Today on the StageCraft Mailing List, Lighting Designer Jeff Salzberg reported that on this date in 1495, Friar John Cor recorded the first known batch of Scotch whiskey. Forever altering the course of theatre history.
Jeff has a great page on his site that updates daily with important (or not so important) factoids from the history of art, specifically the performing arts. You can visit that page here.
I think all of my undergraduate design professors told me I “would never be a designer until I learned to drink Scotch.” Lester Polakov was more liberal with his alcohol consumption, favoring martinis and Manhattans, if I recall correctly.
Like fine wine and cognac, Scotch is a drink to be sampled and savored.
Mr. John Dewar’s blend is my every day Scotch. On the rocks or with water. Sometimes with LOTS of water. Visiting Al Arabiya TV in Dubai, the Fairmont Hotel did not have Dewar’s and I found Cutty Sark a fine substitute. The Dewar’s 12 year old is especially nice, but not too diluted. The 12 is my friend Marijke‘s favorite, clearly she has great taste.The 18 is a magnificent treat.
Of course, blends are just blends, the real treasures in the world of Scotch are the many varied single malts. Every single malts has its own distinctive flavor.
Single Malt Scotch is distilled by a single distiller in a pot still, using malted barley as the only grain ingredient. Just as Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France, any Scotch whiskey must be distilled in Scotland and matured in oak casks in Scotland for at least three years (most for much longer).
Perhaps my favorite single malt is Loch Dhu. I discovered Loch Dhu at Robert De Niro’s restaurant The Tribeca Grill. Love at first sip. Loch Dhu is known as ‘the black whiskey” as it is amazingly dark. Two fingers with a splash in a glass all but prevents light from passing through, yet it has the viscosity of water. I haven’t been able to find Loch Dhu for years, but in researching this post, I found their site. So I will quote:
“Patiently rested in charred sweet oak casks to create a whisky as black as night, With a rich velvety taste. Savour the smooth. Intense flavour and discover hidden complexities in this unique black whisky. ”
This description does not do justice to the deep and smooth peaty flavor, slightly sweet with a hint of fruit.. I remember it well. Further reading I find that the elixir was only made for a few years. Very good years.
Another favorite is Laphroaig (prounounced La-froyg). Another very peaty drink. Likely a bit rough for someone who has not yet acquired the taste for fine Scotches. I’ve had the 10, 15 and 18 years olds, others wait to be savored.
Distilled on the Island of Islay, a place I clearly have to visit, Laphroaig is considered one of the most strongly flavored of all Scotches.
A Scotch drinker’s Scotch, Laphroaig is also known as “Liquid Smoke” and “The Peat Reek,” I think these descriptions tell the story. Try a dram.
Add just a dash of water.
There are many other fine Scotches, a handful in our bar right now, but scotch is, to me, a winter drink, so I will save those for cooler weather in North America.
All good things in moderation, of course.