Why not a Wee Dram?
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” - Mark Twain
You may have noticed my odd reference, or fifty to whisky.
I am not going to lie, in fact I am very open about my love of a wee dram, a sip of the old gold watch, a hit of moonshine or a delicate drop of spiritus frumenti.
Whisky is not something I have everyday or before 5pm of course, unless I am on an international flight where all drinking bans or conventions do not apply as far as I am concerned. The benefit of living in a geographically impossible country like Australia is that we pass over at least five happy hours on the way to where ever we are going. God knows we pay enough for sodding flights so do what it takes to get through a 24 hour journey I say. Bottoms up!
I take my whisky neat in winter and with two cubes of ice in summer. This is an important fun fact for you to know if we are going to be friends. I look forward to my self-sponsored happy hour on a Friday afternoon or out on release sociablising (i.e. you can be socialising but not sociable or, be a sociable person but not within a bulls roar of other people. In order to have fun you need to have both in operation at the same time. My article my rules).
It does tend to draw odd looks from barkeeps and hospitality professionals when I place my order for a whisky. They assume I am a shoo-in for a glass of middle-aged-anglo-saxson-noir or savingmum blanc, not a double Laphroaig on the rocks (did I mention only two cubes?). It has been a lifetime curiosity especially when, men in particular, find out I have been drinking whisky since I was 20 years old. What would a girl be doing drinking whisky? When out sociablising, The Gent rolls his eyes and exclaims, 'No the the gin and tonic is mine and the whisky is for my wife.' Not surprisingly after 16 years he has taken up whisky. Probably due to being married to me for the aforementioned 16 years rather than feeling emasculated by drinking G&Ts.
So why whisky?
There is something so gentle and comforting in cradling a good single malt. Holding each sip just long enough for the smokey texture to make its way up your cheeks then to finish off with a hug about your ears. You can also just knock it back, shake your head and slam it down on the bar and ask for another John Wayne style. I don't judge.
I will throw my mum under the bus and assign the blame for my whisky love to her.
Interesting side note. My family have started a support group as a result of being featured in my columns. They ring and text The Gent with the release of each one, 'How bad is it?' or 'Did I cop it?'. Now when I call Mum and Dad's, Dad is quicker than usual to hand the phone over to Mum.
Me: 'Hi Dad, how are you?'
Dad: 'Oh hello darling. Here's your mother.'
Me: 'Great chat Dad.'
I think being an ex cop he is conscious of the 'anything you say may be taken down and used as evidence', clause, so he is opting to say as little as possible to me these days. Paranoid much?
Anyhoos, back to blaming my whisky breath on dear old mum. She insisted when I started working professionally, that if I was going to have after-work drinks, that I should have the maturity and class to drink something decent. Island Cooler and raspberry and vodka was no longer up to snuff. This also involved drinking out of a good quality glass which of course is the other crucial component when drinking whisky.
Remember in The Young and the Restless how Katherine Chancellor would wrap her sharpened manicured talons around posh crystal cut glasses, knock one back, usually with a concerning amount of pills after having a barney with Jill Abbott? Yep, well drug and alcohol abuse aside, I was always obsessed with those glasses. I thought they added such theatre to the whole shebang. Add in an equally opulent decanter and you have a series of props from which to pour and sip whisky with friends.
Happily for moi and my fellow whisky lovers, the emergence of the whisky bar in the last few years has found me at the fortuitous point in my life when the kids are getting older and don't require babysitting, I can afford a nice drop and there's something called Uber.
If you are thinking about giving whisky a crack but wouldn't know the first thing to ask for, here is a small list of my favourites to try, that you can get just about anywhere and shouldn't scare you too much. At this point I should also mention I am no where near an expert and I encourage you to get a second opinion.
- Laphroaig: my go to, but be warned it packs a punch and has an air of smoked wood if that is your thing. I cured a trout in it at Christmas for my family and neighbours and they luurrrved it.
- Talisker: from the Isle of Skye's only distillery so they think it is a pretty big deal. Luckily it is also a gorgeous drop.
- Lagavulin: single malt Scotch whisky from the isle of Islay. The standard one is 16 years which is not a bad place to start. Rich, smokey and elegant, needing a poshish glass.
- Oban: named after the Scottish town in which it is distilled. It has a medium malty sweet taste to begin with, by the end who really cares.
- Monkey Shoulder: If a hit of hard liquor makes your eyes twitch, then this blended malt whisky could be for you. It drives just as well mixed in with cocktails as it does on its own. It is very smooth and gives you a zesty splash. Just what menopause ordered.
- Glenmorangie: something from the highlands of Scotland for those needing a closer link to James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser from Outlander. It's medium bodied and gently warming with pleasant spicy notes. The whisky that is. Those who watch Outlander would know Jamie Fraser is full bodied! Sigh!
So where in Loch Lomand are you supposed to go and be all artsy fartsy and learn a bit more about 'whuskie'? When I try to speak with a Scottish accent for some reason I just sound like Fat Bastard, it's not a good thing.
Buck Mulligan's: 217 High Street Northcote. I love this place so much because it is a whisky bar and book shop....what? I am changing the electoral roll to say I live there.
The Elysian Whisky Bar: 113 Brunswick Street Fitzroy. They stock a lot of rare independent whiskys and is styled on Japanese whisky bars. They do regular whisky appreciation nights. So do I, I always appreciate whisky.
Whisky Den: 2B/27 Russell St, Melbourne. The Gent and I literally fell into this place after a dinner in the city one night. It is a hole in the wall, but it has a great cosy atmosphere and they claim to have around 1000 different types of whisky. I can't be bothered counting the bottles.
Eau De Vie: 1 Malthouse Ln, Melbourne. This is what Melbourne does brilliantly. Hidden gems down lane ways. It is a luxe surprise behind the door. Perfect for pre or post dinner and the lighting is middle-age friendly.
The Kilburn: 348 Burwood Road Hawthorn. A recent discovery and extremely handy to my neck of the woods. They run an introduction to whisky class for $40 so you can learn the ropes. My tip: reach out, pick up your glass and bring it to your mouth without slopping all over yourself.
There you have it. If I haven't enticed you to give whisky a go then at least I have explained some of my behaviour. What ever you drink of course, please do so responsibly blah, blah, blah so on and so forth, set forth within, notwithstanding, distributed under clause 2. There, at least I said it.
Hugs and kisses,