Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How to be a Whiskey Expert

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!


Ryan said...

You forgot to mention the fact that simply purchasing a bottle of a new release makes you quite an expert. In fact, if you purchase several it's even better!

Anonymous said...

Too bad the Black Bowmore was only released at 81 proof. Had a chance to purchase a bottle but decided to wait until they released something at cask strength.

Ox said...

Don't forget to remind them that you have a highly developed pallet so you know what you are tasting. Bonus points for having a highly developed palette as well.

Dr. Whisky said...

Brilliant as always, Sku. Also, always remember to make it clear that you weren't born yesterday and that you have been a whisky expert for ages (since the early 21st century). ie. "Highland Park 12/Ardbeg 10/Balvenie 12/Springbank 15/Glenlivet 12 is nowhere near as good as it used to be."

David D said...

It's funny you wrote this, I was talking to John from the Advocate about humor in writing the other day. We both shared stories about the late Hugh Johnson and how much we enjoyed his humor one night while drinking an old 1970's Lagavulin on the shore outside the distillery. We all instantly noticed how the wood maturation has changed over time. My how great those days were. It's not like it used to be. I don't need to go to tastings anymore, anyway. With my bunker of 5,000 bottles of Stitzel Weller, Brora, Michters, and Port Ellen, all the best tastings are now done at home with my friends and family. I believe Jim McEwan is stopping by for tea tomorrow. I'd better go and prepare!

sku said...

Dr. Whisky, excellent point! In a pinch, you can even do that for more recent editions. For instance, "Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 1 was so much better than these later batches."

Lazer said...

When people start complaining about the price of whiskey these days, you can say, "I haven't noticed. I only drink pre-release free samples from the distilleries."

chazjaz said...

All in all excellent advise. I find discussing the advantages of Glencairn preferences and the merits of crystal verses unleaded crystal or glass is greatly appreciated by novices.

NP said...

I love reading say a Malt Advocate post and see in the comments section somebody writing some along the lines of "oh, yeah John, totally agree, I did taste 42 seconds before you did this 89 years old Bowmore with Bob (read Bob Bowmore) at the VIP part of the VIP tasting and Bob was like "Nick, I am so happy you re the first person in the galaxy to taste this elixir".
Like the dude spends his weekend with Bob Bowmore.

Man, Bob has no idea who you are.
Get real: Bob doesnt care about you. The minute Bob is in the BowmoreMobil en route to his hotel, he has forgotten you even exist.
It's his business to go around, great a ton of old grumpy guys and make them feel special for 2 hours.

So please please, dont drop Bob's first name like you guys are pal. He doesn't know you. And he couldn't care less.

Eric said...

Don't forget to slap people who are improperly holding their glass then threaten to kill them if you see them doing it again.