Tastings

Tasting with a wean

Instead of the usual acidic finish, why not enjoy a somewhat sweeter, slightly sentimental, but not overpowering, finish with John Lamond- just for a change
By John Lamond
I became a father at the age of 46, after 11 years of happy marriage, during which my mantra had always been: “Budgies are much less trouble!”With hindsight, parenthood is something which I possibly should have experienced many years ago. The demands of this little person are a real shock to a system which is, or rather was becoming, somewhat set in its ways. A greater discipline is now necessary. Greater tolerance and patience are also absolute necessities. I find that I have lost two or even three hours work each day. My sessions of tasting have to be slotted in around her necessary routines, and this is difficult: I only taste three whiskies in a single session and attempt to taste either at midday or around 4.30 to 5.00pm when my palate is at its most receptive – ie when I am hungry. Unfortunately, these times almost always coincide with the times when my little girl is hungry! The result is several deadlines which haven’t been met, and several close calls.Some new aromas have been added to my tasting palate, and yes, with Jamie Walker of Adelphi I recently experienced a cask of Linkwood which smells exactly the same as the first nappy of the morning – it was disgusting, but I can now put an identity to the stench. And no, it didn't taste quite as bad as it smelt. And yes, of course I had to taste it. I am a true professional!Her name is Kirsty, and she has been treated to the aromas of classed growth clarets, fine Burgundies, quite a number of the world’s wines as well as some of Scotland and Ireland’s finest single malts. A glass placed under her nose, allowing her to inhale the delights of its contents, is something that she seems to genuinely enjoy. Even her father's lecture on the contents of the glass, why it smells the way it does and the life history of its producer are seemingly absorbed with pleasure.A recent conversation with Veronique Drouhin, of the Burgundian négociant family, elicted the information that her daughter Hélène was permitted to taste a drip off the end of her finger from the age of two months and, as is common in France, to drink a very small amount from the bottom of a glass from two years. As I write, Kirsty is approaching two years of age . Since August I have allowed her to taste from a glass – against her mother’s better judgement. She adores the aroma of champagne and desperately wants to sup from the glass of Sherry Finish Glenmorangie. She recognises a wine glass with excitement, particularly the larger Bordeaux glasses, and comes to expect the ritual nosing of a fine aged malt. She has even experienced, and had explained to her, the sad aroma of a corked wine and a corked whisky.Her mother can be quite scathing about dessert wines and, I very much regret to admit, has no time for the world’s whiskies. I hope that Kirsty will grow up more open-minded and appreciative of these gems. Perhaps her father is expecting too much of her, but that is what fathers are supposed to do – isn't it?Her first words? “Speyside, west of Craigellachie, probably 15 to 18 years old – possibly Glenfarclas?” And you know, she was right! n‘Wean’ is the Scottish word for a young child.