Whisky ahoj! Where and how in Brno
Upon learning that I am Scottish it invariably takes only a few minutes before people ask for advice about whisky because, of course, all Scottish people know about whisky. While this is patently untrue I do admit to having a penchant for a wee dram (not a shot) every now and again and have picked up a few tips over the years. Photo credit: Casadei Graphics.
An acquired taste
Like most good alcoholic drinks, whisky is an acquired taste – you learn to like it rather than take to it like a duck to water. Throw in the facts that there are thousands of brands, blended and malt whiskies, special editions, small and big distilleries, Scottish, Irish and even Japanese whiskies (which have recently gained an amazing reputation), purists and heathens and the world of whisky seems complicated. By the way, in Scotland, heathens tend to be classed as people who put Coke or other soft drinks in their whisky. Ice and/or water are considered acceptable although experts often disagree on which whisky needs what.
Photo: Whisky Collection, Rotor Bar. Credit: Casadei Graphics.
Find your whisky
Most experienced whisky drinkers will express a preference for one type of whisky but if would take several lifetimes to explore the whole range of this wonderful drink so don’t be a sheep and believe everything the experts say. Experiment and find what suits you.
Gavin Shedden, a self-taught whisky connoisseur from Stirling, advises novices to “try as many as you can. Each whisky has its’ own character. Sample without water then with water to bring out the different flavours. Going from a Speyside to a Western Isle is a good indication of the difference you will be able to taste between the vast characteristics of each malt.”
Brno-based Scot Robin Smith recommends Rotor Bar, Dvořákova 12, and Whisky Bar Který Neexistuje (the bar which doesn’t exist), Gorkého 98.
Photo: Pavel Hladny, Rotor Bar. Credit: Casadei Graphics.
Rotor Bar, so called as it was formerly a private club for pilots, offers a good range of around 40 malts and several blended whiskies. Priding itself on supplying not only the more well-known malts such as Talisker, Glengoyne, Macallan for, it also offers a good selection of rarer whiskies from small distilleries and lesser known, but excellent, whiskies at good prices.
Barman Pavel Hladny proved to be both enthusiastic and knowledgeable when talking about whisky and is happy to guide customers in their quest to find their whisky as are all the staff. For whisky virgins, Pavel recommends starting with a simpler, less complex whisky or one of their whisky-based cocktails before moving on to more complex, smoky or peaty whiskies.
Have a nightcap at home
Whisky drinking can be expensive, especially in pubs, so if you find something you like and want to save a bit of cash then head to the Whisky Shop (Pekařská 28) where Marketa Hérm and her colleagues will be more than happy to help you select from their extensive range of whiskies and can organise tasting sessions. Their website is only in Czech but the staff speak good English.
Hyveco (Malá Amerika, cards & cash accepted) and Maneo (Žilkova 1990/2, cash only) are also excellent places to find exactly what you want or simply to browse and be awed by the variety available, although you may want to check out the website first unless, like me, you are happy spending time marvelling at the range and dithering over which choice to make.
Whatever your preference there are opportunities in Brno to indulge or develop your taste for uisge beatha, the Gaelic name for Scotch whisky, meaning “the water of life”.
So, pour a dram, raise your glass and say “sláinte”!
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