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.
Ah, the après ski hour.
Some people head for a refreshing, cold beer or warm hot chocolate after a day on the slopes. My drink of choice is – surprise! – whiskey. And since I’m in Colorado, I figured I would go local. Rocky Mountain water. Cowboy tradition. Seems fitting.
I only knew of two Colorado whiskies, and I like them both – Stranahan’s and Breckenridge bourbon. Little did I realize that whiskey-making has a larger presence in the Centennial State. At a liquor store outside of Denver, I found myself facing an entire wall of whiskey from local distilleries.
A Coloradan steered me away from the imposters – made in Kentucky or elsewhere, but slapped with a Colorado label – and pointed me toward three very interesting choices.
After a morning of skiing, I decided it was time to warm up with a tasting.
I normally want to take home the whisky after a tasting. But last night, I wanted to take home the speaker.
Jura Master Distiller and Global Ambassador Willie Tait had a charm that completely stole the spotlight from the whisky he was introducing. And it’s hard to distract me from whisky. He talked about Scotch the way Pablo Neruda describes avocados, so by the time we came to the drinking part of the tasting, I felt as if I should talk to my glass seductively a little before just drinking it down.
An establishment called The Rum House would not normally be my first choice for drinks. It’s the title. And the location – right off Times Square. I don’t have anything against rum, just like I don’t have anything against vanilla. But given the choice in a city that serves everything, a girl wants her whiskey like she wants her chocolate.
I was happy to discover that the title was a bit of unintended irony - The Rum House does whiskey.
I know Lagavulin wants to be tough. The first whiff is like leathery shoes – hello, Pete! He comes on strong, lingers. I know what he’s going for. But – and he would hate me for saying this – he melts quickly. Imagine your favorite hug. Now put that hug inside your throat. There, ahhh. Warm. Happy. Sorry, tough guy, but the act doesn’t last - you just become more friendly and loveable the more I know you. There are certainly other Scotches to be had, but once I have switched to Lag for an evening, I just don’t want anyone else.
Lagavulin is a single malt scotch from the Island of Islay. It has the smoky smell of my grandpa - who, ironically, often smelled like Scotch - because it is not afraid of fire. It spends a long time drying over the peat fire in its early stage when it just barley dreaming of being Scotch. Peat (also called Pete in this blog) is a real divider. Some love him. Others can’t stand him. If you can’t stand him, Lag is not for you. Don’t even bother. Leave more for the rest of us.