I don’t profess to a particularly sophisticated palate, nor a sophisticated frame encompassing it, nor discerning tastes in food and wine. I eat from the finest table to the lowest trough, and I love it all - my heft will attest to it.
But with whisky I am fortunate to have been given education and a hell of a lot of experience in the many bottles friends have gifted. Perhaps my grizzled countenance and deep sunken eyes suggest that I am a hard drinker, and so it is usual that whisky is what people think of when shopping for gifts for me.
From the first, I have found my tastes ranging through many different styles, tending toward smokey and peaty tastes at the first, mellowing through the many sweeter and mellower Japanese bottles. Whiskies for early afternoon with smokes, light and fragrant and sweet, to the punchier tastes that fill the mouth and can compete with a big cuban cigar and the lingering effects of a Bistecca.
For my birthday this year, a good friend sent me this marvellous little bottle of Glenlivet 1982 - two years younger than myself, but far more sophisticated, and probably more valuable.
My first dram accompanied a Christmas pudding on what constitutes a cold evening here in Hong Kong - cold enough for cashmere socks, but definitely no raging fire - and the match was perfect. Tasted neat, as I usually start with any whisky, custard came forward, but not the heavy hit of Sherry I was expecting from something 30 years in a Sherry cask. A pleasant surprise, as the heavily Sherried whiskies I often find too bitey. It was also nicely mellow in it’s hit of alcohol, no cough or splutter to make me a fool.
Lemons and oranges, and the sweetness of icing sugar fill the mouth after the first taste subsides, with a slightly woody taste, warm and round and pleasant. A tiny hint of pepper on the last feel, slightly spicy and crisp.
With a dash of water, malt and brown sugar came forward, and the mouth feel softened, but lost none of it’s power. It’s sharp edge fell away slightly, but it was still just as rich. A little rumour of milk tea with sugar whispered it’s way at the back of my nose.
In all, a beautiful whisky. Sugar and spice and all things nice.
Berry Bros. & Rudd 1982 Glenlivet Cask 6669.