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Issue 31 - The long and the short of it

Whisky Magazine Issue 31
June 2003


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The long and the short of it

Dave Broomconsiders a request to define how long a ‘long' finish is

Tell me,” he said, looking at me gravely. “How long is a long finish?” I must have looked bemused. This isn't unusual. He tried again. “How many seconds is a long finish?” There was a slight tone of irritation in his voice. I laughed, thinking that this was quite a witty thing to say. He looked at me. “What is wrong? I want to know how many seconds it is. You are a whisky writer … ”

He was serious, in a way that only the most intense whisky nut can be. At times like this, I always think of my old headmaster, a man who only gave me two pieces of advice: “Join the police force Broom, you'll never be any good at anything,” and “If you don't know the answer, say so.”
Actually, there was a third, come to think of it. “Hold your hands up, I've not finished belting you yet.”

But we'll gloss over that. It's the second one which seemed the most apposite at this juncture. “I don't know,” I said. “It's just a loose term. A short finish doesn't leave much of a taste, a medium finish lasts in the mouth a little longer and a long finish goes on for … well … ages.” I realised how lame this all sounded because he was looking pained. Sad, even.

“But how long is long?” he repeated, and then, more censorially, “Have you never measured it?” At this point I didn't want to admit that I never wear a watch. That might have tipped him over the brink into a state of gloom that northern Europeans do so well. “No,” I replied. “I must confess I nev...

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