When I think back of my experiences with whisky it generally entails drinking Jim Beam and coke at house party (because there is nothing else) or taking a sip of my ex boyfriends glass which was immediately followed up by me screwing my nose up and shaking my head, so now when I find myself in a bar asking for a whisky and knowing which kind I like I feel a bit surprised, excited and a little proud of myself.
One of my first good experiences of whisky that I remember was not actually tasting it but smelling it. A friend of mine had returned from Canada with a bottle of maple whisky, I could smell maple in the room before I knew it was whisky. When I queried what smelt so good I was surprised when the answer was whisky and wondered how can something that smells that delicious taste so bad, however at this time I didn’t taste any.
A few days later I found myself in a whisky bar called Varnish on King, in Perth Australia. I had heard about this bars reputation of serving a board with both whisky with bacon and at the same time. Thinking with my stomach (as usual) the bacon part appealed to me a lot more than the whisky part. I wondered at the time whether they would also serve the bacon with my usual beverage of choice, vodka, fresh lime and soda. Probably not.
The underground bar, nameless on the outside, small, dark and cosy has a vast display of whisky’s on the back wall. On arrival to me it felt like such a waste to order my usual low calorie girly drink so I decided to brave it and order a whisky. Racking my brain to think of any brand of whisky I knew or recognise one that wasn’t Jack Daniels or Jim Beam I decided to ask for the maple whisky. They didn’t have it however they did have a honey whisky, I like honey so I thought why not?
Surprisingly I really liked it , it was sweet, warm with a kick. I like that it was a short drink easy to take small sips of and each sip wasn’t an effort like I previously remembered whisky being. For me though just one was enough. I only like mildly sweet drinks so another honey one would have been too much. However after enjoying the new taste and warm feeling in a cosy bar I was eager to try another.
After a chat with the bar man he recommended a mild whisky he thought I would like, this was Starward Malt Whisky, made in Australia. Again I enjoyed it. For me at age 29, 14 years of drinking the same wines, bubbles, cocktails and vodka, I had discovered something new and exciting.
One small error I did make after enjoying a few whiskys was thinking that now I love ALL whisky. BIG mistake, I have asked for random whiskies at a bars before without asking for a recommendation and then I was back to square one screwing up my nose, and grimacing at every sip, it was a lesson learnt, this was not like vodka, I need learn what I like.
Since then through recommendations from friends, a definite favourite is Glenmorangie and I would recommend this for anyone that is new to whisky. I also like Balcones Brimstone, which has a smokier taste. This one though is on the pricier side at almost double so I’m not sure it was the taste or the fact I knew the price tag that made it more enjoyable.
After leaving Perth and now living in a city with bars that sell over 2500 different types of beers, discovering whisky in Brussels is a little challenging. However after some research I have discovered several whisky bars across Belgium which In the next weeks I hope to discover some new whiskies to try and share with you.