Session #59: Not Beer, but its brother

This month's session is hosted by Mario at Brewed for thought. He's keen to know what we beer bloggers drink when not on the beer. The obvious one for me to write about would be cider, as hailing from somerset its in the blood, so to speak. But I've reviewed the Northern Ireland ciders; so will think of something else. I drink a lot of coffee but am not really a coffee buff; so my post would be as bland as some freeze-dried pap found in a discount store. Something I do enjoy drinking and linking in well with beer because its basically distilled beer without the hops is whisky.

As I said last month, whisky was my first taste of alcohol and I have a good collection of bottles (though nowhere near as large as some beer bloggers (Ghostdrinker, I'm looking at you!)). I've been to a fair few distilleries in my time too; though as I was under 18 for a lot of them I had to make do with getting high on the fumes whilst drinking lemonade.

Flavour map for some of the more widely available distilleries.
(They're owned by Diageo) You can get free entry here.
My favourite whisky is perhaps the Talisker 10, though as with beer, its a voyage of discovery with the potential for better whisky to be out there that I haven't come across yet. I'd love to visit Skye to tour the distillery and will perhaps combine it with a visit to Islay (eye-luh) and other West Coast spots as its an aresa of Scotland I've not yet been to. Speaking of Islay whiskys, I've only recently come to appreciate them, finding them far too phenolic previously, smokey is fine, Talisker has it in spades but I could just not get on with the peaty flavour. However like blue cheese, olives and more recently red peppers my palate has become trained to the flavour and I'm just beginning on my journey of discovery here.

Aside from visiting distilleries I'm partial to a dram or two at home; so thought I'd use the opportunity to review a couple here. Both are Scotch whiskys and not Irish Whiskeys (note spelling difference) as I find Irish ones to be a bit harsher and less enjoyable. I've never thought about whisky whilst tasting it, outside of thinking I like this, I don't like that; so its interesting for me too.

I like a small splash of tap water with my single malts, it helps to draw out the flavours I think. Proper whisky bars (like the Blue Blazer) have a tap on the counter for this purpose.

Talisker 10 y/o pours a burnished gold with plenty of smoke on the nose and just the slightest hint of TCP. Buried underneath are vanilla woody notes and a hint of pith. Fairly mellow in the mouth, with a rounded sweetness, the smoke and alcohol come in the finish.

Dalwhinnie 12 y/o is of the palest blonde with parma violets, almonds and vanilla nose. Very smooth flavours, with grass and a sweet yet fiery finish that lingers and burns the lips.

After drinking both of these before 6pm I'm now feeling warm and ready for bed, not sure how people manage to drink these all day!


  1. Ever watch Mad Men? All they do is drink some sort of spirit all day, often Whiskey and usually Irish, though I have seen Smirnoff which is funny in a show set in the Commie hating mid 60's.

    Love Dalwhinnie myself.

  2. @Reuben...no haven't seen it

    @Ghost Drinker...search your feelins, you know it to be true

  3. Talisker was also my introduction to peat smoke, and I'm coming around on Islay whisky too. In fact, I think I might be a bit of a peat smoke freak, as I recently popped open a bottle of Ardbeg 10 (on your little scale there, it's the highest one on the Smoky scale, though also quite light) and loved it. Cheers!

  4. @Mark may get there this Easter, planning a trip!