You know how you can just be there, waiting for proggie, trying to figure out what the plan for the weekend is and then your phone rings and the person on the other end is inviting you to sample different shades of whisky? No? Hasn’t happened to you? Well then, here’s how it played out…
I prepped myself for the shindig in pretty much the same way you would if you were invited to an even with free drinks; I ate. The fact that Guvnor is still relatively new suggested that there was no way I would be able to sneak in a hip flask and attribute the metal detector’s incessant beeping to an attention seeking bullet that was lodged in my hip.
EABL had a black banner outside the venue with the Johnnie Walker branding, just in case, you know, you wanted to go all glitzy and tell your friends you were there. For lack of paparazzi all it managed to do was hide a section of the recently done up wall.
Inside the fridge was a different story. One for some other time when we decide to introduce a column that reviews hang outs and such. Let’s get on with the tasting bit shall we…
Sleek and Erique had been to one of these things just a week ago, but at no point did they think it was worth mentioning that you don’t swig this stuff like you’re in a Las Vegas Casino and still have your village instincts still intact. So, quite naturally, I shot the first one back and winced.
It must have been the cheaper variety because the usher in black and gold (Johnnie Walker colors?) was quick to replace the drink. Now, let’s not get this thing twisted. It was a whisky tasting thing, not a drink up and certainly not a party, so the alcohol was being distributed in much the same fashion you would administer eye drops.
The host of the event, a one Simon Kaheru invited us to listen to the stories of the drinks. In my experience, when you set out to drink, that’s all there is to it; drinking. Everything else is secondary, especially stories.
Nonetheless, we indulged Simon and when he asked us to sniff our drinks, we politely acquiesced albeit with the hope that the fumes we were taking in would help facilitate inebriation in some way.
“What do you smell?” he asked like a headmaster that has cornered one of his charges in a weed farm, pushing some of the guests into unfamiliar territory and forcing them to resort to being defensive. The most common approach was to basically say what you thought the MC wanted to hear. “It smells like wood”
The easier question to respond to would have been “what do you taste”. The simple, straightforward answer would have been, Red Label. Or, if you like, pain.
But that’s not why you throw Whisky Tasting Ceremonies. You need for moments to linger, leave an impression in a person’s mouth. The liver will have a go some other time, but for now…
“Let the whisky touch the corners of your tongue for a moment”
Having made each other’s acquaintance, whisky and taste buds parted ways and the liquid made its way down to the dark unknown.
“What do you feel”
Well, I’d like to say high, but we both know that would be a blatant lie.
“It is rich” Offered a guest. Simon applauded the guests’ observations even when someone suggested that the liquor looked red yet the more accurate answer would have been, “it looks like Lucozade”
So we kept experimenting with different colours, like artists splashing their paints on the canvass of their tongues. Red? Check. Black? Check. Then they brought out Green label.
For the longest time I have always turned my nose up at this particular one. I can’t remember why, but I suspect I always equate green to pretentious or sucky when it comes to substance abuse… take cigarettes for instance, the ones that come wrapped in Green are usually portable sticks of minty shisha.
Johnnie’s Green Label wasn’t having any of this and set out to make an example of my insides. In hindsight, I don’t think I helped things when I suggested it gave off an apple-like smell. Perhaps I should have said a violent battle hardened apple. Sleek thought it was so-so. Dude next to us figured he’d mix his labels either to increase their punch or to see whether the colors would change. They didn’t.
And then there was Gold…
I kept worrying that I wouldn’t know how to act when we met, but it was no biggie. Gold Label is an amiable fellow. Sure, it carries it’s siblings need to make its presence felt when it touches your lips and goes beyond, but I still think Green Label had it in for me…
Why so Blue?
Blue label is (apparently) a drink for the select few. With a price tag gently approaching 300,000shs, I can see why. I’d like to say I can ‘taste’ why, but the tear drop-esque helping that I was permitted barely made an impression.
What did stand out is the meticulous way it was packaged; like Dracula’s coffin or some compact stylish wardrobe that housed the clothes of the gods. I suspect if you went to the store and said you want the liquor sans the packaging, you’d knock a couple of a hundred grand off the retail price, but I suppose some French designer somewhere will go hungry for it.
All in all, a well put together event that was easy on the eye harsh on the tongue and had no effect on the liver whatsoever.