EDUCATION

Flawed to Perfection

BY ETHAN KELLEY

Bourbon Tasting

Nobody is perfect. Nothing is perfect. So why must we think great drinks should be? Flaws are good, in fact they are great. Flaws are interesting, they add character, and they are authentic. Where would Cindy Crawford be without the mole? Or Michael Strahan without the tooth gap?

When tasting spirits, flaws are oftentimes the exact things that we love to taste. We call Bourbons with a laughably high proof of 140 or more Hazmat Bourbons, because you can’t take anything higher than that on a plane. Seriously. What about peated Scotches that are so loaded with phenols, you can hardly taste anything else? Are any Octomore fans out there?

Distilled Spirits can be flawless, and that is certainly something to be celebrated. Those whiskies are sometimes regrettably described as “not that exciting”. Think of it like a home, your home. Watch TV or a paint commercial and the walls are pristine and bright as if they are maintained daily by Chip and Joanna Gaines. What you never see are the scrapes on the door frame from the dog trying to get to the Amazon guy. You never see the pencil lines on the pantry door that double as your kid’s growth chart. You never see the almost scrubbed-off dinosaur drawing your kid made with a Sharpie on the dining room wall. Flaws, errors, mistakes, character, and a personal representation of perfection.

Sherry cask whiskies are a thing of beauty, but what about that sulphury component in Macallan? Of course, it’s a flaw, a delicious and welcome flaw. Does our home smell better with a Febreze fog in the air or aroma therapy diffusers throughout or does it smell better when there is a roast in the oven and Sunday gravy on the burner? Flaws and errors.

Heck, some newer whiskies taste young because they are, just like Cat Stevens said, “you’re still young, that’s your fault.” It does not mean the whisky is bad, it means it’s young and quite possibly fantastic and will get better as the company and casks age, so don’t discount it now.

Remember that time they tried to replace the off-key singing of David Lee Roth with Sammy Hagar because he had better pipes, well, I have never seen a Van Hagar t shirt. Flaws are better. You better believe it before they bring New Coke back.

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