Nothing like a nosing at 9 in the morning. To prepare for it, Topi pours us all a shot of Dalwhinnie (“It’s a breakfast whisky”) to go along with our bacon butties. Then it’s off to the distillery.
Our group of whisky tasters includes several Brits who have been sailing aboard a magnificent 56-foot gaff-rigged cutter, Eda Frandsen. A tall chap, with a walrus mustache and wearing a cotton candy-colored polo shirt with the collar turned up, the way they used to do in the 80s, sniffs an 18-year-old whisky Billy has just poured us and, in a very proper British accent, says, “I’m getting dried prawn shells in the nose on this one, Billy.”
Dried prawn shells? It’s all Billy and I can do to keep from snorting this fine whisky out our nose as we try and hold back our laughter.
In a show of one-upmanship, another British noser, an old guy who looks a bit like Peter O’Toole after a long night of boozing, says, “I don’t think it’s dried prawn shells at all. More like smoked haddock, I should think.”
“Typical toff nonsense,” Billy whispers to me.
“What’s a toff?” I whisper back.
“Upper-class British arse heid,” Billy says.
The British toff, who is actually a rather well-respected whisky writer from London who shall go nameless, makes similarly ridiculous comments about various expressions of Caol Ila whisky. He finds the 12-year-old tastes of “shellacked sandalwood” and a rare cask-strength whisky to have a “lot of fruitcake taste, although now that I think of it, it’s more the smell of the mix before you actually bake the cake rather than the cake itself.”
What I want to know is this: How would anyone know what shellacked sandalwood tastes like?