The cardinal rules most of us make is mixing whiskey with lemonade, ginger ale or anything that will distort the taste because to really appreciate it is to savour its raw original taste and if you must tone it plain water, ice or soda water will do the trick – rule I picked up at the first Jameson Whiskey Comparative Tasting Evening which was recently held in Gaborone.
Just when you think you are ready to write a book about your drinking rendezvous since, in your opinion, you have done it all, seen it all and literally drank it all, something brand new falls on your lap to make you realise the intricacies that come with any profession or hobby and being a whiskey connoisseur is no exception.
Blind Tasting was the order of the day, and no it did not involve any bondage, scarves or blind folds; it just involved randomly tasting different brands of whiskey and choosing the best according to one’s taste buds to avoid brand bias, loyalty and familiarity of the tasters.
The marks were set and we went and, being a virgin whiskey taster, the first huge gulp did not go down easy with my throat, chest and eyes and by the time we were supposed to start on the second glass I was still gasping for air. After settling the overwhelming sensation in my torso with water, I was then able to continue, with caution the task of downing four more shots of whiskey and then came the daunting task of choosing one’s favourite.
Of the four samples, the hosts Benju, were responsible for two of the brands, Chivas and Glenlivet, which were part of the 4 course whiskey sampling. The one that appealed to most of the participants was the 12-year-old Chivas a very popular brand among the gurus. Glenlivet came second at a tie with one of the competitor brands, Johnny Walker Black Label and the least favourite was the Tennessee Whiskey Jack Daniels.
The evening was led by Pernod-Ricard Sub-Saharan Africa whisky ambassador. Siyanda Mqulwana took us through the four crucial factors to consider when whiskey tasting. “always start on the left”.
I don’t know why but he mentioned it thrice so it must be some kind of etiquette like table
manners. Mqulwana further stated that the aroma and the colour of the whiskey played a huge role in the ultimate outcome of the taste and that one should always have a glass of water handy to wash it down.
For those who missed it this time around, Sales manager David Judd indicated that this will be a quarterly event and will also involve wine tasting, among others.