I’m across in Finland at the moment for a project based on The Kalevala. Luckily for me, I have a good friend, Tomas, who’s kindly putting me up during my stay, thus reducing the not-insubstantial cost of living whilst over here. He’s also responsible for some of the best photography I’ve seen, and having offered to document my trip, I thought it only fair that I bring some whisky over with me. Several bottles in fact.
Here’s what I arrived with:
Old Pulteney WK499
Talisker 57° North
Bunnahabhain 34 Year Old
Glenglassaugh 1973 Family Silver 25 Year Old
Isle Of Jura Paps The Sacred Mountain Barolo Cask Finish
Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Year Old
Admittedly, the last four on that list were small sample bottles, but as whisky is at a premium here, I was immediately popular in the Whitehouse household.
As we’ve been saving some of each back for Tomas’ girlfriend’s father, who’s a big whisky fan, we’d found it necessary to buy a couple of extra bottles; a Caol Ila 12 and an Ardbeg 10. The only place you’re permitted to buy wine and spirits (other than in a bar or restaurant) is the state run off-licence called Alko. The hike in price, for whatever reason be it import cost or tax, equates to roughly an extra tenner on a bottle, and in a bar a single of Laphroaig, for example, is a shade over seven quid. Make no mistake, Helsinki is an expensive place to be a malt lover.
However, the sub-zero temperatures almost demand a dram. Coupled with the sauna culture, where it’s de riguer to bake yourself to a crisp, then thrash about in freezing snow, no matter how much you drink, you do not experience the drunkeness that you’d expect with such consumption. I must make it clear, that the intention was never to get absolutely ratted, but that in visiting an old friend, you do end up having slightly more than your recommended units.
Whisky is something that should always be treated with respect, and I for one, shall be having an almighty detox upon my return home.
But in the meantime, Sláinte!