Whiskey. Or is it whisky? Shit, I don’t know.

I live in Portland, Oregon, and consequently, I’m supposed to consume only brown liquors. What? I don’t make the rules. Take it up with the hipsters.

Up until a few years ago, I wasn’t much of a liquor drinker. However, I had a date way back in the summer of 2011 who demonstrated his sophistication by drinking Maker’s Mark on the rocks. Then he talked about his BMW and playing a round of some goddamn sport I was too bored to pay attention to at someplace called Pebble something or other. The point is, I also drank Maker’s Mark that night. To impress him. I know. I am an asshole.

To be clear, my Maker’s Mark on the rocks experience wasn’t bad. I mean, it wasn’t good either. Nonetheless, it was my first initiation into the wide world of whiskey.

Yes, please.

Yes, please.

Fast forward to a few months later. I was out for drinks with a gentleman I consider both a friend and a mentor. Our evening started with a series of my favorite tequilas, so I should have known it wouldn’t end well. At some point, our conversation turned to Scotch whisky. I indicated my desire to learn more, and before I knew it, I had two glasses of Scotch placed under my nose.

If I remember correctly, which I don’t, it was a Macallan 12-year and a Lagavulin 16-year. Thanks to the tequila, I was already pretty drunk. But I wanted to impress this individual with my liquor drinking prowess. So, I jumped right in. I remember the Macallan being pretty tasty. The Lagavulin, however, tasted like mother fucking dirt on mother fucking fire.

Again, because I was trying to impress, I downed the whole glass. Approximately fifteen minutes later, my friend was explaining the barrel aging process when I was overwhelmed by a Scotch-induced hot flash. I held up my hand and said something eloquent along the lines of, “Me need go home now. Urp.”

The next thing I remember is waking up in the fetal position on my bathroom floor, my pants and underwear crumpled around my ankles. I had somehow managed to vomit up and over my head and onto the back of my brand new leather jacket. I was so drunk, my vom defied the laws of physics. I remember being incredibly confused. Had I fallen off the toilet mid-pee? Or, was it a botched attempt to negotiate a bad case of the spins? Oh, how I wish I could recapture those magical moments.

God, no.

God, no.

So…Scotch.

Despite this somewhat inauspicious start, I have a renewed interest in Scotch. Micah and I are going to Scotland and Ireland next summer. He’s going for the World Pipe Band Championships. I’m going for the wool sweaters and unintelligible accents. And the whiskey. We will be meeting a good friend of mine and then we shall journey together along the great distillery trail.

Anyway, I want to know what I’m getting into. Therefore, I will be drinking an unhealthy quantity of whiskey over the next 8-10 months. For knowledge.

And to prepare for the Ireland portion of our trip, I am taking old-time Irish step dancing classes. Full immersion, yo. I just bought some tap shoes, so I’m guessing that Micah will soon find our house uninhabitable.

I will chronicle my liver-withering journey (the parts that I remember) on this very blog. To kick things off, please permit me to drop some learning on you that I just now retrieved from the Internet:

“Whisky” is the Scottish spelling. “Whiskey” is the Irish spelling.

The more you know…

44 thoughts on “Whiskey. Or is it whisky? Shit, I don’t know.

  1. My husband, this year, just got into drinking Whiskey as well. He is a fan of the Macallan 12 and then told me he wanted something that ended with “blue” for christmas. Why do I think I could possibly mortgage a house with what that might cost? I’ve also enjoyed learning about Whiskey with him – and I do know how to SIP, as opposed to gulp, which is hard for this lush. Thanks for the read.

    • I’m not sure if this is the same thing your husband was talking about, but I was recently “treated” to a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label ($200-$300 a bottle, though there are limited editions with a price point that makes my head spin). I have to admit, my thought process was something like: SO expensive — do not spit out. :)

      I legitimately enjoy some Scotch whiskies, but much of it remains a mystery. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I HIGHLY recommend the Irish coffee. It actually tastes good AND gets the job done … but you get all that caffeine at the same time. The disease and the cure in one cup. I love Ireland.

  3. I used to be a copywriter in ad sales support for a national magazine, and it was very important to get those spellings right when we pitched the liquor companies … “whisky” for Scotch and Canadian, and “whiskey” for bourbon and Irish. Have fun on your trip!

    • Ooooh! Did you get to sample the wares?

      I started this post by just alternating spellings and hoping no one would notice. But then I decided I should actually figure it out. :) I am really enjoying learning about (and drinking) whiskey — I can pretend to be much more sophisticated than I actually am! Thanks for your comment!

  4. I’m more of a fan of whiskey cream. And the best I ever drank was in Edinburgh, in a shop just outside Edinburgh Castle. Still kicking myself for not bringing home a bottle. Of course, that was fifteen years ago, so it would probably be gone by now anyway.
    Enjoy your time in Ireland and Scotland. And take it easy on your liver.

    • That sounds fantastic! I am setting aside a bit of savings to bring home a nice bottle from the source. I have a ritual now where I visit my neighborhood put and order Scotch and a cheese plate. I am happy to report that I consume the Scotch with great restraint and moderation. The same cannot be said of the cheese plate. :)

  5. I love this! I have just gotten into Whiskey as well. My husband is Irish and loves his whiskey but I also agree with you for as much as my husband wants to go to Ireland for this, that and ten other things. I’m going for the sweaters and the accents. Oh and of course the whiskey.

  6. Scotland was where I learned to drink Whisky at the heels of a kilted, underwearless ( yep its true) elderly guy who I could barely understand not only because I was drunk but the freaking accent is unintelligible!

  7. I have been in your position, and from the exact mixture that you spoke of. That was 25 years ago and I still can’t stand the stench of it. My friends keep telling me that they will change my mind, but I have my doubts.

  8. I’m sorry, but I snickered uncontrollably at how you woke up. :D It sounds familiar. Although considering I’m part Scotch/Irish, I should probably look into trying whiskey. Thanks for the head-start!

  9. My husband is a musician. About 10 years ago we were poor as shit (now we’re just regular poor) and I’d go to his shows and we’d have a bottle (or three) of the cheapest whiskey we could get. I’m pretty sure we were doing it wrong.

  10. I am the worst alcoholic ever. I don’t think I ever drank whisky/ey at all during my binging days…ah, another privilege I’ll never know.
    By the way, thanks for the laugh. I needed it today. ;)

  11. Give Monkey Shoulder a try, very smooth. Are you into bourbon or rye whiskey, or are you strictly doing Scottish/Irish in preparation for your trip? Booker’s and Templeton’s are my faves.

    Huh, I sound like a lush. Oh well.

    • I’ve heard Monkey Shoulder is good! I’ll give it a try. I’m definitely into bourbon, but I can’t quite make myself love rye. I like Booker’s as well. If you haven’t tried them, I also like Basil Hayden’s and Angel’s Envy.

      I’m just hoping I don’t sound like so much of a lush that I cause my grandmother concern.

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