What do you mean you “LIKE” whiskey?

What do you mean you “LIKE” whiskey?

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You say you “like” whiskey. And so do I. I say that too. But I think “like” is too weak a word for our beloved fire water. You like candy and cokes and vanilla wafers and shit like that. We need more robust words for what whiskey means to us.

Inuit people, they say, have about fifty words for snow. I’ve also heard that’s complete bullshit, but I’m no fuckin’ anthropologist. Point is, they got a lot of words for snow cause it’s important to them.

I’m thinking we need some more words for “like,” particularly as it relates to whiskey.

I LIKE hot and spicy food. Jalapeños, serranos, Thai chili peppers, that kind of thing. I want my food to hurt me. I LIKE the hurt.

I LIKE horseradish sauce too. Why, I can’t tell you because by any objective standard it tastes like fermented shit. But sometimes my sammiches get boring and need a little assistance. I just LIKE it. I don’t know why.

I also LIKE fish sauce, blue cheese, cigars, and the Bee Gees. None of those make any sense either.

And every one of those “likes” has a different feel to me. It seems wrong to use the same word for all of them.

Here’s what I think is going on:

When there is a payoff to a substance – mental, physical, or emotional – over time our minds convince us that we “like” it. That way we’ll keep consuming it. Think of your unconscious mind as a pragmatic, amoral being in your head pulling levers and turning knobs and carrying on secret conversations with you.

Ooh, that felt GOOD. What did you just drink?

Whiskey. I didn’t like it much though.

Hang on. I’m still processing the effects. Ohhhhhh. Oh yeah. Dayum. Okay from this point forward, you like that shit. I’m officially putting whiskey on the like list.

Okay. I guess I like whiskey now. Are we good?

Oh we good. We definitely good now.

I don’t know what kind of payoff you get when you drink whiskey, but I know my own history and what whiskey has meant to me over the years.

Whiskey is manly. When I was young and wanting to be a man, whiskey was a right of passage into manhood, you might say. These days we got lots of ladies in the whiskey tribe as well, and I LOVE that. They’ve got their own reasons for drinking whiskey I guess. But this was certainly one of mine.

Whiskey intoxicates. It lubricates the soul you might say. Especially for cantankerous old bastards like me. There are times when I’m a better man with a shot of whiskey on board. That’s just a fact.

And whiskey, my friends, is dangerous. Dangerous like life and love are dangerous. Most really good things aren’t safe anyway. Have you noticed that?

Bottom line: whiskey is our fire water, our communion, our baptism, and our companion in this dangerous as hell business we call living. We dare to whiskey because, godammit, we dare to live. And joining together with others who drink the fire water is a way of finding kindred spirits for the journey.

Do I like whiskey? Fuck no, I don’t LIKE it.

I travel with it; I endure it; I sojourn with it in the wilderness.
I fight with it; I study it; I celebrate with it among friends.
I love its fire; I probe its secrets; I receive its gifts in humility and with grace.

That’s why I whiskey.

  • The growth of my whisky obsession is probably like many others. I originally liked it with Coke, meaning I really liked Coke and wanted some alcohol. Same with coffee. As a youth I wanted sugary milk with caffeine. Now I love black coffee and salsa that makes my lips tingle and sweat form on my scalp. And I love whisky that can fight it’s way through my poor sense of smell and announce it’s presence. I love the burn, the Kentucky hug…

    I love your writing style. Keep it up. I know it’s hard to publish with consistency. I’ll keep reading!

    • Pilgrim, you and I might be cut from the same cloth. You’re probably a helluva lot more respectable than me and all that shit, but in some essential way, I think we share a story. I just drank Maker’s Mark on ice. Hell I didn’t even understand whiskeys were all that much different from each other. Then a buddy of mine introduced me to LaPhroaig. I took to it like a duck to water.

      • Funny to see you mention those. I stopped in a duty free when returning to MI and texted my son to ask what whisky to buy. He suggested Maker’s Mark. I thought that was too tame, too common, too Walmart. I bought a liter of Laphroaig Quarter Cask instead. My world changed.

  • Amen. Preach it, brother@

  • Steve Newton

    Here’s what came to mind when I read this. I’m assuming you’ve all watched Breaking Bad, because, who hasn’t? Remember near the end, Walter White walks into a bar in Vermont, or New Hampshire, or Maine, or wherever the eff he was, and sits at the bar and orders “Dimple Pinch. Neat.” Remember that? Well, I was a whiskey virgin at the time, so I googled it and found out what it was. That week, I went to my local spirit shop and bought a bottle. The following week, for the series finale, my son and I drank Dimple Pinch as we watched the series come to an end. It was communion, It was baptism. I toasted Walter White, who at his very heart, is much like me … a man who wants to provide for his family. OMG…. there is so much more here to unpack, but I’ll just leave it at that. Booooooosh!