Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Event Review - Whiskey Tasting

I have the coolest wife in the world. Many of you might dispute that statement, possibly arguing that you, not I, have the coolest wife, but in order to prove my case, I present the following three pieces of incontrovertible evidence.

1. My wife is a gourmet chef. Not for a living, or anything - just for me. I eat like a king. That's not an exaggeration, either - on any given night, there is a remarkable possibility that I am eating better than the British royal family. She's that good. For instance, what did you have for Thanksgiving? Turkey? Because I had foie gras and lobster.

2. Once, when we were in line at the movies, the college-age girl in front of us, probably exhausted from copulating like a rabbit with her similarly youthful boyfriend, was sitting on the floor. I only noticed her enough to keep from kicking her, but my wife not only noticed her, but pointed her out to me. The reason this was interesting was that the girl was wearing very sexy thong underwear, and because of the way she was sitting, I was able to see almost down to the promised land. And I would have missed that if my wife had not brought her to my attention.

3. Last night, my wife took me to a whiskey tasting. And she drove.

If you don't really drink much whiskey, that may not mean anything to you, but whiskey is my favorite liquor. I love to sip at a tumbler with two fingers of Johnny Walker Black while I play a game or watch a movie. It's raw and tasty, and takes very little to get a nice, mellow buzz. Beer makes me feel like I've got cotton stuffed behind my eyes, but a scotch buzz is just light-headed fun.

The tasting was held at an Irish bar, which means that right off the bat, scotch whiskey was off the menu. Considering my taste for smoky, smooth scotch, that was a little disappointing, but we were still set to drink an awful lot of seriously expensive booze, so it didn't take me much effort to be just fine with the selection.

I was not quite as accepting of the company. I probably should have figured that the kinds of people who attend whiskey tastings would not be my cup of tea, but I was delighted to find out that at least half of them are total freaks. The tub of ass-lard across from me could not eat without spilling food on his lap-desk of a belly, which would have been less disgusting had he not eaten the food that landed on his shirt. I guess he felt that the three-second rule for dropped food still applied if it fell onto his portable dining room table of a gut. Someone should have told him he was in public, however, because his shirt had holes in it. I wanted to ask him, 'do you know that people can see you?'

But he still looked better than the guy who showed up looking like a homeless guy and coughing all over everything. I was hoping the whiskey tasting came with a bottle of Purel. He left early, probably because the trash truck was about to empty his house so he could go to bed.

Speaking of spreading disease, I somehow wound up seated next to a guy who felt a need to put his fingers on every piece of cheese on the appetizer plate. He would pick up a handful of pieces of cheese with his hands, though there were little cheese spears on the plate so that you didn't need to touch the food other people were going to eat. I guess he thought the spears were toothpicks, because after he ate the cheese, he used the little plastic spears to wedge the crumbs out from between his gap teeth and send them flying across the table.

I could go on - the oddly garrulous old woman with stringy gray hair and her boobs falling out of her top, or the trio of blocky lesbians who brought water droppers to the tasting, or the unkempt college kids who showed up halfway through - but I wasn't there for the circus side show (which is not to say I didn't love it). I'm here to tell you about a whiskey tasting, and that's what I mean to do (though I reserve the right to revisit some of the freaks at the bar, if it's amusing or pertinent).

The tasting was sponsored and run by Jameson Irish Whiskey, so we only tried whiskey from one company. This actually worked out really well, for several reasons. We were able to compare a wide range of flavors from a single distillery, which meant that I was able to get a pretty good understanding for which Jameson labels I preferred.

For example, the cheapest Jameson spent five years in the barrels, and tasted a little like paint thinner. The 12-year was smoother and pretty darn tasty, while the gold and the Red Breast tasted like what happens in your mouth right before you throw up. The 18-year was freaking delicious, and the Very Rare (which usually runs about $140 a bottle) was some of the best whiskey I've ever tasted.

Aside from now knowing what kind of Irish whiskey I enjoy, I also learned a lot about whiskey in general. The girl running the tasting was a cute little Irish girl who walked us through a PowerPoint presentation that told us all about the history of whiskey, the history of Jameson, and a bunch of stuff about the brewing process. Since my wife was driving, I was drinking her whiskey, so I didn't hear most of this, and wouldn't really have cared if I had been sober. Seriously, who gives a rat's ass if your booze spent 18 years in a sherry barrel? I only care if it tastes good. I think many of the guys there, and probably the three lesbians at the end of the table, were paying more attention to the girl because she was hot. Me, I get irritated at pretty girls who chew gum while they're supposed to be talking to people, so I just drank whiskey and felt groovy and tuned out her lilting brogue in favor of whispering to my wife about how much I wanted to stab that tubby jackass across from me.

There are a few hazards you should understand if you want to attend a whiskey tasting. If possible, avoid complete strangers who think they should be talking with you at length, especially if those people are crazy old ladies who jabber about worthless crap, forget your name, and force you to stare at their gray teeth that would make a dentist faint from disbelief. The other people at a tasting can really diminish your enjoyment. The sloppy fat goober across from me couldn't quit commenting on every glass like he had a yearly membership to Whiskey Aficionado, talking about the aroma and color and smooth taste and exquisite finish. I wanted to shove my pen into his eye socket, but I wouldn't have been able to finish my whiskey if I had gone to jail, and they had some damned fine whiskey.

Also, be aware that they may want to educate you, and if you don't really care about Irish history lessons when you're trying to strap on a buzz, you may need to ignore some relatively useless information. If I ever decide to take up brewing whiskey, I'll take a night class. Unless you're one of those 'student of life' people who thinks that you have to be learning something everywhere you go, just ignore that noise and enjoy the booze.

I suppose they might have other kinds of tastings, like tequila tastings at a Mexican restaurant or vodka tastings at a Russian roadblock. I prefer whiskey, so this worked out great, but if you look around, you can probably find someone trying something. I would probably go to another whiskey tasting, as long as it was a different company offering the whiskey. I know all I need to know about Jameson Irish whiskey now, especially since I still prefer scotch to nearly all of it (though if you're ever considering buying me a gift, a bottle of Jameson Very Rare would be exceptionally well received).


Lots of tasty, tasty booze
Find out what kinds of whiskey you like

Where do these people hide when they're not pretending to be socially acceptable?


Anonymous said...

that rocks, very cool. Did you know that Lobsters are just giant seas cockroaches? But of course much more tasty!

Sounds like you needed a hidden camera for this event.


Anonymous said...

Ah, whiskey tastings...been there, done that. You're right, man, people are truly frightening.

Try these, Matt, as these are the finest whiskeys by type, IMO, in order of how much I like them, personally:

Glenlivet 15 Year French Oak Reserve Scotch..

Forty Creek Double Barrel

Macallan Fine Oak 18-year Single Malt Scotch..

And my all time favorite bourbon...
Eagle Rare Antique, Single Barrel..


Enrique said...

Alcoholics are hilarious, except when they try to stab you, run you over with a car or try to touch your girl.

Matt Drake said...

Dude, how many times do I have to apologize for that? And the car thing was an accident.

Parduz said...

Man, i'm really envy :)
Whisk(e)y is my favorite, and i think there's not any similar meeting here.

I really like peaty, smoky, cloudy whiskys... Cardhu, Lagavulin and Connemara are my favorites.

I don't drink a lot, as my personal method of tasting requires little quantity: i put somewhat like a spoon of whisky in a lukewarm tiny glass. The heat is enough to "break the alchool" and let all the aroma "fly". The whisky is barely enough to go to my stomach; it instead "sits" on my tongue, and my nose cavity will then be filled by the peat aroma for about an half hour.

Too bad, it is a truly expensive "hobby".

Anonymous said...

You're doing it wrong, bro. The object of "tasting" whiskey is not to "taste" it as much as "pound" it. Everyone knows that no matter how the first, or even second drink goes, the third through fifteenth are always smooth as hell!

Recipe for Sex or Jail Time:
3 parts Wild Turkey
3 parts Jim Beam
3 parts Jack Daniels
1 part hot chick sitting in the corner, looking sad and lonely.


Mike said...

One of my local places claims to have the best Scotch selections in the state outside of New York City.

They hold a monthly whiskey tasting with Irish, Scotch and Bourbon. They've also had a few special events, one of which was a sampling of the entire Glenlivet line. I'd recommend the Nadurra ( and the 25 year (

Although, at $400 to $500 per bottle that one glass is probably the only XXV I'll ever have.