“So you drink whisky? Isn’t that a drink for old men??”
Now there’s a big cliche for you. I am a man. And some of you kids may think that a guy in his early 30s is indeed ‘old’. But I’ll tell you something, my 20s wife is arguably a bigger whisky lover then me. (After all, she does work in the industry.)
Not only that, but in the company she works with, there is a significant number of women working there. And as I understand it, it’s a similar case across the board. My sister has also worked for a couple of drinks companies now and they have a large number of female colleagues. Representation in the whisky industry seems to be improving even if it’s not perfect.
Whisky certainly used to be the ‘old man drink.’ And thankfully that idea is changing. Because whisky is bloody lovely and I want to share it with as many people as possible. Anytime I have visitors; be they friends of mine, my wife, or both of us, I almost immediately point them to the drinks shelf. Because whisky is a sharing drink. You can drink a nice dram by yourself sometimes, (and I do) but it is much more pleasant to drink with people. I suppose the same can be said with alcohol in general, but with whisky being the kind of drink you can share a rich amount of tasting notes with each other, it just feels extra special to me.
Truthfully though, it wasn’t even my wife who got me into whiskey in the first place. (I got her into it.) The man who got me way more into whisky tasting in general was an old pal from University. Almost a decade ago he started a whisky club. Every month we would all chip in £20 each and he would scour the land (and the auction sites) for different and interesting whiskies. And that first night we had some of the most delicious whiskies I have ever tasted.
So then I was hooked. I’ve made as many whisky nights as possible and although I could never call myself a total expert, I am most certainly a big enthusiast. And therefore it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that I must be a complete whisky snob…
…Which is only partly true.
Ok, I guess I have a preference for Scottish whisky (Or Scotch to you lot across the Atlantic.) And I do prefer single malts overall to blended ones. And I do think drinking single malts in coke is an abomination.
However, I do get that it’s mostly just my preference. The only time I would insist on someone having whisky straight or with a drop or two of water is if we were having a tasting and comparison. (Otherwise you don’t really get to taste the whisky itself.) Outside of that, you can drown it in Mountain Dew for all I care… (saying that, I just winced writing that sentence so perhaps I do care a little bit.)
But I suppose the thing I love about whisky the most, and certainly the thing that I think makes the whisky drinking so brilliant, is everyone understands that taste is subjective. Two people could be drinking the same whisky. One person could taste apples. One could taste oranges. And ultimately neither would be wrong because…
Whisky is a very inclusive drink.
I’m a strong believer that there is a whisky for everyone:
You like fruity flavours? Try a Speyside.
Prefer savoury? Go for Cambeltown.
You smoke? Drink an Islay.
Want something milder? Go for a Lowland.
Want something creamy? A highland is a good way to go, but a Speyside can be sweet too.
And even amongst those regions there are so many varieties! You can tell me you don’t like whisky, but I’ll be thinking all along: “You just haven’t found the right one yet!” It can seem daunting at first when you see just how many distilleries there are. But really, if you find the whisky you like, there’s no reason for you to keep drinking all the others unless you’re a whisky nut like me. Nothing wrong with drinking what you like.
Now I know I said my pal from uni got me more into whisky. But actually I tried it a little before that. In Scotland, it was quite common (and maybe still is) to start drinking quite early in your teens. One of my best pals was 14 when he started. I didn’t bother though for a couple of reasons, firstly I was too busy holed up in my room with a games controller in my hand. Secondly, I was traumatised by my older sisters friends when they came over to our house for the millennium hogmanay party. They drank a LOT. And subsequently gifted our floors with what they drank. (Mostly smirnoff ice and bacardi breezers I think)
So that put me off. But then I turned 18. And my school offered to take a few of us who did to a whisky distillery for a tour. Being one of the few people in my school who was 18 I thought “Hey, why not, something different I guess.” There were only five of us, so it did feel kinda cool. Like it was an exclusive event for us adults. And when we got to the place, I kinda fell in love with it. And when we got to tasting, I wholeheartedly expected the whisky to taste like water from an ash tray. Bit it didn’t. I liked it. A lot. The others with me downed the stuff like they were in some shite club in Ibiza. But I tasted it. it was lovely. I think it helped that it was Auchentoshan, which is a lowland whisky. Lowlands are typical less hardcore, if I were given an Islay, my delicate and untested pallet would probably have been scorched to hell. I love an Islay now, probably some of the most memorable whiskies I’ve had have been Lagavulin, Cao Isla and Bruich Laddie. But I’m glad I didn’t dive into those straight away, or my whisky journey would have been cut very short.
So tell me. What was the first whisky you tried? And if that wasn’t what was the first whisky that got you into tasting? And if you don’t like whisky (booo) then what is your drink of choice?