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Apr 04

A Thirst for Knowledge

Philadelphia FlyersBack in January, I wrote a post called “Learning About Whiskey” which concisely explained how little I really know about whiskey.  As I continue to write for this blog, I find more and more things about whiskey, and life in general, that I just plain don’t understand, yet I have the constant desire to learn more about.

For instance, my wife and I are die-hard Philadelphia Flyers fans (hence the picture to the right).  We’ve watched nearly every game for the past five years or so.  We usually make it to a couple of games a season, stock up on the essential gear and apparel, and even support some of the Flyers preferred charities.  Despite our dedication, we missed forty or so Flyers seasons previous to our allegiance, and therefore are humbled by the more tenured fans.  I could likely hold a conversation with any hockey fan about the last half-decade, but anything past that and I’m stumped.

To me, this has a direct correlation to my love affair with whiskey, only I’d venture to say that I know less about whiskey and have even greater a desire to learn more.  Every time I try a new whiskey, I feel like I’ve opened a door to whole new set of variables to dissect.  Even re-discovering old whiskeys has its thrills – I recently bought a bottle of Powers Gold Label (something I had had before), and quickly discovered its pot still influence, something I had not realized previously.  Although very minor, that discovery got me thinking about other small characteristics I had been missing when sampling whiskeys for the past several years.  This yearning for more and more can be overwhelming, especially when knowledge like this seems to come easy to other people.

I think that this desire is not unique to me, and is simply a part of life.  Even in my professional life, I strive to meet goals in my job that are not always realistic to my experience level.  I want to progress as quickly as I can despite my relatively short time in my particular field.  Ambition is a positive trait to possess, but it can sometimes handcuff you if you don’t keep it in check.

I was tipped off via the Value Whisky Reviews blog about a post by Jason Debly of Jason’s Scotch Whisky Reviews.  It discusses the “Slow-Whisky Movement” in which whiskey can be enjoyed in very small doses.  Its technique brings the reader back to the basics of whiskey drinking, away from the inner-competition of trying every whiskey possible.  Although I can’t say I will commit to Jason’s five tenets, I think it’s a great way to ensure that you aren’t over-doing it with whiskey.

 

-Ryan

5 comments

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  1. The other Ryan

    Ryan, I can totally relate. I kept trying to tame my “yearning for more” step by step, but couldn’t, and simply decided to give up on Scotch altogether. I’m not saying everyone has to take that measure, I’m just highlighting that it can get out of hand if you’re not careful! I’ve also been there on the job front, going through the same thing you did. But, I have learned since then that is not a path to happiness in life. Do your best, yes, and set yourself up to move ahead when you can, but learning to be content with where you are presently is the key to long-term success and happiness and peace.

    There is one comment I disagree with: “Ambition is a positive trait to possess.” I really believe that is a lie propagated by our culture (along with pride… people have taken the idea of pride too far). I think a more appropriate statement might be: “ambition can be channeled effectively into positive action.” I am nitpicking maybe, and I know I’m far afield of whisky here, but, I had to mention it.

    1. The other Ryan

      I was thinking some more about this. Your example of Flyers fanship is not the same as whiskey and your job. Being a Flyers fan doesn’t require any patience. You just sit back and watch, maybe read some articles online. But with a job, you think “oh, if I work hard here, then next year I’ll get that promotion.” and with whiskey it’s like “if I try this one now, next month I’ll get the other one, then I’ll have tried a wide range.”. The problem is, after you get that promotion, you just start thinking about the next promotion. After you’ve tried all the baseline Scotch, then there’s the 18 yo set, and the special releases, etc. it takes learning how to want the next level, and going for it, but at the same time being patient and also being happy with where you’re at. Not being dependent on obtaining the next level, be it job or whiskey. That’s not always an easy state of mind to obtain.

      Nice article, Ryan. Thought provoking!

      1. Ryan

        Thank you for the insightful comments, Ryan. I respect and value your opinions, as always, but I still believe ambition to be positive. I think it’s a trait that can progress the individual into achieving goals less ambitious people would not have the ability to. I agree that it can be overdone, just like with anything else. I guess the key is moderation and self-reflection.

        We definitely got a little off-topic from whiskey on this one, but I like that sometimes!

        Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

        -Ryan

  2. Josh Feldman

    Excellent post. I too, feel small beside the vast ocean of whisky experience. Your comments about learning new things even when drinking old whisky you thought you knew struck a cord. Audiophiles speak of needing to go back and listed to their record collections over again when they upgrade to some particularly revealing piece of gear. I see how our palates – honed by experience and increasing knowledge – are like that more resolving piece of audio gear. We have to go back and play the collection again – i.e. re-taste those whiskies we thought we once knew in light of our evolving sense of discernment and perspective.

    1. Ryan

      Great example, Josh. I was traveling on business this week, and broke out the old iPod on the plane. I re-visited some old albums I hadn’t listened to in a while, and was shocked at how much I had missed from those recordings! I think that time changes all things relative to opinion, taste, and perspective.

      -Ryan

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