After what has been a relatively mild winter, Mother Nature cranked down the thermostat and pushed Calgary into a week long deep freeze. Think -40 celcius with windchill kind of cold. It’s the kind of cold that chokes the life out of cars and puts the human mind into a state of semi-hibernation. These are definitely rotten conditions and it’s easy to let the bad weather put a damper on your spirits.
The only good to come of the poor weather is that it helped me to articulate one of the characterstics I enjoy most in sherry matured whisky. After shoveling off the driveway, I poured an Aberlour 10 and was struck by deep, rich warmth. Unlike the full-frontal-assault intensity of a peated whisky, a nice sherry matured whisky warms you up from deep in your belly. Having a dram of this whisky is comforting, like crawling under a heavy quilt, or having a cup of hot chocolate or chicken noodle soup after being out in the cold. Sherry maturation – the comfort food of whisky? Maybe so.
I recently split one of my samples evenly across a Riedel whisky glass and a Glencairn. Most whisky people I know are proponents of the Glencairn glass and after having conducted this test, I can confidently state that you get a hell of a lot more on the nose from a Glencairn than you do the Riedel glass. Scent plays a critical role in taste, and overall the whisky just tasted more complex and vibrant in the Glencairn.
Are there advantages to the Riedel? I suppose there are a few. First off, the nose on the Riedel doesn’t carry the same “edge” as it would from the Glencairn. I think it’d be an acceptable alternative if I wanted to pour something with a big nose (say, Ardbeg) with a guest who might otherwise be overwhelmed. And speaking of big noses, while I’m not exactly Gonzo…there’s no way to put this nicely…the Riedel fits my face better. The sips I take from the Riedel are very satisfying – they hit the entire mouth rather than being funnelled towards my tongue as they are with the Glencairn. It sounds weird, but this could be an advantage in cases where I’m not thrilled with the nose. 9 times out of 10 I’m probably grabbing the Glencairn, but the Riedel does offer enough of a different spin that it is worth going to time to time.
We are nearing the end of January. I have really been enjoying the Aberlour 10 and the month has gone by quickly. Liquorature is coming up this weekend and after that, it’s a few more days until I have to pick up sherry finished whisky bottle #2. I still don’t have anything particular in mind and I’m looking to spend about $50 (keep in mind, I’m in Alberta) so if any of you have any suggestions I’m open to trying something new. The past week has been pretty hectic and it has been difficult to rattle off this post, but it’s finally out of the way. I am having fun with the experiment so far, but I’m somewhat disappointed that I’ve had a few too many “straight samples” so I’m going to have to make the effort to do something a little more inventive. I have a few more “solo” Aberlour 10 drams left so I might as well try & swing for the fences before I introduce bottle #2 into the rotation. It’s something to ponder…preferably over a whisky!
– The Whisky Pilgrim