The rules of engagement
29.06.20 by Tim Foster – Sales Manager, Lindores Abbey Distillery
I used to work at a private Whisky club, located in the heart of Leith. Over the years they’ve grown from the purchase of a single ‘single cask’ Glenfarclas back in 1983 to being a global Independent Whisky bottler. I loved working behind that bar, the day to day conversations with like minded whisky enthusiasts is something I cherish to this day.
One particular evening a group approached the bar. Their nominated leader* discussed his order with me and as I poured the drams he explained that he wanted me to choose a whisky for the lady in their group. He went on to tell me that she didn’t like Whisky and that he had told her she just hadn’t found the right one yet. Needless to say, his friend didn’t look terribly impressed.
‘Trying’ to find a whisky for someone, is something that I really enjoy. You see, it’s totally subjective. We all like different smells, tastes and sensations. We may all love Whisky, but whereas I like peated whisky, you may favour fruity malts – common ground yet different too.
I explained that I might not be up to the task and that the lady’s friends bold claim, may or may not hold substance. He wasn’t impressed, but I didn’t really care. Right in that moment, what mattered was the engagement. To take a step back away from preconception and to take a journey through flavour. I asked whether she preferred sweet or savoury, light or bold. I asked what type of drink she normally drank, what type of wine she liked. Taking the time to time to try to understand likes and dislikes. We opened a few bottles, some fruity, some light and floral, even some heavyweight peat monsters. We took time to nose each in turn. Once she’d settled on the winning smell, we tasted it. Needless to say at cask strength it tingled a bit so we added water and nosed again – noticing the change in aroma, then another taste. In the end the lady chose an Arran – light fruity and floral.
Now here comes the interesting bit… she asked if she could have lemonade to pour into it. The room fell silent (it didn’t, I added that for drama). The leader of the group boldly hissed ‘no, you can’t do that!’, ‘you can’t ruin a single malt by pouring lemonade into it’. I couldn’t hold my tongue. ‘Why?’ I asked? Had he tried Arran with lemonade? It turned out he hadn’t. My point here was and still is, it is up to the individual to drink their dram however they please. If the lady normally drinks a mixed serve and has never drunk neat whisky, let alone cask strength, then it is understandable that she might want to pair it down. Common sense really. Note, she had nosed and tasted it neat and with a drop of water.
Don’t get me wrong. If someone ordered a rare whisky and poured coke/lemonade/Iron Bru in it without tasting it, I’d think it was a shame. But that’s up to them. It’s their drink.
I’m well aware that opinions differ on the subject of how you “should” enjoy whisky. And indeed there are some rituals that I practice (favourite Lindores Abbey Glencairn glass, wee drop of water when the mood takes me). But I’ll also have a highball, or even mix single cask whisky into cocktails. You name it I’ve done it and I’m happy I have. None of it has hindered or diluted my enjoyment in any such way, in fact it’s increased my love of Whisky.
Enjoy “your” whisky,
Cask Ownership at Lindores Abbey Distillery
The distillery is of course currently closed but you can still chat to Elliot, our Cask Custodian about our cask ownership scheme and what is involved. We still have a lot of exciting projects going on with different types of casks coming through – but they are all very limited so get in touch if you would like to explore different opportunities within the whisky world. You can contact Elliot on email@example.com or find out more at https://lindoresabbeydistillery.com/welcome-lindores-abbey-distillery/cask-ownership/