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How I Got Into Whisky


My first memories of whisky when growing up were of my dad making a hot Toddy (a Whisky Skin for some people) to fight off any and all illness. To be honest, he didn't need much of an excuse to self-medicate but hot Toddies were always made with the 'cheap stuff', blended whisky, the single malt was reserved for when he was feeling well and could enjoy it. My dad, originally from Scotland, inherited a few home truths about whisky from his grandfather such as; whisky from the Lowlands is rubbish because the water isn't as good as in the Highlands (but Glenfiddich is no good for some reason) etc. I have since learnt most of his whisky prejudices to be unsubstantiated but nevertheless it drove him to a preference for a highland dram. I cannot be certain but I think the first single malt I tried was a Glenmorangie, most likely the 10 year old or similar. It was definitely my dad's favourite for a long time and like a lot of whisky lovers, once he found something he liked, he stuck with it.

I cannot remember the moment I first tried whisky straight, but I remember my first few neat single malts were not the easiest to drink. It burned a lot and all I could taste was the high alcohol content. That is a common reaction and I didn't take to single malt whisky instantly. During my formative years, I tried just about anything alcoholic and usually mixed whisky with something fizzy. Wild Turkey and Dry was my drink of choice when out with my mates, but drinking single malt was rare. When the opportunity did arise, I had heard it enough from my dad to know that you only ever drank it straight and you never, never added anything to it, including ice or water...Hereditary whisky laws die hard.
it felt like receiving the kiss of life from a two pack a day hobo 
One whisky experience I do remember is my first taste of Laphroaig 10 Year Old. It would have been some time in either 1999 or 2000 and I think I even remember the bottle shop that I bought it from. I had no idea that peated whisky existed and I do not know why I bought the bottle that I did, but that first taste of Islay malt will stay with me forever. I remember the shock from the smokey aroma that filled my nostrils rather than the sting of alcohol but most of all I remember the smokey dance inside my mouth after I swallowed my first dram; it felt like receiving the kiss of life from a two pack a day hobo...Wow!

Now while that description may not make it sound like the most enjoyable 'first time' it did open my eyes to what makes whisky so special in the world of alcohol. I made a point to share that experience with as many of my friends as I could at least once, just to see if they had the same hobo kiss epiphany as I did. Some did, some gagged in disgust and rinsed out their mouth with beer afterwards. Peaty whisky is an acquired taste or perhaps even a polarising one where you either love it or hate it; I love it.

My life continued for another 15 years and so did my, 'I like whisky, but only peaty single malts' attitude. It was not until recently that I decided it was time for another period of alcoholic discovery and to dive deeper into the wondrous world of whisky. Which brings me to today and this blog. I have only licked the tip of the whisky iceberg when it comes to all the things that whisky has to offer, but I have begun and I am really looking forward to what I will learn and discover on the way.

So who would like to join me on a journey of whisky discovery?


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