A Scotch Tasting


Downstairs from our apartment, we have two friends who have their own apartments. These friends are Rob (who you’ve met before) and Ameer (who you’ve also met). Rob is a cardiologist, Ameer works in advertising. The two of them recently invited Craig and I and several other people to a Scotch tasting at Rob’s apartment because, well, they love Scotch.

When it comes to spirits, I can’t say I get very spirited. I come from a family of mild drinkers; my parents enjoy a glass of wine now and then, my dad drinks a gin & tonic on social occasions. But nobody really drinks drinks and the idea of a nightcap would’ve been unheard of in my childhood home.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to really enjoy wine (especially with food) and having cocktails with friends. My drink I inherited from my dad–also a gin and tonic–though I’ve experimented with other drinks (notably, the Scotch & soda in 2009).

My impetus to go to this Scotch tasting was mostly to see people, though I was curious to discover what I would learn. Luckily, we had very good hosts in Rob and Ameer. The evening was planned out quite meticulously; here’s Ameer, at the beginning, explaining how it’ll work (thank God for iPhone video cameras):

So the first thing to know is that Scotch is called Scotch because it comes from Scotland. Like real Champagne coming from the Champagne region of France, Scotch must come from Scotland. If it doesn’t, it’s not Scotch.

Scotch, though, is a kind of whiskey. To appreciate the difference between Scotch and American whiskey, the very first thing we drank was America’s very own Maker’s Mark.

Now Maker’s Mark is a Kentucky Bourbon and has various elements that contribute to its flavor. My favorite way to drink it is in December when you can add egg yolks and nutmeg and sugar and call it “eggnog.” Though admitting this to whiskey lovers is like telling a film buff that your favorite way to watch movies is on your iPhone.

If I remember correctly, the progress of the evening was from more blended whiskeys to more pure whiskeys. Me being me, though, I was very focused on the snacks on the table:


There were blueberries (which go well with whiskey apparently), rice crackers, honey roasted peanuts (I brought those!) and chocolate covered almonds. Mmmm.

Here’s a list of everything we sampled that night in the order that we sampled it. I’d like to pretend that I’m writing this from memory, but it actually comes from an e-mail from Ameer:

Maker’s Mark (which is a Kentucky Bourbon)

Powers Gold Label (Irish Whiskey)

Johnnie Walker Black Label (Blended Scotch Whisky)

The Glenlivet 18

Lagavulin 16

Laphroig 10

Jura 10

Says Ameer: “The last four are single malt whiskys. (Note that the scotch spell “whisky” without the e, but the Irish leave it in.)”

The last four, really, are what we should concentrate on. I remember that one of them is rich and peaty (peaty = smoky), one of them is light and peaty, one of them is rich and non-peaty and one of them is light and non-peaty. Which is which, hopefully you can remind me in the comments.

But look at this cool bottle:


That alone is a reason to drink Scotch!

I’m realizing now that this post is fizzling and that I’m making our hosts look bad by how little I remembered. But I do remember this: I liked the rich and peaty Scotch. So whichever that was, I liked it!

Thanks, then, to Ameer and Rob for a fun night and I promise if you ever host a Scotch tasting again, I’ll take better notes and not focus so much on the food.

But maybe my readers can chime in: what’s your favorite Scotch? Why do you like it? How long have you been drinking it? If I came over to have some, would you have any snacks?

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