VIC'S ESSENTIAL WHISKY AND MUSIC MATCHES
PHOTOS: MIKE WILKINSON
YOUNG & SPRITELY / DREAM POP
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: Cocteau Twins – Iceblink Luck • Washed Out – Eyes be Closed • Beach House – Space Song • Khruangbin – First Class
Effervescent and sweet, joyous and uplifting, this whisky has a naivety and exuberance to it that I just love. From decades gone by, the present day or even beamed in from tomorrow, Dream Pop pairs with it beautifully. This celestial music seems utterly timeless and forever young, an audio accompaniment that always puts a spring in my step. It is both light-footed and ethereal, yet with hidden mystery and depth. While sipping this whisky, I hear the honeyed vocals of Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins, the chiming, saturated funk of Khruangbin, the floating arpeggios of Beach House or the stoned grandeur of Washed Out – all drenched in reverb of course. These diffuse in perfect harmony to this playful, easy-going dram. With a combination of candy and citrus, both whisky and music have that impeccable balance of sweet and sour, packing a melodic punch but with a few unexpected twists and turns. At the end of the glass you feel centred, cosy and elevated. Dream Pop makes me feel young and spritely, as does this dram.
SWEET & SPICY / INDIE-FOLK
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal • Frightened Rabbit – Old Old Fashioned • Laura Marling – Alexandra • Grizzly Bear – Colorado
Wrapped up tight in wool and winter coats, scarves flowing and rosy cheeks, the seasonal flavours of gingerbread and mulled wine tickle your taste buds as you and friends stumble, laughing, arm in arm into a familiar hostelry. Indie-folk somehow manages to sum up that time of year to me, that feeling of community, family and hope; as this spicy dram warms your cockles and cheers you through the snow. Acoustic guitars, vocal harmonies, a raw human voice all hold you close and give you a hug, electric guitars twang and occasionally you can hear sleigh bells in the middle distance. In a perfect world your hip flask is full to the brim of this stuff and everyone has a cheeky nip, out of view of the barman, around the roaring fire. Fleet Foxes, Frightened Rabbit, Laura Marling and Grizzly Bear have kept me company before…and there’s even some animal symmetry going on here too! This whisky embraces your glass and fits your mitten just right, as you nod along to the music approvingly.
SWEET, FRUITY & MELLOW / DOO WOP
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: The Flamingos – I only have eyes for you • Gene Chandler – Duke of Earl • Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – Why do fools fall in love? • The Platters – Only You
With the aroma of sherbet and freshly baked apple pie wafting upwards, with one sip I am transported to the corner of a New York or Chicago street in the 1950s, a barbershop quartet and perfect four-part harmonies. The atmosphere is wholesome, untainted and syrupy, yet rich with romance and heady teenage love. The Flamingos, The Platters, The Teenagers and Gene Chandler all made ageless singles with an otherworldly, dreamlike quality that flow perfectly as the whisky goes down. These songs are heartfelt and personal in that classic, slightly melodramatic way; and the lyrics are idyllic, lush with innocence and wonder. Summer days turn to evenings and float by in a stream of endless piña coladas, while blossom-loaded trees shed their flowers as lovers stroll by. This dram conjures up hot and hazy good times and the 50s all-American dream, and there’s no better soundtrack to that than these enduring odes to star-crossed, unrequited love. Drift away in a warm glow as the music and whisky stroll off into the distance, hand in hand.
SPICY & DRY / GOTH
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: The Cure – A Forest • Bauhaus – Spirit • Siouxsie & the Banshees – Spellbound • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Tupelo
Taking me back to my formative years, the woody and liquorice aromas of this whisky reawaken memories of patchouli oil, leather jackets, black eyeliner and chipped nail varnish. The bass is low and rumbling, the drums are metronomic and tribal, guitars sparkle and the mood is gloomy yet celebratory, in the way only the Goth life can be! Pernod and blackcurrant next to pints of ‘snakebite’ are lined up on the bar, while the moody, rubber-clad DJ poses in the booth and spins underground classics by The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Bauhaus and Nick Cave. Shy glances are exchanged below an explosion of dyed, back-combed hair; we sip our drinks, standing smoking in shady corners, minding our own business while also checking out the competition. All the boys and girls are skinny, the cheekbones cut like razors and the music is the endless soundtrack to a romantic, vulnerable youth. Dry ice swirls through the club as the whisky goes down and the ‘subbacultcha’ is happy in its clique.
DEEP, RICH & DRIED FRUITS / SOUTHERN SOUL
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: Booker T & the MGs – Time is Tight • Staple Singers – Respect Yourself • Otis Redding – I’ve been loving you too long • Irma Thomas – Anyone who knows what love is (will understand)
The balmy heat of the Southern states of the US, with its friendship, hospitality and sugar-coated, deep-fried soul-food on every corner, is truly dripping in culture and home to some of the greatest music known to man. This thick, syrupy, fruity-laden whisky is deep and soulful, so the ideal accessory to the sound of profound, gospel-flecked R’n’B from God’s own country. With shirt sleeves rolled up, a weather-beaten Cadillac outside, cigars blazing and side-order of treacle pie and salted-caramel ice-cream on the menu; a Hammond organist hammers his way through the local hits in the 24-hour dive while the late, great vocalists such as Otis Redding, Irma Thomas and Staple Singers ring in your ears. This long, slow, smooth-sipping dram heats you up, but also relaxes you for the tears of joy and laughter to follow. Love is in the air, as you sink into your chair and soak it all in. This is soul in a glass, so kick back and let the mellow melancholy take you there.
OLD & DIGNIFIED / WEST COAST JAZZ
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: Chet Baker – It's Always You • Bill Evans Trio – My Foolish Heart • Stan Getz – Desafinado • Dave Brubeck Quartet – Take Five
At the time of Be-Bop and the even tougher, wilder shapes of Hard-Bop, the West Coast of America, particularly Los Angeles and San Francisco, specialised in a calmer, smoother, laid back form of jazz. Bringing the West-coast breeze, Bossa beats and Californian cool into the mix, listeners were transfixed and soon the rest of the world was too. Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, Stan Getz and Chet Baker were the poster boys and virtuosos who performed up and down the coast for the original hipsters, who lapped it up and lived the 50s/60s dream. Suited, booted, slick and suave, with not a hair out of place; a glass of ‘Scotch’ was never far away from the players or the crowd. This whisky pulls in tastes of exotic fruit, perfumed flowers and dark chocolate that brings that era of smoky cool right into your glass. Old, dignified but still hip and stylish, this is a dram with a cigarette in its mouth, the soft-top down and shades on.
LIGHT & DELICATE / SINGER-SONGWRITERS
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Bats in the Attic • Jose Gonzales – Heartbeats • Aldous Harding – Fixture Picture • Nick Drake – River Man
Clean lines, humble themes, acoustic guitars and an unadorned human voice all combine strongly with this subtle, refined whisky. It’s light and delicate, but underpinning that is an honesty and integrity that’s undeniable. With vulnerable delivery, introspective lyrics and minimal production, the sound of a soulful singer-songwriter can simultaneously pull at the heart-strings and ease the daily grind. Pure, vivid yet still melancholy, these are sounds that can often feel floral, ethereal and sometimes bittersweet much like the dram itself. King Creosote’s pure timbre and Jon Hopkins’ restrained production, Jose Gonzales’ unpretentious finger-picking and whispered vocals, Aldous Harding’s quirky acoustic vision, and the 60s brooding master Nick Drake all come to mind while the juice goes down. Here we find ourselves seated in a rural community hall at a folk festival, surrounded by bearded record-collectors deep in contemplation, whisky glasses in hand, concentrating on the artist performing onstage. There is a direct line between the songwriter, the listener and this crisp-tasting whisky.
JUICY, OAK & VANILLA / ROOTS REGGAE
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: Burning Spear – Man in the Hills • Max Romeo – War Ina Babylon • The Gladiators – Looks is Deceiving • Bob Marley & the Wailers – Soul Rebel (Small Axe – The Upsetters Recordings, 1970-1972)
Let the sweetness overwhelm your senses as this warm, honeyed whisky floods over your palate with hints of ginger, pineapple and banana all dancing across your tongue. The scented escapism of reggae perfectly fits the bill as a backdrop with laid-back drums, luscious harmonies and sincere vocal testimonials all colliding over that ever-present head-nodding skank. Suddenly it all makes sense! Pull up a small wooden table outside in the town square, pour a glass and feel the bass of the sound-system kick into gear and blaze through classics by roots masters like Max Romeo and Burning Spear, followed by intuitive vocal groups like The Wailers and The Gladiators. This dram can take you all the way to Kingston, Jamaica as you immerse yourself in some of the most beautiful, idiosyncratic and authentic music out there. When you’re relaxed and ready; step up, ask a girl to dance and shake your shoulders to the righteous rhythms while you sing your heart out with the best. This is community and collaboration in a vanilla-rich glass of rural heaven.
OILY & COASTAL / ELECTRONICA & POST ROCK
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: Mogwai – Dry Fantasy • Boards of Canada – Palace Posy • Squarepusher – Midi Sans Frontieres (Avec Batterie) • Sigur Ros – Glósóli
The esoteric world of electronica and post-rock are closely linked in my musical mind – opaque soundscapes that evoke open-ended panoramas and rustic terrain, in tune with nature yet still alien and unearthly. With its coastal notes and a salty aftertaste that clings to your mouth, this is a dram that lingers and takes you somewhere windswept and untouched. Are you on an Icelandic trawler with Sigur Ros, East Lothian beaches with Boards of Canada, aboard a space-station with Mogwai, or in some digital netherworld with Squarepusher? Synths, heavily-effected guitars, crisp break-beats and reverb-soaked vocals all run into each other, as you stand at the harbour wall. There’s white noise and twinkling feedback, but it’s in the distance and you pay no mind. It’s all part of the trip. Pull on a heavy-knit sweater, walking boots and a sou’wester as the elements hit you and the sea water splashes in your face. It’s intense but also refreshing, as the waves of sound engulf your mind and the whisky consumes your palate.
LIGHTLY PEATED / MODERN PSYCH
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: Tame Impala – Desire Be Desire Go • Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Swim & Sleep (Like a Shark) • Thee Oh Sees – Web • Dungen – Fredag
Swirling playfully, colours blazing and head spinning…after one sip of this incredible smoky dram, fuzzy logic rules and your perceptions of what a whisky can actually be are thrown into the ether. There’s peat, yes…but also a floral, paisley-patterned sweetness at large, light to the touch but also full of attitude and creativity. Draw on your favourite tobacco and let the lava-lamps dazzle you, as Tame Impala raise the ghost of George Harrison, Unknown Mortal Orchestra trip on Johann Sebastian Bach, Thee Oh Sees take you to the stars and back, while Swedish psych-lords Dungen simply blow your tiny mind. The drums continually fall over themselves, the guitars chime and the bass throbs, as this sensuous sap nestles gently in your thrapple. If you want a mind-enhancing whisky that launches you on a journey to the outer limits, pulling you back to reality at the last minute; there is a modern psych soundtrack of joy to help you along the way. Ya dig, baby?
PEATED / 70s PUNK
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: The Clash – Complete Control • The Damned – Neat Neat Neat • Buzzcocks – Love You More • Ramones – Teenage Lobotomy
London’s Burning…well that’s what they sang from the rooftops in 1977 anyway, and the smoke certainly pours from the chimney of your Glencairn on this one! It also kicks like a mule and demands you jump out of your skin and pogo to that fast and furious backdrop of fuzz, buzz and clang. Turn it up, blow the speakers and kick out the jams with this stormy concoction of flavours and fire. Not for the faint-hearted, this dram leads you straight to the engine-room and kick-starts your heart. With passions poised and emotions on high alert, The Clash, The Damned, Buzzcocks and Ramones give you a group-hug and pull you into the pit for the last dance of your life. The sweat and salt drip from your lips, and the night before is nothing but a blurry memory. Next morning you wolf down a big breakfast, then clean up for a new dawn with a new strut. Punk and Peat, medicine and magic – that’s all you need!
HEAVILY PEATED / HEAVY ROCK
ESSENTIAL SOUNDS: Queens of the Stone Age – The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret • Black Sabbath – The Wizard • Led Zeppelin – Four Sticks • AC/DC – Gone Shooting
You want to go deep? You want to get heavy? Ladies and gentlemen I give you the ultimate – gunpowder in a glass! Batten down the hatches and bang your head to the darkest, densest dram of all. All board the highway to hell, party hard while the ship goes down, as we all dance happily into the inferno. But always remember, you lucky people have the very last bottle left! When the bluest bad-boys of all turn up the volume and blaze up a fat cigar, with dirty guitars, bass and drums set to bludgeon; you need a proper drink to match. Queens of the Stone Age set the scene with Black Sabbath, Led Zep and AC/DC bringing up the rear, so everyone knows the score. You can’t deny it! As this fierce and fulsomely-flavoured whisky goes down, you need a serious soundtrack and only the nastiest, heaviest and sexiest of all rockers will do. Hail Satan… but do try to sip this one slowly and responsibly at your own personal pleasure, please! Of course, you rock…
VIC'S MUSIC AND MALT MATCHES EXPLAINED