There are too many things in life about which people get snobby. Unfortunately, I like a lot of those things, too.
I’m going to also admit that I’m something of an ex-snob. I’ve been there, but I have come back from the dark side.
Whether it’s wine, coffee, French food, whisky, even barbecue, the world could use less snobbery. And what I mean by snobbery is the attitude of superiority that some people have about whatever snob-item is involved. The most obvious example I saw of this was my first trip to Napa Valley. I went to Sterling Vineyards, and got to the tasting room through a room of barrels that smelled of aging wine. Once in the tasting room, the servers brought over wine and talked about it in all the right high falutin’ words and an air of “I know better than you”. I also found out that the great smell of barrels was a scent that was piped in, for show only. The whole experience was kind of plastic and not very much fun.
In contrast, we were soon at Grgich Hills winery, in a tasting room of lots of plain wood. It was inviting, but somewhat utilitarian. There’s nothing wrong with a nice tasting room, but it’s kind of nice to have one that’s just a room with a big counter. The server poured some wine, offering no flowery verbiage about how fancy it was going dance on my taste buds. We tried it, and he asked if we liked it. That was it. Nothing fancy, just good wine. Very good wine, in fact. His intent was to find out if we liked the wine, not if we had studied the right tasting terms to pass a snob test.
I’ve been in the barbecue world for about 7 years now, and there’s even a form of snobbery there. Most real barbecuers get past it, but not all. Instead of the “I’m higher class than you” snobs, barbecue snobs know that the way they do barbecue is the only “real” way. If you don’t use logs only to cook, you’re obviously inferior. If you like sauce on your ribs, you’re just a commoner. You get the idea, I’m guessing. The one that really gets me is the newbie that has a “secret ingredient” that he won’t share. For one thing, someone else may well have done it already, and for another, why not share it if it’s so great? If a cook isn’t going to market a rub or sauce, why not let other people know so they can enjoy it, too? Isn’t this all about enjoying it, and doing so with others?
Scotch snobbery can be really sickening, I think. Maybe the best area to pick on here has to do with water. If you add water to your whisky, someone is bound to loudly complain that you’ve ruined it. It’s one thing to suggest that ice not be added, or suggest trying without water at all, but if someone else likes water in their whisky, don’t belittle them for it.
The whole single malt vs. blended whisky is another area. Sure, I prefer single malts generally, but blended whiskies can be very drinkable, too. At a party, why not have a glass of Black Bottle while you’re walking around? Not every glass needs to hold the best dram you could possible get your hands on. It’s ok to enjoy pleasant whisky. I personally find it ridiculous when I see someone showing off at a pub by ordering something like Macallan 18… on the rocks… But they’re buying it; they can have it however they want it.
So as Livefire Whisky continues, I will do my best to avoid snobbery. I’ll tell you what I enjoy and how I might enjoy it. I might suggest more or less water (I tend to like a drop or two to open up a single malt). But if you think I’m being a snob, please call me out on it. And, by the way, price doesn’t equal snobbery… it just means more money was spent on booze.
To stay unsnobby, I’m going to try to use plain language in reviews, talk about all kinds of foods that may go with whiskies (from chocolate chip cookies to pulled pork sandwiches to foie gras) and just enjoy whisky for what it is, not for how much better it makes me than someone else because I like the stuff.