My fastidious, sommelier brother inlaw would always sequentually arrange the wines for an evening of entertainment and after dinner conversations so that each bottle opened would be of a better quality and finer of finish, perhaps progressively drier as well. He explained that this was absolutely essential that the present bottle lead to the next better one (usually more costly); after all if the best were tasted first that the rest might be a disappointment. There was some other criteria involved with this convaluted convention, like cherry notes ahead of plummy ones and so forth. I must say he loves to host and never disappoints.
Does it work that way with whisky, is there a rule?
Do personal preferences alone dictate if sweet should be ahead of dryer or a thicker chewier finish behind or ahead of a lighter shorter one, younger bolder, then older etc.? Please share your thoughts and preferences on witch way might be the best way to go. Thankyou.
Also, I love introducing non-malt drinking friends to some of the hidden gems that are out there.
I find that whisky, like books or anything else that can inspire passion, can always spring a surprise. If it didn't I don't think I'd enjoy it anywhere near as much.
Personally I'd go for a Highland Park with a starter - more heavy than some may say but I'm not a huge fan of the real light stuff, followed by a rich Brora or well aged Edradour for the main course. Finally, I love chocolate and I find that the spicy Talisker or peatier Islays go well with a really rich, thick chocolate dessert.
However, Talisker may come earlier. Especially with Haggis as the main.
Tastings are a different matter - but then you want to keep the order random so you don't prejudice the event.
In the case of no food being involved, I think it's very important to get the order right.
After all, if you started with a heavy peat monster and then followed it up with a light, breezer Lowlander, the second whisky simply wouldn't be able to hold its ground.
Similarly, starting with something very sweet like a sherry monster wouldn't be a good idea if the next whisky was very bitter or bland. Taste buds are generally happy to move from bitter to sweet, but going back the other way (i.e. moving from sweet to bitter) is generally a less enjoyable experience.
Quite right Admiral; thanks again. Food does put a different spin on the old taste buds and yes exactly what i was looking for as well a starting after dinner or even cleaning-up those almost empty bottles that have acumulated.
Sometimes i find it easier to go from a sweet 'Laddie or Bowmore to a creamy Speysider or peaty island malt because of the big initial sweet blast fades to dryness at the end making it easier to move on to something else.
I don't know why i feel better saving the better malt 'til later. Could it be that a guest with a little glow on might be more inclined to emote thier appreciation of a good dram thereby inflating the hosts ego? Ummmm i guess we can't always be cool.
More whisky pleeease!
I've got my whisky table and the rule from the missus is that when I can't fit any more bottles on the table I have to finish one before I'm allowed some more. Got 22 on the go at the moment and I have to confess I'm going to have to finish a few before
a) they lose a little of their bite
b) I buy lots more next month when I'm away
There are the bottles that friends have given me and I've opened with them (Glenlivet, Glenffidich, Macallan), the old favourites of mine that have to be around at all times (Laphroaig, HP, Talisker, Glenfarclas, Caol Isla, Glen Garioch, Jura, Brora, Bladnoch, Edradour etc)), and a few nice bottles for those special occasions (Laphroaig 30YO and 40YO, special edition Aberlour).
Of course, there's always a couple on the go from the SMWS - it all adds up.
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I find with dinner I tend to have the drier whiskies before and after dinner, the medium bodied whiskies with dinner and the sweet whiskies with or instead of dessert. The progression of dryness is not necessary with whisky.
The three categories of whisky strength are peatiness, sherry influence and alcohol. Putting a cask strength sherry monster like Aberlour A'bunadh between a Tomintoul and a Tamdhu is not right yet that's what I just experienced at a group tasting where the convenor really should have known better -- the Aberlour quite obviously should have gone last, whether or not it was a better food match for the middle course which I don't think worked anyways -- I think it would have been a better match as the 3rd whisky with the existing third course (1st smoked chicken, then smoked pork, then smoked beef meatballs with a sweet, spicy sauce -- vegetables, smoked fish and cheese throughout).
Similarly, you don't have a Bladnoch after an Ardbeg. You won't be able to taste the lowland in that order.
I find that ABV trumps peatiness and sherry influence so cask strengths should always be last. Peat trumps sherry for me but not for others. YMMV.
Ardaíonn ár ngrá muid féin níos airde de shior!
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