Now, don’t get me wrong. I get single-malt Scotch. I know why people drink the stuff.
I get that the Scots (from which I’m at least partly descended) inherited from their Viking raiders and conquerors and eventual ethnic partners (from whom I’m also descended) a taste for taking perverse pride in aescetic self-abuse; the descendants of the Norse express this by eating lutefisk and living in Bemidji; those of the Scots, by professing a yen for haggis (or, really, any Scots cuisine) and, I suspect, drinking single-malt whisky.
And again, don’t get me wrong; I have enjoyed single-malt scotch in the past; a friend of mine broke out a bottle of 30-year-old Laphroaig at a party once, and I’ll confess I genuinely enjoyed it; smooth, nuanced, genuinely enjoyable. I’ll also confess I had had two Pims, a couple of Newcastles, and two vodka sours before we got to the scotch (yes, I was in George Jones mode, and no, I was not driving), and I could have probably found good points to drinking Drano by that point.
And I’ve tried – oh, lord, I’ve tried – to develop a taste for lesser marques of single-malt whilst more sober. Oban, Glenfiddych, Lagavulin, Dalwhinnie, Macallen, Talisker, Glenwhinggyggherfachgger, and only Robert the Bruce knows what else. I’ve read the critical reviews of the different brands, tried to wrap my head around the whole aesthetic of trying to find the differences between the nuances of the various brands (“was the shepherd who whizzed in the peat bog from which the water to brew it was drawn a diabetic, dehydrated or drunk, or all the above?” seems to be the big distinction), even learned to play the bagpipes. And so far, the best I can say is that it makes cigars taste smoother. (Not to take anything away from that, either…)l.
And while I’ll cop to not having time, money or interest in trying to ape the more foppish manifestations of bobo epicureanism, I do have a palate. I can give a very literate critique of beer, wine, even vodka. Don’t get me started on vodka. Better yet, come on over to Moscow on the Hill on Cathedral Hill, put down the credit card, and do get me started; Moskva Na Cholmye‘s vodka collection, aka “Around The Warsaw Pact”, is second to none; every bit the work of genius that Williams’ “Beers Of The World” has been for the past 20 years. I’m not a Coors-swilling yahoo (although after a weekend of yard work and paint-scraping, it has its place); I can tell good vices from bad vices.
But single malt, thus far, leaves me cold, Jimmy.