Remember the scene in Ratatouille when curmudgeonly food critic Anton Ego takes a bite of the title dish and is instantly transported back to his youth? A similar thing happened to me recently with a peat-laden scotch. Well, it didn't take me back to my childhood, thankfully, but it carried me to a warm, comfy cottage perched on the edge of Galway Bay in western Ireland.
Then a few days ago Himself came in with a bottle of Laphroaig, a 10-year-old single malt scotch. He poured a wee dram of the stuff, set it on the arm of the sofa and went off in search of a book, safe in the knowledge that I'd never pinch his drink. I leaned over and took a sniff. The rich peaty aroma reminded me of the fires in all those cozy living rooms and bedrooms and sitting rooms I've enjoyed on trips to Ireland and Scotland. So I ventured a sip--and my senses and memory merged to catapult me from my living room in Los Angeles and plant me next to a peat fire in the Connemara. I could see that kitchy living room in front of me, and I actually teared up from the remembering. It was as if I were breathing in the essence of the fire our dear hostess Mamie had laid for us before she headed out to a wedding, singing a sweet, "Don't wait up for me, dearies!" as she closed the door behind her.
I've never had an experience like that. Himself knows how I am about ambers, so he long ago quit offering me a sip. He walked back into the room and found me holding his glass.
"Wow! I love this!" I said, and I thought he was going to keel over. A look came across his face that said, "Who are you and what have you done with my wife?!"
So what do I call this? Molecular memory? Whatever it is, I'm glad to have discovered the peaty stuff. It's like enjoying a cigar without the smoke.
I'm eager to try some of the other peaty Scotches. Himself has his favorites, of which this is one, his others being Caol Ila and Ardbeg. I look forward to trying them after we polish off this bottle. But it's not a whisky to knock back. It's to be sipped, savored and enjoyed. I can wait for the pleasure of trying the others.