Hipster’s Guide to Whiskey

Words & Photography by Nick Jones

Few things inspire respect from your fellow peers like a sound knowledge of a given type of alcoholic beverage.  However, many unsavoury stereotypes can be applied to those who know a lot about wine (boorish twats) and the same can be said about those that know their beers (sandle-wearing barrel-bellied old men).

Whisky, on the other hand, is just cool.  It’s arguably the coolest of all the liquors, if not all alcoholic beverages, and for that reason alone it’s worth your while to learn a few specifics so that you can amaze the dullards that you usually find yourself spending time with.

Firstly, you should strongly emphasise that only ‘single malts’ will grace your lips.  Be sure to dismiss any and all blends, regardless of price, region, distiller, or whatever as an inferior and impure product.  How can a bastardised melange of various substances tell a story as pure as that of a single malt?  The single malt, you should exclaim, is more than just a drink – pedigree and purity are to be valued above almost all else.

Secondly, the key to the appearance of knowledge all things whisky-related is to be able to talk about the various Scottish regions. You should be aware of the major regions of whisky and be prepared to trot them off should your knowledge be challenged.  It basically boils down to Islay (pronounced ‘Aye-la’, be sure to berate and rectify anyone who mispronounces this), Highland, Speyside, and Lowland.  The other regions aren’t really worth mentioning – if anyone challenges you just riposte dismissively with anger-inducing comments such as “lack of variety” or “purity of process”.

The region that produces the most ‘challenging’ (i.e smelliest, most likely to induce repulsion) is Islay.  Most of the really famous award-winning whiskies come from this region (Laphroig, Lagavulin, et al) and claiming that a particular vintage from one of these distilleries is bound to produce awe and incite respect from your drinking pals.  “He must really be a conoisseur if he can stomach that shit!” they’ll cry, as you throw another sip down your neck of a liquid that brings to mind creosote, dead rat, cat piss, and a hint of lemon.

And this is the mark of a true whisky afficionado, one that’s been through the gamut from the approachable drinks from the likes of Auchenstoshan (Ock-en-tosh-an) to the questionably quaffable produce from obscure distilleries such as Caol Ila (cowl-eela) and Bunnahabhain (boon-a-harb-en).  Oh, that and the ability to pronounce some of them.


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Beer Nog Recipe

6 eggs*, separated
1/2 c sugar, plus 2 Tbsp
2 1/2 c whole milk
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 fl oz Port Brewing Old Viscosity (or other dark, strong ale**)
2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale 

I have found myself circling my local beer shops right after Halloween, seeing when the first shipment of Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale hits the shelves. This beer doesn’t taste “Christmasy”, it will grow on you so much each year, you will naturally associate it with the holidays. It could possibly be one of the best pound for pound IPAs made, and is reasonably priced at $7-9 a six pack. Some folks like to store vintages of this beer, but I would advise you to only drink this fresh. I have tried this beer with two years on it, and much of that awesome citrus aroma is gone, and it becomes a less vibrant, more bitter beer. This beer can be found in almost every state.

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