Tin Cup commercials tell us the rangy outdoorsmen love climbing mountains, building fires and toasting their quest with a camping cup. A grizzly voice explains their ritual, which, if you can climb mountains, sounds like a lot of fun.
Bird hunters gather together after their hunt, build a fire or sit on the back of their truck and pour two fingers neat and toast their hunt. This bounty no doubt comes with laughs, stories and some good fireside cooking.
Golfers keep a flask in their bag and kick a shot back after bad shots. Whiskey, here, is likely to cope with bad golfing.
Recently, millennial bride and grooms have been burying whiskey at their outdoor weddings and digging them up after the vows, toasting to their new lives. How cool is that?
All of this comes down to exploring new ways to experience whiskey. I’ve met people who have rituals with baseball games, soccer, cigar club, weddings, funerals and just about everything in between. Whiskey ameliorates place, friends and family make it even better. Let me tell you a few unforgettable moments whiskey enhanced.
My wife and I were sipping cocktails in the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I had just won a few dollars playing Black Jack and Jaclyn contemplated Petrossian Paris’ menu. Then, the entire casino went silent. Imagine that, a Vegas casino quiet. I didn’t hear slot machines, people yelling after winning or even the stray “cocktails, cigarettes” from a cocktail server. We looked at each other, both wondering why silence fell upon Sin City. Then we saw, the greatest, Muhammed Ali, walking through the casino. Battling Parkinson’s, he struggled, but each step was his own. It was amazing to see the champ.
Whether planned or a random occurrence, life seems better with a great whiskey
I’m with my Iraq war buddies. We’re sitting around joking, smoking cigars and sipping great Bourbon. We remember our friends, the ones we lost, maybe we shed a tear and we hugged. Life isn’t always pretty, and sometimes support is all we have. When enjoyed responsibly, whiskey endures moments like this.
Backstage at a Metallica concert, after I had done private tastings for other bands, my buddies and I are hanging in the artist area. The musicians gravitate toward us. Other band members came my way: “Wow, you’re the Bourbon guy. Mind if I get a pour?” and so I poured and educated some of the most-talented people in the world about good whiskey. Then, the great Lars Ulrich, the drummer for Metallica, had a conversation with my buddy, Mike. “Cigars, huh?” (Of course, we were smoking cigars. Notice a pattern?) “Yeah, want one?” Mike replied. “No,” Lars said, “I’ve got a thing.” He then played the greatest musical performance I had ever seen.
In these amazing moments, whiskey wasn’t the centrepiece star. It was merely a complementary elixir that lubricated good times. I have just as many moments at games, movie theaters, etc., and with other people who matter to me. This is the beauty of life, finding experiences you remember and hopefully have so many you forget a few... only to be reminded later at a random event.
However, I must caution with too much whiskey, to the point of intoxication, you don’t enjoy the moment. You stumble, forget or worse, get sick. But a dram or two, responsibly, of course, the mood can become enlightened, the taste buds challenged and the moments better.
These days I find myself building rituals around whiskey. Now, at least once a month, I have five friends over, we sip whiskey, smoke cigars, eat and set the world to rights. I cook with Bourbon more than ever, pair food to the spirit and even tastefully decorate my house with old dusty bottles.
My favourite activity is barbecuing and Bourbon. Pour a little on the meat, add some to the sauce and pair with the hickory and oak-smoked brisket, letting your palate enjoy the sweet and savory goodness that becomes of barbecue and Bourbon. Experiencing this is a part of life’s simple pleasures.
That’s really all whiskey is – experience in a bottle. Whether planned or a random occurrence, life seems better with a great whiskey.