Having been unemployed and of no fixed abode for several months now, whisky has sadly been languishing somewhere near the bottom of my list of priorities. Hopefully I’ll be in a position to get back on the horse sometime in the next month, a development I plan to celebrate with the inaugural meeting of the London chapter of Whisky Apocalypse. In the meantime, I thought I’d record a few thoughts which have crossed my mind this evening for reasons which will soon become clear.
I’ve always been hesitant to improve my knowledge of wine on the basis that it would hamper my ability to happily quaff cheap plonk. My rapid descent (ascent?) into coffee and beer snobbery are clear precedents for this tendency in my character. When John started peer pressuring me into sipping his expensive malts, however, I was untroubled by this possibility for the following reasons: I didn’t really like whisky and hardly ever drank it. When I did drink it, I knocked it back straight having discovered that adding water did not improve the taste but merely increased the volume. Of course I’m referring here to commercial blends like Famous Grouse, Whyte and MacKay, Bell’s and so forth.
This evening, suffering from toothache, I “splashed out” on a half bottle of Grant’s Family Reserve – more for medicinal purposes than any real expectation of enjoyment – and I must say that it confirms all my early negative opinions of mass-produced blends. Dr Whisky gives it a good deal more credit than I would, and I defer to his more discerning palette on the complexity of flavours. To refer to his tasting notes, I’m getting the pepper and nail polish – but that’s about it. My habit of tasting neat and adding water incrementally has not revealed any of the hidden depths I’ve become to expect from malts since I began my whisky adventures, and feels instead like a process of… well, diluting a cheap blend.
Having said that, I’m feeling considerably better disposed towards it after several drams than when I first popped the seal of the screw-top cap, and I can’t help wondering how much my reaction is being coloured by sophomore snobbery. I am convinced that my tastes have matured sufficiently that even in a blind test I’d mark this poorly, especially if it were pitted against a Whisky Apocalypse meeting “winner” such as the Talisker 18 y.o. amoroso finish.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve no real complaints about this Grant’s stuff for the price, I’m just beginning to be aware that if the WhApoc programme continues to expose me to such gems as meeting 3’s 1974 North Port Brechin, the day may come when I find such supermarket blends tolerable at best.