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Issue 93 - Absolute Beginners

Whisky Magazine Issue 93
January 2011


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Absolute Beginners

dave Broom recalls his first encounter with the water of life

It started, age 14 going on 15 at Loch Awe with some friends from the Scouts, trying out our new hiking tents. The weekend, if nothing else, rigorously tested the tents' waterproofing. It rained as only it can in Scotland, spouts of water cascaded from the heavens, then shifted in the wind to the horizontal. It was relentless, freezing. Everything was so wet that the inside of my skull seemed saturated. On the first night we'd knocked back some cans of beer, but by the second it was clear more drastic action was needed. “I've got this” said one of my companions, bringing out a half-bottle purloined from his father's cupboard.

I can remember the location, the stuffy confines of a three man tent piled with steaming heaps of wet gear, lying inside a sleeping bag trying to dry out and work out the precise configuration of the rocks underneath, around which I'd have to arrange my spine. The odd thing is that I cannot recall what whisky it was.

I recall the effect, the way it hit and dragged itself across the tongue, its chilli heat, its weird mix of sweetness and dangerous potency, how it cooled in the throat and, on hitting the stomach, how it acted like a tumble drier sending a blast of heat through the body, burning the brain banishing the damp. So this was whisky.

I'd been around it of course. In those days it was impossible not to be. My father was a whisky drinker. Black and White at home, thanks to my uncle who worked for Lowries; Grouse when we went to visit family ...

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