Saturday, 6 August 2011

The water of life

There are two types of people in the world: those who drink whisky and those who do not.

It should be relatively easy, if you wanted, to move from the non-drinking group to the drinking one. What happens in many cases, however, is that someones first taste of whisky puts them firmly into a third set, the "what-the-hell-is-this-how-can-you-drink-that-for-fun" group.

As a result of this, there are a lot of bottles of whisky sitting quietly in people's drinks cabinets, unopened and unloved. Gifts from unknowing relatives, unwanted raffle prizes, perhaps. But beware. They have all the malevolence and capacity for damage as an unexploded bomb. Because they're in the hands of the inexperienced.

You might be round at a friend's house. Everyone is happy; good food has been enjoyed and perhaps some modest drink imbibed, too. It's getting a little late.

"No more beer," you say, "I'm feeling a little full of liquid."

"Well, we've got some whisky," they might say. "Perhaps a little tot?"

You thank them for their kindness but shake your head politely.

"But we never drink the stuff," they say, "it was a gift from Uncle Bernard/Auntie Elspeth/etc." And they show you the bottle.

The bottle. This is where you should avert your eyes. But you don't. You see that it's a very reasonable 18-year-old Glenfiddich single malt. A good £40 or more per bottle. This is not your normal cooking whisky. Before you're able to stop yourself, you hear your voice, as from far away.

"Oh, go on then, thanks. Maybe just a little one as a night-cap. Straight up, no ice please."

Your guests' generosity is mixed with their gentle ignorance of the power of the stuff. This is, if you'll pardon the pun, a lethal cocktail. A tumbler is found and before you know it, you're being faced with, well, quite a lot of whisky. You're a responsible drinker - well aware of what a healthy weekly alcohol volume looks like. It's just a little worrying to be seeing it all in one glass.

It would, of course, be monumentally rude to refuse. After all, what would Uncle Bernard or Auntie Elspeth think? And it is the 18-year-old stuff, too. It is quite lovely and you see that it would have been a shame to waste it. Trouble is, having manfully made your way through, you're then much less likely to be able to make any comprehensible objection when your ever-kind hosts top it your glass once more.

Which they will.

This might explain why you subsequently find yourself rummaging through the kitchen cupboard for Nurofen at 6am fervently repeating the mantra "Ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod".

I love my friends. That's why they're my friends. They're fun to be with, supportive and kind. They have excellent whisky, too. They also read this blog. Ahem. But there is nothing, and I mean nothing, as dangerous as a non-whisky-drinking friend bearing a bottle of the good stuff.

Let my head today be your lesson for tomorrow.


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