Intrepid Optimist is the place where I can share my stories; fact, fiction and thoughts from the past and present. It’s Written by myself for people who believe adventure knows no age
Just the other day…,
I was perched on my favourite bar stool, with nothing particularly in mind, when my attention was caught by the absence of blended Scotch whisky on the shelves. There were enough malt whiskies on display but only one bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label. Like that flashing light bulb in the bubble it suddenly occurred to me. It’s a con job!
Those crafty Scots have fooled us into believing malt whisky is the only alcohol to drink. They’ve sunk millions of pounds – mostly ours – into their over budgeted parliament building and need to raise more cash before they become independent. By pushing their expensive malt whisky on us, instead of their less expensive blends, they are going to give an added boost to their income. It is the same reason they don’t put sugar on their porridge – they’re saving money.
It is only in the recent years that malt whisky has become popular and has demeaned a person ordering a blended whisky to do so in a whisper, afraid of the down the nose looks of the new malt whisky snobs.
I say leave the malts over the border where they belong. Whisky was blended for us Sassenachs because we would not drink the stuff straight out of the vat, like hooch. They, the highlanders, did not seem to mind. It is comparable to their love of haggis and other eccentricities. Was it not Robin Williams, the American comedian, who said that when Scotsmen get drunk, they don’t mind wearing skirts?
How can you order a drink with a name which you cannot even pronounce? Have you ever listened to those so-called whisky connoisseurs attempting to get their tongues around names like Laproaig, Caol Ila islay or Aberlour a’bundadh?
Not for me those watery looking thimblefuls; some of them even tasting as though they’ve been strained through a soggy soggy sod of peat. Give me a full blooded pronounceable 12 year old blend anytime. Johnny Walker, Chivas Regal, Teachers, Bells, these are stout names that give a man confidence in what he is tippling.
One of the only times I drank single malt whisky was on a ferry boat from Wick to Lerwick, in the Shetland Isles, during a truly horrendous storm. Such was the force of that storm that I was convinced my number was up and as the only Scotch available to drink a toast to my past life was a malt whisky, the Orkney distilled, Highland Park. Believe me, I had no choice. The storm eventually abated but I swear that dreadful Smokey taste – I was going to say kippery but kippers are tasty – remains with me to this day.
I first became aware the importance for, and the Englishman’s love for blended whisky at an early age. This was in the early post-war years when all alcohol was rationed and at a premium. It was in Chinley, in Derbyshire and I was a young boy waiting at the railway station for my uncle to return from his work in Manchester. As he and a colleague alighted from the carriage, the man tripped and dropped his brief case, sending two bottles of legally unobtainable, Crabbies 12 year old crashing to the platform. I still recall the look of abject horror on their faces. It was also the first time I saw a grown man cry.
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