As I cleared off my desk to get ready for another trip into the uncharted territories of whisk(e)y, I noticed something I had taken for granted before. Look at how nice the Whiskey’s Explorer’s Club packaging is! My next thought was that surely someone has done one of those unboxing videos that you see when a new technology gadget first appears. But alas, there’s nothing on Netscape that I could find. (And by nothing, my god, there’s nothing on there at all. What in the hell happened? Tomorrow, I’ll phone someone at the AOL.com help desk to find out.)
Anyway, the packaging is really nice: the four bottles have handsome little labels bearing the special code, each bottle is dipped in wax, and they are set snuggly into a black plastic insert that keeps them so secure that you have to push them out from the back like a blister pack of medicines. With this thoughtful presentation, it’s easy to see why this works so well as a gift. Now, with apologies to Timothy Leary, it’s time to turn on, log in, and pour out.
Over the years we’ve noted how careful refinements have made the adventure more rewarding. You can sink a lot of time and attention into each aspect of the whiskies. In fact, I was attempting to sprint along and found that I need to spread out my journey over two days. The large number of carefully-categorized descriptors really show you the wide variety of gustatory coordinate positions that whisk(e)y can aspire to. In my case, however, seeing all of these descriptors and being told I need to select a much smaller number of them has an unfortunate side-effect. Owing to my suggestibility, I find myself drawn from one descriptor, to another incompatible one, to a third more incongruous than the first two, and believing all the while that I’m actually tasting each one of those flavors. However, if this were true, then my glass is filled with the ever-unfolding complexity of a liquefied kaleidoscope, or some sort of Willy Wonka Whisk(e)y made from fermented everlasting gobstobbers. (Note to self: In the future, write notes away from the computer and then compare my work afterwards.)
It is humbling at the end to discover that your notes hardly bear a resemblance to the judgment of the expert. But who is this expert and what do they know?! [Editor’s note: we’ve excised John’s jeremiad against expertise, and reminded him he did pretty well in one case]. Nevertheless, with one bottle, I got 44 points out of 110 and felt pretty good about it. That’s higher than the score I got on the only Physics exam I took in college, so yeah, I think I have the right to be proud. But my relatively low score is a clear marker of the rigor of the enterprise, and the rigor in turn is evidence that this adventure provides, in the ideal case, an invitation to refine your palate. My recommendation is to drink while reading the reviews on Drammie Award Winning Blogs like, um, The Malt Impostor. You’ll be sure to impress everyone at the office holiday party with your erudition. We used to be invited to holiday parties. Trust us, we know what an impact you have in conversation.
But it is not just coworkers you can impress after taking your whisk(e)y adventure. You can also impress your local supplier of victuals when you tell them that you’ve just had the chance to taste that new whiskey they are selling. And if you like it right then and there, the good people at For Whiskey Lovers will sell you a bottle at a modest discount. If they could deliver this by drone, we’d have the perfect automation of whisk(e)y.
With the holidays upon us, I am sure that you know people who will appreciate this. But in case you’re struggling to remember them, I’ll just add that I am such a person and would welcome your benefaction. [Editor’s note: we have excised John’s name, address, and phone number, as his plea struck our etiquette department as indecorous.]