Whisky & the passage of time

July 18, 2012 § 8 Comments

One of the things I have always loved most about whisky is the spirit’s ability to make me recognize the passage of time and take a moment to slow down a bit.

Hourglass by Marc Newson on www.ikepod.com

Hourglass by Marc Newson on www.ikepod.com

When I’m looking over a whisky, I often find myself wondering what I was doing _X_ years ago when what I hold in my hands or bring to my lips was first coming off the still.  I think it’s actually quite a powerful thought.  Unlike wine (my other favorite evening beverage) which is aged but only for a certain period of time that’s measured in months, whisky is (traditionally) aged for periods of time measured by years.

I find this particularly relaxing.  Our daily lives move so quickly now – with the internet, 24 hour news and the ability to connect globally with just the click of one’s mouse –  I find peace in the idea that my nightly ritual can not be reproduced on the spot the next day (like vodka can be … which blows my mind as to how it’s as expensive on the shelf as whisky and why consumers continue to allow the ridiculous “rise” of the vodka industry … but that’s another rant, er, I mean post for another day).  Back to my whisky.

I understand that the inventory economics are extremely hard for producers – how do they know how their brand will be trending in 5, 10, 15 years when what they’re making today is ready?  It’s a challenge for sure – and why some brands can fall into moments when they have big problems meeting demand.  Being someone who is gearing up to release her own whisky, I am constantly analyzing these aspects and appreciate this complicated side of the business as well …

However, on the consumer side of it, I quite like the idea that time stops when I take a sip of my nightly dram.  It’s a fun ride down memory lane – I dance back through the years and smile upon the memories & highlights and appreciate the “time capsule” gift that whisky continues to give me.

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§ 8 Responses to Whisky & the passage of time

  • G-LO says:

    Yo WW!

    Lovely post and so so true! Time definitely seems to slow down a bit when we gather to drink whisky. I will need to do the time travel thing (i.e. where was I in my life when this spirit was distilled) the next time I’m relaxing with a dram on my own and (a) not writing about it, or (b) chatting away the evening with the Lads. Cause there’s nothing wrong with a bit of quiet meditation every now and again.

    Here’s the question though…

    How do we play this game with the ongoing proliferation of No Age Statement whisk(e)y being released, AND, what about the blends? Just curious. 🙂

    Cheers!
    G-LO

    • G-LO!
      So happy to have you share your thoughts here. Thank you! Good question re: No Age Statement whiskies and I certainly don’t know the answer to that (funny enough, my single malt is being bottled at it’s 6yr mark but I’m not putting that on the label) but, for me, this reflective, meditative moment happens more when I’m in a quiet space and just enjoying the moment … as you pointed out … and during those times, that’s usually when I reach for something a bit older & wiser 🙂

      Thanks again!
      WW

      • G-LO says:

        So does that mean you buy into the whole “older is better” thing with whisky? Don’t let Chip or the people at Amrut and Kavalan here you say that. 😉

        Maybe we need to have an age mutiplier for whisky, kinda like they have for dogs, i.e. a 12 year old SIngle Malt from Scotland is the equivalent of a 32 to 38 year old man or woman. Of course geography and climate will also have to be factored into the equation. Am I getting too complicated here?

        • “Too complicated” ?! Not at all! I’m totally on board – when you take into account the question of “age” – one must factor in the climate, the wood, the % of alcohol in the barrel, the altitude, etc… I think you should design an app that groups whiskies together by maturity, so if you like say, a 12yr Speyside Scotch, based off the age, the app could suggest to you a 3yr Texas Single malt! Considering Balvenie looses 3-5% in evaporation (or “angels share”) a year and Balcones looses 5-8% a month, that may be a close comparison! This is strictly “maturity” based … I don’t want to get in trouble with other bloggers for not going in to such details as mash bills, fermentation temperatures, etc 😉

          Oh, and just for clarification, I most certainly do NOT buy into the “older = better” when it relates to whisky – heck, I even enjoy the stuff before it has any age on it! Moonshine baby 😉

          • G-LO says:

            Ohhh…. an app! That could be fun. Whether it’s a valuable tool or not is another story, but I definitely like the concept. We should discuss this further over drinks! Heh

            And I know you love whisk(e)y in all forms, regardless of age (assuming it’s the good stuff of course). You’re a true aficionado! 😀

  • Dave says:

    This is a profound post. I do the same when I drink older wines.

    You bring up an excellent point about the preparation and sales of whiskey vs. vodka. I suppose how distilleries can ensure sales 5, 10, 15 years down the road is excellent networking and advertising. that’s just a guess though.

    Good luck with your whiskey business.

    • Hi Dave,
      Thanks so much for your comment. Everyone “knows” about alcohols ability to relax but I think this reflective aspect to whisky is another special little gift this gorgeous spirit gives 🙂

      Thanks again!
      -WW

  • […] But last night as I thought about this, I also remembered one of my favorite aspects of whisky; it’s a true art of time.  My whisky that is aging in barrels is constantly reminding me that no matter how hard I work or […]

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