My name’s Dave; I live in Vancouver BC, and I’ve been a whisky drinker for about 4 years. That makes me a relative newcomer and part of the new wave of whisky drinkers that have helped push their drink of choice to its current heights of popularity. As I write this in early 2012, we are a few years into a period which is probably the greatest boom in whisky’s long history; certainly when it comes to single malt Scotch and its international siblings, but also including bourbon, rye and all the other types of distilled, oak-matured alcohol which can be lumped together under the same banner.
So what’s so great about whisky? At your first encounter, I know from experience that a great single malt can taste unexpectedly harsh; it’s a strong drink when taken neat, anywhere from 40% ABV (the minimum strength to be called Scotch whisky) up to the heady heights of cask strength bottlings which can be anywhere up to 70% ABV (you might want a drop of water with those). For the novice, the alcohol can overwhelm everything else. But gain some experience and educate your palate a little and complex flavours will begin to jump out at you.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to try different whiskies back-to-back – it’s best to do this with some like-minded friends to spread the cost around! This will open your eyes as to the differences between your chosen drams, and for the first time you’ll be able to say “I like that one; and I don’t like that one as much”. You’ll learn which styles you like, or don’t like – the smoke of Islay whiskies, or the deep sherry influences of a great Speyside; the light, fresh, floral scent of a Highland whisky, or the strong vanilla of a good bourbon. You might like them all.
Once you’re a whisky drinker, god help you. You’re doomed. There are more standard bottlings, special editions, single-cask, and ultra-premium whiskies than ever before, and more are released every month. You have no hope of trying everything – one horrible and wonderful truth about whisky is that every cask of the precious liquid is unique, and there are MILLIONS of them. The best you can do is to join a club to try as many different varieties as possible, and spend a bit of money on the stuff you find you truly love. You’ll want to visit your favourite distilleries, and seek out rare, possibly even unique bottles from distilleries long gone.
This site is a result of my descent into such a hopeless state. I’ll chronicle the whiskies I’m lucky enough to try, the trips I’ll make and the people I meet along the way. I hope you enjoy reading about it, and that a bit of it will rub off on you. When it does, you’ll find yourself in good company!