There are people in this world, as my buddy Luke told me a few days ago, that love to drink, but pay no real attention to what they are drinking. They simply want whatever goes down easiest. We've all been one of these folk at some point in our drinking careers and at some moment we stopped and thought, "this is really interesting, as well as intoxicating." For many of us, that curiosity ballooned into a love for distilled spirits that went beyond what was smooth and tasty. The smoky, salty, spicy, briny, tangy, earthy, and powerful came next. So many interesting things to drink, so many intriguing flavors, and so little time! However, to those who drink for drinkin's sake, this eclectic dance is neither enjoyable nor exciting.
There is a comparable divide in the world of wine, which we call old world vs. new world because of the ways the wines are made. Old school wines are those from old Europe (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chianti, etc) that are admired for their terroir (their sense of place), their ageability, how they pair with food, and the care given to the vineyards. In the new world of California, Argentina, and Chile, wines are admired for their taste - period. Rombauer Chardonnay: full-bodied, buttery, and sweet. How was it made? Who cares! It tastes great on the patio on a hot day according to tens of thousands of adoring fans. There is nothing wrong with liking alcohol that tastes good because it was made to taste good - just like Cheez-Its, Hostess Cupcakes, and Chicken McNuggets were designed to be delicious.
Over the next week I will be focusing on the ever-growing divide in the booze world between what I call old school and new school spirits. There are many examples of how this trend is threatening the last of the serious distillers and it needs to be addressed. Stay tuned.