Today’s forecast was freezing rain, warming to rain. But for me, it was all sunshine and cozy thanks to my two new friends: Parker and Bowmore. I pitted a wheated bourbon against a peated Scotch. Sort of. I decided to taste them one at a time, so the smoke in the peat wouldn’t take over the tongue.
That may not have been a valid concern. At barrel strength, the Parker had flavor to spare, and the Scotch was actually quite soft. Opposites attract, I guess, and these both attracted me.
What I knew: Cask Strength (126.8 proof), aged 13 years, Wheated Whiskey
What I learned:
So this whiskey is basically if you take Bernheim, age it longer, and bottle it at barrel strength. And that is definitely as delicious as it sounds. I would have called Bernheim right away from the smell. On the nose, this whiskey is like the gooey insides of a perfectly toasted marshmallow. I fell in love with the mellow sunshine right away – just what I needed.
The high proof hits the tongue first and lingers a bit. It’s like breathing fire. And that’s how I created my new mind mascot – a whiskey-breathing dragon. But the burn doesn’t last, and a dab of water takes the edge off, so the sweet from the wheat can shine through. It didn't taste much like wood and not much spice. It’s a very happy syrup. If they made cough syrup out of this, I would get sick a lot more just for the cure. In fact, there are quite a few things I would like to taste like this – Cake. Meat. Soup. Pencils. Not my arm because then I would have to gnaw it off.
You know you chose a good whiskey when the bartender comes to take the glass and then sets it back saying she saw a few droplets left and didn’t want you to miss them. Thank you, kind bartender. I didn't want to miss them either.
Bowmore 12 Year
What I knew: Islay, peated, 80 proof
If the sunshine was the antithesis to my rainy day, the idea of this whisky imbodied it. It had that classic boot peat smell. I immediately wanted to curl up, lay my head on a sheep, and watch a fire.
But the taste ended up being way lighter than I expected. I actually had to make sure I hadn’t already added water. Granted, this was considerably less proof. And pretty balanced – it was a little sweet, soft, and earthy with a leathery edge. Not a peat bomb for sure. A little bit of a permanent marker taste in there - in a good way. It’s a very classic, kind Scotch. And so light that I actually switched from resting on the sheep in my mind to skipping with it across a meadow.
Nothing chases the rain away like some good whiskey. Or a whiskey-breathing dragon...