Monday, November 08, 2004

I like Irish whisky.

Over time I have begun to find an ever-increasing joy in the consumption of Irish Whisky. I know little about whisky consumption so these observations are what I feel can only be described as an awakening.

At this early stage in my Irish whisky drinking journey I prefer Jameson whisky. A few years ago I went to the Jameson’s distillery in Dublin. The tour was as good as any other alcohol producers tour I have been on, I spent the time walking past mock distillers and smelling barley and thinking ‘There should be a straight-to-the-bar tour option’. I did learn that James Joyce was one to partake in the triple distilled tipple. Upon finally reaching the bar we were presented with an array of small glasses of Jameson whiskies. I gulped them down without too much thought.

Looking back it was a waste. Such a waste. That was about 4 years ago now and I would like to think I have grown up a little since then. I flatter myself with a self-knowledge that my tastes may just have grown more refined. Remembering that young lad out in the big wide world, I see something of a puppy suddenly getting to smell a world of new smells yet being too busy chasing a flying insect to take much notice. Looking back to the distillery and the swilling of that plonk, the only thought I could recall about the whisky is how it reminded me of chundering up after drinking a hip flask of Cougar whiskey (read electrical cable cleaner) in 6th form. There was no way that at that time of my life could I have enjoyed the delicate taste of a drink I have come to love. I believe it takes a good five years from the experience of yundering after consuming vast amounts of spirits during those formative teenage years, until the residual memory of the taste leaves the brain. Prior to this I believe the brain just says no to the taste of a spirit that was once responsible for bringing it close to shutdown. I managed to alienate my brain from most of the common stock of spirits and it is only just now allowing the poison slowly back into the system.

I think it trusts me more now.

Slowly the spirits came back. Firstly Bacardi then Gin, then the milky ones, then the ones with funny names like Ouzo. He is still not so sure about Rum and he hates it when zealous friends thrust that fowl devils urine Tequila into the blood stream. It is Whisky however that has made the strongest comeback. Disagreements with the brain and body have been left behind and a whole field of new experiences have opened up in front of me.

I feel this is an analogy for growing up.

First the smell hits you. It pierces the nostrils. It tickles and burns the receptors at first, leaving you in no doubt of what you are going to drink and indicating what it is going to taste like. I my opinion, out of all things that we eat or drink it is the smell of whisky that most closely resembles its eventual taste. The smell pours down your nasal cavities like the liquid does in your throat. The whiff is enough to start warming you up. It smells warm, intense and inviting.
The drink itself needs to be drunk from glass, coffee mugs seem to make it taste like its been sitting in the sun all day. Glasses appear to lend it a crisper taste. Taking a sip is like letting experience itself sit in your mouth. My tongue lunges forward to capture the first drops, it forms a pool in the middle as a catchment area for the liquid. Once inside my mouth the whisky sets about exciting every tastebud it can traverse over. I roll the juice around, making full use of every drop. Whisky of course has an intense flavour. Its tastes warm, old, alcoholic, clean, rich, strong and full. I move it around slowly until it sits at the back of my mouth. I swallow and let the fluid drain over the top of the back of my tongue and down into my body. I can taste it as it goes down and then feel warm as it becomes a part of me. It makes me flush and smile and stains my breath. The taste in my mouth lasts a long time after swallowing. One could say that it lasts until the drink is finished as it lingers in the mouth until the next sip and so on until the glass (or bottle) is empty.

The taste is so complex, I am finding it hard to express but it feels as if there are layers to the taste. Firstly the heat and excitement, followed by an under current of smoothness and flavour and finishing up with a warm lingering memory. I realise that I haven’t used proper ‘taste’ words to describe it. I just don’t feel they would make sense. I feel like no one can tell you how to taste whisky. It’s too multifaceted and involved. I foresee that I will always enjoy the drink and am glad to have opened up yet another area of life to explore and take pleasure in. For me the equivalence of finding whisky and growing up is strong. I am finding it at a time where the world itself seems to be opening up. It seems exciting and new, yet I know that it has been around for a long time. It feels involved and complex, yet I know I can come to understand it. At this early stage I feel I am not so good at registering all the complexities and nuances, yet I realise my comprehension and knowledge will grow with greater experience.
I know there is much to be discovered.
I look forward to the discovery.


  • I have to confess that I too enjoy the odd tipple of Whiskey.

    Had a really nice Glenmorangie at the greatest pub in the world (JJ Murphey's on Cuba Mall) on Saturday night. So smooth...

    By Blogger Aucklander At Large, at 4:25 pm  

  • Quite a transendental experience, Constar.

    But isn't whiskey the traditonal national party drink?


    By Blogger Moneo, at 5:11 pm  

  • Don’t be silly Stephen. The National parties traditional drink is used battery acid, followed by a chaser of fresh goats blood.

    By Blogger Constar, at 11:22 pm  

  • when you discover a single malt and a cigar you will realise that all you really wanted to be was a bloated plutocrat and you will have grown up.
    National conferences generally start with a ritual baby sacrifice and drinking the blood

    By Blogger sagenz, at 6:29 am  

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