Friday, May 22, 2015
Jackson, Valentin, Murray, Roskrow, Cowdery, Smith, Bryson, Mitchell, de Kergommeaux, MacLean, Broom, Gillespie, van den Heuvel. These people (amongst many more names) brought us to whisky. All of these people motivated us to explore beyond Johnnie Walker, Macallan, Grant's, Jameson's, Ballantine's, Crown Royal, and Chivas. They inspired us to record and classify our sensory experiences. Sometimes they were the catalysts for us to publish our reactions in digital or printed formats. For those of us who do air our hubris publicly, our writing styles were influenced by the writers that came before us. Our very reactions to whiskies, even those we've never tried, were on some level formed by their opinions.
And that's okay. We all have to start somewhere. A lot of these gentlemen have an expansive acquaintance with whiskies that the rest of us will likely never accrue. They set us off on our way, provided guidance, and helped set a foundation (how many metaphors would you like?).
But we don't have to drink like them or write like them. And we don't have to endeavor to drink like them or write like them. We are not them. I know that sounds simple, but it's not. Acknowledging our influences is easy, breaking free from them to fully discover our own preferences is the challenge. Why only buy what other people like? Why spend our time chasing other people's pleasures?
We can like wine cask finished whiskies.
We can like young whiskies,
Whiskies aged in rejuvenated casks,
Whiskies with caramel colorant,
Those that have been filtered,
Those bottled at 40%abv,
Those distilled at Loch Lomond.
Even if our mentors smell mirabelles and quince, it's okay if we smell maple syrup and pancakes.
Even if our mentors smell boat hulls and the Islay shore, it's okay if we smell cow shit.
We don't have to like Brora.
We don't have to like Port Ellen.
We don't have to like Stitzel-Weller.
We don't have to like Karuizawa.
We don't have to like Kavalan.
We don't have to like Clynelish, Lagavulin, Laphroaig, or Glendronach.
We don't have to force ourselves to enjoy these.
We don't have to drink from a Glencairn glass.
We don't have to add teaspoons of water to our whisky.
We don't have to drink it neatly.
We don't have to read whisky blogs.
We can love Edradour and still thrill to Glenlivet 12.
We can hate Johnnie Walker Green and love its replacement, Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve.
We can hate shopping at retailers beloved by anoraks and instead frequent BevMo.
We don't have to write down tasting notes.
We don't have to think about our every dram.
We don't have to call it a "dram".
We can call it a "dram" without shame.
We can spell flavor like flavour, no matter where we're from.
We can load our tumblers full of ice on a summer's day. Or a winter's night, for that matter.
We can nose our whisky with one nostril while we keep both eyes closed.
We don't have to smell our whisky.
We may even discover one day we don't even enjoy whisky, we just got caught up in the excitement, and we would rather drink beer or martinis or a flavored spirit or pinot noir or grapefruit juice with Clamato. Without the burden of conforming to those who came before us, we might enjoy more fully what we're drinking.
Thank you for your time. This has been a friendly reminder to kill your whisky gods (figuratively), brought to you by Fireball Cinnamon Whisky: Tastes Like Heaven, Burns Like Hell.