Priceless whisky taste
Virtues of a drink relished by the rich
'THE water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable we had to add whisky. By diligent effort, I learnt to like it."
So said legendary British statesman Sir Winston Churchill, extolling the virtues of a drink relished by the rich and famous for generations.
If that be true, then we can only guess how often the big man would have visited the tap - if only to justify his indulgence.
This from a man who apparently, when once confronted by a woman who accused him of being drunk, reportedly fired back: "Yes, Madam, I am. But in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly." Ouch.
Fortunately Churchill's watery predicament is hardly the problem of the middle class across the world, who supp whisky with almost infinite gusto today - often on the rocks or with mineral water.
Their insatiable appetite for whisky is underscored by figures released by the Scotch Whisky Association (source: South African Whisky Handbook), which show that Scotland exported 569million bottles of the malt in the first half of 2011.
It might well be that three of those bottles found their way to my booze cabinet last year.
Nonetheless, the trio - Glen Grant's The Major's Reserve, the 10 Year Old and the 16 Year Old - could never claim that they got a cold reception from me.
My curiosity about them saw me spiriting off a double tot from each in the order of their age - first The Major's Reserve, then the 10 Year Old and lastly the 16 Year Old. Whisky, being a fairly new phenomenon to me, having started drinking it around the early 2000s, I have approached it with a measure of respect. This because of my first experience with it, way back in 1980, when a friend offered me a swig of one near poisonous plonk called Haddington House that he brought from Kimberley.
Thankfully the whiskies imbibed today are a million years ahead of the fossilised HH.
As any serious whisky drinker will tell, the art of enjoying the tipple is to familiarise oneself with the different regions that produce it. This, because each region imparts peculiar characteristics in the whisky they produce.
So, Glen Grant being a single-malt whisky from Speyside, I had been forewarned to look out for a whisky that is smooth, a bit sweet and with a dry finish.
That thanks to the masterclass conducted by Glen Grant's master blender, Dennis Malcolm, at the Kream Restaurant in Pretoria last year.
The idea of tasting the three whiskies in one fell swoop is priceless - all because of the opportunity to appreciate the differential nuances of taste, texture and aromas simultaneously.
The Major's Reserve has a lighter gold colour than many whiskies I have seen. It's soft and slightly with undertones of nuttiness while the rich gold 10 Year Old is intense and fruity. The 16 Year Old is the most mellow of the triumvirate, with a richness that comes from the length of maturation in the barrels.
If you don't like heavy, smokey version of the whisky, the Major's Reserve seems the best bet while the 10 Year Old offers both maturity and exuberance of youth.
As grand ol' timer, the 16 Year Old is imbued with superlative finesse that reminds one of old gezzar whose rough edges have been smoothed by time and replaced by wisdom.