Well we've had a couple of false starts but slowly, surely, Summer is getting closer and closer, and if you're anything like me an evening's drinking habits change tack a little. Whilst I'm still drifting into cold evening fare (the other week I was drinking a bottle of Harviestoun's Old Engine Oil 'Old Engineer's Reserve') I generally find myself moving toward the hoppy end of the beer spectrum and away from dark warming brews. Stouts from the cellar give way to IPA from the fridge, currently heavily supplemented by a big beer order from BrewDog - if you're looking for big, hoppy, flavours I don't think you can go too far wrong.
Is there a whisky equivalent? When I head for the cabinet in search of a dram as the summer comes on I go less for the peaty end of things - there's something about the bonfire notes of a dram like Argbeg Uigedail or the Bunnahabhain 11 I wrote about the other week that seem to exude warmth. Similarly big, rich sherry-cask aged whiskies can be a bit heavy come the summer (unless you're talking Glenfarclas 105 with an ice cube - heresy maybe, but summer heaven). That's not to say I don't think whisky can be a summer drink, I'd go for it any time of year. Much as I enjoy a gin & tonic I prefer one as an aperitif rather than something to while away a contemplative hour or so of a late evening.
It's decision time then. What to add to the cabinet for a late spring whisky? Speyside is a natural destination for something sweet, lighter and more summer-friendly, but there are other light, delicate drams out there. I've particularly enjoyed Bunnahabhain 12 recently, it seems to be a much more complex dram than I remember (might be my palate, might be the fact that since 2010 they eschew chill filtration). Balblair's 1997 offering is also in the running for my first bottle for the summer; another sweet, easy-drinker that I've been impressed with recently (Inverhouse are obviously gearing their production to my palate*). Others in the running are Glen Garioch Virgin Oak and Bruichladdich Classic Scottish Barley.
If anyone has any recommendations feel free to pass them on, in the mean time I'll carry on musing and attacking that stash of IPA I think.
* OK, probably not!