The first time I tried whisky, I was in high school. That was over 20 years ago. It was a Wednesday, and my friend had a few buddies from school over to practice for the Battle of the Bands. There was no adult supervision, and one thing led to the other. The next thing I know, I’m chugging back a bottle of Seagrams 7. I didn’t know any better. I had no idea the effects it would have, and that just a few chugs would be enough to send me running to the bathroom puking my guts out and flushing the lens of my glasses down the drain. True story.
Needless to say, dinner time came and went and I still wasn’t home. My Mom called up asking where I was and my friend’s sister picked up the call and pretended to be my friend’s Mom. That went over like a lead balloon.
The next thing I know, my Mom’s at the door. She wasn’t too happy. I don’t remember much, but I remember her saying, “Just wait until your Father finds out.”
I got home and threw up some more. Dad got home and gave me the “I never thought I’d like to see the day” line.
I’m sure it goes without saying that I didn’t go to school the next day. No more whisky for me.
Fast-forward 10 years.
Being born in Scotland, there’s just something that tells me that I should be drinking whisky; despite my high school misadventure. Isn’t this stuff supposed to run in or veins? Someone from Scotland who doesn’t drink whisky is like someone from Scotland who doesn’t own a kilt. (And yes, I own a kilt.)
My aunt in Scotland works at a distillery. One year while I was visiting back home, she send me back with a bottle. It’s been so long, I don’t even remember the name.
My parents were over the house. It was probably Christmas or something, so my Dad and I cracked it open to try it.
I didn’t like it. Not one bit. Not to mention, I wasn’t much of a drinker back then. I enjoyed the occasional wine cooler, but that was it. I gave the bottle to my Dad and said he could have it. It was wasted on me.
Fast forward another 10 years.
While I’m still not a hard-core drinker, I do enjoy liqueur: Sambuca, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, etc. I like wine, but I love Port. I’ve also taken a liking to tequila. Not a huge fan of rum, but I can drink Long Island Iced Teas without a problem. I’ve never liked stuff like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam. Or beer for that matter. I just can’t stomach the stuff. It’s the smell. I can’t get past the smell.
When BBQ season hits, my wife likes knocking back Long Island Iced Teas. She used to buy the Captain Morgan stuff that’s premixed, but last summer we decided to stock up on the necessary spirits to make our own. I took a liking to drinking Jose Cuervo straight up.
If I can drink Tequila no problem, surely I should be able to drink whisky.
I decided it was time to have a go at becoming a whisky drinker, and acquire a taste for it.
Buying whisky is like buying wine. You walk into the liquor store and there’s shelves of the stuff. American, Irish, Scottish. Which one do you try? And I’m sure, like anything else, there’s top shelf, and there’s stuff you wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
I’ve heard everyone talk about Johnnie Walker Black and Johnnie Walker Blue. The liquor store by me had Johnnie Walker Black and Johnnie Walker Red. The Red was $25 bucks a bottle and was out on the shelf with everything else. The Johnnie Walker Black was a little over $50 bucks for a full bottle and kept behind the counter. So it must be the good stuff if they keep it behind the counter. Right?
Not wanting to spend $50 bucks on something that I can’t drink, I figured I’d test the waters with a smaller 200ml bottle. Still, at $16, it’s pretty expensive for such a small thing.
I spend the next few nights enjoying a small glass of Black. Not bad. Not bad at all. It’s pretty good. It does’t have that “peppery” taste that I like with Tequila, but I like the woodiness that it has. (I know the whisky snobs out there will go nuts at me comparing whisky to tequila, but take it easy. I’m a noob at this.)
It wasn’t long before I polished off that bottle. It’s definitely drinkable. I didn’t have to choke it down, all the while wondering how people drink this stuff. It was pretty good.
For the next weekend, I wanted to get another bottle. I had spoken to my Dad and told him that I took up whisky. He told me that mixing it with ginger ale was good.
I did a little research online and came to the conclusion that mixing Johnnie Walker Black with anything is somewhat of a no-no. It’s so good that pouring it into a glass of soda is considered a little crass by most.
Not to offend the whisky snobs, I picked up a cheaper (and larger) bottle of Johnnie Walker Red. Despite being Johnnie Walker’s “cheap stuff”, it’s still supposed to be better than most. I read one review that said if you’re used to drinking Black, switching to the Red feels like drinking glass. I don’t know about that, but being a noob, I figured I wouldn’t know the difference. A lot of the reading I did suggested that it’s highly underrated.
If anything, I figured after drinking an entire bottle of this stuff, I’ll have either acquired a taste for it, or come to the conclusion that I just don’t like whisky.
With a bottle of Red and a bottle of ginger ale in-hand, I got to it. Johnnie Walker’s site says the “golden ratio” is 25/75, so I poured 2 shots into a glass full of soda.
It was really good. Each one got better than the last.
It only took 2 weekends for me to polish off that bottle. OK, maybe I had one or two during the week. But in my own defense, the weather has been really nice and my wife and I have spent a few nights out on the deck with the BBQ in full-swing.
Needless to say, I needed another bottle. Instead of another 750ml bottle, I picked up the bigger 1L bottle.
I’m sure it’ll only be a few weeks before this bottle is empty too. I definitely like the stuff. I can drink 2 soda glasses like the one above before I’m feeling silly. So I usually stop after two.
As a nightcap, I sometimes just have a small glass of it straight-up while my wife enjoys a port or a coffee liqueur. You know, to wind down.
Man, this stuff goes fast! Two more weekends later and the bottle was already 3/4 done. While I still have some Red left, I decided to pick up another bottle of Black for a little “Pepsi challenge”. I’m sure after 2 bottles of Red, I should be able to tell them apart, and appreciate the difference.
Another weekend approached and I put another dent in the bottle. While I still had a little Red left, I had my wife pour a glass of Red and a glass of Black and put them side-by-side.
I took a swallow of each, but really couldn’t tell a huge difference between the two. I think the Black was a little “woodier” in flavor, but it didn’t have that stark smoothness that everyone talks about. I guess I need to just keep drinkin’.UPDATE:
If you want to follow along on my whisky adventures, I’ve set up a separate blog
just for that.