Smelling the season

“When you tilt the glass sideways you will see the gold colour clearly, with the strong amber and orange flashes.”  I wasn’t seeing any flashes, just the urine coloured liquid in my tilted glass.

“Ok, let’s nose it.  This implies putting your nose in the glass and breathing in through your mouth.”  Don’t blow, someone chirped.  “You should be reminded of rich aroma’s of smoked wood, vanilla and other fruity flavours.”  I didn’t smell anything, ok maybe a little bit of smoke.

“Now when you taste it, you need to identify the area of your tongue where the taste of the whisky is the strongest.  In the front implies sweet…blah blah.” I lost him at that point and took a small sip.  I swirled the strong liquor around in my mouth, making my taste buds screaming, “Yeah baby!”  I swallowed, allowing the golden liquid to stream down my throat warming my body as it goes down.

I was at my first whisky tasting.  I was a lot of fun, pretending to taste and smell all kinds of fascinating elements, that one would never assume to be in whisky.  Like cigar smoke and pears.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my whisky as much as the next guy, I just never appreciated the complexities of what goes into a bottle of Johnny.  What struck me the most was the importance of smell when tasting whisky. (spelled without the e, for it has to be Scottish, lads.)

It’s fascinating how our brain develops a shortcut between a specific smell and a specific memory.  The woody tones that we were suppose to pick up during my whisky tasting session didn’t really remind me of anything, but the orange I just ate made me sad.  Why?  Well citrus is winter food in South Africa, so by eating that orange, I have finally accepted the inevitable.  Summer is over.  Done.  Dusted. Gone.  Goodbye to the long, lazy days, the bright, crisp, early mornings and my outdoor barbecue’s.  Goodbye to short sleeves, slacks, sandals and pool cocktails.

As the smell of the orange hovers around the office, memories jump around of our fireplace at home crackling on a cold night, and me and the wife snuggling under a thick woollen blanket sharing a small glass of port.  The fact remains; even though I love oranges, the smell makes my body temperature drop with at least 5 degrees.

And then we have the smell of spring.  The strong potent smell of blossoms wafting for miles in the light breeze carrying the promise of something new.  It’s when Mother Nature get’s fed up with Jack Frost and kicks him to the other side of her planet, quite literally.  And who can argue with the smell of rain, vanilla ice-cream and coconut tanning oil?  I’m on a beach on a hot summer’s day in one second flat.  My mind paints pictures of brightly coloured umbrellas, children building dilapidated sand castles and hot bodies glistening in the sun.

Autumn is cinnamon pancakes and flue medicine.   The change of seasons implies that Mr Flue get’s his opportunity to infect all the innocent kids on earth.  He only needs to infect one, then the disease spreads like wild fire and parents across the country have to find ingenious methods of persuasion to force the medicine down their throats.  But it remains a beautiful season, with gold and brown and red and yellow and amber and orange scattered across the country side.

But the best smells are the ones that remind us of our loved ones.  Curious, a fragrance from Britney Spears, is synonymous with my wife.  I just love it on her.  Whenever I’m in an airport I always spray the tester of this fragrance at the duty free shop.  The smell creates such a vivid memory of her, better than any photo I may have with me.  And then the smell of our kids after a bath, clean and fresh, jumping on my lap.  And the smell of our home, an aroma of happiness and love…

Maybe there is some truth in the pretentious method of whisky tasting, maybe the aroma’s are there, but maybe the shortcut between those specific aromas and my memories have not been created.

Oh wait, there it is now.  Where is that bottle?

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