Late last year, I started watching Breaking Bad and finished the entire season last month. I loved every second of my binge watching experience; the plot, the characters, the perfect ending. I also spent a lot of time jumping in my seat, sometimes so taken aback I felt the need to walk around my apt, mouth open, muttering “goodness.” Breaking Bad maybe one the best shows I’ve ever watched. “Yeah Bitch” aside, my “true” favorite expression from the show is Walt’s warning to Hank to “Tread Lightly.” I try to incorporate that into a sentence every chance I get.
Of course, it is fitting that my one of my all time favorite shows, also featured whiskey. A number of whiskies broke bad in the show at pivotal moments. Knob Creek bourbon which was a staple in Hank’s bar and he asked Walt to join him on a few occasions, Whistle Pig shared in mugs between Hank, Gomez and Merkert, what seemed like Wild Turkey on the rocks ordered by Mike – and Dimple Pinch, Walt’s choice of whiskey.
I am intrigued by Dimple Pinch. It seemed like that was Walt’s go to whiskey at every crucial juncture and he stayed loyal to it till the end. Though not widely available this whiskey was created almost 350 years ago by Robert Haig, causing major mama drama among church elders because Robert was distilling whiskey during Sabbath. I have yet to try it so I can’t share any taste experiences but I will as soon as I get my hands on a bottle! The bottle certainly stands out with its unique shape. I’ve heard it described as the “working man’s’ whiskey, smells of dandelions and tastes like Graham crackers. Sounds like comfort food. Maybe that’s why Walt chose it. Making meth is stressful. Or so I imagine.
What are some other whiskies you’ve seen featured in shows and movies? Anyone who’s watched Justified will have lots to talk about. And while we’re on the topic of whiskies for your inner nerd, what whiskey do you think Dumbledore would’ve had? Maybe one of these: http://www.masterofmalt.com/blog/post/Wizards-of-Whisky-2014-Winners.aspx
That Boutique-y Whiskey Company is perfect for my inner nerd. Personally, I think Dumbledore would’ve named his whiskey “The Fiery Phoenix.”
What about Hobbits? Had to be an Irish blend. Or Ned Stark or Robert Baratheon? Theirs was a extreme charred blend with a bottle with an image of a boar or a dire wolf. Okay, I’ll stop now. I’ve take this too far.
Besides being absolutely delicious (in my opinion!), to drink whiskey is to partake in history. From a favorite of George Washington who founded one of the most successful distilleries in America to walking the Malt Whisky Trail in Scotland, my favorite part of whiskey is the passion and care that goes into making it. Lasting relationships form over this passion. Just visit any distillery you will see what I mean about long lasting friendships. There is no room for arrogance and distillers are some of the most talented but humble people I’ve ever met. There is a reason whiskey is called “Aqua Vitae” or the water of life.
Whiskey is also extremely diverse so there is a whiskey out there for you. One that speaks to you, one that fits your palette, your lifestyle, one that you can be proud to display in your bar. The one thing I’ve learnt in all my years drinking and talking about whiskey is that the more I see the less I know. This is especially true now as more people are cross over to brown spirits and explore the world of complexity, barrel aging and blending beyond the art of mixed drinks (which is an art form in its own realm).
Whiskey is also extremely fascinating because what you taste also depends on the type of person you are! What you had to eat earlier that day, how sensitive your palette is and the types of flavors/smells you grew up with that might evoke a memory when you sip a whiskey. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you ought to taste in a whiskey. It is likely that what you taste could be very different from your friend might. How cool is that? Another reason to drink with a friend!
Colin Spoelman and David Haskell, co-authors of “Guide to Urban Moonshining” said it best. “Whiskey is designed for company, and it is best shared.” This is why I love whiskey. I’ve met some of the most fascinating people over a glass of whiskey. I hope this never changes.
If you’re looking to get into whiskey and wondering where to start, here are some fun suggestions. Overall, it really does depend on your palette but I think these should help .
If you’re in America, you can start with the classics like Makers Mark, Jim Beam bourbon and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee American Whiskey. They are American traditions and a Jack and coke is a great starting point. In fact, some people swear by their Jack and coke. I, personally, started with Jameson. I find it fairly approachable and it great as a shot, on the rocks and in a ginger ale. Jameson and Ginger is also fun to say. If you’re looking to drink scotch, Glenfiddich is a fairly approachable single malt. Monkey Shoulder, though new, is another approachable scotch.
There are also flavored whiskies like Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Crown Royal Maple and my new favorite; King County Distillery’s chocolate “flavored” whiskey, if you can find it (made from leftover cocoa husks from Mast Brothers Chocolate). These are approachable and delicious so you can drink them neat or on the rocks. The only rule I have about ordering on the rocks, is make sure you tell the bartender how many cubes of ice you want (I usually ask for 1 or 2 ice cubes, so the whiskey is chilled, diluted but not too diluted).
Another great place to start is with classic whiskey cocktails like a Manhattan, Old Fashioned or a Rob Roy (I personally love the Rob Roy cocktail. The balance of sweet vermouth and smoky scotch is perfection to me – and it was created right here in New York!).
To find out more about each type of whiskeys (like Japanese whiskies) and some of my favorites in each, please visit My Favorites or come to my whiskey tasting events!