So, why whisky?

Most of us have a favorite drink. Many have more than one. What is it that makes us prefer one type over another? I started early. My first real introduction to drinking, or to over-drinking in this case, was at my Grade 10 end-of-school party. We were camping. Before heading to the campground, we went to the local bootlegger to stock up. Cost was the principle driving factor. I split a bottle of sherry and six beer with a friend. Total investment – $1.75. Worth every penny, or so we thought. You know the story. We’ve all been there. Since that night, I can eliminate sherry from the list of things that I’m willing to drink. Over the next few years add tequila, gin, and rum to that list.

In recent weeks, during the Great Coronavirus Isolation, I have been chatting online with a few of my old university buddies. Time well wasted, I must say. One of our many recent topics is craft beer. I have a friend in western Canada who is a big fan. He even makes his own home brew. After professing my limited tolerance for the strong, bitter taste of craft beer, he offered a theory. He said that our initial rejection of strong tastes is our biological defense system protecting us against being poisoned. Reasonable theory. So I did a little research. Lo and behold, there are taste sensors on the tongue (called taste buds, as we all know), that send messages to the brain. These messages, particularly for bitter tastes, initiate a warning system to protect us against consuming things that might harm us. Goes back to our hunter-gatherer days. Of course, beer doesn’t harm us. Unless we drink a bunch. Funny thing is, though, if we persist , then we move past the offensive taste and actually start to enjoy it.

Let’s apply this thinking to whisky. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, it took me a while to start liking whisky. I’m thinking, maybe two years. Was it worth it? Absolutely. But lets get back to the question – Why Whisky? In addition to the peer pressure of my whisky drinking pals, it became a process of elimination. Sherry, gin, and rum? Nope. Bad memories from my youth. Vodka? Nice to have from time to time, but a little boring. Beer? Love it, but the calories and the trips to the bathroom are starting to limit my intake. Wine? Headaches. Even after one glass. Plus my wife tells me that red wine turns me into an asshole. I blame the tannins. Mixed drinks? Again, calories, general insipidness, and a pain in the ass to make.

So, for me, it’s all about the whisky. The rich flavors, the endless variety, the history and tradition. We all have our reasons. Give it a try. Maybe you’ll agree, maybe you won’t. Cheers.

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