Cigar Aficionado

Feeling Scotch

I'm not much with digging into my emotions, yet I think I'm having one right now. My wife says it's guilt, but I'm not sure I trust her because that's what she thinks I always should feel.

Anyway, it has to do with all this Scotch I've been drinking-specifically some of the greatest single-malt whiskies in the world. It started when I toured Scotland in June, visiting Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Glenkinchie, Macallan, Cardhu and Laphroaig, all in the space of a week. Everybody was generous with their most outrageous malts, but we had one especially idyllic experience on a boat off the shores of Islay, sipping 30-year-old Laphroaig as we looked in at the distillery on the shore, puffins flying by and seals diving off of rocks. Thank you, John Campbell.

This sort of Scotch immersion hasn't stopped since as I've written a column in Wine Spectator on the subject, my Cigar Aficionado story is in the current issue and I'm in the midst of tasting just about every malt imaginable for Wine Spectator. Not only that, I just hosted a cigar and malt pairing at the Big Smoke Las Vegas with six (count 'em, Auchentoshan Three Wood, Glenlivet Nadurra, Macallan 18, Glenmorangie Signet, Bowmore 15 and Ardbeg) single malts.

But wait, there's more: A month ago Bowmore visited with an opportunity to taste its 40-year-old and the trilogy of Black, White and Gold. These are all classics of exquisite qualities and I teetered on the verge of a psychic explosion as I tried them in succession.

Then last week Malt Advocate, our new sister publication, hosted its WhiskyFest, which offers dozens of malts and also brought on a handful of separate tasting opportunities. Richard Patterson invited me to a dinner for Dalmore's new Mackensie release and he snuck me a chance to taste the 40-year-old: a mind scrambler.

So when Michael Herklots of the New York Davidoff store called me the other day to go to a cigar and Glenmorangie dinner, including master distiller Dr. Bill Lumsden, I was feeling an embarrassment of riches. I couldn't possibly take advantage of another Scotch tasting like that. How could I justify hogging yet more malts when people are forced to drink sake in Asia?

Well, I went anyway. And it was outrageous.

So, do I feel guilty as my wife suggests I should? Ehhhhh, no. The emotion I feel is more complex and it one goes much deeper than that—all the way back to the playgrounds of grade school. The German's probably have a multisyllabic word for it, but English lacks such a term. Fortunately, however, it can be expressed in one simple phrase: Na-na-na-na-na!

"Hey Jack, i was going to try a Padron 64 and I was hoping you could recommend a nice drink to pair with it. Thanx" —December 12, 2010 20:30 PM
"Hello and thank you for a great rundown on part of the Big Smoke in Las Vegas! I have enjoyed reading the reports on the various activities on the web site and am very interested in attending a Big Smoke in 2011. That said, do you know when the next one will be in Las Vegas, or any other East Coast venue? Because of my job I have to plan far in advance...Hope to see you at the next one...thanks...r3" —November 29, 2010 11:32 AM
"Jack Bettridge, If you ever need a personal assistant to tag along and drink the finest spirits and smoke the finest cigars, I will gladly tag along! I saw you and David Savona at WhiskyFest NYC and I have to say, that was the highlight of my night. I was the guy with all of the cigars. David Savona actually checked out my stash of cigars and gave me a pretty good rating (90+). The night was great and thank you to all of you at Cigar Aficionado for what you do. " —November 19, 2010 21:30 PM