Ahhh…the whisky experience. At some point we will all inevitably be asked why we drink scotch.
Each of us has our reasons for our adoration of the malt (or blend). Words may scratch the surface when explaining this, but will never plumb the depths of why we obssess as we do. We all have histories with the drink. We all have stories. We all have favorite vintages and ne’er-to-drink-agains. There are wishlists and sad reflections on drams long gone or never tasted.
There is a philosophy to whisky. Of course there is. There is ritual and meditation. There is reflection and enlightenment. There is a profound experience waiting in every dram.
The name whisky itself is derived from the Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’, or ‘water of life’. I like to think this term was coined to express the immense depth in subjective values I’m speaking of. Whisky is more than a drink…it is what you decide it will be.
So ask yourself…’what is my philosophy regarding the drink itself?’
When you pour does your choice depend on what the weather gods have dealt? Perhaps heavy sherry or massive walls of peat and smoke for dreary winter days or thick curtains of rain? Something floral and heather-honeyed for the brighter late summer eves? A stunning sweet and smoky malt from the Orkneys for autumn winds?
Do you sip alone to savor in solitude and introspection? …Or insist on the company of peers who can relate and share their thoughts on your proffered dram? Is the quality of uisge you offer a guest directly proportionate to the esteem in which you hold them? Maybe all guests deserve your best. Maybe none ever see it.
Does whisky accompany your book? Or for that matter does a book accompany your whisky? What do you drink with Kurt Vonnegut? And what again with Dostoevsky? Is it a deep and dark smoky Islay malt with your Chandler hard-boiled detective fiction?
How about music? Do you pour something redolent of smoke and mystery when escaping to the early records of Tom Waits? Maybe something complex and all-encompassing when sinking into the sounds of Miles’ ‘Kind Of Blue’? How about a dusty bourbon to crawl along with your delta blues?
And the ritual itself…? Well…there’s the favorite glass…a comfy corner of the couch…lamplight only…bottle alongside…y’know. Are you that gnarly old codger, resplendent in tweed and smoking jacket…pipe in hand…hound at your feet…armchair by the fire?
Do you assign value to your bottles, completely independent of retail convention? A subjective system of rank and file in which only you can determine in what order your bottles reach their hollow and empty finale? Some bottles gathering dust for occasion and ceremony to present itself…others everyday confidantes regardless of price.
As we each have our philosophies…our own ways of carpe diem’ing…or simply making it through the days…I like to think we all have our own questions and answers.
Having said all of that, and coming full circle to the first line of this jotting, when asked why we drink scotch…the answer should always be the same…
‘If you haven’t figured it out…I can’t tell you.’