Comedy and whisky can certainly mix. Even biting sarcasm and hyperbole are fun tools to frame whisky in, but it seems like every other week I see a recycled post with a title like “X Reasons You Should Drink More Whisky”. Don’t get me wrong, I love whisky, and I hold a special place in my heart for hyperbolic sarcasm, but there are so many classier ways to help whisky’s reputation than to cram excessive consumption down our throats with cheap fratire. Bloggers and whisky champions who repost this kind of low-hanging fruit are often desperate to find new, entertaining content but too lazy to spill their brain tears and craft it themselves.
If you want to listen to douche bags misuse the word “epic” to justify ramping up your consumption while taking part in what sounds like a gender neutral push for date rape, you can watch fun YouTube videos, like this. Yes, if you have a misconception about whisky, according to the producers of this video, you apparently have “sand in your vagina”. I’d say it’s better to have sand in your crotch than rocks in your head, which is something I imagine the whisky-chugging dimwits who made this must suffer from.
So okay, the first example was clearly an attempt to be aggressively satirical towards prudish non-whisky appetites. I get it, and comedy gets a free pass despite the allusion to other half-truths in the video as if they were truly so uncomplicated. I don’t believe humorous tidbits like this actually contribute to mindless consumption, so much as celebrate that it’s already here. There is a scarier side to this type of post, though.
There are just as many people in this same vein of pseudo comedy, making very serious medical claims as to why you should drink more whisky. For instance, you might have heard from list-makers like Buzzfeed that whisky prevents stroke, heart disease, and cancer. Heavy alcohol consumption actually has a strong connection to heart disease, the number one killer of humans worldwide (number ONE!), but I’ll be sure to tell the next set of hardened arteries I see, that the deadly solvent their owners were inundating themselves with probably wasn’t the cause. I wasn’t even 18 before the first time I saw someone, my friend’s father, pass away from alcohol-related heart disease. There are also strong correlations between non-moderated alcohol consumption and cirrhosis/liver disease, brain and nerve damage, depression, and pancreatitis. What these viral bullshit bunkers conveniently leave out is that any health benefit anyone has ever found correlated with alcohol stops after 1-2 drinks in a day. Do you think the monkeys down at Buzzfeed writing this crap stop doing keg stands and high-fiving each other after two drinks? Doubtful.
The authors of these regurgitated puff pieces can hide behind plausible deniability, or claims that they’re not responsible for the world. They can decry “nanny states” or point to the links all they want, but they’re not encouraging healthier lifestyles. They’re encouraging an increase in consumption. If they wanted your heart to be healthy they would have to work much harder to write a comedic article like “10 excellent reasons your fat ass needs more exercise”.
And just in case the shining beacon of brilliant humanity that is Buzzfeed hasn’t convinced you to let go of that pesky job and turn to day drinking, even the Washington Post is in on the train-wreck of irresponsibility that’s trying to turn whisky into snake oil. Yes, the US hasn’t failed because we’ve fallen behind on education or let our poverty rates skyrocket; it’s because we aren’t as wasted as France. Clearly. Nice job, Washington Post, but you forgot the other huge reasons we’ve failed as a country: per capita, we don’t blow as many lines of coke as Spain or shoot as much smack as the UK.
It’s fun to drink and revel, and whisky is undeniably awesome. Personally, I love the stuff and I’ll be the first to admit that it sounded reasonable, maybe even funny, the first time I saw a post like that, but let’s never forget that alcohol can and does ruin lives and that people don’t really need a reason to drink MORE whisky. They need a reason to drink BETTER whisky. There should be a balanced conversation about the subject, and most of the information out there is definitely not. It’s okay to drink. It’s even okay to drink a lot if you choose to, but don’t be one of those trend-following pinheads spouting non-truths to justify your decision. Take some responsibility and own your choices.
Great post! Lists that tell you why you should drink more bad whiskey are just playing on negative stereotypes, and they are often geared towards a democraphic that does not need homophobic or misogynistic ideals reinforced. I think you hit the critical point exactly by saying that people ought to be drinking better whiskey.
Thanks, Phil! I wasn’t quite sure what kind of reaction I was going to get from the community when I posted this, especially because so many of us take part in that kind of stuff. It’s nice to hear some confirmation that I’m not alone.
An important and nicely phrased post, Shane. Thank you for writing this.
Thanks for commenting, Susannah! I hope New York is keeping you warm and happy.
Make no mistake, Shane, you will get hammered for this – by a tiny handful. But, of course, you’re right about some aspects. Drinking too much whisky is toxic. Toxicity is a function of concentration. Needless to say you can directly drink yourself to death immediately – in a single sitting. You can also kill yourself by degrees over decades with “a couple” of drinks too many on a regular basis. But moderate (yes – 1-2 drinks/day) use HAS been shown to have numerous health benefits and that’s a valid observation to make (although clearly consideration of moderation is never considered in a comedy video). Personally I really like parts of that video. “Know a lot about vodka and you’re a club douche. Know a lot about whiskey and you’re a true American hero.” That’s literally correct. Right?
The real question is how stupid is it to consider attempting to drink in moderation when actually knowing that you’re going to overdo it from time to time? The answer is “choose to moderate your consumption”. Have one or day days off – no drinking, every week. Have 1 or 2 whiskies all the other days of the week but one or two. Frankly, that’s how I drink most of the time. And this is where whisky comes in. Hard to start knocking back beers and end with one. Not at all unusual for me to spend an hour with a powerful and intense dram of whisky and then just be done. An ounce of a whisky like Stagg, Octomore, Tun1401 or whatever the !@#$ really turns you on, has the ability to absorb you completely for a big chunk of time in a way that no other drinking experience can. Not wine. Not cocktails (certainly not cocktails). No beers, and that’s for !@#$ sure. Only high end spirits like Cognac, brandy, tequila, rum and whisky have the ability to satisfy at the dram quantity like that. Whisky is the key to moderate drinking. And, that means not drinking shots of !@#$ whisky. That means awesome whisky and decent glassware. Yet again, I refer to the original author of the slow whisky movement, Jason Debly:
Thanks for the note. I drink like that, too, Josh. Sometimes I pour over a single glass for hours, keeping it under a ginger jar lid for occasional peeks that I cherish. Then again, sometimes I just get garden-variety sloppy. There’s nothing wrong with that so long as you’re aware of the consequences and your problems stay your own. I’m not ever drinking with the foolish notion that it’s going to benefit my health.
That’s a cool article, too; thanks for sharing. I think the notion of single pour sessions is important, too, but not so much for the health benefits as much as the mindfulness of actually taking the time to enjoy your experiences. If you can do that then getting wasted every day will seem less attractive and you will inevitably live longer. That’s better than any statistic promising longer life. A fuller life is better than a longer one.
Those articles may seem like they have valid points, and maybe one single drink a day does have benefits, but nothing about those pieces was written earnestly with the intention of teaching you how to be healthier or appreciate a monogamous dram. One part concludes with “More research needs to be made to make this conclusive, but let’s drink up and hope Dr. Swan is correct.” It might say the benefits are for “moderate” drinking somewhere to half-heartedly qualify it’s message, but the overall tone of the article is clear. There are plenty of legitimate articles about single servings of alcohol and their effect on your health, but none of them have “reasons why you should drink more” in the title.