Pete Ste­wart chooses the drinks to ac­com­pany Shirley’s recipes:

Pete Ste­wart rec­om­mends

Sunday Herald Life - - FOOD & DRINK -

WITH Shirley us­ing her favourite dram in the bun, it gives me the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to rec­om­mend a wee glass to go along­side. It would be churl­ish to go for any­thing other than Talisker and I’m sure that Shirley wouldn’t ap­prove if I tried. Hap­pily it is also one of my favourites. I have very fond mem­o­ries of pop­ping round to a friend’s house for a quick dram be­tween cour­ses at the lo­cal ho­tel dur­ing a stag week­end on Is­lay. The “quick dram” that was poured was a tum­bler full of Talisker. We were late for dessert. Talisker is a won­der­ful malt from Car­bost on the shores of Loch Har­port, Skye. The dis­tillery was built in 1831, re­built in 1880 and again in 1960 fol­low­ing a dev­as­tat­ing fire. Now owned by Di­a­geo, a range of ex­pres­sions is read­ily avail­able in the spe­cial­ists, the su­per­mar­kets and on­line. You’ll nor­mally see the 10-year-old (around £40), the 18-year-old (around £75) and an ex­cep­tional se­lec­tion of “non-age state­ment” bot­tlings such as 57 De­grees North, Port Ruighe and Storm. The un­usual thing about this range is that they are all good, and that doesn’t al­ways hap­pen with ev­ery dis­tillery re­lease. You some­times get a cask fin­ish that doesn’t suit the dis­tillery ex­pres­sion, or a bot­tling at the wrong ABV (al­co­hol by vol­ume) that can throw out the bal­ance of the spirit. So, to have a whole range that ticks all the right boxes is not an every­day dis­cov­ery.

I’m sure this is one of the main rea­sons for the pop­u­lar­ity of the malt. That, and the fact that the phe­no­lics are per­fectly poised; the peat and the smoke never over-pow­er­ing the glass. The peat lev­els are mea­sured in parts per mil­lion (ppm), and Talisker sits around 22 or 24. This is much lower than the likes of Ard­beg and La­gavulin and much, much lower than Bruich­lad­dich’s Oc­to­more. It’s more akin to Bow­more and Caol Ila, but with more pun­gency. A per­fect pour.

A great thing about the re­cent in­ter­est in Scot­tish malt is the num­ber of bars that have a stag­ger­ing se­lec­tion of bot­tles on their gantries. This means that you don’t have to part with £40 of your hard-earned cash to try a bot­tle that might not be to your taste. In­stead, pop into the Pot Still on Hope Street or the Bon Ac­cord on North Street in Glas­gow and pay for a wee dram. Frank and Paul (re­spec­tively) will be de­lighted to help with your se­lec­tion. And then, based on your find­ings you can buy a bot­tle of your favourite the next time you’re in your lo­cal spirit em­po­rium. Slainte! Pete Ste­wart is Glas­gow di­rec­tor of In­ver­ar­ity One To One, 185a Bath Street, Glas­gow www. in­ver­ar­i­ty­mor­ton.com

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