My journey towards whisky actually started with a love of Pisco sours. Since Pisco is hard to find in most bars, the whisky sour is the less finicky alternative and surprisingly less vomit inducing (and crazy-making) than tequila cocktails. Now, if one drinks a whisky sour, chances are that the quality of whisky is not very important since the taste is greatly affected by the sour mix/syrup/lemon/lime juice being used, so I’ve had everything from $10 Trader Joe’s “hobo” whisky (as Tom calls it; it is actually called Rebel Yell) to Maker’s Mark to Jameson. It’s the same principle I follow in buying crappy or cheap tequila if one is making mixed drinks versus a good tequila for drinking straight or taking shots (although I have one rule that applies to any tequila I buy: it must be 100% agave, which rules out the cheapest Jose Cuervo, which I think should only be used to make margaritas for lots of people). Anyway, even though I mostly select from the bottom shelf of the liquor store, I wanted to see what the big deal is with the big-named Irish and Scottish fellows that are displayed smugly in their classy collectible tins, but it’s tough to justify at this point. It also became apparent that I needed to figure out what kind of whisky I like when I went to The Netherlands and discovered that most bars don’t do cocktails. Even if they had the liquor and the mixers. It’s strange. I don’t really get it. I ended up buying a lot of Jameson and lime cordial and mixing them together at home. (They also have some strange and interesting liquors in The Netherlands that I’ve not seen in the U.S.; one night, my roommate’s boyfriend and I were up drinking and going through these old stone bottles in their bar, and it was all stuff that smelled like it could blind you.)
Anyway, I saw an ad for a free scotch tasting at Oldfield’s, this cool vintage-styled bar close to my apartment, and immediately signed up. Seriously, I was the very first person on the list trying very hard not to appear like an alcoholic. It included a plus one, but Tom was going out of town for a business trip, so I went with a friend of mine whom I’ve known since I was in middle school. Growing up proper! He appreciates good beer and liquor, so I figured he would enjoy the event, especially because it was free. Lately, I’ve made a personal effort to stop buying alcohol thereby reducing the amount that I drink, but no one says no to free liquor.
The whiskies were all single malt scotches (so, from Scotland) distributed by Skyy Spirits, and if I recall correctly, there was Glen Grant, Glenrothes and Bowmore in a variety of ages and years that I’m not sophisticated enough to remember. All I remember is that they ranged from sweet and mild tasting to holy-cow-smoky peaty smooth in the mouth. Oh, and we had about six or seven of those same-sized “tastes” in the span of an hour. Our host was Skyy Spirits whisky brand ambassador Johnnie the Scot who talked about where the scotches came from, how they’re made, how to drink it, etc. There were about 15 of us in this private back room of Oldfield’s.
The one downside was a lack of snacks. It’s tough for me to drink a lot without eating, so I snacked on this malted barley instead. Yum. I asked Johnnie what the best food to eat with scotch is, and he gave the surprising answer of Asian food, something about the mixture of sweet and salty flavors in a lot of different Asian cuisines.