So now there are rumblings in England as there have been in Scotland to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol as the nanny state decides to tell adult citizens once more to behave as they wish. I really don’t see why the majority of adults should be penalised in this manner; yes regular over-drinking is a big problem in the UK, but let’s be bloody honest here, hiking the prices up will just penalise most citizens who enjoy a drink but don’t binge, don’t get into drunken, violent fights and end up in casualty at the weekend.

While over drinking can be a problem in all levels of society if we’re all really honest we know full and fine well the vast bulk of drink related problems, both health and crime related, are caused by scumbag neds (or chavs as they call them in England). So we should instead tailor any such legislation to penalise ned drinks – whopping tax on the odious Buckfast tonic wine (and perhaps firebomb the monastery that makes the bloody stuff), alcopops and Carlsberg super. While that wouldn’t completely wipe out alcohol abuse in the UK I suspect it would cut it down enormously. Or we could just cull neds. But since booze is already hugely taxed (and going up above inflation every year) why should I get screwed for the sake of these idiots?

World Whisky of the Year

Islay single malt Ardbeg has won the World Whisky of the Year title in the Whisky Bible 2008 (a much better Good Book than the Good Book). I heartily approve; there’s a rapidly diminishing bottle of Ardbeg in my malt collection here in Woolamaloo Mansion and it is a damned fine malt. Along with Bowmore it is one I often recommend to people who aren’t used to single malts as a very smooth drink, easy to go down but still with a lovely combination of scents and tastes (scent and taste being inextricably linked). Recently I had to dissuade a Norwegian friend who kept putting ice into his whisky from doing so – it isn’t just insulting to the drink, it ruins it, since a glass of good malt should be held in the hand for a few moments to warm it with your own body heat, not chilled by ice like some cheap, trashy bourbon like Jack Daniels (which isn’t a whisky, I don’t care what the adds say, it’s a bourbon and not worthy of the title ‘whisky’, even if they mis-spell it with an extra ‘e’).

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a whisky bore, I’m not one of those folks who can take a sniff and say, ah, that’s a 15 year old from the Angus Og Distillery on Auchenshoogle which has rested in oak barrels on the left hand side of the building… Nope, not that good – I can tell a good malt from a crap blend, but I’m not an expert. What I do like is – and increasingly as I get older – is enjoying the full range of a good drink (or food for that matter) and the includes the temperature, the scents that pre-inform my taste buds, then the taste on the tongue and, just as important, the after-taste it leaves. Malts come in such a complexity of colours and tastes and aromas that they are a delight to the senses and should never be treated like some cheap spirit with a few ice cubes, it isn’t just a drink, it is an experience, a sensual experience of pleasure.

I tend to take the same approach with my coffee – I take the time at lunch to brew proper, fresh coffee rather than instant and every day before I drink it I take a sniff and let the aroma tingle my senses first. It turns an everyday happening into a sensual pleasure and makes me appreciate it ten times more, it tunes the senses and delights them. You can do the same with good cheeses, wines, all sorts of things; don’t just drink it down or stuff it in, take a tiny bit of extra time, take it slightly slower, appreciate it, revel in it (and since someone took time to make it well, you should take a bit of time to appreciate it in turn). It’s the difference between a quick peck on the cheek and a long, lingering kiss. And it makes everyday life more pleasurable.