I am sure you all know last night was Burns Night. I had had a long day of talking (back-to-back telecons from 9-5, no breaks more than 15 minutes) and so had run out of wards in any form. Instead, Sigoth cooked me haggis of the vegetarian variety (which is haggis reared only on heather and honey, and not fed any meat products; they are very sweet and tender but tend to be a little smaller than their meat-eating cousins) and we spent a gloriously companionable evening not talking, but watching DVDs and celebrating the bard by drinking Talisker.

Oh, I do enjoy single malts. Not very frequently and not much at a time, but when I have them I enjoy them. Recently there was a Whisky Fair in York, and Sigoth and I treated ourselves to a couple of bottles: 10 year Talisker and The English Whisky Company. I like peaty malts, which are supposed to be the boys’ drink. Us lay-dees are supposed to like the lighter whiskies, such as Jura. Don’t get me wrong – Jura is a fine beverage, and there are occasions when it is just the ticket. On the whole though, I like ‘em dark and smoky.

The Whisky Fair was great fun, and a little demanding as it was an afternoon event, which meant you really had to manage how many tasters you were prepared to take before your legs gave way. We agreed no more than four (they were not full drams!) and probably only three. So we went all the way round and chose the three we were most interested in. When in doubt, we asked for the flavour range to make sure we chose the right kind.


The people running the different stalls really knew their whiskies, my goodness, they did. But they were keen to tell you about them, rather than acting all snooty and stuck up about it. The best thing was learning how to drink the whisky to bring out the flavour. The English Whisky, for example, required an inhalation through the nose while the Talisker was more back of the throat.

This introduced me to the Talisker Smile. It’s an automatic reaction when you breathe in, as the peppery flavours  flood your taste buds, and the different accents begin to come through. You beam and a feeling of goodwill gusts through your system like the Breath of God (or is it just me?).

When I was a bright young thing, back on the dawn of time, one my lecturers at university told us about “transcendent moments”. It was probably to do with Jung, I can’t quite remember now. He described the feeling, and told us how he would experience it occasionally when sitting in front of the fire listening to Mozart and drinking a good single malt. The world just slips into place, like the final piece of a jigsaw, or flower in a perfect bouquet, and suddenly everything is right and at peace and as it should be. It may only last a moment, but it’s a vision of heaven.

Well, it may be that Jung was a whisky man too. I don’t know, but it certainly seems to help. It’s not the only way to experience a transcendent moment, but it is one. It might be the smell of cut grass under a bright blue sky; the gurgle of a baby you cradle in your arms; or the opening frames of Star Wars (the proper one, not the new ones) scrolling up the screen as the music plays. All of those have triggered my transcendent moments.

What are yours?