Happy New Year to all!
Might as well get right into it. It’s resolution time.
It’s been an awful long time since I’ve provided a post for the site. I enjoy writing, enjoy whisky…and yet for most (all?) of 2011 I managed to avoid generating any content. I would like to turn it around in 2012.
One of the reasons that I’ve struggled for consistency is that it is difficult to come up with topics for the site.
Curt is a prolific reviewer, has lined up some great interviews, run a handful of great tastings, and is always up on the latest and greatest. If this sounds like a tough act to follow, you’re not wrong. But I’ve since realized that’s hardly the point.
When Curt asked if I’d make the odd contribution to the site he knew that I wouldn’t be up on deeply involved in finding new drams, that I wouldn’t provide much in the way of structured tasting notes, and that I will not be able to keep pace with all that the whisky world has to offer. He likely understood this better than I. We all have our place in this little collective, and class clown antics aside I am not really sure quite where I fit into this all.
So, in the spirit of resolutions and self discovery, I’ve decided that in 2012 I am going to embark upon a Whisky Pilgrimage.
For the next 12 months I’ll be doing a hands on experiment in hopes of answering questions both big & small. What are my tastes? Do price and age really matter to me? Do I appreciate the basics any more? Can I truly claim to appreciate the elaborate and sophisticated? Can I confidently state my opinions by virtue of experience rather than by inference? Heady questions indeed!
What makes this a pilgrimage? Apologies if I take a liberal interpretation of the word, but I’m calling this a pilgrimage because by my view, pilgrimages are journeys which are spiritual in nature. This is a pilgrimage about spirits. Close enough, right?
While I won’t be travelling in the physical sense, I’ll be trying drams from a variety of profiles and locations. I’ll get into the specifics below, but to summarize I’m going to get into some variety I normally wouldn’t bother with and will be making a point of trying things that I have never tried before.
Pilgrimages have a certain stripped down, ascetic quality. Through discipline and humility comes enlightenment…something like that anyhow. I’m going to impose a number of conditions upon myself – some of which are downright draconian – in hopes that these conditions will inspire breakthroughs.
Without further ado the specific rules will be as follows.
The year will be divided up as follows:
– Winter (Jan-Mar): Sherry Matured Whisky – a personal favourite which bears further exploration. Building up my fortitude for what lies ahead!
– Spring (Apr-Jun): Speyside / Highland Whisky – a region & style I’ve struggled to appreciate
– Summer (Jul-Sep): Blended Malt Whisky – the “lesser” brother of single malts. Does it deserve a kinder reputation?
– Fall (Oct-Dec): Peated Whisky – Peated, not necessarily Islay…hearty drams to warm the soul & close out the year
Every month I will seek out & purchase a new whisky in the designated profile, and at least one selection for every profile must be entirely new to me. This means that at the beginning of the season I’ll only have one bottle to work with, and by the third month of the season, I’ll have three. For every profile I’ll be limiting myself to a budget of ~$150. In order to meet my budget I will have to be resourceful and hunt down the best value for my dollar (not necessarily in terms of volume). I will gladly look into any recommendations sent my way.
That will be it for my whisky purchases this year. I’ll remain a full participant in Liquorature related debauchery and I expect that I’ll come to value those evenings even more as a result of my experiment. I’m sure that there will be ATW tastings, social get-togethers, and lovely evenings spent chatting out in the communal backyard. For these, I’ll draw upon the remains of my humble collection – about 50 oz total if I’m being generous – which I must now jealously guard. I don’t fancy that I’ll be a strictly devout pilgrim, but I’ll do my best to stick to the pilgrimage ethic!
Two nights every week I will pour myself 1.5 oz in whatever combination I choose from the seasonal profile. The only rule is to do whatever strikes my fancy. If this means a straight up dram, comparing one against another, exploring Glencairn vs. Riedel, blending several together, marinading a steak, trying chilled vs. room temp, a cocktail (god forbid!)…ANYTHING is up for trial.
This experiment certainly lends itself to creativity. Directly relevant to ATW I will writing about what happens all along the way. I’m currently enjoying a dram of my January sherry selection while I type this, and the next time I sit down with a dram, will be typing up a little piece on my selection.
Until then, cheers!
– The Whisky Pilgrim