I like questions that have no real factual answers and only really have opinions and feelings as the resultant answer and so when Dave posed a question on twitter it really got me thinking.
His question of "What memories/feelings do distant drams trigger?" really did make me think long and hard about some of the whiskies i've enjoyed in the past and for one reason or another I won't likely be able to have them again.
There are the whiskies that in themselves are of no significance at all, they were generally standard blends like Famous Grouse or Whyte and Mackay etc but the place, time or occasion on which they were drank has real significance and as such triggers memories and feelings. For me there are two of these such occasions. They are:
New Years Day - My Dad would have a wee dram on New Years Day and I would have a wee sip from his whisky tumbler, like most kids of that age I probably told him it was horrible but continued to have some every year. My Dad sadly passed away back in 1987 when I was only 12 so I didnt have the opportunity to share a proper dram with my Dad something that I always wish I could have done.
My Dad and I at New Year prob around 1980ish.
My Wedding Day - A special day for most people my wedding day (18th July 1997) was a very special day and I'm still totally head over heels in love with my darling wife Lynn who supports my manic whisky habits and more. The toast during the speeches was with a standard dram (although mine was at least a double) and so brings back great memories of that day and I always get a wee lump in my throat thinking back to it now.
Tom and Lynn Wedding 18th July 1997
I'd then have to move onto Single Malt whiskies that have special meaning to me, there are a good number that I have had great days, evenings and chats with friends over but a couple really do have strong memories, very much in a similar vein to the whiskies above.
Glenmorangie 10 Year Old - This whisky has a real special meaning in my house, as not only was it the first Single Malt Whisky that I have a memory of trying, which happened to be on my 18th Birthday all the way back in 1993, but it was also the same whisky that I purchased when all the family and friends came around in January 1998 to help us "Whet the Head" of our eldest son Kyle. So yet again it's not the taste that i miss but it's a recognised memory, or set of memories which relate to the whisky that really gives it feeling.
If there is a whisky that i do miss and wish upon wishes that I'd bought more than one bottle of at the time it's the Isle of Jura Young Peaty Jura bottled by Royal Mile Whiskies in Edinburgh. This particular whisky I'd picked up from Royal Mile Whiskies when also selecting a nice bottle for my Father in Laws birthday (which happened to be the Very Young Ardbeg).
Royal Mile Whiskies only had one of each bottle left and the Jura was the one I was really interested in so I kept that one for myself. I did drink it with my Father in Law and with a group of friends over a game of cards but it is the one whisky I would love to own another bottle of and although I know I could pick up another (RMW have one just now for Ã‚Â£195) there are two reasons I won't. Reason one is that I only paid around Ã‚Â£30 for the original bottle so paying Ã‚Â£200 or so for one now really sticks in my throat lol and Reason two which is more important is that sometimes you just need to let things go and move on, the whisky won't taste the same to me now as it's not the same time or reason for me drinking it and I don't want to ruin those feelings and memories that i have for it.
To end this little article i'm going to chat about another whisky close to my heart, one that i've been through a great number of bottles of and that's Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old. The old 40% version has been replaced with a new 46.3% version and although i've never tasted them both at the same time I have this little niggle in my heart that I prefer the 40% one which goes against everything my head as i'm a great believer in the Real Whisky Campaign of no chill-filtration and no colouring.
I think that there's only one way to solve this and that's to have a test-off between the two whiskies. I still have an unopened 40% bottle in the cupboard and will pick up a 46.3% one shortly and post the results on this site.
In conclusion though i think a lot of the feelings / memories around distant drams are more about the occasion when they are drunk and not about the whisky themselves and i know it's not possible to find a great occasion each and every time you try a whisky, it certainly would ne nice to try.