It’s Ok to Cask: The 40-Year-Old Virgin’s Guide to Appreciating Fine Whiskies, Whiskys, And The Like

It’s Ok to Cask: The 40-Year-Old Virgin’s Guide to Appreciating Fine Whiskies, Whiskys, And The Like

So the Godfather has spoken, and indeed has declared that this relatively recent convert to the Temple of ManBQue should, nay, SHALL write a somewhat regular column, digest and review about all things spiritous and (mostly) brown, e.g., whiskey (or do you spell it “whisky”?  More on this later…)

As I sit here in front of my trusty Wang word processor nursing a lovely glass of amber elixir (I mean, if you’re writing a whiskey column, you oughta drink while ya write, dontchya think?), I’m wondering…what the hell am I supposed to write about?  I mean, we live in the age of the InnerWebs, for God’s sake…if you can read, and type, you can find out anything you need to know about whiskey on WikiPedia, or other great sites like Primer’s nice Whiskey 101, That’s the Spirit’s Guide to Whiskey, and a really cool article I found featuring an interview with whiskologist Heather Greene.

So with all these experts, self-proclaimed and otherwise, on the scene, what’s a poor old hat-wearing, girlfriend-lacking grill fan to do?

Well, what I’d like to do is to let you in on my reasons for drinking, appreciating and loving distilled spirits, especially whiskey.  My mind drifts back to an evening many years ago, when I was “shacking up” with the now-Missus-40-Year-Old-Virgin.  I wasn’t the drinker I am now, but I had recently begin fancying a simple cocktail, Seagrams VO and soda (for the record, VO is a blended Canadian “no-E” whisky, quite popular with the typical drinker and available pretty much everywhere).  I liked VO and soda because, the light, slightly sweet and bitter flavor of the whisky combined with the fizz of the soda reminded me of a beer, with a bit more kick per ounce! This particular night, however, was the capstone to a completely fucked up day at work, and so I dispensed with the soda and had a nice big glass of  VO on the rocks. I sipped the golden nectar, listened to a live Kinks concert recorded on my Beta Hi-Fi VCR (now THAT’S dating me!), and felt the worries of the workday suffuse into a warm, satisfied glow. And I realized at this moment that one of the great functions of whiskey was…it made you drunk!  No, of course it made you drunk.  What I mean is this: I realized that a nice stiff shot of booze, properly savored and consumed with respect, could alter one’s mind in a positive manner, not rendering you blotto and insensate, but helping one move into a greater state of consciousness. Whiskey and acid became as one, or at least partners in a continuum of “Things that Could Help One Deal with Life.”

So, I want to approach this exploration and discussion about whiskey from a position of enjoyment, using all the senses to appreciate its qualities; to respect the work and expertise it takes to make distilled yeast piss into something aromatic, complex and worth savoring; and to explore the extra-sensory facets of a healthy relationship with whiskey.

That’s Great, Mike…but what about the booze?

Since that moment of enlightenment I’ve continued to explore my relationship with whiskies. I still enjoy a VO every now and then. I moved onto bourbons, (starting with Knob Creek), because I like their spicy, caramel-ly sweetness on cold winter nights in front of a fire, and really fell in love with Irish whiskies a few years ago (good old Jameson) while I was working in California. I’m not much of a Scotch drinker (though I have sampled a few Scotches I can tolerate), am moving onto ryes, as they generally taste less sweet and allow one to mix flavors with more success in cocktails. I am by no means “an expert.” One of the reasons I jumped at the chance to write this missive was because it gives me an excuse—not that I need one—to learn more about one of my favorite liquors (and in this business, “learning” means “drinking!”).

Final thoughts, finally…

I had the pleasure a couple weeks ago of attending a “ManBQue Approved Event” at the Twisted Spoke’s Half-price Whiskey Night with a few Grill bros and assorted guests. Now, this is a great (and affordable) way to begin your post-grad education in Advanced Distilled Spirits. The Spoke has a huge selection of whiskies of all types, both pricey and easy on the pocketbook. Cut those prices in half and now  you’re drinking some good hooch for not a lot of dough, which means you can afford another one, which we in the higher education business call “deep research.” [ed. note: Do your research and you may find unexpected deals on good whiskey in your town.]

The night was a great success, and it showed me a couple of things:

– smooth or sharp, bourbons have a dark sweetness that identifies them as distinct from other types of whiskies

-within the category, there’s plenty of difference in flavor, which should make tasting quite enjoyable

-and finally…I need to do far more, uh, research.

So until next time…sip and savor, my brothers!

– The 40-Year-Old-Virgin

It’s Ok To Cask is a new series by the 40-Year-Old-Virgin, who will be teaching us more about non-beer related brown alcoholic liquids.


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