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Pet Peeves: Alcohol Part One

WHY do people who know nothing about top class alcohol try to write about it? If it is in-character for someone (say, DANIEL) to drink the Good Stuff (TM) or to know about it, can you not do a little research?

Part One: WHISKY

If spelled like that (without the "e") it is the same as "Scotch" (short for "Scotch Whisky" - incidentally there are only four approved uses of "Scotch" as an adjective: Scotch Whisky, Scotch Broth, Scotch Egg and Scotch Mist. The person is a "SCOT", the language/dialect is "SCOTS" and the correct adjective is "Scottish"). Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic are slightly different languages (or dialects depending on your definition of "language") with different spellings. (For example, "Mc" tends to indicate Irish-derived names, while "Mac" indicates Scottish roots.)

"Whiskey" (with the "e") is Irish or American.

Therefore one will NOT drink "a good Scottish whiskey".

Whisky (and Whiskey) is derived from malted barley and/or grain. A "single malt" is the product of a single MALT - no grain - from a single distillery. It is the purest form of whisky. The youngest single malt drunk is 8 years old. 

The age of whisky/whiskey is determined by how long it spent in the barrel BEFORE it was bottled. Unlike wine, whisky/whiskey does not continue to mature once bottled. Keeping a twelve year old scotch for twenty years won't add anything to it and is probably a waste of good scotch.

The oldest Scotch one will readily get one's hands on is probably eighteen years old. (Scotch usually comes aged at eight years, twelve years, eighteen years or twenty-one years.) It is possible to get older Scotch but then one starts to get into the realms of silly money due to (a) the storage costs of keeping it in the barrels all that time and (b) the fact that the longer Scotch is kept, the more evaporates and consequently the fewer bottles one gets out of a barrel.

The ides of Jack drinking a whisky "three times older than he is" (therefore approximately 150 years old) is ludicrous. We'd be talking about $45,000 USD for a bottle and no matter what the USAF pays for Special Opertions Colonels (or civilian advisors if Daniel bought it) I don't see that happening  - unless the writer was talking years since it was BOTTLED... in which case we'd still be talking a five-figure sum as, let's face it, most people buy booze to DRINK, not to keep indefinitely.

Most well-known whiskies (whether Scotch or Irish) are "blends" - a blend of malts and, usually, grains. 

A pure malt blend (without the addition of distilled grains) is technically "vatted" but any bottle which claims to be "malt" without the "single" adjective is probably a BLEND of malts. These can be as good as - in some connoiseurs' opinions, better than - single malts as the blend of flavours can add a depth or a variety of "notes" to the flavour.

The age of a blend is the age of the youngest whisky in it. The very best blends may contain a mixture of eighteen year old malts.

Grain whisky/whiskey is the really cheap, mass-produced, (not to put too finer point on it) shit.

There is NO SUCH THING as "a bottle of double malt". If it has two (or more) malts it is a BLEND. End of story.


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 14th, 2008 06:45 am (UTC)

Isn't it funny how when you know something about a subject, finding the inaccuracies in someones writing is so annoying. Now this was all fairly new info to me, but there have been times I've yelled at someone story for not having the facts straight.

(This is the only alcohol-related icon I have...sorry!
(Heh heh)
Jan. 14th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC)
I get annoyed by inaccuracies. Facts are relatively easy to check and add to verisimiltude whereas getting them wrong can take a reader completely OUT of the story. *sigh*

Mind you lay/lie confusion bugs me more!
Jan. 14th, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC)
Hum de hum, bookmarking for future reference . . .

This is an excellence write up on this. I don't know much about alcohol so when I do write about alcohol, I keep it simple. But this? Now I can write with authority! ;)
Jan. 14th, 2008 01:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I plan "Part 2" to deal with wines. I know more about European wines than New World, but I was brought up in a family of wine buffs and was a member of the Wine Society at university, so I DO know a fair bit about good wines.
(no subject) - theemdash - Jan. 14th, 2008 01:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - natsuko1978 - Jan. 14th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greenwillow27 - Jan. 14th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - theemdash - Jan. 14th, 2008 06:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 14th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, this was VERY well researched. I researched this during many years of holidaying in Scotland and sampling many a malt and blend! In my experience many pubs in the Highlands are willing to let you sample several whiskies before you settle on one to DRINK. I learned a lot and it was all enjoyable.

I drink scotch (recreationally) so I consider it only natural that I know something ABOUT the tipple I enjoy so much. Knowledge and understanding add to my enjoyment.

Besides, my maternal grandmother was a MacInnes - I grew up in a family that appreciated "a wee dram".

Thank you for the comment and the friending! I'm still finding my feet in the SG-1 fandom, so apreciate new acquaintances. :D (Oh - and I agree with you about being thrown by errors. NOTHING makes me lose my willing suspension of disbelief faster than factual inaccuracies.)
Jan. 14th, 2008 06:39 pm (UTC)
lol this was a great rant!!!

one thing to mention about the "whiskey" vs. "whisky" spellings -just to give folks the benefit of the doubt, many spell checkers will tag "whisky" as wrong.

lol... besides, can you see Jack O'Neill, drinking anything other than ::insert brouge here:: a fine Irish Whiskey?

Jan. 14th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed the rant!

Since I'm British, my spell checker is set to "English (UK)" which recognises both spellings, so I was unaware that this could be a problem. All the more reason for writers to take care, surely?

As far as Jack drinking IRISH whiskey is concerned, while I might agree with you, this pet peeve was dealing with writers who don't indicate any awareness of the difference: especially those who specifically state that what is being drunk is "Scottish whiskey"; or those who identify the "whiskey" by the name of a brand of scotch; or those who refer to a "double malt" etc etc etc... I wouldn't have developed the peeve if it had not been a somewhat common error.

Thanks for commenting! :D
Jan. 14th, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC)
Here via theemdash
*bookmarks for future references*

Great info, thanks! I don't drink much at all, so I tend to avoid anything other than casual mentions of alcohol, but I made a point anyway to get a beta who knows her stuff (thank goodness, since there have been times where's she's sent something back to me like, "Uh - this is not how you drink that.") This'll be really useful in the future!

Jack and Daniel DO hit the whisky/whiskey a lot, come to think of it.

Edited at 2008-01-14 09:46 pm (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Here via theemdash
Happy to help! Betas who know more than the writer does are ALWAYS helpful - as a Brit writing for US-based fandoms, don't I know it! (I don't consider my use of English to be particularly "slang-y" but the differences in British and American usage make my head spin.)

Jack and Daniel DO hit the whisky/whiskey a lot, come to think of it. *nods* Especially in fanfiction, apparently.

Thank you for commenting. :D

Jan. 14th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
enjoyed the rant! am friending you to see your diatribe on European wines. now I will plunder your LJ to see what else you have in here to make me smile. feel free to return pillage in return
Jan. 15th, 2008 01:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Consider yourself mutually friended - I'm always happy to make new on-line acquaintances, and even happier to start to get to know people in the SG-1 and J/D fandoms. If I feel I *know* even a few people maybe I'll find the size factor a little less daunting!

I don't know whether my LJ is very smile-friendly, though...
(no subject) - zats_clear - Jan. 15th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - natsuko1978 - Jan. 15th, 2008 11:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 14th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)

Now, if we can add to this what different english-speakers call alcohol and the drinking age/what age people start drinking in different countries and cultures, then I might stop headdesking.
Jan. 15th, 2008 01:55 pm (UTC)
Now, if we can add to this what different English-speakers call alcohol and the drinking age/what age people start drinking in different countries and cultures

THAT would be a REALLY long article! Almost as long as one addressing American (mis)-concenptions of the UK. *sigh*

Glad you enjoyed this, anyway. Thanks for commenting.
Jan. 14th, 2008 11:30 pm (UTC)
I really enjoy a good diatribe or rant because I always learn something. :-)
Jan. 15th, 2008 01:52 pm (UTC)
I'm always happy to teach and I often rant... so I'm glad you found it beneficial!

Thanks for commenting. :D
Jan. 15th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC)
::waves hello::

So far, I don't think I've written alcohol into my fics under either of my pen names, but when I do I will make sure I refer to this first. Thanks for the summary.
Jan. 15th, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC)
*waves back* Hi!

Thanks for commenting. I'm rather flattered so many people think this was a helpful exercise... when I posted I was only intending to vent about a pet peeve, but if I can prevent such future mistakes, even better!
Jan. 15th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
Better than bookmarking....
BTW Google has a (new?)tool called Notebook in which you can copy and paste bits of info like this and store in neat little notebook folders by topic.

If my fellow writers here are anything like me you've got a great burgeoning heap of bookmarked sites that have maybe a paragraph or two on each of what you needed to save. At the risk of sounding like Google Spokesperson 2008, I have to say this is a really cool innovation.
Jan. 15th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Better than bookmarking....
Personally I PRINT relevant articles etc and file like with like in ring binders and pocket files. These then live in my bookcases until I need to look up say "US military" and then there all my collected research is, neatly tabbed and indexed.

But that's just me. I find all that if I'm going to index research fully it's easier to do with hard copies than with a dozen or so folders on the computer.
Re: Better than bookmarking.... - greenwillow27 - Jan. 15th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Better than bookmarking.... - natsuko1978 - Jan. 15th, 2008 11:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 15th, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
Noted for future reference. :)
Jan. 15th, 2008 01:49 pm (UTC)
Happy to help!

Thanks for commenting - I'm glad you found it useful.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 18th, 2008 02:31 am (UTC)
Hi! Thanks for commenting - and many many thanks for the information on Jack and Daniel's salaries.

If I've calculated the exchange rate and relative cost of living (England - and London especially - is a very expensive place to live) correctly, while not RICH exactly, such salaries would enable both Jack and Daniel to live very comfortably - though not extravagantly - yes?

I like Wiki... but I tend not to trust it. There are better resourses out there by actual "experts".

The price of antique whisky varies wildly - as with most of the antiques market - not least because it is sold at auction, with factors such as distillery and provenance having significant impact. £25k (GBP) was an approximation based on my research.

While whisky won't go off if still sealed, it won't AGE or improve either, so the only reason I can see for buying a bottle of 150 year old malt in auction would be to SAY you've bought it - or to drink the same malt as (say) Queen Victoria (while "not amused" apparently she did love a wee dram).

Like most scotch drinkers I know, I prefer to drink what I know!

Thanks again :D
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - natsuko1978 - Jan. 18th, 2008 01:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )


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