Items of Interest
Burns Night Celebration
Burns Night Celebration is nearly here.
If you've ever wondered what's the appropriate libation for the evening, Peter Guthrie, with input from Bruce Ridley, offers the following advice.
"There are two main types of whisky: single malts, and blends.
Single malts are made in pot stills, in discrete batches, and then aged. They are a lot more flavorful than blends, and so are sipping drinks.
Blends are made primarily of grain whisky, which is produced in a continuous process, and doesn't have nearly the flavor of single malts. The grain whisky then has single malts added to provide the flavor. A really good blend might have up to 50% single malt, though most have less. The blender can choose a variety of single malts from different distilleries to produce the flavor he or she is looking for, and to provide a consistent product from year to year. Blends are generally mixed with water or soda to make a longer drink.
There is also a third type of whisky, of fairly recent origin, known as "vatted single malts". These are blends of single malts from various distilleries put together by whisky holding companies. These are not that common, and most single malts come from individual distilleries.
If you want a longer drink, go for the blend, and drink it out of a tumbler. I generally mix it with club soda - the amounts of whisky and mix can vary according to individual taste. Blends are generally cheaper than single malts, but you should go for a good brand. The really cheap blends are not very good, while the better blends like Dewar’s, Johnny Walker Red Label and Cutty Sark are quite good. If you want to go upmarket a bit, then try the longer aged blends; Dewar’s 12 Year is my go-to, but Johnny Walker Black Label and Chivas are good alternatives. If you like ice in your drinks, that is OK, but chilling too much will reduce the flavor experience. I generally mix the room-temperature scotch with club soda from the fridge, and do not add ice.
Most people at Burns Night prefer the single malts. There are literally thousands from which to choose and most are good. There are distinct differences between regions and between individual single malts. The two major areas are the west coast islands, particularly Islay, which have a smoky, peaty aroma and taste, and the Speyside area in the north central area of Scotland - though other areas also produce single malts. If you like the smoky, peaty Islay malts, Laphroaig is often regarded as the most highly flavored; others which are less powerful are Bunnahabhain and Bowmore. If you prefer less of the peat, though still full-flavored, you could try Glenmorangie (from north of the Loch Ness area), Aberlour (from Speyside), or Auchentoshan (lowland, from near Glasgow). These are all reasonably priced - by malt scotch standards.
Nowadays, scotch distillers produce a whole variety of different labels, mainly for marketing purposes. I have generally found that the basic scotch is best; so, Laphroaig 10 year, Bunnahabhain 12 year, Glenmorangie "the Original", Aberlour 12 year, and Auchentoshan 12 year.
If you do go for the malt scotch, the general method of serving is to add a drop or two of plain water, to release the essences without diluting it too much. Also, do not add ice, if you wish to experience the full flavor. To get the best experience, using the right type of glass is important. The best type is a very large balloon glass. This allows the aromas of the scotch to be released. In fact, if you move the nose from just above the top rim of the glass down past the rim to the bottom rim, you should experience different nose sensations, as the lighter esters are higher in the glass and the heavier are lower. If you don't have a large balloon glass, any large glass such as a large standard wine glass should be OK. I have found pinot noir glasses to be especially good."
Welcome to InlandNWScots.org, the website of the St. Andrews Society of the Inland Northwest. Since 1955, the Society has been active in promoting Scottish heritage and cultural preservation in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. We are a non-profit, non-sectarian organization open to all, without bias to race, color or gender, to anyone of Scottish descent, or any other person who has a strong interest in Scottish heritage or culture.
The St. Andrews Society is supported through funds raising events, such as our annual Robert Burns Night Dinner & Dance, and through individual contributions. Our affiliate members, which are other regional Scottish groups that focus on specific areas of our culture, assist our Society and support our mission. For a list of our current affiliate members, check out our Affiliates page. Each of our affiliates is independent of each other, but all interact with each other and with the St. Andrews Society to organize events that benefit members and the Spokane area community.
We hope you will browse through our website to learn more about our affiliates and us. Take a look at our newsletter, The Thistle Epistle, and the Calendar for information about our upcoming events. We hope you will join us in celebrating all things Scottish.