Time to uncork that bottle, get out your tiny glasses and enjoy possibly the greatest liquid on this good earth. Scotch. Oh scotchy scotchy scotch. How I love you. I sometimes say that if God did exist and he was victim to the same bodily functions as us humans and needed to relieve himself. Shake the dew of the lily. Drain the vein as it were. His pee would taste like scotch. Maybe I shouldn’t get so vulgar about scotch. This is a time for dignity. A time for slow and thoughtful ruminations. A time for exciting your senses. The month of all months. Indeed, it is a glorious time….
Let us pour a glass. I prefer mine neat. A little water is fine I guess. I would stay away from “on the rocks” though. We must not dilute the magic too much. I am getting ahead of myself. Lets begin at the start. The origin of Scotch-tober.
I believe it was the movie Inglorious Bastards that planted the seed. The scene in the bar just around the time when they realized they were all about to kill each other in an inevitable bloody shootout. They decided to wait on the bloodbath until they had finished their scotches. It was rare to get such a great scotch in occupied France and they didn’t want to die before enjoying every last drop.
In the theatre, I thought to myself, “if something is that good, I need to try it for myself”. Well I couldn’t stomach a drop of it. It was just too much for me. This didn’t stop me though. I thought, “my palate must be wrong”. I had to correct my sensibilities. I had the will, I just needed the way. A friend of mine, let’s call him Scotchy McSpeedbag, also had this yearning in is belly, and like me, he could not stomach scotch. So we decided to force the issue by drinking different scotches all October long and see if we can’t just end up loving the sweet brown nectar. Emerging from this chrysalis….
Scotch-tober was born.
The results were a success. I recommend everyone try it. Celebrate Scotch-tober with us. Drink scotch all month long. If you don’t like the taste, at least you got drunk trying (ehem….please drink responsibly). I’ll help you through this journey by starting you on the right path.
Firstly, and most importantly, I need to clarify one thing. I am talking single malt scotches. There are some okay blends (especially if you are willing to pay), but, there is no comparison to a single malt.
Second, you need the right glass. There are many kinds. I prefer a….
Glencairn or a….
No need to be picky though. Whatever you can grab at arms length is fine.
Third, you must drink. Now that you have the vessel, you need the scotch. But what kind? This may seem daunting, but don’t worry. The beauty of scotch is that it only comes from one country. It is easy to acquire some basic knowledge of different scotches that can help inform you as you drink your way through the Scottish countryside. Learning where scotches come from can be fun, but, here is a map that may suit you better. A flavour map….
Scotch is simple. You really just have to determine if you like peaty (or smoky) scotches or whether you prefer smoother varieties. Likely it will be both, but most tend to have a preference. There are other subtleties but those two distinctions are most important. For me, I prefer the peaty scotches. They have a kick to them and just make my mouth vibrate with delight. Peaty scotches also give you fire breath which is a bonus (my wife loves that). Peatless scotches can be great too. A nice clean scotch is exhilarating.
So how do you figure out the ones you like. Well first, I suggest you find a buddy who is already into scotches and visit him often. If he likes you a lot, he will gladly share. If not, he will give you the cheap stuff. Kiss up to this gatekeeper. The rewards will be sweet. Myself, I had a brother who just dropped a bucket of fine scotches at my house and we went nuts. Few are this lucky.
If you have no friends and need to buy your own scotch, here are my recommendations. Listed from cheap to expensive.
Very pleasant. It won’t blow your pants off but it’s a great starter scotch if you are into trying peats.
Let’s kick up the smoke a bit. Probably your best bang for buck scotch. It will make you sizzle with delight.
Classy and Clean, this scotch is fully refined. No smoky peat here. Smooth.
Maybe the ballsiest scotch there is. Described as “medicinal”, this scotch is a lot to handle. Well worth the effort if you can.
Often in the top five scotches, this smoky scotch is a giant. A must for any scotch drinker.
This is scotch royalty. Smooth, high class. Simply a no brainer.
Just Like the Elves of Rivendell, this scotch is immortal. It is a “smooth as silk” peaty wonder
I have loved all these scotches in my own way. I hope that you do too. My favourite of the bunch is Ardbeg. It is a precisely perfect potion of peat mixed with a sultry smooth softness that is hard to beat. A close second for me is Talisker. If you are looking for a peaty punch in the face that makes you say “thank you, may I have another”, this is your scotch.
Although, at this point you may not know what you are looking for. I suggest you try as many scotches as possible. Even if it is a struggle at first. Like Sisyphus, this rock may be tough to bare. However, unlike Sisyphus, there is a peak, and once you reach the pinnacle, that rock will roll away and you will be left standing on top of the mountain victorious.
Scotch is a sensory explosion for your palate. Like how looking at a beautiful painting is for your eyes; or hearing a glorious piece of music is for your ears; or making love is for your skin. These are the things that drive our feelings. That inspire us. It is the unexplained feeling that can’t be put into words. It is Art. Scotch is liquid Art. Oh. Nice phrase. Way better than God’s pee. I think I’ll go with that one.
And while I go with that, you should go with this….
O thou, my muse! guid auld Scotch drink!
Whether thro’ wimplin worms thou jink,
Or, richly brown, ream owre the brink,
In glorious faem,
Inspire me, till I lisp an’ wink,
To sing thy name! (Robert Blake, 1785)
Happy Scotch-tober Pal!!!