My mom is the person who taught me to appreciate whiskey. Not whisky — whiskey. That is, not Scotch, Bourbon. I grew up in a house where alcohol was rarely touched; no wine with dinner, no champagne celebrations, no liquor cabinet. My mom is a tea drinker. But when she did occasionally order a drink in the awful cocktail era of the 70s, it was a Manhattan. On the rare occasions she bought a bottle it wasn’t the usual crap of the time. I distinctly remember Makers Mark and Wild Turkey. My earliest memory tasting whiskey was when she mixed some with hot tea, honey, and lemon to soothe my sore throat.
My first year of college she gave me a bottle of Cognac because she thought it seemed interesting. I proceeded to mangle the cork trying to open it with my boyfriend without a proper corkscrew. I was reminded of this recently when I saw the same vintage at a frightening price somewhere and my freshman boyfriend (now husband) confirmed it was the same one we had destroyed. In 1990, before craft beer took off in the USA, my history buff mom bought my future husband a quirky regional beer named after a colonial American because she thought he might like it. #samadams
After I turned 21 (USA drinking age) my mom would call to tell me about cocktails I should try. She didn’t go to bars, but she wanted me to order the interesting drinks she read about. In the early ‘90s, when I came back from studying in Scotland with bottles that would make Scotch fans weep now, she told me I should’ve gotten two of each if I liked them so much — one to drink and one to save for later.
The woman is tough. My homebar is full of single malt Scotch but she only occasionally accepts a dram of Bourbon or Rye. However on her last visit — right before I left for Scotland again, as I set her bag down she said “Id like a Scotch.” At 83 she’s branching out.