Friday, June 06, 2008

Licking the bowl of an old pipe

"Och, that's horrible!" she exclaimed. "There's no whey I'm drinking that!"

If I recall correctly, my fellow attendee to the 21st LH Gray Conference in Edinburgh this week, was sampling the second Whisky on offer, 'Sophia Lauren in a mink coat.' This one was only 49.1% alcohol, but it was, indeed, completely undrinkable. As an inexperienced Whisky drinker, however, I should add that I was very much in the minority of the contingent gathered at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society on Queen Street. And, as a low sun sparkled through the window on a long, balmy Summer evening, our urbane host explained to a rapt audience the craft of Whisky production, and the art of Whisky drinking, with exemplary enthusiasm and clarity.

The third Whisky, 'Sticky toffee pudding and baked apples', was, at 62.6% alcohol, also a little strong. So I added a wee dash of water. After which it was still too strong. The fouth sample ('Tinned peaches and tobacco pipes'), however, was rather interesting, evoking a pleasant initial flavour, but leaving the residual taste of "licking the bowl of an old pipe."

Despite being clearly out of my depth here, it was a delightful evening, and I would like to thank our hosts, and recommend the experience to anyone who gets the opportunity!

Which is a good deal less than I would say about the experience of flying from Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Now, to be honest, I'm not sure that the Terminal itself can be blamed on this occasion, but after boarding our plane, we then sat for fully 2 hours in our cramped cigar tube while 'engineers' struggled to replace a damaged panel on the underside of the plane. Our BA Captain kept us informed of progress throughout the delay, even exhibiting at one stage physical specimens of the small screws which the engineers were struggling to insert, as we all sat reading Business Life magazine and other sub-journalistic deposits.

And the conference? Well, there were a fascinating array of topics, including an account by Nick Gent from the Health Protection Agency on the implications of the Litvinenko polonium poisoning incident; interesting developments and ideas in oncology and mammography; the emerging epidemiology from the Chernobyl accident; and a raging debate on whether low doses of radiation can actually be beneficial to human health (so-called hormesis). The quality of the presentations was excellent, if a little data-intensive. I shall perhaps expand upon some of the issues in days to come, but for the moment, the final word must go to our Whisky guide, and its interpretation of the third sample:

A thick, chewy texture; burnt toffee; sweet, but also tannic dry, with hints of Oloroso sherry; a long finish, and an aftertaste of fruit cake and blowing up 100 balloons.


Anonymous said...

i love the little booklets that come with fine whiskeys. It's not just well-written BS, they really sound like they were written by some quality boozers.

Gordon McCabe said...

All drinks, including Archers and Bacardi Breezer, should come with booklets.

Richard Madeley said...

In my experience, most booklets should equally come with a stiff drink...

Gordon McCabe said...

If Sunday supplement magazines can come with sachets of perfume, I see no reason why booklets cannot come with similarly packaged wines and spirits.