Jackson Biko strongly feels that if all house guests observed certain rules when visiting and more specifically, when sampling their host’s personal booze collection, the world would certainly be a better place..
There was a time I lost this big client because of bloody restructuring. They didn’t even send me an email, I heard it from a third party. They were a great client and the writing assignments were (mostly) fun and they paid on time and they would always serve me green tea whenever I dropped by their offices for my usual prittle-prattle. So it was a sad day for me: I went back home early and opened an unopened bottle of Jack Daniel’s Silver Select – Jack Daniel’s top end whisky. I had picked it up at a Duty Free five months back as I passed through an airport and had not opened it since. That evening, with the television off, I sat on my favourite chair after pouring a double with one ice-cube and sipped it slowly in that dead silence. I wasn’t celebrating anything. I drank it because I felt I deserved it. I was toasting to an end of a period and it was a moment – albeit disappointing – that deserved that drink. And those moments aren’t many. I can keep a good bottle for over year without touching it, as long as there isn’t a convincing reason to crack it. I just like to see it there when I pass on my way to kitchen. It’s reassuring to know that it is there and will be there when the moment I need it comes.
Then you have these guests who come to yours. They look up at your whisky shelf and say, “Oh wow, Glenmorangie Nectar Dor? I have never tasted it!” Of course you haven’t, you smirk to yourself, nobody holds onto bottles that everybody has tasted.
“So how is it?” they ask. You tell them it’s a fine drink. So they grab a short glass and open it before you can say “put the bottle down! Have the other one!”. Instead they shrug, as if to imply that they are too good for a tried and tested Glenmorangie Original.
Then you have friends who come over and because they have gone through a rough patch you think, OK fine, they just lost their arm to gangrene, maybe they deserve the 26-year old Glenfiddich that you got as a gift when you son was born. So you pour them a drink and drop some water in it and hand it to them where they are seated at the couch, sniffling pathetically into a handkerchief. Later, when you go to the bedroom to fetch them a book on a man who almost made it to the Olympic boxing team with one arm, you find that they helped themselves to a refill. But it’s not a normal refill: they have damn nearly filled their glass to the brim. You stand there silently, shaking and aghast.
“Dude!” you finally screech, “Why would you treat this fine drink like it’s some entry level whisky? My goodness, why don’t you just drink it from a plastic cup then?” Then they will sniff, “Come on, be sensitive, I just lost an arm here,” and you tell them: “Well, unfortunately you lost the bad arm.” No reason is important enough to fill your whisky glass to the brim, no matter the type of whisky you are having. This is not the prohibition period of the 1920s, damn it.
There are Every-day whiskies that we keep for days that you go home after a long hard day hiding bodies and then there are whiskies we keep for very rare and special occasions when something monumental has happened and we need to absorb and Internalise it. If you go to a whisky lover’s house and he hasn’t offered you the latter, please don’t reach for a glass and most importantly don’t feel sore if he offers you the other drink with the colour of the bottle you don’t like. Be a gracious guest for crying out loud, is that asking for too much in 2017?