Whisky Blues and Back to School

Tuesday was an odd day. I went to see my new therapist for the second time and later on I went to a whisky tasting and ended up drunk and maudlin.

To start at the beginning, so to speak, lets talk about my counselling. (feel free to skip to the bold section below where I talk about Dalmore)
I have always been a little dubious about the process of trying to uncover the unconscious feelings that influence our feelings, thoughts and behaviours – not because I don’t think that such things exist but because I think that the process of making such things conscious alters them. Similarly whilst I would never want to deny that my past experiences have shaped who I am now I would also choose not to dwell on their impact both because I am more than the sum of these experiences but also because in remembering them I also reinvent them. [yes I have spent a lot of time reading and analysing postmodern discourses of self and narrative – modern academic get over it]. Nonetheless in moving beyond CBT I know that I must embrace the process of more traditional therapeutic models and I hope that I can re-evaluate if not actually who I have been then at least my image of myself as it is projected over the past.

So yesterday after gently steering my counsellor past the topic of relationships we moved to a discussion of my experience of school. It was hard  to try and recapture my thoughts and feelings about my education. On the one hand I recognise that I had a privileged and smooth ride and on the other I feel no sense of nurture or positivity associated with the learning itself.
My secondary education was at a fee-paying all-girls school. I was a weekly boarder. It was not rough, bullying and criminal activity were low-grade and I was mostly oblivious to it, though perhaps more involved in the oddities of group warfare than I would care to remember. The school was moderately academically focused but not exceptional and had a respectable reputation for sports, music and drama. I was (with the exception of music and art) good at most things but not the best.
Overall it was sheltered and intensive not cruel but not encouraging. I don’t really have bad memories but it was interesting to consider the impact of the attitudes of fellow students and teachers to my attitude to myself.

On a (related but) separate topic – it rather seems that I get maudlin with a certain amount of booze. For no particular reason other than quite a lot of whisky and quite a small amount of self-esteem I reduced myself to floods of tears and a small piece of misery alleviated only by sleep. It doesn’t happen so much any more but still I am capable of tying myself up to such a point I can only see my failures as a person and the ways in which I let people down. This must be really annoying for everyone else. sorry.

On the other hand I did try some really very nice whisky. We had a rep for Whyte & Mackay come and talk about Dalmore.

(No emotional stuff from here onwards – except wistfulness for bottle I may never afford) The Dalmore core range consists of the 12, 15, 18 and newly (re)released cigar malt. Although not a whisky I was familiar with growing up it has undergone a strong branding process over the last few years (look for the 12pt ‘metal’ stags head stuck to the bottle) and is now a comfortable (neither extortionate nor cheap) go-to drink.
The 12 year old is fresh on palate, a reasonable alcoholic nose. reviewers have made a lot of the orange flavours (jokes a bout marmalade and breakfast whiskies ensued) but what I noticed was the dry cocoa finish.
By contrast the 15 is positively sweet. Rather than being a blend of liquors aged in white oak and sherry cask (like the 12) this is started in the white oak and then finished in sherry (with the blender mixing different sherry casks to get the balance) and as such the sherry is much more pronounced giving an almost vinous feel. Overall our verdict was that this drinks more like a rum and whilst if your wallet allows you might knock some back whilst deciding what you actually want to drink it perhaps isn’t something for a hardened whisky-drinker.
The 18 goes back to a more classic taste. It is clearly reminiscent of the 12 but with more kick and more depth, partially through the additional sherry flavours which have softened and are less overpowering than in the 15 (though the aging process is more similar to the 15). I could and would drink a lot of this.
However star of the evening must go to the cigar malt. Complex like the 18 although drier (harking I think to the sense of smoke without being smoky) it is more unexpected, warm and fruity. I really could imagine drinking this fireside, post-dinner with a cigar..

I like whisky.

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