Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

To Ice, or Not to Ice DRINK

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

To Ice, or Not to Ice DRINK

Article excerpt

VICTORIA MOORE thought whisky should be drunk unadulterated; now she's not so sure

No man who leaves his date naked between the sheets to disappear into the night can truly be considered a gentleman, regardless of any paltry country-to-save excuse he might proffer. That is why I've always had reservations about the supposedly debonair Mr Bond. Now having watched him, in The World is Not Enough, drink a single malt rattling with ice cubes, I am truly aghast. I cannot swoon before his form again. Even my father, who always says pardon, lounge and toilet, glowers with fury at those who adulterate whisky with ice.

But then I panic. Perhaps my father is wrong. Perhaps I am wrong, too. Perhaps it's one of society's favourite double bluffs, and only the most ludicrously non-U think it's U to drink malt whisky without ice. I worry because, staying with friends, I am offered a whisky nightcap. Naturally, I pounce upon it. Even as I do, a small, cold snake of anxiety begins to uncoil in my stomach. Perhaps I should have refused it gracefully. When, given a choice, I ask for Laphroaig, the stomach-reptile unfurls a little more as my host kindly suggests I might find it a little strong-flavoured for my palate. Best not to mention that my palate is extraordinarily robust and, right now, panting for the Laphroaig (an old favourite). Then he asks whether I want ice. I think I am safe. "No," I proclaim decisively and read my mistake on five politely perturbed faces.

Perhaps I am conflating two issues. Clearly to ice, or not to ice, is the key question, and perhaps if a lady is to be so coarse as to drink such a strong spirit, it is only proper that she dilutes it as much as possible. I ask a friend, in his capacity as a Scotsman, a gentleman and a hearty drinker, to advise. "No ice," he crows Scottishly. "Run hot water into the glass to warm it prior to pouring the single malt. …

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