Several years ago--and I can't remember why or how now--but somehow, my husband and I became interested in Scotch Whisky. Not whiskey, mind you. Pure, single malt whisky, straight from Scotland. We tried new ones at restaurants and bars, or we'd buy sampler packs from the liquor store and do blind taste tests at home, to see if we could pinpoint the region, flavors or various vintages from a single producer.
Eventually, we branched out to Irish whiskey (Middleton Very Rare is a favorite, though it's not too hard to understand why it might be when you look at the price tag), and then we even branched out to blended whiskey.
The blended obsession began thanks to exclusive invites to Johnny Walker tastings when we lived in NYC. They were great events! Always at some swanky hotel or restaurant, with passed hors d'oeuvres, and a very sophisticated and intimate presentation by one of their charismatic orators, who walked us through the tasting of whatever their newest offering was. My favorite thus far has been the Double Black, which we refer to as "Sweety Peaty."
I love to look back in history and realize just how legendary some of these distilleries are. A couple very recognizable names in the industry surfaced in/around the Regency era: Lagavulin being one, and Glenlivet another(they took out a license in 1824 but didn't open an actual distillery until 1858.)
Due to high taxes, the amount of illegal distilleries in Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries far outnumbered the legal ones (400 to 8!!), until new legislation came about in 1823. It grates on many a purist's nerves to see a Regency gentleman drinking scotch, as it was illegal to bring it into England. And indeed, it would not have been served in a public establishment, like White's or Brooke's. But I like to imply that my heroes are a little on the wild side, so I often have them drinking whisky from their own private (ahem, smuggled) stash.
I could go on for days, I'm sure, on the history of Scotch whisky, but hopefully this has whet your whistle to go out and give it a try!