The Art of Scotch Drinking
When I was asked to write a guide on how Scotch whisky should be drunk, I was thrilled, to put it mildly. The feeling was akin to swallowing a mouthful of smoky single malt. Pure delight. I have been blessed with a few opportunities to sample some of Scotland’s finest offerings over the years, and have come to appreciate the finer points and subtle nuances of this magical elixir. Yep, I’m not afraid to announce, I’m a little bit of a whisky snob.
Scotch Whisky in itself, is a symbol of man’s ever-lasting pursuit of perfection, a representation of the finest that life can offer.
It has been a drink for all occasions. and there always will be contrasting opinions on how Scotch is drunk best. Well, let’s settle it, there’s no right or wrong way, it’s a matter of personal preference. But some methods enhance and elevate tastes and flavours more than others.
Let’s start with the glass. Most people, use a rocks glass for Scotch. While this is not a bad choice, the ‘nosing glass’ allows for greater retention of vapours, which enhance the multiple flavour layers in your drink. Another fairly recent innovation is the Glencairn Glass. With its tapered mouth and wide bowl, this design won the 2006 Queen's Award for Innovation!
The next point that everyone seems to disagree on is whether to add ice. While some people are dead against it, some experts recommend adding a couple of ice balls, which melt slower than cubes and will thus water down your Scotch less. Another innovation is ‘whisky stones’. These metal or soapstone cubes retain cold temperatures for long periods of time. Chill in your freezer and then use them to cool your drink without diluting it!
You’re probably thinking, why are these so-called experts dead against watering down your Scotch? Which brings us to a huge bone of contention - mixers. Soda, cola, juices, and more. It begs the question - why drink Scotch at all if you need to mask the taste?
I, for one, believe that a good Scotch needs just ice. I prefer mine with a splash of cool water, or a single ice-cube, so i can savour the myriad flavours.
A few drops of water melting into your drink helps unfurl the proud battle flag that is the Scotch aroma array. If you sip Scotch neat, a lot of the subtler notes may get shouted down, if you will, by the powerful initial hit of alcohol.
The best way to make sure you don’t end up with too much water in your Scotch, is to use LARGE ice cubes. This way, you favourite Scotch will chill, with just that caress of cool water, that will ensure that subtle flavour bouquet really blossoms.
Pure, soft spring water, is recommended to enhance the distinctive aroma and flavour of a whisky. Tap water may contain high amounts of chlorine and therefore would hinder the taste bouquet of the Scotch.
Well, that leaves us with the last, most controversial topic yet. Scotch cocktails. Some purists would consider it blasphemous. They’d compare it to mashing up Handel's ‘Hallelujah’ with metchul double-bass blastbeats.
So should you ever mix Scotch?
At the risk of ruffling a few feathers, I say yes. A number of well-crafted cocktails blend the rich flavour palette of various Scotch whiskies with a whole lineup of other ingredients to create some pretty amazing cocktails. Here's a recipe of one such scotch cocktail, Blood and Sand Scotch Cocktail, here.
In conclusion, the general consensus regarding Scotch and how it should be drunk is now shifting from an elitist, my-way-or-the-highway attitude towards a more accommodating, open-minded vibe.
Try out a few of our suggestions, see how you enjoy your Scotch best, and stick with that.
In the words of renowned Scottish historian and writer David Daiches, “The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed.”
So go ahead, indulge yourself with your favourite Scotch, and raise a toast to all the good things in life.
Article By: Viren Fernandes
Viren writes for food, beer and his own amusement. His interests include reading, travelling and envisioning himself as the director (and the audience) of a comedy based on everything he sees
Image Credit: irish-whiskeys.de, mohd.it
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