Today is Thanksgiving in America, a national holiday where we gather with family and friends to overeat, argue about politics, and watch the Detroit Lions lose.
Jokes aside, the higher-minded among my countrymen take this opportunity to reflect on our many blessings, and to express our gratitude. If you’ll permit me to hijack Malt for a day, I thought it would be fitting to adapt this concept to the world of whisky and spirits. I’ve asked each of our contributors – if they care to – to share some words about a person, distillery, expression, or experience for which they are grateful. Their responses are below, with some final words from me at the end.
I’m thankful for having found whiskey as a hobby. My excitement about it never seems to dull, especially as I continue to meet new people. Even if we’ve never met in person, so many have had a positive impact on my experience in this hobby. For those I with whom I’ve already had the pleasure of sharing a pour, I am most grateful for my time with you!
Looking back on this year, I’m incredibly thankful for the people, brands, and companies that have taken a chance on me by sending things to review. I know it might seem haughty or elitist to be thankful for getting free stuff, but the reality is it means the world when I get something to try. For a reviewer, a whiskey geek/nerd, someone who wants to try everything, it’s exhilarating to not only try these releases but to share them with friends and readers. It’s something I take great pride in and take quite seriously. Readers make this possible and make it worth doing and make all those unanswered email requests worth it. A year ago I hadn’t gotten a single sample to try from a company; now I have the privilege of writing for outlets like Malt, and it’s thanks to both readers and producers for making that dream a reality.
David Thomas Tao
This season, I am extremely — almost overwhelmingly — thankful for the web’s eccentric community of whiskey writers. Look, it’s easy to be a critic. But whiskey writers are hardly the jaded, ethanol-breathing cynics one might expect. Rather, they form a little corner of the media world without a “me first” mentality, where most truly act like a bigger community is a better community. In 2022, my fellow whiskey writers have connected me with new writing opportunities, helped arrange mind-opening distillery trips, organized mouth watering bottle shares, joined on legendary pub crawls, and even given counsel when life gets challenging outside the spirits space. I look forward to more years of learning from and collaborating with this ever-growing band of whiskey sleuths, geeks, and gawkers.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to give thanks. I want to thank any and everyone contributing to or organizing a charity event this holiday season. To signal boost but one of many, I’d like to draw your attention to what my friend Harsha Bethi is doing with his store Beverage King in Norwalk, CT.
Beverage King is organizing its annual clothing drive “Blankets for Bourbon” from Friday November 25th to Friday December 16th to benefit Open Doors Connecticut, a nonprofit organization that addresses the issues of people facing homelessness and poverty. If you can find it in your heart to donate essential items for this incredible cause, well, I’d be overjoyed and give thanks to you, dear reader. You can learn
more and donate via this link.
Donating to this cause gives you the opportunity to purchase rare bourbon as well as help those in need, and I hope those two incentives are more than enough to make this year’s clothing drive the most successful in Beverage King’s history. Thank you for reading!
I’ve always been grateful to my late father; it was through buying whisky for him on my journeys through international airports whilst I worked overseas that I came to look at Scotch as more than just a drink. His enjoyment of a dram alongside me when I arrived home brought a realisation that whisky is an journey, experience, pleasure that is best shared. I will always be thankful for friends and family, and those who share a dram.
I’m grateful for whisky friends. Not whisky associates, or online whisky folk you e-chat to, but real tangible friends. The friends with whom whisky was the first thing in common but not the last. With whisky we discovered other shared interests, shared values, and a joy for life. I recently celebrated my 40th birthday and was overjoyed to be joined by a substantial crowd of real friends simply made through the love of whisky. Now our children play together, we look each other up when in town, we keep fit together, and take a genuine interest in each other. I’d certainly say whisky is a wonderful social lubricant. I’d also say that you should share whisky, and share it widely, because you never know what will come of it. And so, I give thanks for my whisky friends and look forward to sharing drams with them again soon.
As we approach Thanksgiving and the obligatory drams of Wild Turkey, I’m thankful for the pantheon of books dedicated to bourbon and American booze. When I decided to dive into this hobby in an effort to grow closer to my father twenty or more years after his death, I felt greatly overwhelmed by the reality of just how much knowledge I didn’t possess. I’m thankful for all of the booze geeks who have gone before me who decided to pass on their knowledge by writing it down for me to digest.
This year, I am most grateful for the friends with whom I’ve shared whisky and who allow me to express myself, whether through celebration or condemnation of the beauty and the pitfalls of whisky. I am grateful to the friends who have helped me learn and become more critical, continuously dedicating myself to search for and prioritize quality and accessibility, for an unexamined dram is not worth drinking.
The main single malt brands tend to taste the same with their similarly timed fermentations and light-style distillates to promote more cask-heavy whisk(e)y. I’m thankful that a lot of the newer whisk(e)y – and some lesser-known old producers – are looking at less efficient production processes to prioritize character and flavor. Whisk(e)y lacks the flexibility of being drunk unaged unlike more interesting spirits like rum, brandy and mezcal. But the slowly growing availability of brands like Waterford, Loch Lomond and Leopold Bros are adding some spunk and variety to a seemingly bland field of whisky.
Thanksgiving is a distinctly North American holiday. In Australia we don’t really have an equivalent. I’ve always equated our Australia Day holiday as being closest to Fourth of July; both are in summer, both to be spent celebrating with a barbeque and water sports, both commemorating a key milestone in the modern nationhood of our countries. (Yes I am aware of the negative discourse surrounding Australia Day, and am tentatively in favour of changing the date, pending discussion. But heck, I am old – until we have a new date, let me watch the cricket with a beer on my day off.)
Taylor, our Commander in Chief here on the nation of Malt, has tasked us to share a few words of what I am thankful for in the world of whisky. Above all else, I am thankful for my mother-in-law. You see, she is based in the UK and is heading back out in around three weeks for Christmas. When she comes out around Christmas, she will ask what whisky I want her to bring for my Christmas gift. I share with her around four or five links from the Whisky Exchange, representing a range of desirable looking bottles, not readily available down here, in the £40 to £60 range (pricing is always a little awkward. I don’t want to go too high and place her in an uncomfortable position financially or go too low and cheat myself!).
I give no hint of what I may prefer… and really, in all honesty, I do not have any strong preference from this year’s list, which is:
Campbelltown Loch Blended Malt Whisky
Mortlach 2009 12 Year Old Signatory Vintage Un-chillfiltered Release
Ileach Single Malt Islay Whisky (cask strength)
Benrinnes 2011 10 Year Old from Simply Whisky
Previous bottles I have received have been The Whisky Exchange’s Secret Christmas bottling (being Glenfarclas) and a Watt Whisky Orkney. So, that is what I am most thankful for right now in whisky: a generous mother in law and some element of surprise. Maybe I’ll check back in here in a few weeks with a review of whichever bottle I receive.
Happy holidays to the Malt readers and my fellow writers.
Looking back on this year and reflecting on the world of whiskey has given me a lot to be thankful for. At the forefront of it all would be my wife and family. While not being directly involved in this crazy world of allocated and limited releases, I find their support and understanding have been paramount to my passion project. The countless hours of asking my wife if she smells citrus notes or asking, “Don’t you think this sweet oak smell is unbelievable” She has been one to bounce grammar and ideas off and still has the constitution to deal with me daily, and for that I am eternally thankful.
The Malt family of contributors is second to none when it comes to support and ideas within my bourbon journey. Taylor has always been a source to send ideas to, ask questions, or just trade great pours with, but his patience and understanding have been as overwhelming as his generosity. I can say that getting to know the Malt family has been a joy, while digital at times, knowing there is a group of like-minded individuals I can chat with, that can incorporate differing ideas into relatable material, has been fulfilling to say the least. All these individuals have my continued thanks and appreciation.
Lastly, the myriad distilleries and reviewers and retailers that I’ve worked with have my thanks! The Bourbon Lens guys, Laws Whiskey House, Spirits of French Lick, Alan Bishop, Starlight Distillery, and Laurie at my favorite retail spot for barrel selections in Indiana, all have been a blessing to work with.
Homage to the Tuesday Spot:
When I first started working in wine and spirits, everyone had “a spot” they’d recommend.
Most often I would be taken to an expansive watering hole, where the walls were lined with backlit bottles and an encyclopedic drinks menu. These tended to be (what I consider) noisy places where the lights and music would often drown out whatever you’re drinking. What I preferred (and still do) was walking into a small bar on a weekday. The barkeep would have the time to hear you and pour something you didn’t know you wanted.
In the States, this is viewed more as an errant faux pas. Going to a bar is what Fridays and Saturdays are for, right? However, to me, the tiny Tuesday spot is an oasis, amidst the monotonous workweek. And frankly, there’s something restorative about sipping something slowly after work in a familiar quiet, saying thank you, and coming out the next day swinging.
To all the small spots and weekday bartenders, I raise a glass and give thanks.
I’m fortunate to say that I have a long list of things for which I am thankful. To choose but a handful germane to this discussion:
When I think of whiskey, I think of the many people that it has brought into my life. This includes real world friends with whom I have been lucky enough to share a dram in the flesh, but also those virtual friends with whom I have connected through this site and over social media. I wouldn’t have kept on without their words of support and encouragement, their wise counsel in times of doubt, and their incredible generosity with their whiskey.
That extends to all the folks who write for this site. Whether it’s a single review or a steady stream of articles on a regular basis, I rely on them for the content you enjoy daily. This is more remarkable when we consider that they’re all unpaid volunteers, motivated only by their passion for whiskey and the minor thrill of seeing their work featured here. My sincerest thanks to all of them.
Finally, I’m thankful for the many Malt readers that have stuck with us through the site’s evolution. More than a million visitors drop by each year to read our musings, giving us a reason to keep hammering away. Double thanks to those who choose to support us through our Patreon program, which keeps the site independent and free of advertisements (and other forms of influence).
If this has inspired you, I hope you’ll please drop a comment below about whatever it is you’re thankful for. To close: for all of the above and so much more, I hope you’ll please raise a glass with me today. From the bottom of my heart: thank you.