The Reluctant Whisky Convert


Whisky has always been a spiky word for me: the face-contorting substance my mum used to cure toothache, the smell that made my stomach churn. But over the past 12 months something’s happened: I took my first sip of Scotch without wincing, then drank a glass without complaining and finally requested a top-up without a gun to my head. This pattern repeated until one day I woke up and realised I was a reluctant whisky convert…

All along it seems that quality was the issue: turns out I wasn’t alone in disliking Bell’s, feeling it peel off a layer of my throat as it slipped down. My breakthrough whisky moment came when my girlfriend was given one of the finest whiskies around and I asked to try it. The tipple? Johnnie Walker Blue Label, which retails for up to Β£200 a bottle. With Johnnie on my side I found my whisky legs and began to drink it like never before. Clearly this was all it took: the expensive stuff.

From Blue Label I moved on to single malts, but even then I discovered I was a fairly high-maintenance imbiber. I quickly eschewed Islays (too peaty & medicinal) and plumped for Speysides but finding one I loved was no easy task. Glenmorangie? So so. Glenfiddich? Shrug. Cragganmore? No thanks. The upshot was that the entry-level whiskies didn’t thrill me after I’d tasted Johnnie’s finest. It seemed I was ruined.

However, I have since moved on to find whisky gold sloshing elsewhere: namely in sherry-casked numbers. Here, the golden liquid is allowed to brew in sherry barrels till it’s conker-brown, then it’s gushed into bottles and hurried out to eager drinkers like me. It’s the likes of Glendronach and Mortlach that have turned my head and made me do a whisky swoon.

So am I a complete whisky convert? For the high-end market, yes. I still can’t stomach anything under Β£40 a bottle – I always did have expensive taste. What’s more, I can’t drink more than two shots at a time which makes me a cheap date. Most importantly though, I’m thrilled with my new status as I always saw whisky drinking as the height of sophistication and now I can partake too. All that remains is for me to master the art of smoking cigars at the same time…




  1. Oh you will make your brother Martin so happy, he will have the perfect spot he can take you to slosh whiskey and teach you about smoking a cigar…..

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