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Monday
Oct252010

Booze - Why Are We Interested? Part III

I was watching the movie Funny People recently and found it interesting that there was another industry, the comedy world specifically, in which insiders felt strongly about staying true to the honest form of their profession.  A group of young stand up comedians are always giving their buddy (played by Jason Schwartzman) grief for starring in a cheesy sitcom called "Yo, Teach," a show that caters to the lowest common denominator of humor.  In their opinion, stand-up comedy is the truest form their art can take, and they attempt to stay loyal to these roots.  Another film (and book) that tackles this same dilemna is High Fidelity, which depicts the tale of a small Chicago record store and its staff, who are full of dismay for their consumers and their "terrible taste" in music.  They are outspoken about their passion and constantly take offense when a customer asks for an album by an artist they do not admire.  Having been a film major in college, I can tell you that these circles work in much the same manner.  As students, we were interested in directors who were pushing the boundries of what film could be, rather than those catering to the taste of the general public.  Speaking of film, we all know the power of Sideways where a serious vinophile said he wasn't going to drink any merlot.

In all of these cases, there will always be those who feel as if they truly appreciate their passion and the essence of what it's all about.  The irritation expressed by these characters stems from what they feel is the public's interest in inferior expressions that do little to help the progression of their beloved genre.  Idiocracy is another film that we could discuss in this instance, if anyone remembers the state of television and film in Mike Judge's devolved society.

I'm going to think about this for a bit.

-David Driscoll

Reader Comments (2)

David, you are now officially the most thoughtful retailer I know. You're like the philosopher-king of spirits retailers.

Going back to your original question, why are we interested? I think for the people I know who are real spirits afficionados, it's wholly experiential. I love whiskey for the same reason I love all manner of cheese and dark chocolate and that I seek out regional Chinese cuisines I've never had before, because it provides for a unique sensory experience. It's about experiencing the most you can in life, like an art museum (or film festival) for the palate. Whiskey offers a complexity and a combination of flavors just as complex as any museum piece. Once you get into it, it becomes an intellectual pursuit as well, as you work at identifying styles, tasting changes in expressions, sensing the difference between oaks, finishes, grains ages, or just good and bad. That's why I would nearly almost rather try a bad whiskey that I've never tasted than a good one that I have (though, sorry to tell you, it doesn't mean I'll buy the whole bottle).

As you've pointed out, there are those who drink for status or who collect trophy bottles, and those people are surely satisfying some other need, probably just as legitimate. If someone wants an uopened bottle of Stagg to decorate their mantle or loves the unlikely gamble that a given whiskey will one day turn them a profit for them, who am I to tell them otherwise? It's just not my gig.

As to intoxication, it's actually a side effect I'd rather do without. I wish I could drink without getting any more than a slight buzz, so I could taste endlessly into the night, drive home safely and suffer no ill effects, but hey, I also wish I could eat all the cheese I could find and not gain weight and that ain't happenin' either.

I hope you will continue to share your ponderings with us.

October 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersku

Sku-

I agree with everything you said. I've been to your website many times and read about your food adventures in LA, and I share your passion for flavor. My wife doesn't believe me when I end up drunk and tell her, "I just wanted to taste so many different things!" I feel like so few people like to taste like we do. I am also just like you in that I will only buy a bottle of something once. I have never and will never buy the same bottle of anything twice. Thanks for sharing your interesting perspective on this.

October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid D

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