Jan 01 2009

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Holiday Cheer!

Whisky—that’s Scotch whisky, or whisky without the “e”—isn’t usually considered a “woman’s drink.” But I’ll have to demur at that bit of conventional unwisdom. And to make matters worse, I like my whisky neat. Not just any whisky will do, of course. The real water of life is found only in a single malt—blended whisky is but a pale and characterless imitation—and of all the single malts I’ve drunk, I like Laphroaig best. It’s an acquired taste, I suppose. Some have even gone so far as to describe the smoky flavor of this Islay malt as “medicinal.”

If so, it’s just the medicine I need. And in earnest of my fealty, I recently became a Friend of Laphroaig. This is not, I hasten to add, a commercial endorsement on my part. No stipend comes my way in exchange for entering my name on the rolls, though I understand that I can claim one dram of Laphroaig as my annual ground rent for the square foot of Islay land bestowed on me as a Friend. That’s something to look forward to if I ever find myself in Port Ellen.

In the meantime, I’ll just have to make do with the bottle in hand, so to speak. But there’s consolation enough in that. The heady, sweet, forthright aroma that greets my nose as I lift the glass to my lips. The first warming flush of peat on my tongue as I swirl the full-bodied liquid around in my mouth. And the lingering finish that follows each sip. All in all, Laphroaig summons up commingled memories of rich woodlands after rain, snow-fed mountain torrents in full spate, and the tang of woodsmoke wafted on an evening breeze from some far-distant campfire.

Now, however, my windows are shut tight against a winter gale, the mountain torrents are imprisoned in ice, and the spring rains are a long way off. No matter. There’s not a better time than the last day of the year to raise a glass of Laphroaig. So here goes. In the name of the whole team at Tamia Nelson’s Outside: Slàinte!