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Tony Grist

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Whisky [Mar. 1st, 2008|10:25 am]
Tony Grist
They sent me a questionnaire about spirits. Page after page of pictures of bottles. It was relatively easy to complete; you just clicked on the bottles you favoured.

I drink whisky. Sometimes. Not very much.

Why do we drink the stuff we drink? It's got a lot to do with image, hasn't it? When I was a kiddo I settled on whisky because it seemed like a serious drink- the sort of drink a learned professor would choose-  and I wanted to be thought serious.

My friend Stephen- who is a learned professor- drank a lot of Pernod.  He's a francophile. Pernod also connects you to that whole poete maudit thing. Sort of. 

I say "sort of" because Pernod is a sissified version of absinthe. It's had the stuff that makes you mad taken out. And that's rather the point of la sorciere glaque, isn't it- that it's bloody dangeous? Why else would a decadent bohemian drink something that tastes like licorice allsorts?

It's next door to an alcopop.

And spirits aren't supposed to slip down easy. They're a test. 

Your first sip is a rite of passage. After that you have to persevere.

When I was young I mixed my whisky with ginger ale to take the taste away.  Now I drink it neat. That's also about image. People think I'm well hard. 

Once, at a party in Scotland, I got through the best part of a bottle and was still standing at the end of it.  Respect!  Actually, I'm afraid I cheated. A lot of it went down the sink or into plant pots.

Do I like the taste? Er-um. I'm still not really sure. A little goes a long way.

But I like the images it puts in my head-  heather and peat-bogs and bracing winds and brochs. 

I'm afraid all that stuff about blends and single malts leaves me cold.

Can I tell the difference between a good whisky and a cheap whisky?


Same thing with brands. If it comes in a tall bottle and it's honey-coloured, it'll do. 

The survey asked about brands. Which ones are fashionable? Which ones are a bit naff?

How would I know?

My daughter drinks Jack Daniels so that has to be fashionable- right?

My dad used to drink Famous Grouse and my dad could afford the best, so I've always assumed it was a classy brand. 

But yesterday I saw it for sale in Netto and now I'm confused. 

[User Picture]From: mokie
2008-03-05 12:17 pm (UTC)
Absinthe never really made anybody go mad, excepting the wine industry that launched the crusade to put them out of business for stealing their profits. All modern chemistry and sleuthing have determined that thujone levels were pretty low, just enough (maybe) to make for "a lucid drunk."

Add a quasi-mystical ritual (based on its original use: water purification for French soldiers abroad) and I think you've got the appeal for the bohemians. Well, that and the fact that it was both low class and not wine--a snobbish anti-snob rebellion in a glass!

All of this says entirely too much about my drinking habits.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-03-05 03:22 pm (UTC)
I didn't know any of that. Fascinating.

I don't think I've ever had real absinthe. It's hard to come by over here.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2008-03-07 06:42 am (UTC)
It's one of my minor obsessions!

La Fée Verte has great information, including a user rated list of brands and vendors. When last I poked around, the top non-vintage but true-to-vintage absinthe out there was reckoned to be Jade PF 1901. One day, I'll buy a bottle, and some vintage Pernod Fils, but in the meantime, I went for the slightly less true to vintage but considerably cheaper and still highly rated Doubs. Not extremely licorice-ish, very herbal, available in a surprising number of places, and quite pleasant!
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