Cutty Sark


WARREN BOBROW

On Whiskey is a monthly column on whiskey and whiskey drinks by Warren Bobrow. For more of this great column, click this logo.

On Whiskey is a monthly column on whiskey and whiskey drinks by Warren Bobrow. For more of this great column, click this logo.

Just to set the record straight from the get go, I’ve never really liked Scotch whisky. I think the reason for this dates back to my years in prep school. You either drank the Jack Daniels that magically appeared or you drank Scotch appropriated from our parents’ bars. There was so much drinking going on during the 60s and 70s that no one seemed to notice who was drinking what.

One such evening, which may have started my historic dislike for Scotch, involved what today would have been a thing of rare beauty. But to someone with a young palate, in things peaty and smoky, it ruined me, at least until now. Because I didn’t want to drink anything else! The occurrence was in the home of a gentleman who is gone now. He was in government, secretary of something or other and he “invested’ heavily during the early 1950s in Scotch. Many people splurge on whisky, except they usually sell the whisky because there is no viable way to get it from the distillery to the port, from the port to a vessel, clear customs on both side of the pond and then find someone to warehouse it, because you cannot just bring barrels of whisky to the USA without paying taxes!

But this gentleman did bring his 30 year old whisky home – for him it wasn’t the cost, it’s what it represented to him. So in his garage, instead of his cars, he had barrels of his investment, extraordinarily fine Scotch whisky. And he shared this liquid bounty with anyone who wanted, primarily because he could. And I drank all that I could get my hands on.

It was a winter night (sounds like a screenplay) and I drove up to the manse along with several dozen of my friends for a party for the man’s granddaughter, who went to another private school in the area. The old man was, as usual, in the garage with his thief and cups. He had lots of cups. He would dip the thief into the barrel and pull out a few dozen drams and give them out. We’d drink our fill and then some. And then drink some more whisky again. I couldn’t tell you what was in the cask, all that I remember is that the casks were stained dark black and everything smelled like a distillery. He was a good guy, all politics aside. Years later when he passed away, people still commented about his love of the golden whisky that he gave to many. He certainly influenced my drinking.

Something went horribly wrong in college in Boston. My roommate was a inveterate drunk. He would carry a flask of something like Johnny Walker Red Label with him everywhere. It was always available in our dorm room and I drank it without care. I would drink it until it didn’t taste good any longer. So I stopped drinking Scotch altogether because it reminded me of bad things in my life during college. It’s pretty amazing how liquor holds memories, just like wine I should imagine. Food too.

But I do try to like what I find un-enjoyable. I’m not sure why I try, maybe for the pleasure of taste or to put the demons to bed, finally. That’s why I write about liquor- not everything is going to be to my own taste!

So imagine my great surprise when I received a bottle of Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Blended Scotch Whisky. I would have the chance to enjoy something that to this date has not given me much pleasure. I do hold out hope that this bottle will be the one to unlock that smoke and fire elements of whisky over say, bourbon or rye.

The Cutty Sark bottle is jet black in color. It has a nice long neck that makes it easy to pour. Embossed into the front of the bottle is the script writing, The Real McCoy. This should tell me that what is in the bottle is the real thing. I know it is more marketing that anything, but it does say quality to me. The label is handsome and appears to be raised lettering, not just sprayed on, but the material has a texture to it. Pulling the cork requires a bit of effort because it is not synthetic. It’s real cork, a very nice touch that shows attention to detail. And this whisky is all about the details, right down to the 100 proof alcohol level. There is nothing wimpy or watered down about it. I’m sure that there is a bit of water cutting the whisky down from barrel strength, but this is a blend, not single malt, so this is to be expected. I’m just letting the bottle sit open, waiting for the aromas to come twirling out of the bottle. I have the window open and the smell of the ocean is coming in adding a salty tang to the raw April breeze. It’s going to rain and that’s perfect weather to whisky-drinking weather. I’m detecting the aroma of freshly made butterscotch and Indian spices- more like Tellicherry peppercorn than, say, a Sichuan pink peppercorn. There is honey that is enveloping my head and I’m pouring a wee dram for tasting purposes only. On the nose it’s rich and spicy, the aromatics are of fresh hay, peppery arugula and maple syrup. The finish is peppery and treacle molasses followed up by the 100 proof heat that burns like a steam powered freight train without brakes on a high mountain pass. In the middle of the winter. That’s how it feels going down. This is not stuff for the inexperienced drinker. I think it would be just masterful in a Rob Roy with a Luxardo Cherry… Oh, I’d use Carpano for this one. Or maybe Atsby Armadillo Cake if you could get it. Try DrinkupNY. This is just gorgeous stuff. Even for a non-Scotch drinker like myself. One of the best I’ve ever tried? Absolutely. The non-chill filtered bottling makes it perfect.

Get some now!

Cocktail Whisperer’s Somewhat Twisted Rob Roy

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition Blended Scotch Whisky
  • 1 oz. Carpano Antica or Atsby Armadillo Cake Sweet Vermouth
  • ¼ oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 oz. Fruitations Ruby Red Grapefruit Cocktail and Soda Syrup
  • 4 drops Figgy Pudding Bitters from Arizona Bitters Lab
  • Home cured cherry (cover cherries in bourbon or Scotch for 2 weeks or more (pitted) before using- throw out those fake things NOW… NOW!)

Preparation:

To a Boston Shaker, fill ¾ with ice. Add the liquors, juices and syrup from Fruitations.

Shake hard. Shake like crazy for 30 seconds or more…

Pour into a coupe glass and drip the Figgy Pudding bitters over the top and garnish with a cherry.

That’s it!

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