Contrary to a belief widely held by scotch drinkers, scotch whisky did not come from heaven.
It came from a slightly colder, though more accessible, place — Scotland.
According to the U.K.-based Scotch Whisky Association, record of the manufacturing of this liquid treasure dates as far back as 1494. An entry on the Exchequer Rolls (taxes) of that year reads: ‘Eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae’ (water of life).
They definitely understood the importance of the drink at the very least.
Since the time of Christopher Columbus, scotch has spread around the world. It’s well-loved from Japan to the Latin America. As always, however, it’s important to remember how things are done in the motherland.
It’s important to understand how to drink scotch like a Scotsman, and why they drink it that way.
To understand that, Business Insider connected with a Scotswoman and student of scotch history, Ann Miller. She’s the international brand ambassador of Aberlour Scotch Whisky.
It was the kind of rough and tumble, grit-your-teeth scotch reporting you would expect from such an assignment. From all the way in the motherland, Miller demonstrated the proper to way to drink scotch (like a Scotsman) over a Google Hangout. It was fraught, sure, but also delicious.
“The main reason why we drink whiskey is this wonderful array of flavours in the glass,” said Miller. She also pointed out that it gets really, really cold in Scotland, and scotch helps you “drink a jacket” (she didn’t say that, we described it that way — just so we’re clear).
Now, when you walk into a bar in Scotland and you request a glass of scotch you should probably ask for a double. Why? Because according to Scottish law (and this dates back to the Middle Ages), a “dram” or one serving of liquor, is 0.25 centiliters — or 2.5 grams.
For most people that isn’t enough, and thus the popularity fo the “double dram” of scotch order.
Once you’ve got that taken care of, you may stop because you like your scotch neat.
Neat, however, is not the way of the Scotsman.
Neither, particularly, is adding ice. Miller says that with the addition of ice, “you’re losing all the subtle aromas and flavours of the scotch.” The ice freezes those flavours, as you might expect.
However, if ice is your thing there is usually an ice bucket on the bar in Scotland from which you can take “one lump or two” (yes, “lump” = ice if you have to ask).
Now that that’s out of the way, there’s this — the Scotsman drinks his scotch with water. “Never have water without whiskey, but never have whiskey without water,” said Miller.
When the water hits the amber liquid, at least with Aberlour A’bunadh (the bottle we tried) it starts to look hazy. That’s because A’bunadh is non chill-filtered, other flavours of Aberlour won’t get hazy because they are filtered (keep that in mind).
In your mouth, you’ll taste flavours of orange and cinnamon spice at first, and then afterward, and with the addition of more water, you’ll taste chocolate. (Remember: flavours vary from brand to brand).
Regardless, once you’ve added water, then you can really start to work on your jacket.
Now, this isn’t the way everywhere. In France, says Miller, scotch is mostly drunk neat as an aperitif, for example.
Who knows where they got that idea from.
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