Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Monday, December 22, 2008

QOTD II: Scotch or nothing

I want a single malt with a name I can’t pronounce and a creamy, austere label that tells a complicated story about ancient sherry casks and peat and heather and weird little islands full of taciturn Presbyterians.

- A.O. Scott, NYTimes
A great article by the Time's Movie Reviewer on why he's a fan of Scotch... aka God's beverage of choice.
St. Izzy O'Cayce - this one's for you!

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St. Izzy said...

I'm not as much into the packaging as AOW is -- I can live without the stories and the orthographically confusing names. But the beauty of a decent single malt...

And my favorite is, as you know, notoriously easy to pronounce. I will not name it here lest more people discover it and it becomes even more hard-to-find and more expensive.

And I disagree with him about the age. With some malts the difference is far more pronounces than with others. A 10 year old Laphroaig is aatringent and a touch salty with an almost oily mouth feel; it is fit only for heavy watering. But a Laphroaig 15 is a heavenly beverage, like liquid smoke, and better even than Lagavulin; have it with just a drop of water. A Macallan 12 is OK, but unlike AOW, I'm not "very happy" with it. It is just good enough to remind me of what I am not having.

And more and more often as I age I find myself turning down things that are just not good enough. Long ago I gave up those horrid little football-shaped Easter chocolates. I will let them sit for weeks before I toss them to ravenous, teens with no real taste buds, even if I don't have any decent chocolate in the meanwhile. Give me a good chocolate or give me nothing.

The same is true of other pleasures. Give me a decent, home-made crust and freshly made filling. I recently threw out a substantial chunk of a Mrs. Smith's simply because it was not up to snuff.

So it will come as no surprise that, given the choice between most bottom- and middle-shelf scotches and nothing, I'll take nothing.

Is it too early to hit the sideboard I wonder? Probably so.

Mattheus Mei said...

As to the latter question... I hope not, between AOW and your little bit, I'm ready for a slow pour! I might have a post lunch nip when I get home I feel so inspired.

Anonymous said...

My favorite scotch was named in the article, but I won't repeat it here, so as to subversively continue the exclusivity-measuring contest, which, whether acknowledged or not, is at the heart of any bloggable pursuit of the palate.

And I would agree with the chocolate comparison-- I have no use for the brown sugary wax that is standard American milk chocolte-- except that there are other ways, besides the unadulterated bar, to enjoy the flavor of chocolate.

Hot cocoa, although much better when made from scratch with the pure dark stuff, can be quite nice on a cold night, even if it comes from a papery packet with a Nordic maiden on the front. The powder with the freeze dried marshmallows is not trying to be the be-all end-all of chocolate. It's just a sweet hint inside a warm glass of milk.

Likewise, a blended scotch and soda, packed on ice with a twist of lemon can be refreshing on a warm evening, as can a sweet Rusty Nail after dinner on a cold evening. It's a different thing altogether than trying to drink in the character and complexity of one unique distillation in a glass, neat. But it's not to say you can't enjoy both.

Can't the same palate can enjoy the intricacies of a single origin, freshly roasted French press brew, and a grande iced mocha with a wad of whipped cream and cinnamon on top? They both start with the essence of a coffee bean.

Or, to belabor the point, can't one enjoy a grass fed, aged prosciutto di Parma and the oily mouthfeel of a fried bologna sammich like yo momma used to make in an iron skillet, with the sweet brown burnt spots and the edges curled up like a bowl? They both start with pork. Or pork and beef and whatever else is left on the chopping block, but I digress.

The point being, one can enjoy a flavor idea in its purest form, as well as a reference to it in something else.

Now it's never too early to hit the sideboard. After all, it's the holidaze.