It is becoming a tradition to celebrate the longest night of the year with good friends and fine spirits. This year Whisky was the theme.
Whisky was given its name from the Gaelic beverage “uiscebeatha”, which translates to “water of life,” and moderate use of whisky is said to bring many benefits to the human metabolism.
We started with a lesson from Scotsman Richard Paterson on how to taste whisky. He demonstrates how to hold the glass and then how to nose the whiskey. The first greeting, "Hello" the second, "How are you", "Quite well" and then, "Thank you very much." Don't smell too aggressively, don't rush, and enjoy the aromas that emerge after each approach. Peppery? Citrusy? When it is time to taste, add the amount of still water to suit your palate, take a drink and then pause to "chew" the whiskey in your mouth for 15-20 seconds to experience the body and taste.
Everyone brought a whisky and a thoughtful pairing to share and enjoy. We savoured
- Highland Park, 12 year old scotch from the Orkney Islands, served with oysters / Kaarina
- Macallan, 12 year old scotch from the Highlands (Speyside), served with smoked trout and radish / Liz
- Bowmore, 12 year old scotch, one of the Islays, served with duck pate and salmon / Grace
- First Barrel, 2 year old straight whisky from a Toronto distillery (just released), served with a beautiful charcuterie assortment / Laura
- Makers Mark, Kentucky Bourbon, aged around 6 years, served with pulled pork / Diane
- Crown Royal, Apple Whisky, blended Canadian Whisky, served with apple cheddar / Nicolette
- Crown Royal, Northern Harvest Rye, blended Canadian Whisky, served with dark chocolate / Diane
Ate a lot of delicious food, and discovered some wonderful pairings. Some of the most memorable were oysters with the Highland Park, the peaty taste becoming an undercurrent to the brine of the oyster. The duck pate with Bowmore was also outstanding, the notes of honey in the scotch complementing the savoury duck pate. Chocolate and Crown Royal were a satisfying end to the meal.
Some of the facts staying with me are: peat in the Orkney's is 4,000 years old; Mordecai Richler was paid a fee for product placement of Macallan in his novel Barney's Version; Bowmore is the same amber colour of Grace's violin; 2 years in a barrel yields an impatient whisky but the taste is enhanced by cheeses and meats; Maker's Mark whisky goes against the typical American spelling and omits the 'e' because its founders are Scottish; whisky really can smell like Royal Gala Apples; Northern Harvest Rye is a masterful blend.I found scotchnoob.com to be a great source of information, but my favourite was the Richard Paterson You Tube channel. Both were fantastic because they made the subject entertaining, approachable and informative.
“There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others.” Raymond Chandler
“I’m on a whisky diet. I’ve lost three days already.” Tommy Cooper
Humphrey Bogart’s last words were, “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.”
“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass—an agreeable interlude.” James Joyce