Just Say No…

Jason is one of the funniest and most talented guys I know. He’s a musician, he’s a fantastic cook and he can effortlessly make better any gathering he’s a part of. We’re fortunate enough to have Jason as part of The Bourbon Fellowship but, aside from tailgating back in his college years, he is relatively new to Bourbon. The wonderful things about that are: (1) He thinks I know a lot about Bourbon and (2) He is willing to ask anything. That second one…that can make for some interesting discussions in our group.

A couple of weeks ago Jason asked: “Is it fair to tell someone to not use your good whiskey as a mixer?” Many of you may be hosting parties around the holidays and this very issue may be one you have to deal with. We discussed this at Bourbon Fellowship and this was the consensus opinion:

1. Just say no. If someone wants to take your William Larue Weller and mix it with Yoo-Hoo, you are well within your rights as host and owner of that bottle to nip that in the bud. The “drink what you want, how you want” rule applies to Bourbon you paid for. If someone wants a mixer, then it is quite reasonable to direct them towards a nice bottom-shelfer you’ve included on the table.

2. Know your crowd. If your invitation list is full of people who understand and respect Bourbon then you can feel a little more at ease about what to put out as your whiskey lineup for the party. Say we have a Bourbon Fellowship New Year’s party. I trust these guys to not be looking at the good Bourbon as something to liven up their Ale 8.

Like Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett, Michter’s 10
and Dr. Pepper are great separately
but never really fit together.

3. Know your crowd (part two). If your invitation list has some who are unlearned in the ways of Bourbon (or if you just aren’t sure where they fall on the Bourbon spectrum) then leave the “good stuff” in the cabinet. That way if they want to spike the eggnog you don’t have a vein start pounding in the middle of your forehead when they reach for your Birthday Bourbon.

4. Call an audible. Say it’s your wife’s book club holiday party. The other husbands that couldn’t find an excuse to not come actually turn out to be good dudes who like Bourbon. (Let’s be realistic…one of them turns out to be a good dude who likes Bourbon). Sneak out some of the good stuff and make a discreet pour or two.

5. Don’t be “that guy”. While you have the right to set the ground rules you don’t have to be a jerk about it. If you need to re-direct someone, subtlety and discretion are useful skills. Embarrassing someone or mocking their lack of Bourbon knowledge is a d-bag move. At the end of the day, people and relationships are, of course, more important than any Bourbon

With a little planning and a generous spirit you can make the sharing of your whiskey line-up the best part of any party (holiday or otherwise). Most of us like to share our bottles and love to let others try new things and help them learn more about Bourbon. Part of learning more about Bourbon, however, is understanding that you don’t take another man’s allocated whiskey and mix it with your Dr. Pepper. No means no.

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. We are all blessed more than we deserve (at least I am). I hope you have a wonderful time with family and friends as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Kevin Rose