I fell in love with the romantic notion of drinking Scotch long before I fell in love with drinking it. I struggled through many glasses hoping that I would eventually “gain a taste for it.” I was frustrated that I didn’t like it more and continued to push through.
My mentor (who helped me learn how to teach people, how to speak and also gave advice on other worldly things) taught me that just because I knew how to drink did not know I knew how to drink Scotch or Brandy. Imagine that you have never eaten a scotch bonnet pepper, wasabi or a very spicy horseradish. If you did not know their reputation for being hot would the knowledge of chewing and swallowing be enough experience to guide you safely through the consumption of these things?
Many people who are new to these bevvies will fire some in a glass and drink it like they are drinking a rum and coke – a big swig that fills the mouth before firing it down the hatch. Imagine if you tried the same with hot sauce!
I learned an expression this week called “a spiders ass.” It’s a little crude, but effective. It describes the amount of scotch you want to enter your mouth when consuming Scotch. Note that I did not say “sip” – a sip is too large a quantity. I was shown that I should take such a small amount that I should never have to swallow and just enough that would mix with my saliva and still allow me to speak (imagine doing that with a mouth full of rum and coke!)
Small tastings are still intense – a small bit of hot sauce is still hot after all. The smaller tastes will actually allow you to taste the contents of your glass in more detail. Slow and steady wins the race!
A small glass of scotch can take hours to go through. It’s a process where I slowly marinate my mouth and develop the flavor layer by layer. It is not entirely uncommon to drink several beer at the same time as I slowly work my way through a glass. For absolute decadence, I will pour 3-4 very tiny glasses of different Scotches and do a tasting. I will rarely drink more than an ounce of the finer Scotches in an evening.
In the UK a glass of Scotch is 7/8 of an ounce (compared to North America where 1.25 to 1.5 ounces are common) – the smaller size makes a lot of sense when consuming it in this matter.
Adding ice is generally regarded as disrespect to the glass as it will dilute the taste as you savor it. Some argue that it should be neat, others think that a small amount of water is required to open the tastes (more on why in the future). When I do add water, I do so by putting a single finger under running water and then letting a few drops fall into my glass.
Do some people drink Scotch or Brandy by the bottle and a mouthful at a time? Of course they do – just as I pile wasabi on my sushi. But I love the heat of wasabi and am willing to sacrifice the flavor of sushi for it’s heat. If you haven’t tried these drinks in this manner (remember, you have to be able to talk after inserting the liquid in your mouth), try it and let me know how it goes!
We have reviewed 2 bottles of Scotch at well preserved – both are at the extreme end of flavor (though very different from each other):