Numbers, they are used so often in everything we do and for many people numbers are the thing that allows them to show who they are or how they rank. It is also used to show importance or ranking of many things from whisky to milk. I understand that numbers are needed in many cases but sometimes we get caught up in their importance.
Some examples of how numbers are important:
- Age – at bars or seniors discounts
- Bank accounts – need enough to pay bills
- License plates (along with letters) – so my son gets in the right car
- Address – where to get dropped off by the taxi
- Prison uniform – so you don’t wear bubba’s by mistake
- Bra size – no comment
- Anniversary – could be life or death if you forget
- Alcohol content – know your limit
Some examples of where numbers are used but not so important:
- Wife’s age – what ever she says
- Geocaches found – it isn’t golf, you don’t get better at it with more time
- Sexual partners – quality over quantity here
- Pairs of shoes – can only wear one pair at a time.
- length 😉 – it’s how you use it, right?
- Fat content in milk – thicker the better, right?
- Whisky’s age – Dare I say it?
I realize that we all have different personalities and views, that we all measure ourselves and others with different tools. To some people, the ability to place a number on something is important to them, either to show how good they or something is because it is the only way for them to do it. Not everything is about the numbers, even if they are important or necessary.
This post is my opinion and thoughts on some of the numbers used in the world of whisky.
Age, is important but not the end all be all when it comes to quality. I personally like to see the age of the whisky on the bottle and feel it shows the amount of effort and quality put forth by the distillery or blender. It means that they cared enough about their product to hold onto it until it was ready to be what they want it to be. It does speak to the expectations we should have about what we are spending a lot of money on for the most part. Does it mean a 10 year old is not as good as a 30 year old, no way. It does however help us separate the offerings from a specific whisky distillery. I also feel that since the age of a whisky greatly affects the product, it should be placed on the bottle, every bottle of single malt that is. Blends are a different beast to me, they are made to produce a specific flavor profile so they need the leeway to use various ages to get the desired affect and taste. I spend more time reading the tasting notes than looking at the age, I want a certain profile and it can come from a 5 year old sometimes depending on the whisky and my mood. Like I said at the beginning of this paragraph, I still feel strongly that a distillery with nothing to hide or no ulterior motives will proudly state the age of what is in the bottle. Let the whisky sell itself with it’s quality but be honest about it at the same time.
Now I will give my opinion on alcohol content. I am not the type to puff up my chest and say it should all be cask strength because that is how a real man drinks it, look at me and how macho I am. Now I like many others appreciate the fact that the distillery is offering us whisky as it comes out of the cask and leave it up to us to decide if we want it lowered with water or not. I almost always add water to my whisky at some point if it is above 43%, that is how I like it. My first sip will be at full strength but after that I usually like to tame it a bit so that it is enjoyable and it last longer. Also cask strength bottles should cost more as it requires more whisky to fill a bottle. With this in mind if I was to dilute my whisky down to 35-40% ABV then I am adding about 20% more to the lifetime of the bottle and justifies the higher price for me. For those who don’t want to add water, they justify the higher price with more ABV enjoyment.
The last whisky number I will discuss is how many whiskies you own or have tried. I know that I have about 80 bottles on hand, including some that are only 375ml and some that are less expensive so it isn’t a fantastic collection but it is nice all the same. I know that I would have more if I could afford it but I also know that with the exception of a few autographed bottles, they are all going to be opened and consumed, hopefully shared with friends as well. There are only a handful of bottles that I have purchased twice and that was for a specific reason, like not having to open a signed bottle from John Hall. I want to try different stuff even if I really like a bottle, I still would prefer to get something new if possible. Thankfully there is a decent selection around and I have friends willing to “mule” whisky back to me from far away places every once and a while. I also don’t keep tasting notes on what I have tried because I don’t feel the need to do it as I would probably not look back at them. If I am trying something that I have tasted before I don’t care what it tasted like five years ago, I care about what it taste like today. Do I care if it changed, nope doesn’t matter to me, live in the now. Even if I remember it and maybe wasn’t fond of it I still want a dram today, there are very few out there that I will turn down but I may not ask for another dram. When I do my tastings I provide everyone with a sheet for tasting notes, I may add a few notes from the company but the main thing is for those who want to take notes can. Some of the members have a book that they keep all their notes in which is great for them, I don’t. Well maybe I do but they are blank and only used so I can remember what we had so I don’t repeat myself too soon.
That is enough for now and I didn’t even talk about the price tag.