Back when I was a student (far, far, FAR too long ago for my liking), there was nothing better than piling into bottles of anything that cost no more than about £1.17. They were the days – you could pull £15 out, have a wild night and STILL have enough for cheesy chips on the way home.
Then something called graduation happened, and work, and growing up (the latter is probably questionable). Getting responsible, becoming responsible. The drinks I used to buy were no longer one pound seventeen pence, and for that matter were no longer satisfying my taste buds. I wasn’t choosing drinks that would make me tipsy too quickly or super-sweet tipples. I became more refined, as did my palate. And so the birth of my whisky experience began.
Well, when I say began, looking back it was a bit of a false start. Whisky and lemonade, no ice, top the lemonade right up to drown out the whisky. That was me. I even remember having to hold my breath as the stuff went down because although the taste was alright, the smell wasn’t. Whisky-induced hangovers weren’t much fun either, but we’ve all cried into pillows uttering those immortal words ‘I’ll never drink again’.
Little did I realise this was just the start. As I got older, my tastes changed. A little less lemonade, a different whisky, with coke, with a little less coke, whisky-based cocktails, with ice and lemon, with ice, and eventually neat. It pretty much took me my entire 20s (and meeting Laura) to figure it out, but now you could say I’m a fully-fledged single malt whisky drinker. I don’t need to drown it with mixer (but there’s always a place for that). I love a New Fashioned too, but there’s nothing better than taking my time over the latest bottle I’ve managed to find in a shop that sells nothing but craft ales and specialist whiskies.
There’s no real secret to it either. No, it is not drinking alone if your cats are with you. Yes, it is more fun if you’re watching Ex on the Beach with a drink in hand. Yes, a cat or two and a Laura is an exceptional bonus. Last month we were sent a bottle of single grain Haig Club Whisky to add to our collection. We loved this as a starter whisky, to really get used to the complex flavours. I won’t talk about bouquets and legs and all such other terminology that really belongs in a wedding magazine. But to get an idea of the flavour, it’s a floral, creamy, toffee whisky. We preferred it chilled with ice, as it really brings out citrus flavours that are perfect for summer.
Not used to drinking whisky neat? Here are my five pointers for success:
Take one bottle of Haig Club Whisky, or find something that’s light and not too peaty. Generally, the older the whisky, the less medicinal it tastes.
Put it in the fridge or, even better, the freezer. Make sure you have a bag of ice in the freezer too.
Leave it for a day or two. It will be worth it. Chilling it increases the viscosity of the whisky and brings out the delicacy of the flavours (yes I’m a whisky aficionado).
When you’re ready, take a single ice cube, add it to a lovely glass, and add whisky. Drink responsibly obviously, but in my experience, the second is better than the first, and the third is far superior to the second. Just FYI.
And yes, it is that simple.
Haig Club Single Scotch Whisky is available from most retailers, for about £39.99 RRP