‘Twas the Saturday before Christmas, and all around the city it was mayhem. Crowds of crowds and more rain than is decently permissible. For me however there was much to look forward too, for I was sitting in a private room in Glasgow’s Jury’s Inn with a wonderful view across the city and an evening of entertainment and fine whisky to come. It was the launch event for Times Like These, a Glasgow-based venture that aims to provide informal evenings allowing the opportunity to taste the best local and special malt whiskies in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. We were welcomed with a snifter of 10-year-old Glenmorangie Lasanta. An elegant and tasty dram that might have chosen for the seemingly seasonal reference in its name. There is that, but in fact Lasanta is Gaelic for warmth and passion.
Tables were set out with glasses and five phials containing the other malts we were to taste. Chocolate nibbles were also provided, and soon began to disappear.
The glasses themselves were of interest. A new American design called “The Neat Glass”. The shape is based on a quaich with a wide rim that enables you to appreciate the aroma. A challenger for the much favoured tulip design, though I can see both shapes getting along very well together.
Five whiskies were presented for our contemplation and enjoyment while Jack and Victor (no, not the duo from Still Game!) talked us through some of their more interesting points.
Glenmorangie extremely rare 18 year old
A very smooth dram with a light floral oak flavor. The sweetness will appeal to American bourbon drinkers…and I found it very pleasant too.
Glengoyne cask strength
Glasgow’s local-ish whisky and a brilliant choice. 58.2% of unfiltered goodness
I often buy this for home, though it can be hard to find (Hint: In Glasgow try the Good Spirits Co)
Tamdhu 10 year old
Speyside in a glass. If you favour Famous Grouse then you may know that Tamdhu was once one of the blends that made the final product.
If whisky had a Disneyland it would be in Islay. Forget smoke and mirrors, Islay is smoke and seaweed. There is no actual Smokehead distillery, rather it’s a blend of some of Islay’s finest smoky malts. Smoother and sweeter than Lagavulin it would be welcome on my table at any time.
Frasier of Scotland
This was a surprise, and a very pleasant one. A strawberry whisky liqueur. Grumpy old men with beards will no doubt harrumph, but it worked. Like any liqueur it was sweet and worked best with a mixer such as ginger ale, a wedge of lime and some ice. And in keeping with the seasonal spirit, Arifa from Frasier dispensed cups of hot apple juice which made a lovely warm punch when mixed with the strawberry liqueur.
And talking of grumpy old men with beards, there was no sign of them. So if you have been put off in the past by aficionados who enjoy boring you with their expertise, have no fears. That was certainly not the case here. It was also great to see that about half the group were women.
The night was eased along by Jamie Button who provided a gentle musical backwash to conversation. Overall an excellent evening and perfect example of how to enjoy whisky as part of a relaxed social occasion.
Times Like These have a number of upcoming gin and fizz tastings in Glasgow. For pricing and to find out more, visit their website: http://www.timeslikethesefestivals.co.uk.