WRITTEN BY PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
So here we are once again in full swing of the winter doldrums and the promise of bleak, cold, dark days ahead. It always inspires me to bury my nose deep into a Dylan Thomas poem and read about his coal-black days in Wales.
On the bright side, there are only about 3 months until the warm weather arrives. In other words, it’s a wretched time of year. So now might be a good time to catch up on your drink prepping. After all, a snowy night, a glass of wine and an enlightening book could be a decent way to pass the evening hours when we know that heavy coats, thick gloves and the sound of shovels will be de rigueur in our neighborhood in a day or two.
So, pop into your closest PA Wine and Spirits Shop find out who the in-store wine maven is and say to them: “Look, I’m facing 3 months of boredom and want to be excited. I need to be taken on a journey of discovery. Each week I’ll be in with $10 and I want to leave with (a) an amazing bottle of wine and (b) change out of my $10 ….Oh, and Phillip Silverstone sent me!” There’s no advantage to you when you state the last part but it gives me some street cred. Although it might get you thrown out of the store. OK, while you do that, I’m going to digress from wine, as I did last week and return to the topic of my other favorite slurp one more time.
I have a very sensitive digestive system which is aggravated by products which tend to be a little rough around the edges. I enjoy a wee dram of whisky but can’t tolerate the harshness of the blended variety. I discovered many years ago, that single malts are smooth and easy drinking.
The word whisky is derived from the Gaelic “uisge beatha” which translates to: water of life. Blended whisky is a combination of single malt and grain whiskies. They tend to do well with some “rocks” of ice in the tumbler. A single malt whisky comes from one specific distillery and is made only from malted barley. These whiskies are ”aged” and even though the whisky within the bottle may contain different years of the whisky, the age refers to the length of time the youngest whisky has been matured in the cask. So the final product has enormous character, and is smooth and charismatic. In other words, it is the spirit equivalent of a fine, well aged wine.(No “e” in the Scottish spelling of whisky as adopted by the American version).
I have a particular favorite — Lagavulin, a 16-year-old single malt whisky from Islay — but only if someone else is paying though. In the same way that wine lovers tend to be fans of wines from specific regions of the world, such as Burgundy or Bordeaux in France, Umbria in Italy or the Mosel in Germany, so too single malt whisky drinkers have their own favorite regions which impart a certain flavor — or so we believe — in the single malt we consider “our own.” I am very fond of Islay, pronounced (so I was told by a Scottish pal) “Eye-Lah.” This area is located on a small island off the northwest coast of Scotland close to the other popular little whisky producing island of Jura which produces the single malts of the same name.
Lagavulin distillery is located on the bay at Port Ellen alongside the ruins of Dunyveg Castle. The whisky has a peaty fragrance, with a peaty flavor, a hint of sweetness and a long finish. Ideal for after a meal. And serve it in a wine glass with a little splash of spring water. I highly recommend several families getting together to buy a bottle to share on a Saturday night. (PLCB code Code: 7995 $88.99). Cheers!
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this newspaper. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining