Perhaps we should start by admitting that Kenya’s drinking class is singular to a fault.
It started with the Jameson Whisky craze a couple of years ago, before drinkers decided that they were making it at Kariobangi. Then there was some close love for Jack Daniel’s Old no.7 but slay queens started associating it with sponsorships and thoughts of getting their 12K rents.
I don’t know for sure, but I think that Kenya might be getting a raw deal with the whiskey that gets imported. I tend to think that the way we climb on a new brand does not allow the whiskey companies to meet our demand. That explains why a drink that was so good in 2012, William Lawson’s, has become the headquarters of hangovers in Kenya, in 2018.
Most people have extremely few options. People earn what can barely afford a bottle of single-malt. You will see that occasional Glenfiddich on the table once every 163 days when the tender guys get paid and the real hustlers of Nairobi; boys who drink in groups, throwing rounds every day, in Westlands and Ngong Road. But boys who have small companies that are making baby-steps, now specialize in Johnny Walker Black Label. Such an ordinary drink.
The rest of Kenyan men do not have class or taste. They are bored by demanding jobs and demanding wives and their deteriorating sexual stamina. They will drink Whitecap and doze on the steering on their way home. For the ladies, big up to any lady who likes Vodka because the clouds know how much you look after our wallets.
Enter Viceroy 10 years.
There is always that familiar girl, you throw a “hi” every time you bump into her in the stairway in your apartment, or somewhere in the hood, or at work when she is filling her tumbler. You have never given her much thought and you happen to flow into her as you enter a Nairobi joint. She is alone, and it is on a Wednesday and she is familiar and you do not have anything to lose and she does not say yes or no to sharing a table.
In the club, drop one stone and be careful on the balancing between the tot and the stone. Very little tot and too much stone will rob you the taste. Also, make sure you finish the tot before the stone melts to get the most from this brandy.
You find out that she is one of those people who walk into a club, sit on the balcony while sipping a good tot and she takes out her Kindle to grind some pages as the rest of you are queuing for buses to Utawala and Juja. The bad news with this type of girl is that you start talking about poetry and philosophy and you end up having those smokies sold outside Tribeka for supper and both of you will be late for work the following day.
She drinks Viceroy 10-year-old Vintage Brandy.
The first time you sip the drink you curse luck. Where have you been? You are careful because you have rich memories of college days of how your guys got fucked up by Viceroy and you don’t want to start throwing out in the middle of a conversation on whether Dostoyevsky was a feminist “going by his strong concern for the downtrodden in the book Notes from the Underground” and his close grasp of human contrasts especially the painful realities caused by unruly behaviors of the wealthy class.
Viceroy 10 Years as I like to call it, is a smooth drink that has character and personality inadequacies, but it compensates that with instant impact and a familial flow down your throat that reminds you of whiskey. It is a brandy, so it does not give you aesthetics of “wood” or the fabrications of fruit. It does not burn your nose and that is both a good and a bad thing because it keeps you thinking that you are drinking a soft drink.
Soon you will discover you are not.
It keeps the promise of a good drink though and if you are throwing a party, the second bottle will be as good as the first one. People who know a good drink will wink at you because they know you are having something fine.
While the Kenyan brandy market likes to order a flask of hot water when drinking the regular Viceroy, this writer recommends that you treat Viceroy 10 Years with respect. Drink it dry. At home, chill the whole bottle instead of adding water or ice. In the club, drop one stone and be careful on the balancing between the tot and the stone. Very little tot and too much stone will rob you the taste. Also, make sure you finish the tot before the stone melts to get the most from this brandy.
We are in Kenya though and we are funny people, so I know you will add lemon and hot water.