Idiot-Proof: My Layman’s Guide to Liquor

People who know me are familiar with my fondness of whiskies, with my more recent obsession being single malt scotch. People have accused me of being somewhat knowledgeable on the topic of liquor. I’ve been asked for advise–no, guidance even–on what to purchase when it comes to different boozes. Quite a few people have had me wave a glass of something in their general direction accompanied by a demand they try it.

This idea has been, dare I say, brewing for a while now, and I’ve decided I might as well just let it happen.

Here’s the thing about scotch (and liquor in general). I enjoy it, but I can’t say I typically find myself using the same descriptors the boxes and bottles provide. It’s easy enough to say I lack the sophisticated palate and training needed to fully appreciate a truly great drink, and I’ll respond by laughing the smug, awful laughter of someone who has made a Blood & Sand with The Glenlivet 21 Years of Age (because it’s my bottle and I’ll enjoy it however I please, thank you very much).

My solution to the loftiness and aloof descriptions favored by these mighty fine spirits (not to say they aren’t deserving of such praise and descriptions) is to put my own spin on the experience that each of my selections has to offer. This is Idiot-Proof, in which I dumb things down to my level in hopes of helping sway any of you who may be on the fence about trying something new. Tonight’s post–the inaugural post–starts off with a real doozy, too, which only seems appropriate. Continue reading

Advertisements

Exploring the bourbon part of @SnarkAndBourbon

It all started one Easter weekend at a family gathering. The poison in question? An ancient, perhaps somewhat dodgy bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 that has been residing in the garage. After some coercing from my cousin, I did a shot of the stuff (on the basis that my sister’s boyfriend also did the same). I had no idea what to expect, but I still remember the vaguely smoke-flavored inferno that followed. My stomach didn’t seem particularly keen at first, but it accepted the odd intruder as it settled with the odd blend of various dishes I’d enjoyed for dinner. It was that Easter I swore I would never drink Jack Daniel’s again. Just wasn’t for me, I thought.

Anyone who knows my drinking habits, which have shifted and changed from my choosing to not really drink until after I’d turned twenty-two to my occasional drink (and my social drinking among friends, as witnessed during my last hoorah in Chicago recently), probably can vouch that a number of Jack Daniel’s products have become staples in my collection. I’m still not particularly fond of Old No. 7, but when I’m in the mood to celebrate I have no problem shelling out the necessary moolah for a bottle of Single Barrel Select.

Or social drinking before vacation, complete with best friend screwing around on his phone.

Or social drinking before vacation, complete with best friend screwing around on his phone.

Before I go on, I should point out how I really wanted to try Jack Daniel’s thanks to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. For those of you who haven’t read it, correct that immediately. However, it was the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday’s drink of choice. When I pictured Mr. Wednesday drinking it, however, it was a full pint glass of the stuff. I can’t quite imagine anyone consuming the stuff that way now; to each their own, though.

My non-drinking gradually shifted after I had arrived in Edinboro. People wanted to hang out with me, and bars were a pretty ideal location. I, however, had very limited knowledge of mixed drinks at the time. I spent more time than I probably should have wondering about what the hell people ordered at bars. The good news: I had enough sense to keep it simple. This wasn’t going out clubbing; it was a college town bar (I mean no offense to The Empty Keg, of course, as it became my local haunt before I graduated), and that meant keeping things relatively simple. Not the sort of place that ordering a Manhattan would go over well. After a bit of thinking back to drinks I’d heard of, I blurted out an order for a whiskey sour. Since then I’ve been told how that’s an old-person’s drink, but I have no problem with that. Terrific stuff.

Eventually, and gradually, I started to try new whiskies and bourbons. At first they were purely used as mixers. It was usually whiskey and Coke or Pepsi. At one point I ended up trying Seagram’s 7 Dark Honey mixed with sweet tea. I can’t remember exactly when (insert joke about booze and memory here), but I started trying whiskeys and boubons on the rocks or straight up. I lack a sophisticated sense of taste in that I don’t necessarily pick up on all of the hints and notes of different tastes (sorry, Tullamore DEW, but your product is about the same as most others and I enjoy it all the same). My sister eventually bought me whiskey stones so I could enjoy chilled, undiluted whiskey and bourbon. The rest is just sort of history from there.

I like to make sure I branch out and try more than the few that I know I like, even if it can be a bit risky. Now…I could do a whole post on the Snark part of @SnarkAndBourbon, but lucky for everyone I’m…distracted by World of Warcraft. Ahem.