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Bad Whisky Experiences

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@Pudge72
Pudge72 started a discussion

What has been the worst whisky experience that you have observed or participated in (excluding consuming too much in an evening)?

9 years ago

16 replies

@Pudge72
Pudge72 replied

This topic was inspired by my visit to a local bar (that shall remain nameless) this past weekend. This place is one of the few that I have found so far in my city that carries whiskies other than Glenfiddich and Glenlivet. I wanted to give their bottle of Cragganmore 12 y.o. a try. I knew I was in trouble when the waitress said that she didn't think they carried Cragganmore (apparently thinking it was a beer). After some back and forth, she then asked if I wanted to mix it with anything (insert forehead slap in my mind here).

I said no, I would like it neat, apparently naively believing that this is a common bartending term for "do not, for the love of all things holy, add anything to this drink".

When the drink was delivered in a rocks glass (common for any non-beer/wine drink around here) I could tell something (else) was wrong when I saw a straw poking above the rim of the glass. As it was set on the table, I could finally distinguish the ice cubes that had been sitting in the glass! As a SMSW rookie, this was traumatizing, and it was only the quick thinking of my wife (who, while not being a Scotch lover, has been very understanding of my newfound hobby) who suggested that I remove the ice with a fork (no spoons on the table), instead of waiting to complain to the waitress (I couldn't guarantee that I would get a new dram for free, or that the 2nd attempt wouldn't be screwed up as well!)

I am willing to give the establishment another chance (especially since they have Talisker 10 & Lagavulin 16), but will instead order the drink directly from the bartender...no more table service for Scotch!! :)

9 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Cardinal
Cardinal replied

I had a situation where I ordered a Ardbeg 10 neat at the bar , I watched in horror as the bartender put the Ardbeg in a shaker with ice and shook it like a martini and then poured it into a rocks glass. When I questioned the bartender she said that is how neat is served. After some discussion with her and some other patrons I got my proper drink served.@Pudge72

9 years ago 1Who liked this?

@mster
mster replied

My recent experience was at a dinner. After dinner, decided to try a dram of the Macallan. Ordered it neat, with a glass of water on the side. The waiter came around first with a big glass of icey water. Followed by the whiskey that was filled up to the brim of a shot glass! Of course have it return and return in a regular drinking glass... :(

9 years ago 1Who liked this?

Youngupstart replied

Served in a shot glass is so common for me, I really need to find a better establishment. I thought by now they would at least remember a request for scotch to be served in a cognac snifter, or at least a rocks glass which is a last resort. I asked for a Lagavulin 12, the bartender shook his head denying the fact they had it in plain sight, right in front of me. I continued to explain that it was whisk(e)y, not vodka, rum, gin, or anything else, just scotch. So he then had an epiphany, exclaimed "Oh yes, ok we do have that.". He still looked as if he didn't have the foggiest idea what I was talking about as he walked away for a glass, bringing back a shot glass that I am pretty sure was just used for some other concoction being it was sticky. After waiting for a while, I was able to acquire a rocks glass which took around 15 minutes to get. I pour the shot into my glass and wait mere seconds for my drink to settle. Taking a sip, I find myself swallowing a Jim Beam Black, which was a little different than cask strength Lagavulin. I am still intrigued as to how Jim Beam and Lagavulin are mistaken for one another, never the less an interesting hour at my local watering hole.

9 years ago 3Who liked this?

@Pudge72
Pudge72 replied

Thanks for the stories...I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one hoping to win the lottery so that I can open a proper whisk(e)y bar!! :) The winner so far would have to be @Youngupstart...wow, what a gong show!

9 years ago 0

@two_bitcowboy

The flip side to all this, of course, is owning my own saloon and having folks order a single malt "on the rocks" because that's what they've heard in the movies.

A few thoughts on how to avoid the stories shared here:

"Neat" is a not-so-well-known term in a typical bar. "Straight up" might get the result you desire, and tell the waiter, waitress, or barman which glass to use. Clearly when you're in a place that doesn't specialize in single malt whisky, the "result" is more important than using the right lingo, right?

It's too bad to think you have to "tell" a barman how to pour the drink you want, but, again, it's all about the "result." I like Pudge72's "no more table service for Scotch" thinking. After all, we can't train all the waiters and waitresses of the world on proper whisky etiquette, now, can we? Hard enough to train the barman when you can point to the bottle you want and the correct glass too.

9 years ago 3Who liked this?

Youngupstart replied

@two-bit-cowboy To true, I have become accustom to asking if they have cognac snifters which make an acceptable trade out. I will be suprised the day I go to an average bar and am able to order my whisk(e)y with a glencairn.

9 years ago 0

@AlanR
AlanR replied

Recently went into one of my local haunts, never having previously ordered a whisky there... When I saw that they had Macallan 12, in addition the the standard Glenlivet/Glemfiddich tandem, I ordered one up, neat. Wasn't aware that the term 'neat' wasn't in wide use at most bars.

The waitress returned with a Macallan in a rocks glass, complete with rocks. After letting her know what 'neat' actually meant, she scurried off to correct the matter. She returned a couple minutes later with what I thought was a fresh pour, and an apology. After she left again, I examined the glass more closely. The whisky looked far lighter than it should have... A closer examination told the tale, as I saw the faint swirls of watery tendrils lazing through the Macallan. She had simply strained the ice from the glass.

When she didn't immediately return, I had to take it up to the bartender and explain what had happened. He graciously poured me new glass (under my watchful eye).

I'll always use the term 'straight up' in the future in any establishment that doesn't quite get it when it comes to Scotch...

9 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor replied

@AlanR, "straight up" means shaken with ice and strained. "Straight" is equivalent to "neat", but is still sometimes confused by bartenders and waitstaff with "straight up". The best and most reliable solution is to order "neat", study their faces to see whether they understand, and, if necessary, tell them "just the whiskey".

9 years ago 0

@AlanR
AlanR replied

@Victor - Good information. I thought 'Straight' and 'Straight up' were equivalent terms. I have ordered 'Straight' before, with good results, and would never have guessed that 'Straight up' meant something else. Thanks for the clarification. The "study the face" tip also seems a good one...

9 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk replied

I often find the term "neat" is not understood, and for fear of it being served wrong, I'm very clear with wait staff: "I'd like it neat. No ice at all. Just the whisky poured straight from the bottle into the glass." All said with a smile on my face, so that no one thinks I'm patronizing them. I've never had it served incorrectly this way (though it does usually arrive in a rocks glass).

9 years ago 1Who liked this?

@bobsterman91
bobsterman91 replied

I tend to avoid the stereotypical 'bar' when i'm wanting a nice scotch. I'll just stick with beer, but at the local cigar lounge or a trusted barman I let the lingo rip, and haven't had a bad experience yet. (Knock on wood)

9 years ago 1Who liked this?

@michaelschout

My girlfriend and I were having a date once at a fairly high-end restaurant in Toronto and she drove of course so I could have a few drinks (she doesn't really drink). At the restaurant I asked for a rusty nail, and when the waitress came back the glass looked so funny because it was an awkward orange colour. I tasted it and it was pretty awful; it was just scotch and orange juice! When she came back I explained to her what a rusty nail was and she seemed stunned and said that scotch and orange juice is how they made their rusty nails there! I was so shocked that I didn't even reply to that, but after much ado I got my proper rusty nail.

9 years ago 1Who liked this?

Peatpete replied

The simplest way to avoid lengthy conversations in bars, in my limited experience, is when they ask how you want it, tell them "By itself, in a glass, without ice" Once that is established, I ask if I could also have a glass of water. That way it avoids any accidents, and I get to dole out my own water.

9 years ago 1Who liked this?

@rwbenjey
rwbenjey replied

I had a bad experience at a bar with Talisker 10 and Lagavulin 16...both must have been at the very bottom of the bottle, because I found them rather unbalanced (or it could have been my palate that night). Anywho, I tried Talisker again and it redeemed itself. Still have yet to give Lagavulin 16 another go. I also had a scare with Aberlour A'bunadh...way to sweet and the smell was over the top (though willing to give this another try sometime). No horrific stories though.

9 years ago 0

@jasonbstanding

I think my worst whisky experience was walking into The Whisky Exchange in London's Borough Market area, and only having £40 to spend. Bloody torturous, that was.

Or the time we were out in Austria on a snowboarding trip and after dinner at the restaurant that night I've ordered a Cragganmore. The waiter's come out with a whisky some minutes later and said "There's your Talisker". When I said, "But I asked for a Cragganmore?", he said, "Oh yeah, it's a Cragganmore", and then all eyes at the table turned to me in the hope that I'd sip it and forensically expose him for the shoddy cock-up artist that he was! At the end of the day it didn't matter because they're both lovely, and it really wasn't that important, but the idea that the people expected I'd be able to sip a beaker of brown liquid and be able to judge whether a non-expert waiter was incompetent or not was a bit uncomfortable. As it was I gently suggested that he go get the bottle and pour me out one at the table, although it didn't really matter that much to be honest.

I've no idea what type of glass he served it in, sorry.

9 years ago 1Who liked this?

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