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My Handcrafted Opinions on Whiskies, Distilleries and Other Related Stuff
Friday, 17 February 2012 22:10

Just Like Real Estate, Sometimes Whisky is about Location, Location, Location

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I have been very fortunate in my life to travel and have had many food, drink and cultural experiences.  I have always believed in eating what the locals eat and drinking what the locals drink.  Local food and drink will have higher turnover, the ingredients will be fresher, the cook will be more familiar with the recipe and in my experience the locals or your hosts will appreciate you expressing an active interest in their culture.  I think it is the best way to maximize your travel experience (and is often much cheaper and healthier as well).

These travel experiences are usually very hard to recreate back home.  For example, no matter how closely you follow the recipe or seek out the right ingredients, it always seems to be impossible to recreate a French dish in your own kitchen.   The ambiance is different and therefore taste is different.    (Perhaps if I got a slightly aloof waiter to hang around the kitchen and pull faces at my mispronunciations that would create the right ambience?)   Similarly I have many times tried whisky in the distillery, sharing the experience with someone who cares deeply about the place and the product and then bought a bottle only to find at home it slightly misses the mark, and that it wasn't quite the whisky I was convinced it was when in their tasting room.  There is no doubt some of my favorite whisky (and other drink) experiences are tied directly to the location in which I first tasted them.  A few examples are drinking Penderyn from a hip flask in Cardiff with old friends outside the stadium before the start of a rugby test match.  There are numerous distillery examples, but certainly the tasting of Bowmore Darkest in their delightful tasting room overlooking the Loch at the end of great trip to Islay stands out as well.  I also fondly recall drinking Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia tequila with colleagues at a dinner in Villahermosa, Tabasco to celebrate winning a large contract.   In the right circumstances the most mundane drinks can be elevated to special and in the wrong circumstances the most spectacular sprits just don't work.   When you get the right drink in the right place... that is really special.

It is no coincidence I first started drinking Irish whisky after a trip to Ireland in 2006, and that fell in love in with Scotch whiskies while living in Scotland in 2009.  I also think I am enjoying bourbon a lot more now I live in Southern USA, often with a cube of ice to cool those peppery rye and spicy oak notes found in some many types of bourbon.  Drinking a peated Islay scotch in Texas sometimes just doesn't work.... especially between May and October.   This is one of the reasons it is so difficult to choose a "favorite" whisky.   When I hear people talk about great whiskies, many times it accompanied by a story around the first time they tried it or how they discovered the distillery.  This emotion all goes into the tasting experience and it is why two people can have entirely different opinions about the same whisky.    

So remember when you find a drink you don't like, the problem is not the liquid... the problem might be you are standing in the wrong place.

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