With all of the fall whiskey shows coming up, I thought I would give some helpful advice about how to be a whiskey expert. When surrounded by ignorant novices, it's very important to let people know that you are an advanced whiskey specialist, and there are a number of excellent ways to do that. If you follow the guidelines below, no one will doubt your whiskey knowledge.
- Make sure to correct people who use the wrong spelling of whisk(e)y. Remember, everyone loves to be corrected, especially about spelling.
- If you're looking for a good way to demonstrate your expertise, you can almost always do it with Jack Daniel's. If you hear someone refer to Jack Daniel's as a bourbon, you can say, "actually, it's a Tennessee Whiskey," but if you hear someone saying that Jack Daniel's is not a bourbon, you can say, "actually, it really is just a bourbon that has been run through a filtering process." Either way, you get to show how much you know and how little they do.
- Try to remember that when people drink whiskey the wrong way it's not always because they are stupid; sometimes they just don't know any better. They may not always know how to express it, but these philistines will be grateful that you informed them that they were using the wrong glass or adding the wrong amount of water in their whiskey. Of course, if they are adding ice, you are free to demean them; sometimes you have to be strict if you are dealing with people who simply make no effort to do things correctly.
- Whenever possible, refer to master distillers by their first names. Whether writing or talking about whiskey, it's always effective to say something like, "well, I know Harlen makes a great single oak whiskey." It's also good to stress your familiarity with these whiskey celebrities. Try saying things like "I was talking to Jimmy Russell the other day" [i.e. I attended a 50 person masterclass] or "I've been close to Richard Paterson for years" [i.e. I follow him on Twitter]. Warning: Make sure that the distiller you're referring to is actually alive. You don't want to be caught unawares when you say you enjoyed a nice chat with Pappy Van Winkle or Elijah Craig the other day (unless you are very old).
- When drinking whiskey, always let people know that you have tasted very rare and expensive whiskeys. Just the other day, I was drinking a Canadian Club on a plane and I said to my seat mate, "Well, this just isn't as good as the Black Bowmore I had the other day." He sat there in stunned silence, so taken aback by my expertise that he didn't say a word to me for the rest of the flight!
Once you follow these simple steps, everyone will understand that you are a certified whiskey expert. I've been doing this for years, and one positive side effect is that may people are intimidated by my level of expertise. In fact, I've found that people are so afraid of seeming stupid around me that they won't even dare to come over for drinks, which is great because it means I don't have to share any of my rare and valuable whiskey with such people. Indeed, I've found that even some well known brand ambassadors, critics and distillers are too intimidated to spend time with me.
If you follow these steps, you too may be able to attain this level of whiskey expertise. Good luck!