

With pens and paper at the ready, I poured us each a small sample of the Blended to get us started and, like seasoned pros, we took to the task tres seriously giving each a few notes on taste, smell and even a score out of 10! We followed with the Speyside and ended with the Islay.

So…what did we think?

I gave my high-scores to the Islay, surprising myself as I don’t normally drink this varietal as it’s often too harsh and smoky. But, this one was far from overpowering, proving instead to be a bit sweet and creamy, with a complex taste and aroma that reminded me of how the night air smells at a lake beside a campfire, along with leather and the sea. It had a delicious, smoky aftertaste too, and I gave it 8 out of 10. Lee took a more serious tone, linking it with his vision of what a tortured writer would drink or to quote: “What Hemingway would have drunk before shooting himself in the head.” But not in a bad way – no, no, he felt it was a deep and complex, sophisticated whisky, meant for those special occasions…or in Hemingway’s case, his final occasion…

Taking his tasting notes seriously!

The boy’s high-score, meanwhile, went to the Blended whisky – he considered it a summery, light and easy-going whisky, one that novices would enjoy, that had quality but was not too complex. He scored it a 9 out of 10. I rated this one  a 6 out of 10, but that was simply because I found it too sweet, with an overly butterscotch, or salt-water taffy taste for my liking. It was a quality whisky, but didn’t quite offer the bite and richness of the other two.

This left, of course, the Speyside. We both ranked it 7 out of 10, with the boy suggesting its lightness (note: the colour was nearly clear) in both colour and aroma, would fool a drinker into thinking it wasn’t rich, when in fact it was far more deep and intense than the caramel-coloured Blended whisky. I found its aroma pleasant – like green peas in a summer garden – but really enjoyed the sharp, almost-acidic bite it had, which struck me completely out of the blue.

We finished off all three – of course, what else would you do? – and I think I may be turning a curve in the whisky war. Or maybe it was just the fact we’d enjoyed drinking quantities of whisky on a Monday afternoon in the sunshine…only time will tell!

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