I still remember my first tasting of scotch. It was at a college party. Being poor college students as it is, the only liquor that we can afford are the cheap ones. Amidst the several bottles of vodka and rum, there was a lone bottle of Johnnie Walker Red. As my eyes settle on the bottle of scotch, flashback of memories take over my mind as I recall the "alpha male" image of my grandfather sitting in his rocking chair, sipping on a glass. I was also curious about the taste, but the opportunity to taste one never really showed up. Until now.
I poured myself a small amount. Being the first-time, I started debating whether to add coke (I later found out that Johnnie Walker actually recommends adding mixers with the Red label, which tells you the quality of the scotch) and/or ice to it. Being curious on the real taste of the drink, I decided to add just a few cubes of ice, and took a sip...
Boom! The harshness of the alcohol smacks me like a speeding train, first stinging my nose, then lighting my entire mouth up. It was like nothing I had taste before. Not wanting to spit the scotch out in front of everybody, I struggled and forced myself to swallow it in one gulp. My face scrunched up uncontrollably as the alcohol passed through my throat.
My body recoiled as I recover from the shock of the drink. I wondered to myself how could anyone possibly enjoy drinking scotch? I reached the conclusion that scotch is an "old men's drink", and that only old men enjoy this stuff.
Years later, when I started working, I received a bottle of Glenlivet 12 years for my birthday from a colleague. Remembering my previous experience with scotch, I hesitated to give the Glenlivet a try. The bottle ended up sitting on my kitchen counter for about 5 months. One lonely wintery night, I was home alone with nothing to do. I spied the bottle as I walked past the kitchen. I started questioning my ability of perhaps better handling the alcohol drink now. Cautiously, I poured myself a tiny amount of scotch, and gingerly took a sip...
Ahhh, much better. The drink was still kinda harsh, but it was much better than my first experience. Swallowing it was still quite difficult. I continue to drink a small dram for the next few nights, and it got easier with each passing day. Slowly, the flavors and aroma opened up to me, and I started to appreciate the work and effort it took to create scotch.
To all people out there who were like me, who think they don't really like scotch at the first few tries, my advice for you is to stick at it. Scotch is, without any shadow of doubt, an acquired taste. It will get better as you get more familiar with it. If you are drinking from a cheap scotch, consider going higher up the quality ladder, you might find yourself liking it better.
Till the next post. In the meantime, bottoms up my friend.