I often joke that I like an old man’s drink. I have an affinity for the taste of whiskey and in fact I grew up under the atmosphere of it with the Seagram’s factory in my backyard. I have memories of a sweet earthy scent that would sit heavily in the air almost suffocating to breathe in especially first thing in the morning on the way to school.
As with wine, the best way to really get to know whiskey is to try a few side by side. I learned that I really didn’t like the “corn” flavor that I tasted in some and reminded me of the unrefined scent of the mash of my childhood. I do, however, enjoy the citrus/pineapple taste of others and the charred wooden cask smokiness as well. I discovered that Japanese Whisky is a thing and, knowing how the Japanese treat food, art, paper, and just about anything of course they make Whisky exceptionally well. I also found out that I still love my beloved Knob Creek, but that there are several others I like as well and will soon add to my bar.
Unlike wine or beer, whiskey actually does well with a little water or ice. When you’re tasting whiskey do not sniff it with your nose in the glass, as you would with wine. That is sure to burn and do you no good. Whiskey is volatile. Waft the glass below your nose to grab the scent of whiskey, which is really important because the smell of this spirit is as much a part of it as the taste.
I think my appreciation of whiskey and enjoyment of the the taste of whiskey began having grown up around the scent of whiskey. From there, as an adult, I began to order drinks at some of my favourite bars and learned to appreciate the warmth, earthiness, and palatable sweetness of whiskey. It doesn’t get lost in a drink. It plays well with others. Some of my most recent cocktails with whiskey were enjoyed at Toro, Craigie on Main, Kirkland Tap & Trotter and Alden & Harlow.
Now that I’m starting to learn more about whiskey I am expanding beyond Knob Creek and trying to keep new ones on hand as I slowly but surely learn the art of the cocktail.
If you can find a whiskey tasting or class nearby I highly recommend giving it a try.