||The Candid Celt
The Abuse and Misuse of the Scotch
Single Malt Whisky
(According to the gospel of David
"The Scotch Doc" McCoy)
"Verily I say unto you, (and yall
damn-well best listen), the Scotch Single Malt Whisky
possesses such a complex variety and quantity of subtle
gastronomic constituents with which to stimulate, amaze,
engulf, baffle, and enthrall the partaker, that infusing
this delicacy with any ingredient, other than high quality,
room temperature water, is a sin of great magnitude. This
is especially so if the tasting objective is to experience
the single malt to the maximum extent. To consume this
Nectar of the Gods, while simultaneously ingesting
ANY other substance is nothing less than an unpardonable
act against NATURE and certainly the educated palate."
In layman's terms, it is my personal opinion that the
Scotch single malt should be consumed and enjoyed for
its general quality of flavor as well as for its extensive
complexities. A leading Parisian perfumer, by the name
of Christian St. Roche, once identified twenty-six aromas
in one Scotch single malt. I dare say that these numbers
would have been significantly less had Mr. St. Roche conducted
his study while dining on some flavorful cuisine. This
would have certainly been the case if his gastronomic
sensory perceptors had been paralyzed by nicotine from
a cigar. If the "general flavor" is all that
the consumer desires from this beverage then he will appreciate
it for only a very small part of its character. If, on
the other hand, the consumer desires to "experience"
instead of "drink" this most complex of all
the alcoholic spirits, without masking out many of the
subtlest complexities of this unique beverage, then he
will experience it with only a small amount of water.
The choice is an individual one.
You have, perhaps, noticed promotions, both from the industry
and certain writers, pertaining to the consumption of
the Scotch single malt with a meal and/or a cigar? I find
this somewhat disturbing since it is counter to most of
the reasons for which I, and the majority of those single
malt aficionados with which I associate, drink the Scotch
single malt. I believe some interest groups promote such
practices of consumption for reasons other than the genuine
appreciation of the Scotch Single Malt Whisky. The motives
for some promotions may have a base in economics more
than anything else. I have heard the cash register inspired
quips from some industry retail personnel to "Drink
it anyway you like, just drink it." They may have
made such selfish and crude statements in jest, but many
"truths" are clothed in jest.
I, along with my fellow International Order of Scotch
Single Malt Whisky Connoisseurs club members, for instance,
have tasted a"Cigar Malt" by a major Scotch
single malt distillery. Though I enjoy the regular bottlings
from this distillery, and have referred to and recommended
it as an "excellent value" I regret, in my opinion,
this improper "promotion" of this malt. I believe
it to be further evidence of the "gimmickry"
that is becoming more prevalent in the Scotch single malt
arena. I further believe that such a bottling label is
designed to cater to the naive and "faddish element"
in our Scotch single malt interest group. My prediction
is that such malts will fade from the marketplace once
the "novelty" of the bottling subsides. I will
retain a bottle (sealed, for sure) only for my collection,
but the "normal" bottlings of this fine malt
are what you will find on my personal bar shelves for
my personal enjoyment. I am aware of the approval and
high ratings by at least one of the writers/experts concerning
the "Cigar Malt." Accepting his right of opinion
and free speech, I am now offering mine, along with those
of my club members.
One rather "creative speculation" of our club
members, concerning the "character" of this
"cigar malt," was that, perhaps, during the
vatting of this "Cigar Malt" some of the workers
accidentally dropped their soggy cigars into the vat and
failed to inform the management. Upon the discovery of
this accident, it was decided, instead of dumping the
vat, to proceed with the bottling and give it a special
"title." Thus the "Cigar Malt" Scotch
single malt was thrust upon the world.
Another plausible speculation was that realizing that
the distillery that produced this Cigar Malt was closed
and used as a mine assembly facility during the First
World War, perhaps, some old mine explosive chemistry
managed to seep into the vatting. One thing for sure,
with the bottle that we tasted, (once -- with no requests
for second pours), it appeared to us that there seemed
to be "more" than the traditional ingredients
of "pure Scotland water, malted barley and yeast"
in this bottle. Oh well, maybe we all just had a "bad
night." Now, this is PURE speculation, you understand.
Anyone who may tend to become offended with some of my
descriptions has obviously never read some of "The
King of Scotch Single Malt Adjectives," Pip Hills,
tasting notes on some of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society
bottlings. I left out "Piperisms" such as "a
wet horse blanket;" "earth and bung-cloth;"
"freshly shampooed hair;" "hairy-chested
... with dusty, tarry, even fishy notes." I thought
I was rather fair. I would like to hear from some of you
concerning your opinion of the "Cigar Malt."
Now, I will relate the most ridiculous example of abuse
of the Scotch single malt that I have personally witnessed.
If you can believe it, I conducted a seminar and tasting
awhile back that was followed by a very elegant dinner,
complete with the chefs detailed introduction of
each course. This was then followed by a "cigar salesman"
who passed out a cigar for the dining guests to smoke
BETWEEN EACH dinner COURSE. Five or six cigars were given
to each dinning guest in this manner, complete with "tasting
notes." Even more silly, were the guests that, in
their innocence and blind obedience, did what they were
told and lit and smoked the cigars between the
dinner courses. The cigar salesman, however, did accomplish
his objectives of advertising his wares. I was amazed
that the chef permitted this abuse of his art and craft.
I know some chefs who would have tossed this "cigar
peddler" out. It was an insult, in my opinion, to
the chef and his wonderful meal. Since the dinner followed
my tasting/seminar of six Scotch single malts, perhaps
the guests had been "overcome" and were easy
Now, let me say that I enjoy a good cigar occasionally,
and I know HOW, and equally important, WHEN to enjoy them.
I am especially pleased with some of the vendors
practical and professional methods of teaching the art
of enjoying the cigar. If enjoyed in moderation, as is
the case with the Scotch Single Malt Whisky, it is truly
one of lifes simple and traditional pleasures that
should negatively impact nothing more than the wallet.
If my objective, however, is to "experience"
the cigar, I dont want anything to interfere, even
the beloved Scotch single malt. There are those rare times
(usually when someone else is paying for them) when I
enjoy a good Islay, or other robust malt, WITH a cigar.
Let me emphasize that in this situation, fully appreciating
the nuances of EITHER the cigar or the Scotch single malt
is NOT my objective. Thank you for your indulgence of
my personal opinions.
Now, excuse me, please, and hold my cigar, while I go
get that thirty-year-old, three-hundred-dollar bottle
of Scotch single malt to "wash down" this barbecue,
onion and jalapeno pepper sandwich. Enough said.
The Scotch Doc
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