Anyone who has spent any time near my stereo or followed my campus DJ career knows that I have an undying love for Scottish pop music. I once flew to New York just to see Teenage Fanclub open for Belle and Sebastian. There is no surer way to put a wistful look on my face than by playing this:
But as I’ve gotten older, Scotland has come to mean another thing for me, and that involves booze. As my tastes evolved from wine coolers into actual wine and from vodka and whatever random juice happened to be lying around into brown spirits, I discovered that magical elixir known as Scotch whisky. Anyone who has dabbled in the dark art of Scotch knows that you don’t just try a Scotch, decide you like Scotch, and then continue to drink it without much thought. The world of Scotch is complex and intriguing and for most Scotch believers, trying and tasting different malts is a life long pursuit.
A couple of weeks ago I met Gabriel Cardarella, who was in town representing the Last Great Malts, a portfolio of single malts put together by John Dewar and Sons. Gabe is a suave and stylish guy, who makes his living drinking and talking about whiskey. Not a bad gig, no? He’s passionate about what he drinks and considers Scotch tasting to be a multi-sensory experience.
“To me, music either inspires my moods or pairs perfectly with them; I find whisky does the same,” he says. “I choose what whisky to drink based on my mood in an effort to pair the two together perfectly. Both whisky and music are multi-sensory which are why they fit so well together and a good whisky or song can both become great when they compliment each other.”
Being the cool cat he is, Gabe sent along a playlist of some of his favourite things to listen to when he’s drinking Scotch. People often write Scotch off as a dad drink, best to be enjoyed with some Sinatra. But, being a modern Scotch drinker, Gabe’s Scotch soundtrack hits on indie rock, hip-hop, and plenty of cool chill out music. Listen to it here on Spotify.
“I agree, most people tend to want to go Southern Rock or get the trumpets out with Miles, but I think that’s 1) a bit typical, and 2) an outdated approach to enjoying a glass of Scotch,” Gabe says. “That word Scotch tends to take folks to a kilt wearing-next to a fireplace-with your golf buddy-talking Wall Street days of how to approach whisky; contrary to popular belief, you’re supposed to enjoy it — however you want. I wanted this list to have a pulse, one that could be dialed down to have deep, meaningful conversations over, but also one that could be turned up and get your head moving a bit while your enjoying a great Scotch. I’m listening to it right now: Royal Brackla 12yr please.”
And they’re not Scottish, but I’ll leave you with one of my favourite bands from Gabe’s playlist. I may go enjoy it with a dram of something myself.