Booze

Ask the bartender: Whisky without the "e," from A to Z

Sean Kenyon knows how to pour out both drinks and advice. A third-generation bar man with almost 25 years behind the bar, he is a student of cocktail history, a United States Bartenders Guild-certified Spirits Professional and a BAR Ready graduate of the prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource Program. You can find him behind the bar at Squeaky Bean -- and here every week, where he'll answer your questions. This round, it's whisky -- without the "e."

I'll take my whisky without the "e."

I grew up in a scotch-drinking family. Though they were proud of their Irish Catholic heritage, my father and grandfather generally ignored Irish whiskey (except on St. Patrick's Day) in favor of Scotch whisky (no "e"). My dad was fond of Johnny Walker Black, while Grandpa touched nothing but Dewar's White Label (eeeeewwww).

My own first sip of alcohol at age eleven was from a bottle of Johnny Walker stolen from my father's plentiful cabinet. My friend, Dave, and I listened to Led Zeppelin on the 8-track (yes, 8-track -- it only played one way, no rewind) in his room and polished off the bottle. I got so drunk that I crashed my ten-speed on the way home, destroyed the bike and cut my head open. It was nothing a few stitches couldn't fix, but it was eleven years before I was brave enough to try scotch again, and coincidentally, it was Johnny Walker Black. After a while, it became my drink of choice (on the rocks).

Over the years I moved on from Johnny Walker (though I still love it) and have become a scotch connoisseur of sorts, collecting my favorite bottles and sharing them with friends when they come to my home. There are many misconceptions about the scotch category in general, so this round I'd like to unravel the mysteries a bit...

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Sean Kenyon
Contact: Sean Kenyon