I tend to tell you a lot about those things that “really grinds my gears” around here, so let’s also focus on those things that make me appreciate whisky and encouraged me to grow a passion for the spirit.
One of them is slowness.
Whisky is not something you can rush: from the raw ingredients it is made from, to the production process it goes through to the maturation period and appreciation.
Oh yes, many have tried their hands at fastening the whisky-aging process by all kinds of scientific means… Have you heard about those wooden Time & Oak sticks meant to age your whisky in 24 hours? Or Cleveland bottling a 6-day-old spirit thanks to a new “advanced patent pending technology”… What’s the point? I’m no master distiller/blender but if traditionally, whisky has to be laid down for a minimum period of 3 years, I want to believe there’s a reason behind this (even though this 3-year period was more of a political decision at first).
I just feel that, in our current world, where everything has to be instantaneous, immediate, ‘how to lose 5kg in 5 days”, “become a manager in one month” “pass your driving licence is 2 weeks“… Whisky happens to be this big breathe of fresh air reminding me time is worthy and cannot be frauded.
I’m of course not saying older whisky is better (we’ve already had this boring discussion before…), a great whisky is more about finding the right balance between 3 factors: spirit, oak and time. And all are equally essential. I did taste some awful 25+ years old drams and splendid 7-year-old expressions… Time is unpredictable and each cask reacts differently with it. That’s also part of the magic behind whisky.
But more than the spirit in itself, appreciating whisky is always a privileged moment, kind of frozen in time… Which actually takes time. You can’t just pour yourself a glass and sip it straight away, bottoms up, like you’re partying in a dusty suburban nightclub surrounded by 16-year-old chaps who got in with tacky fake IDs (sounds like personal experience doesn’t it? #CounterfeitCuntofConnecticut).
Disclaimer: if you want to drink your whisky straight away, bottoms up, like a party animal, I don’t care 😀
Many drams, once poured, need to be left sit for a few moments before they really open up and enable you to get the most of your tasting experience. Passed this “putting aside” period (from a few seconds to several minutes depending on the spirit in your glass), you can then nose, with one nostril, the other, both, taste, several times, rolling the spirit in your mouth, appreciating the complexity of your dram, its texture and character.
Once again, slowness plays a huge part in whisky appreciation, it’s not like the day after tasting your first Glenfiddich 12 and deciding you like whisky you gonna be all like “Hmmm, yes, rounded and chewy with rosemary honey in the nose, a velvety texture with notes of cherry tomato sauce and caramel-glazed bacon slices”. Getting to know whisky requires time and hours of tastings, trust me 😉 I’m not even half the way!
Whisky is a way to press the “pause” button on our busy lives
and omg, that feels fucking awesome.