by Gary Wadmore
Back to Your Roots
I would like to think that I am now an accomplished whisky drinker; my appetite for the “standard” dram has diminished and my hunger is solely focused on the rarer drams, indie bottlings and single casks. Giving some thought over the last few weeks about the new heights of my whisky snobbery, I came up with the idea to try drams that I remember from way back when I first started to get into whisky. While sipping on a 23 year old, single cask Mortlach and having a right whinge about how average it is, I started thinking about what made me fall in love with the spirit in the first place.
So I got digging in my collection and started pulling out bottles that I remember trying when I started out on this amazing journey. First up was a Glen Keith 10 year old (discontinued years ago, sadly). I cracked the cork poured the dram and without thinking, nosed it and complained to myself how average it smelt. Put it back down, took a deep breathe and considered it from a different angle... Only to be blown away. I had so much fun exploring the dram and by the end of the experience I remembered how much I actually loved that whisky.
It was the start of the journey and it really took me back and made me appreciate whisky all over again. I continued with this approach with Laphroaig 10, Talisker 10, Tullibardine and Glengoyne 10 year old. I really loved these whiskies and I still do, I just forgot about them.
Things have changed over the decades, the whisky in today's bottles are not the same as was in the bottles back then, but they are still great. Going forward, I'm making a conscious effort to get back to drinking as many standard releases, as I do the limited release whiskies. No one loves a whisky snob, especially me. And I encourage everyone who thinks the standard stuff is behind them on their journey, to do the same. But most of all I encourage people that are starting on their whisky journey and have a fair whisky budget, to buy these bottles. Don’t skip out on these entry level drams, it is something you will regret in the future. There is a reason why the distilleries release these whiskies. Generally you find the DNA of the distillery in these core bottlings, which most of the time is lost in the drams I have been drinking over the years. You can connect with the distillery by drinking their core range, its who they are, and you can't fully appreciate the limited releases they do, until you know the standard releases.
Note to self: Not everything needs to be a single cask, cask strength, limited release! Every whisky has it's time and place.
What whisky did you start your journey with? Do you revisit it regularly? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.