My appreciation for single malt whiskies started after I met a young man at work who had just returned from his brothers wedding on an island off the west-coast of Scotland called Islay. Of course he had enjoyed a few drams of whisky at the wedding, he was particularly fond of a whisky called 'Laphroaig'. When I asked him why he liked that single malt so much, he explained; 'this is a whisky you either love or hate, there is no in between'.
A little curious I went to my local liquorstore to buy a bottle of this whisky with the unpronouncable name (luckily I had written the name down). To my surprise there were a couple of bottles of Laphroaig in stock, apparently there were more Laphroaig-lovers in my town.
The pungent fragrance of peat and a little iodine, that is what came to mind after I had poured myself a dram of Laphroaig 10yo, how could this ever be a nice drink? But after tasting that golden liquid I was persuaded, this was much better whisky compared to the stuff that I used to drink. Before this day I mostly drank blended whisky, mainly because of the price, (We were just married and we had two kids...).
A couple of years later my changed opinion about whisky was confirmed by a man called 'Wullie MacMorland' and yes, he is a real Scotsman and he runs a Scottish restaurant called 'Hielander' in Alkmaar, Netherlands. My wife gave me a christmaspresent; a whisky-dinner at Wullies restaurant. When I confessed to him that I used to drink the cheap stuff like 'Ballantines' and 'Chivas Regal', Wullie answered that he wouldn't even use these whiskies when having a fondue, and he didn't mean in the sauce but in the burner!