Monday, April 05, 2004

Old Faithful

Friday night I had the opportunity to have dinner at the Bull and Bush with my boss. It was great! Had a couple of "Scottish Ales" to start off and their Shepherd's Pie, which is very tasty. The beers here are all great, and I have yet to find one that I have been dissapointed in. But I don't take my beer tasting as seriously as my scotch, so there is no blog for that. I do not enjoy most "export ready" beers (i.e. if a country is willing to let them cross the border, then it's probably not worth drinking anyway), and if I have a choice I will always pick the "microbrew." At the Bull and Bush they are all brewed in-house, which makes them all a safe bet. They do not do a second fermentation to make the bubbles, however, opting to carbonate with CO2 from a tank. The resulting bubbles are different, and take some getting used to, but I have found that this results in a less acid taste and I now appreciate that more. It lets the hops shine through!

Anyway, the star attraction for the evening was the scotch to end the meal. The waitress had brought out water for everyone before the meal was done, so I was able to prepare for the tasting a bit. I first ordered a Talisker, but they were out so I went with my old faithful Ardbeg 10yo. This was the first Islay malt that I had the opportunity to try (also at the Bull and Bush) and it probably was responsible for cementing my love of the peat reek. It never dissapoints, and I would love to be able to find a bottle of it, but it is not usually in stores. When I find one, I'll buy it for sure, even if the money isn't there! For now I'll have to settle for the few drams I get to enjoy at the pub. When it arrived I set out to enjoy the nose of this whisky. From afar, the caramel aroma is almost impossible to miss, and I don't see how I've never smelled it before the Bowmore. As the glass is brought closer to the nose, the caramel yields to the more pervasive smell of smoke. I have not been able to make out any other components of the nose yet, but perhaps as I get more experienced, I'll be able to pick out the more subtle aromas. Also, the glass that they served it in (a mini snifter) is not my favorite for nosing so that can make a big difference as well. This scotch is very pale in colour (yes, I know I am in the US and should be spelling color like that, but I think when describing a scottish drink the UK spelling is appropriate) and it is fairly viscous, very smooth in texture. The tasting is where this one really shines. It is a very smooth scotch considering its age, with no strong attack, and I find that at no point does the alcohol outdo the flavours. It's a mouthful of smoke at first, with a briny finish, but everything seems to work so well together. There are some lighter flavours as well, but I have yet to put a name to any of them. Needless to say, I enjoyed this drink thoroughly down to the last drop. I'm always sorry to see this one finished, and it is still my favorite! Good health!

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