There’s little in life better than pouring a whiskey and sitting down to relax after a long day.
Whether it’s scotch, rye, or bourbon, you are in the company of some of the world’s great characters. Mark Twain, Winston Churchill and James Joyce all enjoyed a dram. They also had no reservations about speaking publicly on the subject.
To help inspire your deeper investigation of whiskey (or your next whiskey bar outing), we’ve sat down with The Loft’s Whiskey Connoisseur, Tim Zizzi to discuss the ins and outs of the amber spirit.
With over one hundred whiskeys, from scores of different countries and with many different flavours, Zizzi admits that ordering a whiskey can sometimes be overwhelming. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned veteran, the team at The Loft will ensure you get the right drop for you.
What you pick depends on what notes you prefer. But here’s a few tips from Zizzi on what to expect when you pick from the whiskey roll.
“Scottish whiskeys have the beauty of the natural elements. Think smoke peats and salty ocean spray from the stormy Atlantic,” says Zizzi.
Unlike bourbon and rye, a quality scotch is sharp, not sweet. What sets each Scotch apart is not the distilling process, rather it’s the blending and ageing process. And when we’re talking aging, the where is just as important as the how.
Aging by the sea creates a fuller flavour, which over time completely expands the palate. Historically this aging took place aboard vessels travelling the Atlantic Ocean, or on the windswept coastal areas in Scotland.
However, the Scots have been given a run for their money by another coastal country, with the recent demand for Japanese whiskey, rivalling even the best from its traditional heart-land.
First came Suntory and now you have bottles such as Hakushu, Yamazaki and Hibiki being requested time and time again. The boutique approach to Japanese whiskey making – which weaves in elements of Japan in the form of Yuzu or Cherry Blossoms – makes for a more mellow, aromatic amber liquid. It’s a technique that requires plenty of time to prepare and age, perfect for a country known for its patience and attention to detail.
“We originally had only 4 Japanese whiskeys to offer, now we have 10,” emphasises Zizzi.
The Loft offer Whiskey Tastings every Monday to Wednesday. And they have created a Whiskey Society for those with more of a sophisticated palette. Each week 5 different whiskeys are presented to teach members about the complex beauty of each bottle and to allow the public the chance to sample and observe the subtle nuances.
Those flavours and secret notes can be best sampled when you drink your scotch neat with a splash of water which “opens the whiskey up, heightens the flavour and allows your palette to taste the different notes”.
Other ways to play with the flavours is to pair whiskey with cheese or dark chocolate.
Zizzi recommends aged whiskeys such as those by Balvenie with cheese; or a dark whiskey with dark chocolate such as the Talisker Storm (aged by the storms that surround the Isle of Skye in Scotland) with hints of salt and smoke.