As you might imagine, I think about whiskey quite a lot. Matt and I write a blog on the stuff that we try to update with new content as regularly as we can. But that’s more of a product of our obsession rather than a driver. The idea behind Whisk(e)y Apostle was to help get the word out. “Proselytizing the way of malt.” When we started formulating the idea for the site a couple of years ago there really wasn’t too much out there on the subject. Most distilleries didn’t exactly have the greatest websites and in terms of blogs and related websites there was really only John Hansell, Sam over at Dr. Whisky, the ruminations of various Malt Maniacs, and one or two others.
Oh how times have changed. Every distillery seems to be revamping their websites multiple times a year and it seems like everyone and their brother is talking about whiskey. This isn’t a bad thing at all. The more we talk about it, the more people learn about it. The more they learn, the more they buy and ultimately the more stuff comes out on the market.
So with that in mind I decided to take a step back and think about what is still inhibiting people from drinking whiskey…aside from those poor misguided souls who still think that they just don’t like it. Here’s my top four.
Whiskey isn’t exactly cheap once you move off the bottom two shelves and let’s face it, there’s a lot down there that might make you never want to try whiskey again. Bourbon and Irish are still relatively affordable up against the increasing prices of Scotch but their prices are soaring too. However, you can still value good values in all these categories if you know what to look for. Scotch has some great blends like Black Bottle and value single malts like Glenfiddich and Glenlivet shouldn’t be sneezed at. You can even move down the connoisseur route if you’re selective. Macallan may get all the love but Edrington’s Highland Park Distillery puts out great single malt at noticeably lower prices than Macallan in the same age ranges. Bourbon and Irish are rife with old labels at good prices offering solid value. Weller, Old Grand Dad, and Evan Williams are just some of the Bourbon names to look out for. Powers, Paddy’s, and a number of other Irish tipples are worth a shot. Also, Rye is still an under marketed value gem (but don’t tell anyone). Don’t let the prices scare you. Buy smarted, not harder.
It should also be noted that you might also look at price per drink. If you spend $20 on a bottle of wine you my only get four or five glasses out of it. That’s $4 or $5 per drink. If you assume a standard pour of around 30 ml or so then that gets you 25 drinks for the price of a $45 bottle of Scotch. That’s less than $2 a drink. I’m assuming you’re drinking the glass of wine and the glass of Scotch at about the same pace and not slamming back shooter like a frat boy. It’s just something else to think about.
It really is a great time to buy whiskey. There are so many choices that it seems like you could spend your whole life trying to taste them all. However, that same variety that makes me giddy when I walk in the liquor store may seem daunting to the uninitiated. Bourbon, Rye, Irish, Single Malt, Blends, Blended Malts, Japanese, Indian, Australian, American Craft, Welsh, English, Swedish….you see where I’m going with this. Don’t be afraid. Take it slow. It’s no different than beer or wine. Try a few at a local drinking establishment and then try others similar to what you liked. It’s as simple as that.
Do you know how you’re supposed to drink whiskey? Neat? With a splash of water? On the rocks? With cola? Out of a tulip shaped glass? Out of a tumbler? The real answer is to drink it however the hell you want. Why would you let someone else tell you what to do with something you bought? You don’t have to drink every glass of single malt scotch neat out of a tulip shaped nosing glass while wearing a kilt in front of a roaring fire used to cook haggis. You can. You might try it sometime because you might like it but that doesn’t mean you have too. Don’t worry so much about what you’re supposed to do and spend more time doing what you enjoy.
This one is tricky. How do you talk about advice as a barrier for new drinkers without giving advice? You really can’t but I feel that I have to. If you ask questions about whiskey to bloggers, writers, aficionados, bartenders, shop owners, etc. you will get plenty of opinions. You just need to remember that at the bottom of the glass that’s all they are, opinions. It is all relayed with good intentions but the only way you will know what you like is to get out there and try stuff. Then you can decide for yourself. If over time you find the recommendations of one blogger or writer similar to what you like then you can give that person more weight than others but that’s up to you. We do reviews on Whisk(e)y Apostle because we enjoy doing them and some people might find them helpful. Personally, I think our event postings and editorial posts are a more important part of what Matt and I do. After all, we may think Redbreast walks on water but if you can’t stand Irish whiskey then you’re not going to agree. You have to make up your own mind.
That’s all I’ve got so say on the subject…for now (have blog, will pontificate). Matt’s take on the topic should be along soon.
Drink wisely my friends,