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davekilt.gif (61681 bytes) 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 y’all 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 Hill’s, 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 chef’s 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 prey?

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 vendor’s 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 life’s simple and traditional pleasures that should negatively impact nothing more than the wallet. If my objective, however, is to "experience" the cigar, I don’t 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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