I used to have a test for when an immigrant is truly Americanized (if such a thing is possible these days): When he starts liking football as much or more than soccer. I reached that point almost five years ago, during the excruciatingly boring 2010 World Cup. However, I found this test to be woefully insufficient. After all, many people do not like professional sports. So, here’s another: an immigrant is truly Americanized when he starts liking whisk(e)y as much or more than his native land’s liquor.
The latter test hit me a few weeks ago, when I realized that my favorite liquor is no longer infused vodka, but Gentleman Jack Tennessee whiskey, with Bushmills Irish (Ulster?) whisky a close second. Now, this raises a forest of eyebrows. Here’s a native of Moldova who picks whisk(e)y over semi-sweet wine, a Russian Jew who would drink Bushmills over Beluga, and an attorney who would pick American or Irish whisk(e)y over Scotch.
The answer is rather simple. I humbly submit that most attorneys (and Wall Street types) prefer Scotch not for its taste or smoothness, but for the same reason they profess a love for cigars: its something they are expected to like. Now, I have nothing against some Chivas Regal, Glen Mowray, or Johnny Walker, but I find Bushmills and Gentleman Jack and for that matter, Jameson, to be far superior in terms of smoothness and flavor. I once spent a very memorable evening drinking Chivas Regal with an old mob lawyer in an Italian restaurant owned by a “made man”.
Now the comparison to vodka, a nectar, I celebrated about a year ago in these same pages (“Vodka: An Appreciation“), is more complex. The advantages I find with non-Scotch whisk(e)y are: no need for chasers (see my celebration of vodka); no unpleasant aftertaste; and the fact that unlike vodka, whisk(e)y could be enjoyed at room temperature. I prefer to drink shots of room temperature Gentleman Jack or Bushmills rather than sipping them over ice. Other non-Scotch brands I found pleasant are Crown Royal, Bulleit, and Paddy’s. Cheers!