First things first, I am not a scotch drinker. I grew up surrounded by scotch drinkers (thank you Irish background) but after my first bout of the brown stuff I fizzled out early and never looked back. Vodka, red wine, beer, tequila, those became my go-to sippers. But now, settled into the prime of my life, scotch seems to be beckoning me back.
Enter Mr Walker, Mr Johnnie Walker. I was invited to host a scotch tasting for a few pals at Chez Roach and quickly filled my living room with about fifteen friends who also were keen on giving the good stuff another whirl.
A few friends were already seasoned scotch veterans, and paired with our Johnnie Walker concierge we had education- of the libation variety.
Scotch, for those not inclined, falls into the same boozy category as rye and whiskey. The only difference? Scotch comes from Scotland. Similar to sparkling wine vs Champagne, only scotch made in Scotland can wear the official scotch badge. We got to sample the Red, Black and Blue varieties, arguably the most popular and recognizable ‘colours’ from their fleet.
Each 1.5 oz pour is served neat, no rocks, so you can savour each nuance of the peaty blends. Water, a main component and ingredient in making scotch is served on the side, but we were encouraged to try it straight up before watering it down. The red is spicy and packs a punch, with a not so subtle burning aftertaste. Moving onto black, our concierge asked us to waft as if it were wine and then have a small sip. After the cascade, he suggested we try a fresh cut strawberry dipped in ground black pepper. An unusual combo but it totally brought out the sweetness from the scotch and acted as a palate cleanser too.
Finally, onto the blue, which is the baller of the group, ringing in at hefty $300 a bottle at the LCBO. One of my guests remarked that it was the least ‘shivery’ of the bunch, referring to the slight body shake you sometimes get after a stiff shot. While the shivers never set in (for me) the blue was my fave- I guess I have expensive taste!
One thing our concierge touched on that held true for me is that it’s definitely an acquired taste, as is red wine or any other full flavoured drink. I remember the first time I had a sip of my Dad’s red wine… I asked why he was drinking blood and if he was a vampire does that make me one too? Times change, tastes evolve and I’m excited to continue on my path to becoming a seasoned scotch drinker- my Dad would be proud.
Special thanks to Johnnie Walker and our concierge Ryan for the intro to the brand!