The Pooka Scale
Irish Whiskey & Scotch Whisky Scale
Stuart considers many attributes of a whisky under assessment including quality, price, structure and age along with many other unique factors that may go into making aparticular whisky special in one or more ways. While price is one consideration, sometimes price can be more about marketing and packaging than about the whisky. The Pooka scale is just about the whisky.
The Pooka Whisky Scale ~ A Scotch Whisky Tasting Guide
The Pooka Whisky scale is designed to take a novice Scotch Whisky drinker on a progressive journey of discovery from easy drinking single grain whisky and grain-heavy blended whiskies through Single Malt and Pot Still Whiskies which will have greater complexity, depth and character from their distillation, blending and or maturation.
One Pooka Whiskey
One Pooka whisky is an every-day whisky. This is the sort of whisky that you will pick up in a supermarket or local off-licence.
These are normal fun Scotch whiskies for drinking neat, or with ice and mixers or in cocktails, hot whiskies or Irish coffees.
They are often blends of pot still or malt whisky with lighte,r sweeter grain whisky added to make them an easy drinking whisky for beginners. Haig Club is a typical One Pooka whisky.
Two Pooka Whisky
Two Pooka whiskies are obviously a cut above 1 Pooka whiskies. These extra special whiskies all have something unique or special in their character through blending or maturation that takes them to the next level.
They may have been matured or aged for longer or in special barrels such as sherry or madeira. They may have started life as One Pooka whiskys that have then been tweaked or enhanced by blending them with even better whisky. Often, but not always, they cost a bit more than a typical One Pooka whisky.
They are the next step on the ladder to becoming a true Scotch whisky aficionado.
Three Pooka Whiskey
Three Pooka Whiskies are Premium Scotch Whiskies. They are often double or treble the price of a One Pooka Whisky, but make no mistake, they are worth it! At this level, I would suggest you are wasting your money if you add ice or mixers or use for making a Irish Coffee or a Hot Toddy. After all, would you add fruit juice to a fine wine? Drink a Three Pooka whisky neat or with a splash or two of water to open up the aroma or nose and flavour. Three Pooka Whiskies normally make up the bulk of a Scotch whisky aficionado’s collection. Stuart’s Three Pooka “Top Tip” is to buy a different Three Pooka whisky once your previous Three Pooka is one third to half empty rather than waiting until it is empty. In that way, you will start to build up a nice collection of half to two third full bottles of Three Pooka whiskies to choose a glass from when you are in that “nice whisky” mood!
Four Pooka Whisky
Four Pooka Whiskies are Super-Premium Whiskies. They generally cost between £100 and £1,000 and are definitely a very, very special purchase for the average Scotch Whisky aficionado or collector. Think of them as Special Birthday or Christmas present material for the whisky person in your life! But rest assured, you will never regret the purchase as a Four Pooka whiskey will probably provide a few years of enjoyment before the empty case and bottle become a treasured memento on your shelf for many more years of happy whisky memories.
Five Pooka Whisky
Five Pooka Whiskies are Hyper-Premium Whiskies. Often, they are very rare through age or because they were a small batch or limited bottling run when first released. They generally cost in excess of £1,000 and sadly, because of this, are often bought as investments, never to be drunk and enjoyed. These are obviously not a purchase for the average Whisky Fan! Or, maybe they could be! Stuart was recently fortunate enough to be invited to the launch of a special anniversary bottle of a Premium Irish Whiskey brand costing €6,000 a bottle or €300 a glass. It occurred to him that many sports and social clubs will often organise specialised and one-off day trips and weekend events for their members costing in excess of £300 per person. Imagine then, the fun a whisky club could have if they bought a €6,000 bottle of whiskey amongst 20 members at £300 a glass. Think of the stories and memories from the night you drank a glass of one of the best whiskies ever made. That is what a Five Pooka Scotch Whisky should really be all about!
The Pooka History
What's a Pooka?
The English version of the Pooka is Puck who was a half tamed and mischievous woodland fairy who would offer advice and assistance to those he liked. Rudyard Kipling wrote a book about them called Puck of Pook’s Hill.
The Pookas are said to be the spirits of ancient Celtic warrior tribes such as the mythical Tuatha Dé Danann and the Fir Bolg who built and lived in ancient Ring Forts or Fairy Forts during the Neolithic Iron Age and Bronze Age over two thousand years ago. Ring Forts built near water were known as Crannogs in Ireland and Crannags in Scotland.
The thousands of Fairy Forts which still survive intact in the Scottish and Irish landscapes today are now said to be portals to the magical spirit underworld of the Pookas and the Fairy People.
One Pooka Spirit guards each small ring fort and up to five Pookas guard the largest forts which would have been home to High Kings thousands of years ago.
To this day, farmers and land developers work around rather than destroy or interfere with the homes of the Pooka to avoid bad luck and public ire.
It’s considered lucky to have a fairy Fort on your land, as once you respect the resident Pooka, he will in return, respect and protect you and your family. In times of worry or trouble, the Pooka will appear in the form of a small elf or talking animal (generally a black or white horse) to offer guidance, wisdom and magical support to his host family.
So what better name for our Whisky Scale than the Pooka Scale. Friendly Whisky Wisdom from one to five Pookas; friendly Scottish Spirit Guides to lead you on your own Scotch Whisky odyssey.
– Stuart McNamara