Is there a drink as cleansing as a little glass of Scotch? A drink you can feel as it descends from your lips to your belly? A drink with such a profound little gotcha kick? No, dumbass, there's not. It's a singular experience, drinking a glass of Scotch whisky, one that places you in the same audience as pirates, private dicks and piledrivers, people who crave a drink with muscle. You know, jerks. Ordering Scotch at a bar immediately places you in a different league from all the wussy wine drinkers and Mich Ultra pansies. You drink. They sip. You punch. They slap.
In the '90s, when annoying rough-and-tumble white guys (of which we are not one) started promoting masculinism as a counter to the creeping quiche-eating touchy-feely girly-man way of life (low-fat food, wine, psychotherapy), they carried with them a new kind of selective, cigar-and-money-burning passion: expensive single-malt Scotch. A couple or three of them, and the problems of life shrivel away. A good thing, because who wants to examine life? Socrates, sure, but he was a little light in the loafers, wasn't he? Rough-and-tumblers prefer their lives unexamined, the hair on their chest unkempt and their conspicuous consumption unchecked. So they drink Scotch, and the smart ones choose twelve-year-old Macallan. If their once-bulging stock portfolios are a little less impressive than they were a half-decade ago, well, at least they spent their wads of cash learning about one of life's sublime pleasures. Try it at Remy's Kitchen & Wine Bar in Clayton, which offers a dozen different single-malt Scotches.
Single-malt: malted whisky that is the product of a single distillery -- as opposed to blended whisky, which also contains unmalted whisky; or vatted malt, in which malted whiskies from different distilleries are commingled. Purity of flavor is the goal, and drinking a nice single-malt can be as far removed from drinking a blend as a fine pinot noir is from Mad Dog. Even idiots can taste the difference. The shock of cheap whisky, both a pleasure and a pain, is noticeably absent, replaced with a smooth little esophagus vibration that tickles and tingles.
At Remy's, where Claytonites converge to celebrate the glory of gluttony, it's served the right way: in a brandy snifter, so that a simple swirl of the glass funnels its nose into yours and you can smell the pleasure that awaits you. A hint of toffee sweetness, a touch of spiciness and a suggestion of citrus, enough to make your eyes glassy. (We like ours with a couple of ice cubes, though tougher hombres take their Scotch neat.) Take a sip, and it numbs your bottom lip, passes effortlessly through the taste-bud jungle, then hits the back end before heading south. Now relax. You're tough, it's pretty clear, and you can handle your Scotch. Don't take another sip just yet. Appreciate the finish, which lingers like a fond memory -- but doesn't nag -- before having another taste. Continue in this manner, savoring the juice and the decade-plus that it sat evolving in a sherry-oak cask before making its way from the Scottish highlands to the St. Louis highbrowlands. It was quite a journey, from there to here, one that warrants the kind of contemplation that, sure, "real" men are unaccustomed to, but that is, alas, sometimes necessary.