With the election of Trump, the discovery of asbestos-tainted insulation in our attic, and the loss of our beloved dog, 2017 is shaping up to be a bad year.
Luckily, Mighty Zac and I recently developed a taste for whiskey. Pushing our mid-forties, we’re late to the whiskey game, but our taste buds have matured just in time for a mid-life crisis bender.
Three couples would each bring two different types of whiskey from a variety of countries. We were to travel the world one whiskey glass at a time. For the mathematically challenged, that’s six measures of whiskey.
We congregated in New Hampshire at the home of friends. In other words, New Hampshire is the only place we actually visited.
There were, of course, me and Zac. We were joined by Sean, who started off the year by falling off a ladder, breaking ribs, an arm, and a finger. Sean’s wife Laura isn’t faring so well either. She couldn’t come due to a case of pneumonia. Brooke and Jake, the homeowners, made five. Brooke did not participate in the whiskey tasting with the excuse that she does not like whiskey. Also, she was recovering from her birthday celebration of the previous night.
Those of us well enough to drink faced the following lineup.
- Johnnie Walker Gold Label (Scotland)
- Readbreast (Ireland)
- Wiggly Bridge (Maine, USA)
- Pike Creek (Canada)
- Whistle Pig (Vermont, USA)
- Glenmorangie (Scotland)
Sean was kind enough to also bring a bottle of Laphroaig (Scotland) that Zac had given him as a birthday/get-well present several weeks prior.
All told, we had seven whiskeys to taste. Seven.
Knowing we had a long road ahead of us, we set off around 2 pm, well-fed and well-hydrated. We began in Scotland with the Johnnie Walker. Sean pointed out a tequila-like note. Zac sensed a tiny whiff of peat. We all agreed that the light, not-overpowering nip made it suitable for the novice whiskey drinker. Jake, noticing I was writing down quotes for this story, helpfully summed it up as “just a little nip on the tongue.”
We moved on to Ireland and the Redbreast. We found it floral, light, and smooth. “Not even the smallest trace of rye burn”, said Zac. Not to be outdone in the quote department, Jake launched into an eloquent speech about Redbreast’s qualities. Strangely, my transcription of his quote simply reads, “Blah, blah, blah. See bottle”.
“Are we ready for bourbon?”, Zac asked some time later.
Ready indeed, we circled back to good ole’ New England with Maine-made Wiggly Bridge. Sean felt it was “a lot less smooth and buttery than most bourbon, but good.” I noted that I didn’t taste much of the typical bourbon sweetness.
“It is”, Jake replied, “sort of like a fire resting on a bed of sweetness”. My eyes may have rolled just a bit.
We headed north to Canada with Pike Creek. “It’s a good session whiskey,” Zac said, pointing out the smooth toasted caramel flavor. The port-barrel aging gave it a nice bit of sweetness with very little burn. I could reuse Jake’s “bed of sweetness” quote here, but that might be overdoing the cliche.
We turned south, back to New England, stopping in Vermont with Whistle Pig. The most expensive and most-highly rated whiskey of the night, Whistle Pig marked a turning point, or a decline, in the night, as evidenced by the following.
- My handwriting became sporadically illegible.
- Zac pointed to the drop he spilled and said “That’s, like, 12 cents right there.”
- I directed everyone to “enjoy the high, not the nose.” Whatever that means
- This happened.
At around 7 pm, five hours into our trip, we ended the night in Scotland with Glenmorangie. I can’t accurately report on what everyone thought of it, so I’ll just tell you what was said, according to my notes.
“Goodly! Wonderful!”, exclaimed Sean.
“Oh, I just love this scotch,” said Zac.
“[unintelligible]”, remarked Jake.
“[illegible]”, I said.
“Who’s shooting?”, asked Sean.
“It’s New Hampshire. Who knows.”, shrugged Jake.
We extended our Scotland stay with Laphroaig. Here’s a helpful video of Zac demonstrating how to pronounce Laphroaig. This scotch is not for everyone. In fact, most people love it or hate it. I do not love it. Based on the amount gone from the bottle since Zac gave it to him, Sean does not hate it.
I’m not sure how Jake felt about Laphroaig because he said, and I quote, “Smells like bandaids, but tastes like a circus.”
Several hours passed during which we had dinner and dessert. The guys had a beer or two while I had water. At some point, we made the questionable decision to have manhattens. High quality whiskey and homemade Maraschino cheeries combined into a great nightcap and a not-so-great hangover.