16 June 2009

Scotch Whisky

First of all WHISKY vs WHISKEY. If it is from Scotland, there is no "e" in the word. Other whiskeys can have an "e", but not Scotch.

They tell me Scotch is an acquired taste. In all my adult years, I have yet to develop that taste. Mike, however, prefers Scotch over any other drink. Most of the time he drinks The Glenlivet. When I went to Scotland a few years ago I brought him back a lovely bottle of The Macallan (another single malt Scotch) that was 21 years old. Twenty one years old means the whisky aged in fine oak barrels for 21 years. In Scotland. Since I brought him that bottle, he switches between the two now. The Macallan (like The Glenlivet) is from Speyside, one of the five malt districts in Scotland.

There are other good Scotches. Depending on which areas they are from, they will have a number of different undertones and flavour notes - just like fine wines. So I am told. Haven't been able to determine them myself. Adding a little water to the drink is supposed to make it easier to distinguish the different flavours that the burn typically masks. Don't, however, add ice to Scotch. By cooling the whisky, the aroma and flavours are dulled.

Anyway, single malt whisky can be drunk from an old fashioned glass or standard tumbler, but for the connoisseur a more specialised glass is preferred. Typically it is a tumbler that is tulip shaped. The glass has a larger bowl, gets narrower toward the mouth and often flairs out again toward the rim. The narrowing concentrates the aromas at the neck of the glass and allows the whisky to be swirled easily without spilling it. Most single malt tumblers that I have seen are traditionally shaped. We prefer more modern designs in glassware. Searching the internet, I found these two glasses.

The one on the left is Dartington lead crystal from the UK. It is a high quality crystal and many pieces can be found for sale in the US. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be one of them. (And I searched on google for several days.) To get two of them and have them shipped to the US was going to cost somewhere over $150. Hmmmm. I didn't really want to spend $75 on a glass I hadn't seen in person, held in my hand, and might have to ship back overseas if someone didn't like it.

The glass on the right is made by Schott Zwiesel of Germany. They have patented a new type of crystal made with titanium instead of lead. And this glass is available in the US with considerably lower shipping charges. Mike's birthday was in May and I gave him a set of these glasses. The titanium crystal has a wonderful clarity. To go with them he got a bottle of The Macallan (18 year old). And for something fun to go along with these, there was an Albert Einstein action figure.

I wonder if Albert drank whisky.
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RainbowDishes said...

Scotch is a definite acquired taste. I just don't think I will ever acquire that taste though! When I was a bartender for 6 years, my boss loved her scotch! I tried a sip of it every so often to see if my tastes had expanded to include Scotch, but I can safely say, without a shadow of a doubt, her Scotch is very safe...I will never want to drink it!

BTW, I love the glass on the left, but $150 for 2 glasses is CRAZY TALK!!! That would buy a lot of Lemongrass!!!

Martha said...

Husband Jim likes Scotch -- of course in Scotland it's whisky -- don't ask for Scotch for they'll stare at you weirdly!

There are other good brands out there -- husband Jim has quite a collection. All single malts.

But, alas, we have no special glasses to drink them from!

Becky said...

Craig, I liked the looks of that left glass, too, but not for that price. Mike really likes the Schott Zwiesel ones I got him. Did you ever add water to the whisky? I have tried that, too, but still don't care for it.

Martha, I noticed that about only asking for whisky in Scotland. :-) I don't think Mike has tried any that weren't from Speyside. Maybe I should get him some sampler bottles from the other regions.

Margie said...

My husband recently bought some good single malt Scotch but apparently neither of us has acquired the taste. So I've been using bits of it in butterscotch desserts with delicious results.