It has been over a year since The Scotch Journal came into existence and I figure it is time for an annual review sorts. What have we learned since this blog began? Well, here is a quick Do’s & Don’ts list distilled (see what I did there?) from a year’s worth of research, both theoretical and practical:
Do: Keep an open mind
“Yes, I will try that 3 year old Blended Whisky neat.”
That may be a bit extreme, but you get the point. Just as in life, when we rid ourselves of our own prejudices, we free ourselves to enjoy new experiences we otherwise would avoid. I must credit the good people of Johnnie Walker here as their home Scotch tasting events do a great job in showing the different ways to enjoy a young blend like JW Red which consequently introduced me to Scotch Cocktails.
Don’t: Overindulge with Peaty Scotch
Have you ever put on a coat that you had previously worn to a bon fire? Your senses are immediately assaulted with the thick smell of smoke wafting from your outerwear. Now imagine this emanating from within your entire body after a night out. This is a surefire way to ruin your day(s) and more importantly, negatively impact your opinion on peated Whisky.
Do: Get yourself a proper glass
The Glencairn is my personal favourite. The shape of the glass serves a purpose in that it funnels the Scotch scents to facilitate a thorough nosing. I also believe there is something to be said for presentation as it enhances experiences. Regardless of your nosing & tasting abilities, there is a visceral pleasure in having the right tool for the task at hand.
Don’t: Aggressively sniff the Scotch
It’s a common tip worth repeating. Be gentle in your approach and don’t anesthetize your nose with an influx of alcohol fumes. However, get in there and spend some time with it – in the great words of Richard Paterson, examine it 4 times with a “Hello”, “How are you?”, “Quite well” and “Thank you very much”.
Do: Share your collection, especially the expensive stuff…
There is a classic strategy which places a hierarchical structure to the evening’s Scotch menu:
Drink #1 – The good stuff
Drink #2 – Pre-teen Single Malt
Drink #3 & Onward – J&B
Regardless of your generosity periphery, I can sincerely say this, you will enjoy your finest Scotch even more when shared. That childlike look of wonderment on your friend’s face is only a reminder that you’re holding something remarkable in your Glencairn glass.
Don’t: Underestimate the value of a diverse Scotch collection
There are two questions I can never answer: “What’s your favourite band?” and “What’s your favourite Scotch?”.
A Scotch preference is dynamic and impacted by what was ate that day, the weather, the time of year, et cetera. This is part of the reason why I implore people to give peaty Scotches a try; when dark and damp weather sets in, an Islay dram is the best tonic for your chilled bones. On the other hand, a warmer evening is best spent with a sweet and vanilla-tinged Speyside.
Open your mind, expand your collection and reap the rewards of choice.
Lastly, Do keep on learning and exploring
It is, after all, what life is all about. Keep satisfying your Scotch curiosities, making an effort to learn something new about the craft and finding new drams and friends to enjoy it with.