Whisky daze

Getting sent to Seoul to cover a golf tournament wasn’t something I thought I’d be doing ever. It definitely wasn’t something my golf-loving dad thought I’d ever do but off I went. What have I learned from covering my first golf game? Well, there’s a lot of walking to do. Don’t diss golfers! They have to walk the whole damn course (I think).

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I managed interview last year’s winner without hopefully sounding too stupid and golf-nooby, which was posted here (he was cute). When Bernd Weisberger won last year’s Ballantine’s Championship, he went to Scotland and created his version of the Champion’s Blend, which sounded pretty fun. They only make like 10 bottles of the stuff so we didn’t get to sample that, but I did go on a mini tour of Seoul’s nightlife and spent three evenings downing copious amounts of alcohol, mainly whisky (which you can also read about here! This blog post has become a shameless plug of my “real” articles.)

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We did a sampling of four 17 year old blends of Ballantines’ named for four different regions of Scotland at a bar called Parity Bit (after some computer thing, address is: 7-19 Nonhyun-Dong, Gangnam-gu, no website). The four blends were Original, Glenburgie, Scapa and Miltonduff and each was paired respectively with dark chocolate, white chocolate, vanilla and orange to bring out the flavours. It was an interesting lesson in colour and taste and we proceeded from there to hit up one more bar that night, and another two the night after. Basically by the end of two days I was dunzo.

And then we went back to Blackstones and did this, at 11am in the morning.

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This time we got to sample  a 17 year old, 21 year old., a limited edition and a 30 year old. We also had a lesson in the finer points of tasting whisky (add water so that the aroma comes out more) and learned about the different tasting notes of each. At the end of the day, I have to say that my uncultured palette preferred the 17 year-old (which means the youngest whisky in the blend is 17 years) – obviously this goes towards my preference for youth. The taste of Ballantine’s 17 year-old is more subtle and sweat, with the spice coming from the highlands and the floral coming from the lowlands (so say my notes). The 30-year-old was probably the most impressive, with a lingering taste which was very rich and oak-influenced.

I wouldn’t say I’m a whisky expert by far after this trip but I’ve definitely learned to appreciate it more.. I’d even go so far as to say I’ve learned to appreciate golf more too! At least I know a bit more about how it works and a little more about the personalities of the game (this was largely in thanks to Alex, editor for HK Golfer who had to put up with me on most of the trip, http://www.hkgolfer.com). All things considered though, it will probably will be awhile before anyone asks me to write about golf again, but hey we can always hope on the whisky front.

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