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I used to have a test for when an immigrant is truly Americanized (if such a thing is possible these days): When he starts liking football as much or more than soccer. I reached that point almost five years ago, during the excruciatingly boring 2010 World Cup. However, I found this test to be woefully insufficient. After all, many people do not like professional sports. So, here's another: an immigrant is truly Americanized when he starts liking whisk(e)y as much or more than his native land's liquor.
The latter test hit me a few weeks ago, when I realized that my favorite liquor is no longer infused vodka, but Gentleman Jack Tennessee whiskey, with Bushmills Irish (Ulster?) whisky a close second. Now, this raises a forest of eyebrows. Here's a native of Moldova who picks whisk(e)y over semi-sweet wine, a Russian Jew who would drink Bushmills over Beluga, and an attorney who would pick American or Irish whisk(e)y over Scotch.
The answer is rather simple. I humbly submit that most attorneys (and Wall Street types) prefer Scotch not for its taste or smoothness, but for the same reason they profess a love for cigars: its something they are expected to like. Now, I have nothing against some Chivas Regal, Glen Mowray, or Johnny Walker, but I find Bushmills and Gentleman Jack and for that matter, Jameson, to be far superior in terms of smoothness and flavor. I once spent a very memorable evening drinking Chivas Regal with an old mob lawyer in an Italian restaurant owned by a "made man".
Now the comparison to vodka, a nectar, I celebrated about a year ago in these same pages ("Vodka: An Appreciation"), is more complex. The advantages I find with non-Scotch whisk(e)y are: no need for chasers (see my celebration of vodka); no unpleasant aftertaste; and the fact that unlike vodka, whisk(e)y could be enjoyed at room temperature. I prefer to drink shots of room temperature Gentleman Jack or Bushmills rather than sipping them over ice. Other non-Scotch brands I found pleasant are Crown Royal, Bulleit, and Paddy's. Cheers!
Bushmills definitely Ulster, County Antrim
Bourbon works well when the weather is hot. It just tastes like the hum of kadydids and cicadas and I prefer to it in the summertime. These cold nights, though, lend themselves to Scotch. I am too stingy )or drink entirely too much of it) to get off the bottom shelf, most of the time, but ideally the winter demands a good stiff Islay. There is just some comfort in sucking on that pumice stone like crawling back into the womb.
I still ponder your older piece about the vodka. It left me with quite a desire to enjoy vodka in Russian manner. Just reading the article gave me great joy. Never get around to it. Someday perhaps. . .
Eugene I will have to try the Irish whiskey. I am not really familiar with any Irish whiskies. I would recommend Old Weller Antique over anything from Tennessee though. Most Kentucky bourbons have been preferable to anything from Tennessee. However, since I asked you about the vodka you drink last year my tastes have definitely changed. I almost never drink anything but vodka nowadays. Russian Standard is quite good. I keep a big jug of it now. The two liquor stores that I frequent do not have any of the others you recommended. I did try a bottle of Monopolowa potato vodka from Austria that was good and cheap. That may be sacrilegious to Eastern Europeans though. I still have zero interest in football or soccer. Pinball is my sport!
Crown Royal Black!!!!!!
Old Grandad, Old Charter, Rebel Yell, Kessler's!!!! You can see my tastes are not too expensive. Or just get some moonshine and some oak chips, heat them chips up in the oven till they're golden brown, and stick 'em down in that whisk. Let 'em soak a good long time, 'n' char that 'shine nice 'n' brown and make it real smooth. That's how the old folks did it sometimes. You know, it just might work with vodka, too. Now, where did I leave that liver? I know I had one.....
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