As a short bio, I am a doctoral student in economics at Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It’s cold where I live, but not too cold. My occupation lends me to be obsessed with data, and to sound academic. Because this blog is the building of a database on my Scotch preferences, I’ll do so unapologetically.
On to what’s important for the reviews. The only way these reviews can be truly helpful to fellow Scotch enthusiasts is if you understand the reviewer, his palate, and the various things that may affect it. To save us all time, there is only a subset of my preferences that you really need to care about. I’ve organized these in a Q&A format below.
Q) What are your favourite foods?
A) I am a sucker for anything with full flavour. It may be that my tastebuds aren’t sensitive enough to pick up on subtleties, but I love bold coffee, strong (smoky) tea, and spicy food. Various masalas and Chinese 5-spice are always in my pantry.
Q) What are your least favourite foods?
A) There are no foods I really dislike for their flavour. As a child, I was always forced to eat everything that my parents cooked for me, whether I liked it or not, so over time I just managed to find merits in everything. Food can taste somewhat “off”, but still, there seems to be merits in that. All that said, I hate liver goulash. For one of my birthdays as a child, I made my mom promise never to make it again. She never has.
Q) What are your favourite beers, wines and other spirits?
A) I am truly a “taste first” kind of drinker–I rarely, if ever, drink with the intention of becoming intoxicated. Alcohol makes me sleepy, first and foremost, and such a goal is not really in-line with the purpose of social gatherings.
Because taste is the most important aspect to me, and my tastebuds desire things that are bold in flavour, my favourite beers are dark, and my favourite wines are red. More specifically, stouts are my favourite beers. Guinness gets high marks, of course, but perhaps my favourite stout is the St-Ambroise oatmeal stout offered by McAuslan. I am also a big fan of Innis & Gunn’s original (scotch barrel aged) brew, and their new blonde version.
While I am making my way into white wines, I prefer very dry, full-bodied red wines. I have a particular fondness for South African Shiraz, which tend to be spicy. I’m not entirely sure how they manage this, but the folks who bottle “Goats Do Roam” claimed on early bottles that it was because their grapes were grown on granite beds.
As for other spirits, the only one I really ever have in the house is tequila. Not the Sauza or the Jose Cuervo, but something of high-quality. Good tequila, like Scotch, should be sipped, preferably neat. As a rule, before I share my good tequila, I ask, “Do you need salt and a lemon?” and if their answer is yes, then the bottle goes right back in the tin.
Q) Do you have a favourite Scotch region?
A) If you asked me 6 months ago, I would have said hands down Islay. Loving bold flavours the way I do, the smoky, peaty, sometimes medicinal nature of Islay whisky spoke to me like no other, and for a time it was all I would buy. Not to mention that it’s prime Islay weather here for about 5 months out of the year. It is still true today that Islay is my favourite region, but my current top 10 whiskies are only half Islays.
Q) What are 3 things that all your favourite whiskies have?
A-i) I like my whisky to be mouth-coating. It doesn’t have to be like olive oil, but it should be viscous. Perhaps ‘chewy’ is the way to describe it.
A-ii) The nose is contemplative enough that I can’t say “Well, this smells like X” right off the cuff. Of course, muddled is not what I’m looking for. I need it to render me contemplative for at least a short while. Also, I like wanting to come back to sniff the glass a couple times after it’s empty. That’s a sign of a great whisky in my books.
A-iii) The finish should be at least long (and pleasant) enough so that I don’t have to go back to the glass for a minute or two. An ounce should be a 30 minute experience.
I’ll probably think of more questions to ask myself as the reviews accumulate. For now, these will do.