The Whisk(e)y That Binds Us - The Whiskey Wash

The Whisk(e)y That Binds Us

It’s been a little over two weeks now since I arrived home from the last of a whirlwind of whisk(e)y media trips I’ve been on of late. Over the course of about two and a half months I traveled to Scotland, Kentucky (twice), Tennessee, Texas (twice) and Iowa, visiting distilleries, talking with distillers and blenders, tasting through sample upon sample of aged (and some unaged) spirit and seeing firsthand the common threads that unite the whisk(e)y industry as a whole, be it in Scotland or the United States, big established distillery or craft whiskey operation.

In getting the chance to see such a scope of whisk(e)y production, I’ve come to realize that all those who work in this industry share a deep and true passion for a product that is both rooted in history and also new in consideration of the methods being used to make it. We are truly in a golden age of whisk(e)y on a global level, be it from ancient casks of over 50 year Scotch aging in old Scottish warehouses or young bourbon maturing in sweating casks in the sweltering Texas heat.

An old The GlenDronach whisky inside an older aging warehouse in Scotland (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Those who work in the business that is whisk(e)y are young and old, male and female, black and white, etc. I’ve gotten to witness old men in Scotland banging barrels together at a massive cooperage as a younger generation trains alongside of them. I’ve watched as younger female distillers use their amazing palates to put together wonderful tasting expressions. I’ve spoken with tasting room managers about the range of customers they see and the questions they have around whisk(e)y and how to enjoy it.

The Balcones master distiller sorts samples at his Texas distillery (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

Exploring the countryside as relates to the distilleries I’ve seen, it has been a cornucopia of scenes: urban, suburban, farm, valley, coast, forest, rural, industrial. In all of these places I’ve seen differences in how the distilleries are laid out, but in the end much of the equipment has been the same: stills, fermenting tanks, barrels, etc.

The George Dickel distillery in Tennessee (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

In the course of these trips I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting local drinking establishments where these whiskies are served, alongside tasting wonderful cocktails making use of them as ingredients. Inside bars, taverns, cocktail joints, speakeasies, roadside establishments, high brow, low brow and more I’ve listened to bartenders, servers and customers alike speak the praises of the local distilleries whose products they proudly drink.

The cocktail bar at the Cedar Ridge distillery in Iowa (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

It is through all of these weaving threads and more that I’ve come to conclude that whisk(e)y is truly a global consideration, something that brings all together in a common enjoyment there of. We may each have our specific nuances of what we like about it, but at the end of the day the commonality is this – we are all drinking whiskey, whisky, whisk(e)y.

Inside an aging warehouse at Heaven Hill (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

In the coming days and weeks I’ll be unpacking all of my notes from these trips, posting articles, interviews, photos and videos of my travels. All will be titled under the headline of The Whisk(e)y That Binds Us. The idea here is that this will be a non-brand specific series; instead, it will be a series that, while each piece stands alone on its own, brings to you in common some of the voices of those in this amazing industry. All of these trips were the result of specific brands bringing me to their locales, and for that I’m grateful, but as always editorial control remains with us, as is showcased by the fact of how I’ve chosen to string these stories together.

Sampling the range of Michter’s whiskeys in Kentucky (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

I hope, that by the end of all this, you will see the same commonalities in whisk(e)y that I have. It is, as I said before, truly a golden era to be enjoying.