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Whisky, Warriors & Wine

November 23, 2009

Mongrel: Mongrel refers to mixed ancestry: one whose parentage is of unknown or mixed breeds as opposed to purebred.

Bastard: A bastard is an illegitimate child, a child born to parents who are not married to one another

I am a (confused), mongrel bastard.

It’s not just funny, it’s true; my family “tree” isn’t a tree at all, it’s a point.  I may as well have been created ex nihilo, as it were.  And strange as that may be to you “purebreds”, it’s a fact of life for us adopted “mutts”, with absolutely no clue who our biological parents are.  Now, that may sound a little negative, but it’s not meant to be.  In fact, I’ve always viewed being adopted as a positive thing.  For example, one nice thing about not knowing my lineage is that I can choose my lineage.  Well, more accurately, I get to infer my lineage, but regardless, there’s a certain amount of flexibility inherent in the uncertainty.

OK, OK…I can hear you already.  “Why are you confused?  If you know you’re a mongrel bastard…at least you KNOW you’re a mongrel bastard, right?  What’s with the confusion?”

A little background would help.  For the past few years (like, about 15-20), I’ve considered myself Irish.  I’m short, quick tempered, with an inexplicable affinity for stout beers.  I like the color green, and do not dislike Jenny McCarthy, nor do I dislike Notre Dame, or the movie “Rudy”.  Hell, I even liked “Far and Away”.  I like saying the “F” word, I continued to like U2 after the dreadful “Zooropa” album, and most importantly of all, I look like a leprechaun, just without the funny hat and beard.  And I can buy the hat.

Anyway, Irish, right?  That’s what I thought too.

And then I “discovered” Scotch.  Yes, the booze.  Any by Scotch I of course mean single malt Scotch. To borrow a coded clause from David Foster Wallace, IYI, there are two types of Scotch: Single Malt, and Wanna-be.  The choice is a no brainer.

Full Disclosure: I don’t like wine.  It’s not that I dislike wine, it’s just that I don’t really care for it.  I don’t know precisely what “it” is, that elusive quality which Scotch has, that wine does not, but after thinking about if extensively, I’ve come up with a way to visually represent the difference between Scotch and whine wine (sorry, it just slipped out), which I thought I’d share with the 4 people I know think care what I think, plus the 2 that are statistically probable, given the estimated readership of the blog.

wine vs. scotch illustration

I’m hoping to get visualizations such as these embedded into the formal procedures for evaluating wine & spirits, right alongside complexity & character, nose & finish, etc.

From a purely practical standpoint, this is all fairly exciting.  Now I finally have something cool to say at parties!  Hey Pants, would you like a glass of wine?  “No thanks”.  What would you like then?  “Got any Scotch?”

Note: I think it’s important to say “Scotch”, kinda out of the corner of your mouth, like a gangster in a 1930′s mobster movie, as I think it conveys a sense of “I just summited Everest without shoes to prove that I could smoke a cigar at 29,000ft”.  There’s an art to just saying “Scotch” the right way, to say nothing of drinking it.  Not so with wine, which is audibly indistinguishable from “whine” and which is ~ let’s be honest ~ nothing more than fancified grape-juice.  Come to think of it, there’s probably some subconscious connection between me not caring for wine, and for likingGrapevine Fires“.

It’s also beneficial in that I’ve gained knowledge, which is its own reward.  For example, while researching this article, I was initially surprised to learn that the formula for Scotch was delivered to mankind by the same aliens that built Stonehenge.  However, the more I thought about it, I was like, “Yeah, that makes sense.  Stonehenge is like…totally kick-ass and mysterious and stuff, just like Scotch”.  Look it up.

Ever had a dram of Scotch?  Imagine the smell of leather.  In a new Ferrari.  Now imagine the smell of a smokey fire, on a cool, crisp, fall evening.  Now imagine that you could somehow capture the essence of both in liquid form.  Add a dash of that feeling you got when you saw Mel Gibson William Wallace say,

“Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you’ll live… at least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin’ to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR FREEDOM!

in the totally kick-ass movie Braveheart, and then let that mixture simmer in a pressure-cooker of awesomeness for (at least 3 years, plus 1 day) about 12-20 years, depending on your patience and liquidity, and then you’ll have an idea of what to expect.

Or, maybe you’re a music person?  Maybe that’s the comparison you need?  If so, consider the 2nd quatrain of the prophet Kid Rock’s “Cowboy”:

Then I’m a Kid Rock it up and down your block
With a bottle of scotch and watch lots of crotch
Buy a yacht with a flag sayin’ chillin’ the most
Then rock that bitch up and down the coast

Not to belabor the point, but how’s that verse gonna work with a bottle of wine?

Then I’m a Kid Rock it up and down your block
With a bottle of wine and cry all the time
Buy a van with a sign sayin’ “I get Sideways!”
Then act like I’m cool & hip (but not gay)

The presence of wine completely detracts from an otherwise perfectly written rock & roll song.  I think you’ll agree with me that wine suffers from an inherent image problem: If you drink it, you look like a pussy.  Yes, you look smart, but at a considerable price.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic.  This whole venture down Whisky (Scotch is “Whisky”, everything else is just “Whiskey”, a distinction that is trivial to everyone but liquor snobs) lane has led me to believe that I might have some Scottish ancestry in my blood, and now I’m not quite sure I’m as Irish as I used to be.  I suppose it’s a good thing I’m not a bourbon fan, or this could quickly morph into an “Ode to John Lee Hooker”, which now that I think about it, wouldn’t be as bad as it might initially seem.

Pants.  I’ll take a Scotch.  Neat.  (No Scotch?  In that case, make it a Guinness.  Extra Stout.)


4 Responses to “ Whisky, Warriors & Wine ”

  1. Hollywood Hood on November 23, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    nicely done you drunken, mongrel bastard! and I mean that with the great effection… more vino for me, it’s scotch, scotch and scotch!

  2. Jackson on November 23, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    i happen to be a big scotch fan myself (and a fellow bastard). hard for me to not find your article nicely done. but i’ve always tended to think that Death Cab sounds like music for wine-drinking pussies. although, i have to admit i drink a lot of wine myself. however, cheers to scotch over wine!

  3. Mr Smarty Pants on November 23, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks Fellers

    Jackson, in regards to DCFC being music for “wine drinking pussies”, I have to agree. Hell, Ben even references drinking wine from paper cups in the song. I still like it *and* DCFC in spite of these things, chalking it up to the fact that (1) Ben Gibbard is an outright, undeniable musical *genius*, and (2) I think I must be like 2% French or something. [shrugs]?

  4. Ian on April 28, 2010 at 9:15 am

    You missed the part where Kid Rock talks about drinking Boones.