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Selecting The Right Whisky To Start Your Evening?

Jun 3rd, 11:45 AM


Three options but how do you start a Whisky evening?

One of my main concerns when embarking on a whisky evening is the choice of my first dram. Whether it’s at an event like the Whisky Stramash or going to the pub with friends I’m always torn between two thoughts – do I try the best Whisky first so that my clean palate and sober mind can take in the whole taste profile or do I opt to have a light bodied Whisky regardless of its quality and build up toward the heavier peaty Whiskies?

At a number of Whisky events I’ve attended I’m always amazed when people first burst into the venue and approach the stand to their immediate right to sample their first free Whisky and their selection is usually based on the strong salesmanship of the stand owner or they have a quiet idea of what they like and point to it completely immune from the salesmanship due a confidence achieved in pre-event research.

The well research group of people are a bunch you have to admire, the random allure of the event offers as much complication to them as algebra to Einstein because these guys know exactly what they want and where to find it – they have a hit list and through past experience they are aware of their palate’s limitations; organised, determined and confident that’s them in a nutshell. However, although there is a great deal of respect owed to these Whisky aficionados, there are the others I admire; the unorganised and unplanned dram seekers, never aware of what’s coming next but immersing themselves with festival spirit and eagerness. Never afraid to try something new and regardless of the Whisky they will clean their glass and palate with water, or an oatcake after each dram in assumption that this will remove all remnants of the previous dram. Unfortunately, for this last group if you start the day with Talisker you’ll end the day with Talikser on the tongue so a wee bit prudence is perhaps advised but then for the well research bunch if you get the chance of an aged Islay Sherry cask, the chances are you need to sample it then and there because by the end of the show it will be gone…but is the choice not just frustratingly simple all the same!?

Going forward I have opted to go for a great Whisky first when out with friends at the pub, like when I was out with my friend Andy McNeill at The Abbotsford on Rose Street, and I had an aged Lasanta cask Whisky from a Speyside distillery – the light bodied nature of the Whisky really suited the cask which brought out all those spicy, juicy, warm cherry flavours absolutely superb!

At the events like the Stramash, I now try to start by ignoring the first stand to my right and begin with a light bodied Speyside or Lowland malt moving up gradually through the cask finishes. However, I still resist the temptation to do lots of research beforehand because I love surprises!


Funnily enough, at my own Whisky Tasting I ignored all of this advice and ordered to tasting as to when the Whisky was released.;we started with a Sherry cask Benrinnes and indulged in a Bunnahabhain midway through.

What is your opinion?

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