The bartender asked me what kind of scotch I’d like, and I answered Cutty Sark. I really didn’t care which brand of scotch he served me, but Cutty Sark was the first thing that came to mind.
It’s a little bit humorous to me that of all the books by Haruki Murakami I’ve read, those two that focus most heavily on our drink this week are not among them. Featured in both The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and 1Q84, this brand seems to be a favorite of Murakami’s. You can also read about Cutty Sark in Bukowski’s Women, where apparently the main character fights with his lady friend over a bottle. Another book I haven’t read.
Good thing I don’t have to read about ‘em before I can drink ‘em.
Cutty Sark is a blended Scotch whisky, created in 1923 in the Speyside region of Scotland. The packaging of the most common iteration of the blend is distinctive: dark green bottle and a bright yellow label, with a drawing of the boat the whiskey was named after right in the center. The words “Our actions define who we are” are embossed on the bottle, beneath the label.
Despite the almost garish color combo, I have to give this whisky points for packaging.
The whisky itself is yellow. (Sorry, camera out of power, so no pictures of the pour.) A lot like the label. The color itself is kind of insipid, pale and uninspiring. It puts me in the mind of cheap apple juice. Or weak tea.
As I sit here writing, the odor of the whisky wafts to me from about two feet away. Just enough to let me know it’s there, it’s waiting, and it doesn’t give two shakes that it’s not even noon yet and I shouldn’t be drinking. (My fault for not writing this last night.) Upon closer inspection, the scent is, as expected, stronger. But not much more complex. The site calls the smell “fresh, grassy”. I’m leaning more on the side of astringent and bland.
Now, the taste. A punchy start that takes a little while to mellow, followed by a tiny hint of vanilla. After swallowing, the flavor turns almost molasses, though not so strong. Overall, though, like the color and the nose, this whisky lacks complexity. Not something I’d order straight, but it worked well in highballs (roughly equal parts whisky and ginger ale, served on the rocks in–you guessed it–a highball glass). I never once felt guilty for mixing it with something that would almost completely mask the flavor and smell.
If you’re the type of person who likes to indulge in elements of books while reading them (like nibbling on lemon cake while Ned gets his head chopped off), then this would be a good companion to any Murakami. Cause they’ve all got whisky.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a finger of Cutty Sark I need to make sure doesn’t go to waste.
Do you have any experience with Cutty Sark? I’d love to hear what you thought of it.