Last night my intention was to conduct a horizontal Ardbeg tasting, very young to renaissance. That was a plan which differed greatly from reality, distracted by the allure of a selection of british cheeses and a somewhat underachieving white bordeaux I found myself in no position to tackle such a demanding task. My hope is that tonight will present another opportunity but I feel that while online I should answer the question of Christmas drinks. If there is indeed a question, there may not be. If there is anyone other than myself pondering this then thank you, I appreciate your support.
The way I see it, malt must be up there sitting aloft lauding it over other lesser beverages this time of year. "Ha cider, where are you now?" it asks. There are a few reasons why I feel that whisky can claim this time of year as its own. Firstly the cold, there is something warming, in a philosophical sense as well as the obvious, about a good home measured dram. When else in the year are we indoors, not working, not driving, not doing anything requiring a notion of responsibility to allow ourselves to open up a number of malts? Tradition also plays a large part in experience, whisky must be one of life's most subjective appeals and how we associate it will play a large factor in how we enjoy it, knowing you are drinking a piece of history or sharing something special with friends this will all add to the appreciation. Finally for me there is company. Rarely do I conduct any notable tastings alone, whisky is not to be rushed it is to celebrated over discussion with friends. It is true that some whisky is for a select inner circle of friends but it always worth having a bottle on hand to share should an acquaintance come knocking at your door.
On christmas day, I shall be finishing my meal with a glass of Pedro Ximenez then moving onto a dram or two. I have yet to decide what to take with me as I am unsure of the tastes of the company I will be in but at christmas amongst all the rarities and scarcities I always find myself drawn to Royal Lochnagar. I am sure that this is due largely to past experiences but it does remind me of Christmas, even out of season the packaging evokes a warm reminder of the festive period. You could argue that there is something christmassy in the make up of the whisky, the nose is fairly sweet and reminds me of dried fruits, the palate brings in a little more oak but continues with the spiced fruit cake theme and the finish is more of the same. I always forget about the slight smoke that emerges, it takes me by surprise every time though I have on occasion found it fades to taste a little dusty. So all in all a perfectly acceptable malt, not a world beater but this is part of the beauty of whisky. There is a time and a place for most, note I don't say all, whiskies and if there were definitive rights and wrongs where would the fun in that be?