Whisk(e)y: The Grand Allure
What is just so damn alluring about whiskey/whisky?
Why is this liquid gaining more ground and drawing hoards of fans to the dark side of spirits? How is it taking our interest by storm!?
Being a very unique and individual experience, I find it difficult to really put my finger on what is spurring it forward for the masses, but I have distilled my growing love of whisk(e)y down in to three core ideas. By any means, they aren't necessarily original, but for the love of community and the geek in me, they resonate beautifully!
1) Whisk(e)y is simple, but simultaneously manages to have infinite complexity.
Grain, water, yeast, and wood - that's all it takes to make whiskies. From those four main ingredients, you can get flavors ranging from butterscotch candies, to banana Laffy Taffy, and dare I even say 'ham sandwich' (looking at you Ardbeg)! Someone telling me they don't like whiskies is like hearing they don't like food - they just haven't found the right one for them yet.
(Fields of Barley - a primary grain in certain whiskies)
Is there more to it? Of course! If we decide to geek out a bit, we will find that there are so many minute variables at play which end up creating all of the profiles that make themselves known in the whiskies. The type/shape/design of the still, the aging climate, grain types, water source, type of oak, smoked/peated grains, cask finish, etc, are all pieces of the puzzle that make up the finished product. I digress - the core of this brown spirit remains as those four base ingredients, and for me, that is romantic!
2) The story behind an older whisk(e)y brings out my inner idealist.
There is a history to something that is left to rest uninhibited. Placing new make spirit in a barrel and leaving it untouched for 5, 10, 20, and sometimes even 50+ years is quite the undertaking! Any enthusiast deep in to this spirit will tell you that age doesn't equate to quality, but it still holds a special place in my heart nonetheless. Why though, you ask?.. Some master distillers will never get to taste their last batch - the culmination of their life's work, put simply, might just outlast them. It can be left for a future generation to discover and experience the product of their lifetime of toiling and tinkering. Just knowing that I am getting the chance to drink something from a different time, maybe even a different generation, makes it special to me. If I'm being honest, a good story in itself is enough to get me to try something.
3) The sense of community that is being built around whisk(e)y is incredible.
Whisk(e)y is blind to race, gender, politics, orientation, career, background, etc - it is truly a classless pleasure. I have only been down this path a smidgen short of a year, yet I have already met so many people from so many walks of life. Friendships and acquaintances have formed that span the globe, and I have sat down with incredible people I would not have met over any circumstance other than the mutual appreciation for what fills our glasses.
Taking a diverse crowd and finding that they all can relate and enjoy the finer points of a good pour of whisk(e)y is really a magical thing, at least from my humble perspective. My scope of the world is still in need of significant expansion, but there just aren't that many things which can bring people together like shared glasses of whisk(e)y do!
I would love to hear what drew you toward your love of whiskies! What invited you in, and what kept you here? Let me know in the comments!