Boisdale Life Magazine (Issue 18) - Flipbook - Page 67
Prefer your whisky diluted rather than neat? Henry Jeffreys reports
from the Boisdale versus Larkfire Wild Water challenge
I MAG E CR E DIT
o true Scots put water in their
whisky? It’s one of the great
imponderables, and you get
a different reply from whoever
you ask. It’s a bit like the Irish
question from 1066 and All That – every time
the English came close to answering it, the
Irish changed the question.
But if you do add water, which should you
use? My grandmother would splash
Schweppes soda water into her Famous
Grouse, but for single malts you should
probably use something a bit more subtle. Tap
water, depending on where you live, often has
a chlorine tang, but some bottled waters are
no better, with a pronounced taste from the
minerals that they pick up from rock. One
brand, however, claims to be the answer:
Larkfire Wild Water, from the Isle of Lewis
in the Outer Hebrides. The local rock is
called Lewisian Gneiss, which sounds like
a strange animal from Alice in Wonderland
but is actually an incredibly hard and insoluble
substance, so that the water trickling through
it doesn’t pick up any minerals. Hard rock,
soft water; very easy to remember.
So confident is the Larkfire team, it held
a taste test at Boisdale of Belgravia, pitting
Lewis’s purest against the Borough of
Westminster’s finest tap water. The Big
Country versus the Big Smoke! A team of
tasters was assembled, including broadcaster
Nick Ferrari and the cream of the British
drinks writing community: Joe Fattorini from
ITV’s The Wine Show, Tom Harrow of the FT,
Bill Knott from The Oldie, and, representing
The Spectator and Boisdale Life, Bruce
Anderson. If a bomb had fallen on Belgravia
that day, there would be a bottle-sized hole
in newspapers and magazines up and down
the land. Nobody would know what to drink,
leading to panic in the wine aisles of Waitrose.
Crack team assembled, we sat down
in front of eight glasses – two each of four
whiskies provided by Moët Hennessy UK.
There were two peaty offerings from Ardbeg
– the classic bourbon cask-aged 10-Year-Old
and the fearsome 57% ABV Corryvreckan –
and at the other end of the scale, two from
Glenmorangie – the fruity Original 10-YearOld and the richer sherry cask, Lasanta.
There were two glass water jugs on the table,
one containing Larkfire Wild Water and
the other containing bog-standard tap water.
But which was which?
The serious business of the tasting began.
We put a little of each water into the
appropriate glass and our highly-trained
noses went in. There was much sniffing and
swirling, slurping and discussing. At first,
it was difficult to tell the difference, but
gradually, to me at least, the whiskies seemed
slightly more expressive with one of the
waters – the one labelled with a blue dot.
I plumped for blue, and downed my glass
while enjoying Bruce Anderson’s contribution
to the great transgender debate. With either
water, the whiskies tasted superb, especially
the Glenmorangie 10-Year-Old – an often
overlooked dram because of its ubiquity.
Then the glasses were cleared away and
we settled in for a classic Boisdale meal of
smoked salmon, haggis and neeps, and
venison – all washed down with a very nice
lunchtime claret, Château des Antonins
2016. Then it was time for the big reveal:
There were 14 votes for Larkfire Wild
Water; 7 votes for Belgravia tap. Larkfire
was the clear winner. And how did I do?
Not very well, I hate to say. I preferred the
tap water, which must mean my palate’s
become a true Londoner.