I never make New Year resolutions. What’s the point of tying good intentions to a date, when you can declare them at any time of year? Before going on to break them, of course.
And I know this from long experience, because every year I resolve to drink more whisky.
Hang on. Shouldn’t that be less whisky? No, it should not. You see, my relationship with whisky has two prominent features. One: I love the stuff. Two: I almost never drink it.
The problem (if you can call it that) is that whisky doesn’t fit into my alcohol routine. I don’t normally take to brown spirits before dinner, and after dinner I rarely feel like drinking spirits. Somehow I have to break my hide-bound habits. Life is too short. Whisky is too good.
If I ever manage it, my likely first port of spirituous call will be Islay. No whisky region of Scotland inspires so much passion, or so much distinguished writing.
The proof is Andrew Jefford’s excellent book, Peat, Smoke and Whisky: A Portrait of Islay and its Whiskies — still available from Amazon, if you’re not boycotting them.
And what will be on my sipping agenda? Mostly younger bottlings — great age often places too heavy a hand of wood from the barrel on the grain — and bottles with a range of peat levels, for variety.
So that means Bruichladdich 10 Year Old — no peat and very well rounded. It means Caol Ila 12 Year Old — noticeable peat but harmonious within the whisky’s medium-weight balance. And it means, finally, Ardbeg 10 Year Old — unmistakably peat-heavy but with body and complexity to match.
Where to buy? Independent specialist merchants if possible – they can give advice if you require it. Or online at sites including www.whiskyshop.com, www.thewhiskyexchange.com, and www.thedrinkshop.com.
Prices vary from place to place, but with special offers you can find all these at around £30. Considering bog-standard vodka can cost £17, £30 looks like the bargain of the year.
A year, I hope, in which I will at last be able to keep my resolution.