At some point as a girl, I started to develop my idea of what being a woman meant. If I were to make an idea board of all the ideals I associated with femininity, front and center would be a photo of my cousin Tressa and her mom, my aunt Annie.
In the photo, taken at (I think?) a cousin’s wedding I was unable to attend, Tressa is front and center with a big stogie in her mouth. Her head is cocked to the side, and her mom has the kind of expression on her face that scolds, “Tressa!!” My aunt is caught mid-laugh, making the joy on the two women’s faces completely unposed and perfect.
Without my realizing it then, that photo planted a tiny mustard seed in my brain, assuring I would work to become the kind of woman who enjoyed cigars and all their accouterments–buttery soft brown leather chairs in old libraries, cozy Granddad sweaters, whiskey.
Fast forward about a decade. I am at a whiskey tasting at a local liquor store with my not-yet-husband, double dating with his oldest friends. At the time, I found whiskey strong and disgusting, a taste to cover with the sweetness of Coca-Cola. I am happy to be in attendance because, I’m curious: Does “the good stuff” (read: the bottles that cost more than $20 a pop) really taste better? Does whiskey that has been barrel-aged for 12 years taste that much different from the crappy Jack I’m familiar with?
The short answer: Holy mother of God, they’re not even the same drinks.
During the tasting, I learned the difference between whiskey, scotch, and bourbon (there are more distinctions*, but the basic one is geography: Scotch is from Scotland, and bourbon is from Kentucky). I also learned that I am by and large a scotch fan. I learned that what makes scotch taste so much better than the other two liquors in its family is the fact that Scotland is an island, and the barrels that are aged in the country are whipped by the surrounding geographical elements.
Take Laphroaig, my scotch of choice (which I discovered at the aforementioned tasting). The distinctive taste in Laphroaig (say luh-FROYG) is that of peat. In laymen terms, it tastes like a bonfire smells: smokey and woodsy, as a result of the peat moss on Islay, the Scottish island where Laphroaig is made. Everything from the wind to the salt water in the air affects the taste.
This week, I’ve puffed my chest out a little more for being a whiskey-drinking woman, thanks to some stories floating around the web: Elite Daily’s 10 Reasons Why You Should Always Go For The Girl Who Drinks Whiskey and HuffPo’s (albeit, completely corny) For The Girls Who Drink Whiskey.
I’m not sure how much my choice of alcohol makes me a woman who
“(K)nows that none of us fit in these neat little boxes. She’d never pigeonhole other women–or men, for that matter. She knows that each of us are infinitely full of gorgeous nooks and crannies waiting to be explored, and that the people who are willing to brave our fire in order to enjoy our warmth are the ones worth keeping in our lives(,)”
(Seriously, that HuffPo piece is covered in cheese) … But my preference does say certain things about me, some of which are pointed to in the above articles:
- You don’t discover a drink like Laphroaig–or a good enough liquor that would make you bitchslap anyone who tried to taint it with soda–without being excited to new things.
- You dig being the “the only chick” in certain situations. For whatever reason, whiskey is undeniably a masculine drink. That makes me feel especially badass to be sipping two fingers of it from my cut crystal lowball glass.
- I prefer a lowkey Friday night to one filled with people. Good whiskey is meant to be sipped in front of a fire with a book or a boy, not chugged with your college buddies.
Not to get too J.K. Rowling on you, but I fully believe we can form ourselves into the person we want to be. Certain traits are inherent and unavoidable (do what you will with me, but I will always want to give $50 to any homeless person I see, even though my brain will try to logic me out of it). But it’s our choices that ultimately make us us.
And I want to be the kind of gal who appreciates a good cigar and and a better whiskey.
* Want a little more in-depth info about the difference among scotch, whiskey, and bourbon? Mental Floss has a great overview.