The Whiskey Algorithm

If you don't watch The Big Bang Theory sitcom on CBS, then you're really missing out on some of the most brilliant writing on television (and one of Edradour manager Des McCagherty's favorite shows). I won't get into the entire gist of the premise, but the central character is usually Dr. Sheldon Cooper: a brilliant scientist with borderline Aspberger's and a giant-sized ego to go along with it (played by the equally brilliant Jim Parsons, who has won four Emmy awards for the role). While Dr. Cooper is a genius in the lab at Caltech, he's lost when it comes to relations with friends and family. He doesn't understand nuance, personal boundaries, or anything unspoken concerning interpersonal contact. His only true friend (and the only person who can stand him) is his roommate; another scientist named Leonard who spends each episode continually frustrated with Sheldon's inability (and lack of desire) to integrate into "normal" human relationships.

Because Sheldon is incapable of understanding anything without clear rules or definitions, he is forced to translate any attempt at comprehension into a table, chart, or formula that he can study and hope to emulate. One of the most hilarious (and, again, brilliant) instances of this behavior comes when Sheldon tries to understand why he can't make friends. When Leonard attempts to explain to him how friendship works, Sheldon composes the above chart as a way of diagramming the procedure: The Friendship Algorithm. The joke behind the entire concept, however, is that Sheldon doesn't actually care about the niceties of creating friendships and what it ultimately takes to maintain them; yet he forces himself to comply to the ritual out of loneliness. He knows what he has to do, but he doesn't understand why he has to do it (which is the whole issue with him). Sheldon is incapable of reading the room, feeling people out, or interpreting body language; hence why he's in this predicament. Friendship (as most of us already know) isn't something that can be narrowed down to a simple science.

I'd put the enjoyment of whiskey in that same category. So many hungry aficionados out there are on the ultimate quest to taste the best, but sometimes I come into contact with folks who don't seem to know what they're looking for. Or maybe they do know what they're looking for, but it seems like they're following a formula rather than their heart (a la Dr. Cooper). Their whole approach feels rather cold and contrived. I don't know if I've got it down exactly, but using Sheldon's chart for The Friendship Algorithm I've managed to come up with how I believe a number of folks shop for whiskey.

I don't know that following The Whiskey Algorithm is necessarily a bad idea, but I don't personally believe that sticking to such a precise and narrow drinking docrtine will ultimately lead to the desired conclusion: "ENJOY WHISKEY". There are other ways to find exciting new whiskies that don't involve the above formula. It might not be a perfect algorithm (as I only spent about ten minutes sketching it all out), but ultimately the point I'm trying to make is that life and its many pleasures aren't exact sciences. Like making friends, trying too hard to force the issue can often backfire, or lead to frustrating consequences. It's only when you let your guard down and attempt to see things from outside your own perspective that people can really get to know you, and you them. I'd say my own philosophy concerning the enjoyment of whiskey involves something along those lines. But, hey, that's just me.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll