When I was in high school, I hated mornings, I hated water, and I hated the cold. But I still went surfing. It was worth it to be with my friends. Sometimes you do things, not for the thing itself, but because of what comes with it.
The picture that I had of Scotland before I came was one of burly, outdoorsy type men who drank whiskey, ate haggis, and for some inexplicable reason, threw giant logs around for fun (thanks Mel Gibson).
The only stereotype I’ve found to be true is the ubiquity of whiskey. It’s everywhere: university gatherings, birthday parties, church events, and pretty much any other social gathering regardless of who’s going and what’s being talked about. Unfortunately, I have a terrible confession: I don’t like whiskey.
In the US, no one cares if you don’t like whiskey. Saying that you don’t like whiskey in Scotland is like saying you don’t like Coke pretty much anywhere else in the world.
Within the first few months that I spent in Scotland, I was invited to, and became a member of the “Water of Life Society,” where they do very affordable whiskey tastings about once a month. My first time there solidified for me why I don’t care for whiskey.
First, it doesn’t taste like Sprite. Our first sampling was supposed to be fruity. I did not prepare myself for what “fruity” meant when you’re talking about whiskey. I am apparently, what’s called a paper belly. I can’t drink hard liquor without grimacing. That was a dead give away. Nothing is more awkward that swallowing a bitter mouth full of very expensive whiskey and trying to transform a grimace of disgust into a smile of joy.
Second, whiskey is way too complicated. Here are some examples of how whiskey is described:
A remarkably rich aroma with ripe orchard fruit, baked apple and robust oak. Richly delivers luxurious dried fruit, candy peel and dates. Overlaid with elegant oak notes.
So we have ripe orchard fruit and luxurious dried fruit. I wonder how “refined” my pallet has to be in order to taste how dry fruit is after it’s been put into a whiskey. Also notice that we have a “tree flavor” throne into the mix here. Can’t imagine where else that flavor option would work. Excuse me sir, would you like some Birch flavored candy? No thanks. I’m normal so I’ll just have cherry.
Hand to my heart, there were two different whiskeys offered that night, one with dried pineapple, the other with dried pineapple cubes. I’m not totally sure, but if you can taste geometry, you might have a brain disorder and I suggest making an appointment with your doctor.
I am just too vulgar and brutish to get all of the intricate tastes of each whiskey. To console myself, and feel more in the loop, I should start my own distillery and write ridiculous descriptions just for the heck of it.
A playful orchestra of spices and nuts. Panic-inducing notes of leather and aluminum followed by the vague feeling of inadequacy. A rich and silky texture with hints of industrial-grade insecticide, nearly forgotten memories, and the sun.
It’s probably just me, and well wishes to those who really do get it. Hopefully you can put up with the “finer things in life” being wasted on me while I spend time with you.