Whisky Magazine Issue 108
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Ryan Chetiyawardana mixes up some oriental delights
I've often used cocktails as a means of introducing someone to a whisk(e)y. This has covered those who hesitate towards a whisky as their spirit choice (“anything but not whisky”), or those who are unsure of the specific flavour profile (“I can't stand a smoky whisky”). The fact of the matter is that to many, starting by sipping the spirit neat is not the best introduction. In fact, often it's counter-productive. The intricacies of a spirit are often best discovered neat, but as we all know when we add a splash of water, the raw state can also mask nuances. I've had cocktails that have showcased hitherto unforeseen aspects of whiskies I'm well acquainted with.
A cocktail can mask certain qualities, while showcasing others in a manner that allows a new visitor to discover the qualities at the heart of the base spirit. I've won many an ally to peated whiskies from those who have sniffed them and sworn blind they wouldn't touch them in a million years through careful dosing in a cocktail. The key with a spirit as complex as a malt is care and consideration and thankfully there are many good practitioners out there.
Fittingly, for a showcase on Japanese whiskies this issue, this was precisely how I won new friends to the wonders of Japanese whiskies.
I first began tasting and promoting Japanese whiskies way back in Edinburgh in 2003. I remember being fascinated by their aroma; it was clearly single malt whisky as I knew it, but with an element that made it unique.