The Church of Kharma Futures

The Rev's views on politics, events,faith, and the world. All content copyright Church of Kharma Future 2007-2015 All rights Reserved

Bring me a whiskey, in a dirty glass!

Posted by revkharma on November 16, 2007

I’ve never actually been able to find that line in any real movie, but just about anyone familiar with the western genre is probably familiar with it. Hard riding, hard living,and whiskey drinking seem to go together.

It seems that there is a mystique, a  character associated with whiskey drinking that simply is not associated with any other liquor. Whiskey connotes a lifestyle that is embodies by no other drink. Lets look at some, and then dig into whiskey itself.

 

Now there’s nothing really wrong with other liquors, I’ve had many of them. Somewhere I once read that the perfect vodka has no color, no taste, and no odor. Ok, then what is there to enjoy? That’s why there are so many different flavored vodkas out there. Add something to make it taste like something.

Then there is Gin. Now I’m a big fan of the Martini. When done perfectly, a Martini is about as close to a perfect cocktail as has ever been devised. (I will NOT discuss vodka martinis. Simply not a real martini.) But it is still a cocktail, a mix.

Rum, another story, but still, too often rum is a base for a mix. And I can somehow not get the idea of British Navy sailors, with their ration of rum. Some quote runs in the back of my mind about rum, the lash… and something else I don’t even want to remember.

Now the brown liquors… Whiskeys.. Scotch, Irish, and American whiskey, better known as Bourbon.. There is a drink with some definite personality all by itself.

Whiskey is designed to be drunk straight, uncut, and tasted. Not mixed, not flavored, not adulterated at all. It is a vital fluid. In fact the name whiskey comes to us from the Gaelic term uisgebeatha roughly, water of life. Somehow around the same time Scotland and Ireland managed to formulate whiskey, but pride of ownership traditionally resides in Ireland.

Scotch Whisky (traditionally spelled without the ‘e’) is made from malt which is roasted over an open peat fire, thus the famous smoky taste. The most well known Scotches are usually blended whisky, in which numerous malts are mixed, in specified proportions to achieve a uniform and consistent product from year to year. The now ubiquitous single malt scotches are exactly that. A single sample, not mixed. The advantage is, when well made a single malt has a far more complex and enjoyable character than any blend can ever hope to display. The various malts differ in obvious ways, much dependent upon the geographical region in which they are distilled. From the light, clean Highland malts to the strong and distinctive Islay malts, the various malts can be astoundingly varied in taste. For this reason, I have always preferred the Single Malts. I like something with flavor, character, and subtle beauty. In some cases, not so subtle: try a glass of Lagavullan some day for a real taste experience!

Irish whiskey is a bit different. The malt is roasted in closed kilns, sparing the malt from the smoke and peat flavor that predominates the scotches. Thus the Irish whiskeys have a much lighter and sweeter character. For pure sipping pleasure, I generally will prefer an Irish over most of the scotches, but it is a difficult choice.

The best known American whiskey is Bourbon. Sour Mash whiskey. Made from corn rather than the malt of the Irish or Scotches. There is a legend of Pastor Elijah Craig and his unwillingness to get rid of used barrels. It was his burning the insides to remove an unwanted flavor that first introduced the carmel color to his whiskey, distinguishing it from moonshine of others at the time.

Now the Bourbons have also begun to branch out, specializing in what have become known as Single Barrel or Small Batch. Just as a single malt scotch has a distinct flavor, the single barrel bourbons are as distinct from each other as Fords and Chevy’s .

To get a good sense of the difference, sample a couple. Bookers and Woodford Reserve. Both are single barrel, small batch Bourbons. Woodford, in it’s classy flat rectangular bottle is delightful, complex and quite smooth. Bookers, presented in a simple bottle, is entirely different. It is generally around 125 proof or more. After much sampling and discussing, and sampling again, I think I have finally found a good way to describe the difference. Woodford compares to the feel and sound of riding a powerful BMW bike. Strong, but civilized. The quiet power is there, but not openly on display. Bookers, on the other hand is more like an old Harley with straight pipes. It is strong, fun, and entirely worth the ride, with a noticeable roar to it as it finishes.

All the above information comes to me through careful controlled exploration and experimentation. I encourage you to do the same, and as I know this is an entirely subjective realm, provide me with your own experience and observations.

As always,

Keep the Faith

The Rev

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