• Mark Still

You won't know until you don't know

When it comes to forming your whiskey tastes, going blind (tasting) helps you see


We all have opinions about the whiskey we drink. I think it’s safe to say that our opinions are influenced by factors outside of our bottles and glasses. I learned many lessons from my college roommate, the smartest person I’ve met, and the most profound lesson came from how he trusts his opinion above all others.


This isn’t to say that he is arrogant or that he isn’t open to other input; it only means that he thoughtfully forms his own opinions and he trusts them more than most of us trust our own self-formed opinions. As a young man learning to make my own decisions, that lesson served me well. I’ll never be as good at this process as my old friend is but I’m also not as smart as he is so I don’t expect to be. I’ll say that I ‘practice’ the process of learning and forming my own opinions rather than profess to have perfected it. I got him into whiskey so maybe I’ve repaid him at least a little. The process of thoughtfully forming an opinion based on the information at hand and my own experience is useful in the practice of whiskey drinking. It helps me tune out the marketing noise, take reviews with a grain of salt, and it affords me a willingness to share my own opinion even when it doesn’t align with more popular opinion. Opinions are after all, like bottles of bourbon these days: everybody has one.

I believe that for any of us to truly know what we think of a whiskey, we have to drink it without knowing what we’re drinking.

Even one so practiced in the art of seeing what matters as my college roommate can’t help but be influenced by the outside. Heck, he trusts me and I trust him so if one of us likes bottle, the other can’t help but give it the benefit of the doubt. I believe that for any of us to truly know what we think of a whiskey, we have to drink it without knowing what we’re drinking. That’s called blind tasting and it may be the path to true spirits-ual enlightenment. We can certainly enjoy bottles without first putting them through blind tastings, but if you really want to know if it’s the whiskey and not the hype, if you’re ever to get completely comfortable proudly showing up at a get-together toting a $30 bottle when you’re known as ‘the whiskey person’ to your friends, you’re going to have to taste the whiskey blind. It’s fun, It’s humbling. It is worth the effort. You may never know what unquestionably good whiskey is to you until you don’t know what you’re drinking.

#whiskey #bourbon

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