I’m not a lush, I swear

For years now, I’ve met every month with my brother and a mutual friend to drink a little whiskey and enjoy each others’ company. The pandemic has curtailed our in-person activity, so we’ve switched to meeting over Zoom. It’s better than nothing.

We routinely text each other photos of what we’re drinking when we’re not together. Here are the best of those photos I found on my iPhone after I upgraded to a new phone recently.


Breckenridge. This bourbon is distilled at a giant distillery in Indiana and then shipped at barrel strength to Colorado, where they cut it with snow melt (allegedly). It’s a nice bourbon, but it’s gone up in price beyond its deliciousness and so I haven’t had it in some time.

The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet 12 year. I love this scotch, even though most scotch drinkers consider it an entry-level single malt. Thanks to stock shortages it became hard to find for a couple years. It’s back now, but in a clear bottle with a different label. I wasn’t sure it was the same whiskey for a while! But the Glenlivet folks swear it is. I’d drink more scotch, but it’s so expensive here in the United States. Bourbon is a much better value here.

I drink alone

Old Grand-Dad Bonded. You’ll find this 100-proof bourbon on a low shelf. But don’t fear it — it is far more delicious than its price suggests. I buy it mostly to make old fashioneds, but it’s decent straight.

Dickel Barrel Select

George Dickel Barrel Select. This is a Tennessee whiskey, not a bourbon. I generally enjoy the George Dickel whiskeys but I don’t remember anything about this one!

Blood Oath

Blood Oath Part No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3. I made this photo on one of the nights my brother and our friend met. We all tried one pour from each of these bottles. That was enough whiskey for one night!

At Willett Distillery

Flight at the Willett Distillery. Margaret and I made a cautious trip last October to Kentucky bourbon country, where we visited the Willett distillery. They have a lovely little restaurant and bar, so we had dinner and I enjoyed this flight.


24 responses to “I’m not a lush, I swear”

  1. DougD Avatar

    Yes, that is an excellent pandemic activity, we’ve had online “what are you drinking “ zoom meetings with co workers on Thursday evenings.
    Scotch is the same price as bourbon here so we have both good scotch and utility scotch in the cupboard.
    I haven’t had a bourbon I liked yet, it’s too syrupy

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Either bourbon is wicked expensive in Canada, or both bourbon and scotch are inexpensive. Scotch is wicked expensive here. It’s one reason I drink bourbon most often. But living one state away from where most bourbon is distilled surely helps keep the cost low.

  2. Michael Avatar

    I was just thinking yesterday that we should videoconference sometime though my only forays into whiskey have been JD and SC back at Rose. [gasp!] I think I’d have to buy some beer.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I was a beer guy until I thought I needed to be gluten free. Then I switched to whiskey. But it turns out that I can tolerate a certain amount of gluten-filled products, including a couple beers occasionally.

      Anyway: it would be great to do a videoconference drink. It’s been too long since I got to see you.

  3. DougD Avatar

    Just checking the Liquor Control Board of Ontario website:

    Glenlivet 12 year – $62
    Breckenridge – $68

    People grumble about the high cost but to be honest I’m happy to pay these prices, taxes are the cost of civilization and I can drink while I contribute :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Glenlivet 12 goes for about $45 here, and Breckenridge … haven’t seen it in a while but I was used to paying $50-55 for it.

      You are right: when you decide what level of civilization you want, you defacto decide what level of taxation you want. That reality is lost on us here in the US.

  4. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Plus One on Glenlivet, who cares if people think it’s a “training wheels” single, it’s great!

    I was a religious Knob Creek Bourbon drinker until one day I went in and the bottle size I usually buy went up by 15 bucks, in one fell swoop! After “extensive research” I found out that Evan Williams pretty much tasted near the same, for only 17 bucks a bottle.

    I’ve found out the older I get, the more sweet things taste, and I can’t take it. I went from mixing Manhattans with bourbon, back to mixing them with straight whiskey, then to rye, because it just seemed less sweet? I can’t believe that most Wisconsinites mix a Manhattan with brandy (Wisconsin used to be the No.1 brandy state in the country, I don’t think so now). Too much!

    I can’t believe that rye is a “thing” now! I think by law, rye has to be aged in a plastic tub for at least 12 hours! It was always the cheapest whiskey since it wasn’t aged, and when I was growing up, the choice of the rummies in my neighborhood in Chicago, you’d always find empty glass pints of rye all over the gutter in the morning!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The Glenlivet was the first scotch I ever drank, and it will be a favorite until I die!

      I am with you on sweetness. I made a bourbon Manhattan a couple weeks ago and almost couldn’t take it. Back to rye.

      There are some amazing ryes available now. Willett Estate 4-Year Rye is a revelation. So good.

  5. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

    Good to see all those whiskey (and whisky) bottles there! Reading your description of Breckenridge it sounds like you’re talking about Tin Cup; I’ve bought a bottle of Breck and thought it was a blend of a few different whiskeys (including some made in Colorado, they are a distillery). I liked the flavor, smooth and buttery, sweeter than I’m used to. My problem with bourbons is that so many taste the same; I’m more of a Scotch guy. If you ever try Old Forester I’d love to get your opinion on that, it’s one that I really liked and definitely has its own distinct flavor!

    Regarding price: expect to pay $40-60 for a decent bottle of single malt (I’ve spent up to $110). That’s the just way it is for Scotch (I assume import tariffs) and small-batch/microdistillery product. A lot of those places wouldn’t be able to compete price-wise with the mega companies but I’d rather pay more for a unique taste, and to help the little guy out. And look at it this way: the more you’re scraping for that higher priced bottle, the more likely you are to savor it and the less likely you are to become that lush you swear you aren’t!

    I hope you try more Scotches, there’s a wide world of them out there with flavors specific to different regions. So many flavors beyond what you’d find in Glenlivet, etc. I don’t mean to put it down but your term “entry level” is as good a descriptor as any; Glenlivet was actually the first I ever tried myself, but these days I’d generally spend my money on something a bit more…unique. So be adventurous, I’ll try anything that’s non-chill filtered, and there are few that taste alike. If you ever get to Colorado there’s a pub in Denver called Pints that is the perfect place to do tastings because they have over 200 different varieties of Scotch.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve had Tin Cup, too. Tin Cup is an okay everyday kind of whiskey, but not so good I seek it out. Breckenridge was a real favorite for a while, when I could get it for about $40. It was a good $40 whiskey.

      My wife and I have actually been trying all sorts of Scotches. Our next major trip will be in Scotland, in part to visit distilleries. At the moment we have a bottle of Auchentoshan Three Wood in the cupboard — very nice!

      The Scottish restaurant Downtown here just closed after a 10-year run and I’m majorly bummed, as they had a healthy Scotch list that was always fun to explore.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        You’ll love Edinburgh! I was there on a job once for about a week. Walked into a bar and they had literally something like 30 or 40 single malt scotches lined up behind the bar, and it wasn’t even a bar that specialized in it! I saw stuff I never heard of or knew existed! The barkeep was laughing at me because he said that wasn’t even close to what was available!

        I’ve been around Europe, and there’s plenty of places I need to see yet, but Edinburgh is one of the places I’d easily go back to. It’s so far North, the light seems “mystical” even in mid-day.

  6. Katie Yang Avatar

    My friends and I have ventured into whiskey territory recently. I hope you don’t me too crass but my favorite way to enjoy it is with some lemon juice and sparkling water. On our walk out onto the streets to catch the NYE fireworks we sought warmth with sips from a miniature bottle and I thoroughly enjoyed that as well. 😆

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Whiskey with soda and lemon is a classic highball! You have my full support.

      I’m an Old Fashioned man: a teaspoon of simple (sugar) syrup, a few dashes of bitters, two ounces of whiskey (I like strong whiskeys for this, like that Old Grand-Dad). Mix together in ice. I also like to cut a strip of lemon rind, twist it over the drink, then use the rind as a garnish.

      1. Katie Yang Avatar

        Thanks for the recipe, gotta try that out next.

  7. Jerome (EarthSunFilm) Avatar

    I tried a few bourbons, and to me, a lot of whiskies, regardless of type, taste bitter. My favorite by far is Booker’s (125 proof). It has a creamy texture, mixes well, and wonderful, rich bourbon flavor. But it is pricey.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Booker’s is pricey for sure. I think I’ve had it, years ago, but I don’t remember what I think about it!

  8. dionyb Avatar

    During Hawaii’s first lockdown I had a few pau hana Fridays via Zoom with my buddies. No bourbon or scotch for us though just good beer.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve done a few Zoom happy hours! Better than nothing.

  9. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    Glenlivet is a great Scotch. Scotch is spelled Whisky, all others are Whiskey! I visited Scotland for the first time a couple of years ago, and on our way to the hometown of my great grandfather we found ourselves passing the Glenlivet Distillery. It would have been impolite not to called in, the lady who welcomed us turned out to be a distant relation! A very memorable day :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      What a great story! I guess there’s Scottish ancestry on my father’s side but heaven help me trying to figure it out.

  10. Khürt Williams Avatar

    That’s an excellent sampling of whiskeys and whiskys. While I drink mostly American micro-brewery craft ale🍺, pre-COVID my wife and I enjoyed drinking a dram or two of Scotch whisky with my brother in law once a month. I’m partial to the smokey peaty Islay single malts but my wife prefers Highland single malts.

    In the early party of the 2020 spring COVID surge my buddies and I tried doing virtual beer sessions but it just didn’t click. Zoom just can’t create the feeling of a bunch of people gathered around a table, talking over each other, etc. We quit after three sessions.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve had some lovely Islays. I’m still exploring the whole Scotch world so I’m not sure where my loyalties lie just yet!

      I agree, it’s hard to have an organic conversation over Zoom. Everyone has to take turns.

  11. Reinhold Graf Avatar

    Nice lineup 🖖
    Seems you hit the right topic button 😂

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Whiskey has been popular for hundreds of years!

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