Taming the Beast Within – Why I Drink Scotch Whisky



Aye, uisce beatha! Oh, water of life! How thee spirits can calm thy savage beast. (Or, sometimes turn a nice guy into a barbarian! But, that’s another post.)  The golden grain elixir can inspire poetry and melody. It’s a tonic for thought and serenity. Or, it’s just a delicious drink for friends getting together for some conversation and laughs!

If, after an evening of drinking wine, you find yourself having difficulty sleeping, then it may be a result of the sugars in the wine. Most wines have a lot of sugar, Scotch has none, except after your body processes the alcohol. Enjoying a Dram of Scotch, was a routine practice of Gussy. Augusta Geist, her proper name, was a 107-year-old Holocaust survivor.

A “dram” is a 35-50 ml pour of whisky. (Spelled “whisky” if it’s from Scotland, or “whiskey” if it’s from Ireland.)  Adding just a couple drops of water to a dram will release a host of secondary and tertiary flavor notes. Depending on the alcohol content of the whisky, adding varying amounts of chilled water ( 2-3 drops at 40% ABV, 1/2 – whole teaspoon at 43% ABV, and 1 or more at 46% ABV and above) will lessen the heat from the alcohol. It will also lessen the anaesthetising effect of the alcohol on the ability to smell and taste. (However, you may find that adding water has little effect with certain whisky’s like Ardbeg 10-year old Scotch.)

The slight dilution usually enables the taste to round and mellow. In addition, if the pour is allowed to sit for a while, in a covered glen cairn (a favorite glass for designed for enjoying Scotch), then even more tastes release. Scotch has as much complexity, or possibly even more, than red wine!
Don’t worry if the whisky gets a little cloudy after you add water. Visible cloudiness means that the whisky wasn’t processed using chill filtering.  Chill filtering is thought to be a more expedient process to have the whisky appear clear at the expense of losing some flavour. And, don’t get fooled by the nice rich amber color. Unless stated on the label that the whiskey has no artificial coloring, be assured that there’s probably caramel 150a added. (More and more refineries are dropping this practice.)
Another benefit is that whisky is less acidic (has a lower PH level) than wine! You may notice that your tummy will be much less affected by a few drams than by the comparable abv% equivalent amount of wine.

A further dividend is that whisky contains more ellagic acid than any other drink. Ellagic acid is a phenol antioxidant that helps support the immune system, and some believe contributes to preventing cancer.  It can also support good blood flow and help prevent heart disease. (Too much drink can have the opposite effect.) It’s no wonder that Gussy was so healthy!  Of course, her evidently great genetics and drive for survival and much, or more, to do with her longevity.

Finally, the slower-paced sipping and enjoying of a good dram may help you to slow down and relax in other areas of your life. There no need forcing things to happen. There may be an improved ability to observe events unfold, with added patience. You may experience a general calming down and taking your time. Remember, the operative word is temperance.

The American Indians appropriately called whisky fire water. Yes, fire can destroy, but it can also power a steam engine, warm a home, cook a meal, or bring light to darkness.

 To Your Health! Cheers!


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James Finn

Author: James Finn

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