Discerning Drinking, Chapter Twenty-one.


Originally posted 3rd March 2013

Please sir, can I have some more?

There I was, celebrating a peaceful Friday night in (for once), looking for something snazzy to set off my tea, a Tesco All-Day Breakfast sandwich, Kettle Chips and two strawberry and cream cupcakes (see here) and I felt that seeing as it was ducking freezing outside, it had been a good news week at work and the next seven days are shaping up just as well (not wishing to tempt fate and all that), a glass of whisky would be just the ticket.

At Chez Carmines, there are always at least four bottles of whisk[e]y on the shelf.  A bourbon such as Maker’s Mark is an old favourite (remember how excited I got when that arrived!), as is a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.  There are at least two bottles of Scotch as well; a ‘wreckable’ one is essential as a cocktail ingredient; currently a cheap bottle of Hankey Bannister does the trick.  Finally, a premium bottle of single malt stands proud at the back of the bar, hardly ever used, except on those special occasions or when there is time to enjoy it, not just to drink it.

This bottle is currently A’bunadh, batch Twenty-Five, 2008, from the Aberlour Speyside distillery.  Daddio got me introduced to this quite a few years’ ago.  I had just returned from an internship at Gleneagles, where if you wanted an alcoholic drink after work, there were two choices; Scotch or Tennent’s lager.  Kind of like choosing between eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut or receiving a hand-job off Captain Hook, really.  I came home, purporting to me a whisky connoisseur and a bottle of A’bunadh was sitting in the kitchen; so I tried it and lurved it; it was so distinctive, rich and smooth – I tend to avoid overly-excessive tasting notes on any beverage due to individual perception; as a recent whisky-centric New Yorker article highlighted recently;

Serious malt drinkers have remarkable palates, but that doesn’t mean they’re not suggestible

Strong, too.  A’bunadh is cask-strength, produced without the interference of chill-filtering or adding water.  Batch Twenty-Five is a rather eye-watering 60.4% abv.  Such is its strength that not only does A’bunadh deserve to be enjoyed sparingly, it’s also advisable in the interests of minimising whisky-based disorientation and loss of faculties.  After Daddio bought me my own bottle for Christmas, the same year as Gleneagles, I have made it last all the way until well, Friday night.  I dripped the last drop into a tumbler and enjoyed it as I always do, with a little splash of water, drafting out these six hundred words to the tunes of Miss Winehouse.

As much as I love A’bunadh, from the taste to the tales (apparently the current blend comes from a 1898 bottle hidden in the walls of the old distillery, discovered by workmen who sent it to the master blender – but only after drinking  80% of the bottle themselves), the time may be right to try a new premium single malt, and I know what I am going to get.  Bruichladdich is an Islay Malt; it is also supposed to be very distinctive, but carries an unusual, modern, almost ‘bad boy’ image.  I might get a bottle of the 2001 / 7-Year-Old / Resurrection because the bottle is turquoise.  I know that none of this will take anything away from A’bunadh, a forever favourite bottle of mine that will be sorely missed.

Until I inevitably buy it along with Bruichladdich.  In hindsight, it may be better to have two bottles of premium at Chez Carmines, for those wonderful occasions where two bits of good news come along at once…

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