How does one learn to appreciate good scotch and whiskey?
Heading into the local discount liquor store is not the sort of thing you should go into blindly. A 21 year old should not have the same methods of choosing the best scotch or whiskey that an adult would. Adults should have taken the time to develop their taste and become better drinkers. Drinking is not about throwing a few shots back and getting hammered. It should be about taste and complex flavors and being able to appreciate each and every one of them. Developing a pallet for the best whiskey, scotch or bourbon can take years but moving in the right direction starts with understanding what you like about these drinks and what manufacturers are attempting to accomplish when making them.
“The nose” is what aesthete drinkers call the complex combination of flavors that hit your nose but infiltrate the rest of your senses when you firs stick your nose and your lip into a well designed drinking glass. The concoction that can hit those senses can blend a wide variety of sweet tastes and hard smells. Complex arrangements of fruits and spices with hints of things like vanilla and cinnamon make your senses sing and that is before you even sip the stuff.
When you do take a sip those flavors can become clearer and sometimes new ones will pop up. The best whiskey or scotch will often blend a complex nose with a completely different taste. These complex flavors are combined with the wood of the barrels that the scotch or whiskey has been aged in. That aging process is what allows all of these flavors to generate and imbue themselves into what could be the best scotch whiskey or just a pale unimpressive scotch or whiskey if done incorrectly. When done right these drinks should be entirely unique experiences cultivated by people who probably should be considered artists in the way that they work nature into a delicious brand new concoction.
Drinking wisely means drinking to enjoy the sort of classic beauty of a well made alcohol. This is not chugging beers and meaninglessly descending into a drunken rage. This is about sipping and enjoying, making the experience of drinking and not whatever internal chemical reaction is derived from it the most important part of the experience. Being able to stand back for long enough to develop a pallet for these things is a great test of will and will be endlessly rewarded with long fulfilling drinks.