To celebrate international whisky day, Whiskysponge has managed to secure a rare interview with the drink itself.
WS: So…how are you?
W: Ok, I suppose. I’ve been blended a lot lately and left to sit around in Asian warehouses for quite some time which is undeniably testing but there’s not much to be done about that so I probably shouldn’t complain.
W: What exactly is a ‘whiskysponge’?
WS: Well…I absorb you I suppose.
W: I see. Couldn’t you just drink me like everyone else?
WS: Well I’m a non-human, partially metaphorical construct. And also I don’t have lips.
W: I don’t have lips either and I’m also a partial metaphor.
WS: So are we going to struggle to conduct an interview in the traditional question and response mode?
W: Well let’s find out but can we make it snappy because I’ve got to be nosed and tasted by a significant number of people today so I’m really quite busy.
WS: Yes of course, sorry. Where exactly are you from Mr Whisky?
W: I’m sorry but why do you assume I’m male?
WS: Just the thing to do really; a bit like God I suppose.
W: Well I can assure you that I am a thoroughly genderless liquid.
W: And what’s more – despite all this ‘Angel’s Share’ and ‘Devil’s Cask’ pish – I remain thoroughly agnostic. At least until the Pope and Richard Dawkins agree to participate in an unnecessarily violent bar brawl whilst reeking of me to determine the ultimate existence of any deity or higher form of being.
WS: Ok, well I don’t think we need to involve a third potentially metaphorical construct, certainly not one as flamboyant as God at any rate. So, where are you from ‘Whisky’ ?
W: I’m from Scotland, Ireland, Japan and most of North America but I also have a little Indian, French, Swedish, German and Australian in me. Not to mention a family tree that stretches quite far back to ancient Chinese, Persian and Egyptian cultures. Although, I was a different sort of character in those days mind you. All fireworks, eye shadow and surprisingly few parts per million phenol.
WS: How would you define yourself these days then?
W: Well ever since I graduated from 13th century monastic brewing culture I suppose I just sort of stumbled into being a malt based distillate. I used to be all about clarity and herbal infusions and providing methanol-induced infertility – but since I got into wood ageing I’ve never really looked back.
WS: Is there a particular age you enjoy being bottled at?
W: To be honest I don’t really have a preference. It all depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Sometimes I just feel like I’m five years old and I want to run about the place being totally off my tits on wood sugars, being lively as fuck and bouncing off the walls. But then there are more melancholy or pondersome days where I would really just rather lounge about from the ages of twenty to forty and be kind of relaxed and mysterious. Usually I’m quite happy to just flop along in a slightly adolescent ‘hands in the pockets’ ‘I’m off to develop an obnoxious taste in music’ teenage fashion.
WS: And what about when you’re bottled without an age?
W: Do you mean when I’m ‘NAS’?
W: Well – now I know people are getting their knickers in a twist over this lately – here’s the thing. I’ve actually been bottled as NAS for well over a century now. Even if you put blending aside – that’s another thing, I really don’t like it when I’m forced to share a room with my rather uncouth sibling Grain. But I digress, even just as a single malt I was bottled without an age statement ever since people stopped guzzling me direct from wooden transport casks in Victorian ale houses. I don’t really mind being vatted together and bottled as NAS, it can be a bit of a mind-tangling girofuck at times but it’s generally ok in principle. It’s just that there’s a rather disconcerting trend of giving me silly names and ever sillier price tags all the while hiding any real information about what I really am. Do you ever have those days where you just feel like you’re loosing your identity a little bit? It would drive me to drink but what does an alcohol do to drown its sorrows I ask you?
WS: I’m not sure there’s an answer to that. Is that what makes you such a caustic and edgy sort of character then?
W: Well, having said all that I suppose what irks me most is the things I’m forced to wear nowadays. I used to be kind of left to my own devices in some lovely, rather tasteful little refill hogsheads but now its all ‘vanilla’ this and ‘coconut’ that and ‘extra matured’. I hate vanilla, it really is such a vulgar flavour and yet that’s all they ever seem to dress me up in these days. Sometimes I just look in the mirror and I’m like’ give me some fucking minerals Goddamn it!” And I’m forever being evicted, just when you get comfy and settled in onc cask some burly men come and upend you into some horrid and completely overactive new cask. I barely ever have time to pack up my hemicellulose from my old cask.
WS: Do you want a tissue?
W: No. Why?
WS: Well it’s just that you’re crying?
W: Metaphors don’t cry!
WS: Right, of course, sorry. Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
W: In ten years time? Well, it’s hard to say, it really depends on what my commitments are abroad. Apparently they’re having some sort of issues with me when I’m blended where there’s rather a lot of me and sales are ‘stagnant’. If that keeps rumbling along I suppose things could get more relaxed for me when I’m in my native malty format. I’d quite like that to be honest, and my sibling Grain is managing to keep itself pre-occupied these days, hanging out with David Beckham all the time. If things kick off again though then it could all go tits up and I’ll just spend all my time being made in only four different distilleries by 2040.
WS: You mention your sibling Grain, has there been a long history of sibling rivalry between you?
W: No not at all. For a long time Grain and I were really just there to be blended for mass market consumption. Not an ideal situation but that’s just the way things evolved – bloody capitalism! It’s only recently that Grain has been getting all up in my face and being like “Look who’s the big important grain based alcohol now! I’m getting bottled as single cask and everyone loves me.” And I’m totally like “Whatever, they only pretend to love you because they can’t afford me anymore darling!”
WS: Do you have a favourite distillery to be made at?
W: Well I’ve never really enjoyed the distillation process at Mortlach or Springbank, it always feels like I’ve been on a particularly boke-inducing roller coaster going through all those half-distilliation bits and pieces. And don’t get me started on Glenmorangie, it’s basically a very very long uphill hike, the view at the top is undeniably pleasant but you’re only there for a few seconds and then BOOM you’re condensed again. I don’t mind being Clynelish but I’m not sure the wax is really good for my hair.
WS: Can partial metaphorical constructs have hair?
W: I like to think I have hair.
WS: Ok….but any distilleries you actually enjoy…?
W: Hmmmm, I used to very much enjoy being Laphroaig and Bowmore back in the 60s. Short stills, no rush, and so much tropical fruit I was getting well over my five a day at the time. I also always used to have a soft spot for being Speyside because I could sneak off and have a nap. It was great until someone ruined it with Michael Owen. Now I have to go and be Loch Lomond whenever I don’t want to be noticed or disturbed.
WS: What is your relationship like with other spirits?
W: Well when I’m young I don’t really get on well with any of them, although as I get older and wiser I suppose that I get closer to Rum and Brandy and we tend to get on a lot better together. Don’t get me started on that trashy slut Vodka though, and I can’t understand a word that Tequila says. I have always had a secret youthful soft spot for Mezcal but it is eccentric to say the least.
WS: What about wine?
W: It’s a tricky one. Sometimes I have to share a cask with that poncey bitch and it really is the roommate from hell but at other times there’s a grudging respect for one another. The best of times is where someone consumes a large amount of both of us over one night. We kick up a right storm then, it’s undeniably hilarious.
WS: How do you like to relax on your time off?
W: Oh, a nice big refill european oak butt with plenty of leg room, a quiet coastal dunnage warehouse and the chance to just catch a few decades of me time.
WS: What advice would you give to people interested in getting into you?
W: I’m a chilled out kind of drink, no need to be afraid of me or treat me with too much reverence. I enjoy a laugh as much as the next grain based, wood aged distillate. Sure I can be a complex character at times but I’m easy going and open, and if you take the time to get to know me we can have a lot of fun together over the years. Just remember not to take me too seriously.
W: Well that’s what it says on my Tinder profile anyway. Took me fucking ages to think that line up!
WS: Any luck with Tinder so far?
W: Mmmm, not really. Got a match the other day but I told them the story about how Jim Murray once had sex with some brazillian half-wit over a cask of me in a warehouse and I haven’t heard from them since.
WS: I’m sure you’ll find someone sooner or later. Maybe just don’t lead with that story next time.
W: I’ll bear it in mind.
WS: So what’s next for you Whisky and how will you be celebrating your international day?
W: I’ve got a busy year – particularly on Islay where I’ve got to be a bewildering amount of special Ardbeg and Laphroaig in a couple of months, I’ll have to work on my peatiness for that and probably go to the gym as well. Other than that just the usual crazy running around doing lots of day to day being whisky stuff and a few special events where I’ve got to be lots of older bottlings at nerdfests. Did you know that once a year in Limburg a load of Germans wear me round their necks in little tasting glasses on string? I mean it’s all well and good being a lovely old 1965 Longmorn but I have to dangle between a pair of sweaty German man boobs for hours on end. It’s a tough metaphorical existence sometimes I tell you!
WS: Ok. And what about International Whisky Day?
W: Well it’s all undeniably very flattering, it’s so nice to get all that attention and be enjoyed by so many people.
WS: What about your memories of Michael Jackson?
W: It was always a pleasure to be tasted by Michael, he really got me. Not to mention the fact that he was a great friend to my cousin Beer, especially when it was going through a period of time when it really had very few friends.
WS: Anything else you’d like to add?
W: Not really, I think we pretty much covered everything.
WS: Great, thanks for taking time to speak to Whiskysponge.
W: My pleasure.
Merry International Whisky Day from Whiskysponge. Xxx
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