Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP): Every Tuesday, I re-post a past post that I think is relevant and that you’ll enjoy.
This post was originally published on February 10, 2013 and updated on January 8, 2019.
Good Sunday to you! You may remember that I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) here in Germany. Last year I picked up a contract to teach ESL on the local U.S. Army post. The students are family members of U.S. Soldiers and other people involved in running the base, such as locals who work in the commissary and so forth.
As is the case most of the time, not everyone showed up who’d promised to be there. In fact, only one of my students, Carmela, came that evening, but she brought along her husband and brother-in-law.
Catharina, a native German, had done her homework and presented the process and history of whisky-making to us with nary a mistake in her English:
We sampled a 3-year-old whisky, the youngest they are allowed to sell it in Scotland. We also got to try a 15-year-old and a 19-year-old whisky as well:
Along the way we learned how to enjoy whisky, which is not to drink it cold or on the rocks because it mutes the flavors. We learned how to add a few drops of purified water to bring out certain qualities of the whisky. We also learned what shape of glass is best and how to warm it in our hands to further enjoy the qualities of it.
Here are the three guests taking the presentation very seriously:
And here is Carmela sampling the roasted barley, or malt, which is the main ingredient for whisky.
Interestingly, the barley malt we tasted came from the local Weyermann malt processing plant here in Bamberg next to the train station. It’s a huge, red-brick
complex that’s been there since before I first saw it back in 1987 and Catharina said they export malt all over the world. The whisky we sampled may very well have been made from barley malted at Weyermann! As an aside, the malt plant smells like burning bananas to me on certain days. Not sure why.
Other things we learned:
- Whisky originated in Ireland and Scotland. Its name comes from the Gaelic for “water of life.”
- Up to a certain point, making beer and whisky are identical processes. At that crucial point, if you add hops, you’re making beer. If you distill it, you’re making whisky!
- When it’s spelled “whisky” it’s from Scotland and you can call it Scotch. When it’s spelled “whiskey” it’s from other places like the USA, Ireland or Canada.
- The term “single-malt whisky” means it came from only one distillery. “Blended whisky” means it came from more than one distillery and is blended by a sort of middle-man outfit. “Bourbon whisky” means other grains besides or in addition to barley are used.
Here are Silvia and Catharina making sure we got the correct sample amount!
By the time it was over, Catharina had educated us well. The ladies were gracious hosts and we had a wonderful, informative time. I’m so thrilled at the job they did for our little group!
Of course, afterward we shopped the whole store. I bought a whisky-tasting kit that has 8 sample bottles and we all sampled oil, vinegar and liqueur as well. I think the shop made out pretty good on our purchases!
After the presentation and shopping, the four of us newly educated whisky experts went to a nice dinner at a very good local Indian restaurant. What a great evening! I invite all of you to visit me with the promise that I will personally introduce you to Silvia and Catharina myself!
Take care and have a great week!