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Let’s Talk about Memories and Whisky

Whisky and Memories

Most of us may find that specific flavours in our whiskies remind us of certain events or occasions in our lives. These memories can be good or bad. Sometimes, drinking a particular whisky helps us to remember the good times we had with our friends; while another whisky can bring up bad memories that we would rather forget.

Why do we have such feelings?

I am no scientist, and wouldn’t be able to go into the scientific notions of why our brains make us feel this way. However, I would like to offer my layman ideas about this.

Our Memories

Our memories are a part of us. It is possibly the one function of our brain that keeps us sane most of the time. The art of remembering is essential to our daily lives and in fact, necessary for our survival.

While a significant part of our memory is crucial to our survival as it helps us to avoid danger, a smaller portion of our mind helps us experience life moments. We remember our wedding day; the day our child is born; our graduation day. These memories can be pleasant or unpleasant, dependent on our feelings toward the individual events.

The same goes for food and flavours. Things get more complex. Say, for example, you remember that you were eating a chicken pie when your child is born. The association of chicken pie and happy moment (child is born) will give you a fuzzy, comfortable feeling whenever you smell or eat a chicken pie. The link is unconscious to you.

Enjoying Whisky

If you own a Glencairn glass, check out the graphics on the box, teaching you how to enjoy whisky. The graphics show you how to use your senses to look, smell and taste the whisky. Such simple acts come to us naturally, even though the first time may be tough. We learn how to enjoy and appreciate whisky over time using our senses.

Our brains recognise and remember the different flavours of whisky. As we progress in our whisky journey, we begin to link the different whisky flavours to the food and drinks that we know.

Linking Memories and Whisky Flavours

At some point in our whisky journey, our adaptive minds will begin to connect our life experiences (memories) with the different flavours that we detect in our whiskies. It is the start of our new adventures of linking memories to the whiskies that we enjoyed. Some whisky flavours will give us a warm, comfortable feeling because the association is with a pleasant experience or memory that we had. Others will have us cringing because the smell or taste of it reminds us of an unpleasant association with another memory.

Perhaps it is vital for us to understand the feelings that certain flavours generate to allow us to avoid stereotyping specific whiskies as something that we will never enjoy. I used to dislike Laphroaig tremendously as the flavours of the whisky remind me of a certain garbage smell that I hate as a child. As I grow in my whisky journey, I began to understand the link between my life experiences and my choice of whisky. With that understanding, I began to let go of my biases and try more Laphroaigs that was offered to me. While I still dislike many of the Laphroaigs that I tried, I discovered that I could accept some of them.

Growing in your Whisky Journey

All of us grow in our whisky journeys as we move along in life. It is common for us to discover that our taste buds change with time. Such changes lead us to favour and disfavour certain whisky profiles. However, it does not mean that you will not toggle back and fro from the various flavours that you enjoy. At the moment in my journey, I toggle between peat and bourbon-matured whiskies, which is a far cry from my previous enjoyment of heavily sherried whiskies. I am not in a hurry to throw out my sherried whiskies though, because who knows when I will begin to enjoy them again.

 

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5 Things that Reflect why Whisky is Life-changing

 

A brand new year deserves some reflections on the past year and what we learnt from the full 12 months that we survived. Geek Choc and Geek Flora recently sat down for a session of reflections for 2017/2018. Our conversation veered off towards whisky and life. We discovered that there are so many similarities!

It was a somewhat interesting discussion, and hence, we decided to post our thoughts on it. This post is dedicated to all whisky drinkers out there in the world.

Whisky and Life

Our musing took us back to our younger days when we first started learning to drink whisky. Our small group used to have this saying, “Life is like a glass of whisky, you appreciate it, and then you drink it.” As we reflected on 2017, we concluded that there was some truth in it. In life, we must learn to appreciate what we have, and then, we drink up all the good and the bad that life throws at us. There is no use in complaining about how tough life is. Someone else out there is probably having a harder time.

It was at this point that it hit both of us hard that whisky is life-changing. If we apply what we learn about whisky in our daily lives, we are likely to be happier human beings! We came up with five things about whisky-drinking that we can apply in our daily lives.

Look at the colour

When we drink whisky in a Glencairn glass, we tend to check out the colour of the whisky we are having. Swirl it around the glass to see the tears and hold the glass up to the light for a colour check. We take time to appreciate the beauty of whisky.

In life, we rush from one activity to the next; hardly stopping in our steps to watch the sky and clouds. We forget the flowers, the beautiful sights we can see in architecture and even the people close to us.  If we can “look at the colours” of our lives in the same way we look at the colour of our whiskies, we could, perhaps, appreciate our lives better. Show more care for the people we love and show our appreciation for the beauty around us. Be thankful that we have a roof over our heads and a beautiful country to live in.

Nose the whisky

The next step in appreciating whisky is to nose it. We nose the whisky in the glass because we want to capture the aromas and guess how the palate will be. We love the nose because it invokes so much imagination of how the whisky will taste. It gives us a sense of longing to put the liquid in our mouths.

If we can slow down the activities in our lives, and stop to smell the flowers the same way we nose the whisky, we benefit from the slower pace. By asking you to smell the flowers, we are not saying that you should go to a park and physically smell all the flowers there! What we are suggesting, is to slow down and be mindful of the people around you. Every person whom you come along is a blooming flower; how we treat that person will result in either a bigger bloom or a wilted flower. It reminds us that we have to be polite and appreciative of the people around us.

Take a small sip before taking a bigger sip

We tend to drink in a two-steps method to get the full palate of the whisky when we drink. A small sip to coat the mouth and adjust the palate, before we take a bigger sip and hold the liquid in our mouth for a while to get the flavours. It is a helpful way for us to get the full picture of what the whisky is offering, and we think that it applies to life too.

We resolved to take things slower and do things in a two-step method as well. When we work, we want to handle the small things first before taking on the bigger challenge so that we will not be overwhelmed. By managing our workload, we make sure that we are not overly stressed and that helps to reduce mistakes and produce quality work. In the same way at home, getting the simple chores out of the way first can pave your energy to tackle the bigger tasks that need to be done.

Holding the Liquid in the Mouth for a full flavour

As mentioned above, we like to keep the liquid in the mouth for a short while for a full character. It helps us to detect the subtleness of the whisky and also explore the different aromas that we can get. At the same time, it coats the palate beautifully for us to appreciate the finish of the whisky after swallowing.

We thought that this is a useful method to use for communication in our daily lives. If we could hold the unkind words for a moment and think about the impact those words will have, we may not say it at all. In this hectic lifestyle that we lead, it is common for us to hurt another person’s feelings by merely uttering some unkind or thoughtless words. We damage the relationship and sometimes, even damage our reputation. It was indeed an excellent way for us to be kinder in 2018.

Taking Note of the Finish

The last step in our whisky appreciation is always about the finish. We check to see if the finish resonates with the nose and the palate and whether it is pleasant, dry, oily or otherwise. It is also the conclusion of the whisky tasting notes, and it helps us to consolidate the nose, palate and finish into what we call the balance or body of the whisky.

We liken the finish of whisky to our memories and past experiences. Just as a finish define the whisky, our memories and past experiences represent us, both the good and the bad. The good ones keep us going while the bad ones make us tougher. How we deal with bad memories and experiences also help us to learn and grow.

Taking small steps forward in appreciation

It was a thought-provoking session for us, and we hope that it has made you think harder as well. We can all take small steps forward in learning appreciation – for whisky, for life or both. There is no time to lose, and we are determined not to let 2018 slip away without us making the necessary changes in our lifestyles to include a “whisky-drinking session” in our everyday lives!

If you think that this is useful for you, please share the post and spread the word. Sharing is Caring, isn’t it? 😀

 

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