The League is reeling from a truly awesome night last night. We were lucky enough to have Noah Rothbaum, Editor in Chief of Liquor.com, in our presence for a Whiskey 101 lecture and tasting.
That’s the best part about the League. We’re a bevy of ladies, and though our level of knowledge surrounding whiskey varies, we all share an interest in learning more. And that’s part of the beauty of the whiskey category too: even when you know a lot, there’s always more to know. The category is dynamic, exciting and ever-evolving. Much like our palates. The more you know (and taste), the better you pick up on the nuances of these complex spirits.
Noah’s story is truly awesome. He’s a seasoned spirits writer who has written for a wide variety of publications. When we first met, he was the spirits guy for Men’s Fitness. 5 years later, he’s Editor in Chief and Founder of Liquor.com, a wonderful resource on the industry that, like our lecture last night, shares insight for spirits fans of every knowledge level.
We had a whopping 33 folks in attendance, and for the first time ever, we allowed our ladies to bring their significant others. We usually talk about them anyway behind their backs at League, so we figured why not be able to do it to their faces for once. And I have to say, the addition of some of the dudes in the room was really nice. They asked poignant questions and shared a totally different perspective. Let me be clear: we are a WOMEN’S league, so this is a once-a-year type thing, but it was a nice, refreshing change-up.
Now, much of what we covered has already been shared in previous posts (whiskey basics), but here are some of the biggest takeaways:
- As we’ve said before, one whiskey isn’t necessarily better than another. It’s all about preference (I hear my mother right now, she’s saying, “that’s what makes horse races”). And that’s the beauty of the whiskey category (and the spirits industry on the whole): there are literally HUNDREDS of different whiskey styles (Bourbon, Rye, Tennessee, Irish, Scotch, Japanese, Indian, Single Malt, Blended, etc.) in every price category. What works for some doesn’t do it for others. I’m an Islay freak myself, but most of my girlfriends tell me I smell like the creepy old man at the bar everyone seems to recognize because he’s ALWAYS there and reeks of Marlboro Reds. Whatever, I’m into it.
ON AMERICAN WHISKEY…
- Bourbon is perhaps the most regulated of all whiskey types, and the U.S. government works rigorously to defend the category and encourage other countries to recognize it as a distinctive product of the U.S. Bourbon cannot be Bourbon unless it’s made here at home.
- Rye is the original whiskey grain. It was rye whiskey that was made back when George Washington was a distiller (it was the predominant grain found along the East Coast). Though we’ve seen a massive rye boom in the last few years, it is really our nation’s first whiskey grain. Corn later became a primary the ingredient as it grew better in areas like Tennessee and Kentucky.
ON IRISH WHISKEY…
- Don’t tell a Scotch purist, but the Irish claim to have created the first whiskeys when Irish monks brought distilling techniques to the Green Isle.
ON SCOTCH WHISKY…
- We tend to forget that although we all focus on Single Malts, somewhere between 80 and 90% of all Scotch whisky sold is blended whisky. Single Malts, while really great, are a tiny little drop in the bucket in the Scotch whisky industry.
Lastly, I leave you with a fun celeb fact that Noah shared with us. As if we didn’t already love him enough, we love him more for knowing that the way to a lady’s heart is through her irrational fascination with all things celebrity culture.
Did you know that Isla Fisher, one of our favorite actresses, who also wins brownie points for her adorable Australian accent and self-deprecating humor, is named after my favorite island in the world, Islay?
Like I needed a reason to love her more. Lady Leaguers, I’m officially claiming this name for my first born. I called it first, so don’t cross me…
Until next time, you can keep up on your whiskey knowledge by following Noah over at Liquor.com.