Starting out with calm, triple-distilled lowland single malts and irish blends, the day ended with some unrestrained darkness from the island of Islay.
What I wrote for the final Islay whisky, Bowmore 16 year old 1990 (53.4% alc):
“Like being violently dumped by a grey Atlantic wave face first on a rock pool covered with barnacles, waking up a few seconds later to cough out sea-water, seaweed and splinters of charred plank.”
After some pause, my tutor decided to accept my note, “Ok, that’s pretty much it. Great, isn’t it?”
Yes, no doubt. But, by then, the fumes had curled up into my brain. Hanging on the wall, water colour paintings of Islay distilleries by the “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” artist, Ralph Steadman.
When I first arrived and saw them in the tasting room, I found it hard to believe an artist inextricably linked with Hunter S. Thompson could paint a landscape so lunar quiet.
But after a day of tasting Scotch, the hushed washed-out colours now made a lot of sense… as in the bottle, the expression of the land.
Link: Ralph Steadman’s trip to Scottish distilleries blog