Book Status: The Things I’ve Learned

When I first started the First draft of the whiskey book, I set myself a goal of roughly 72000 words of notes and stories that should somehow feel relevant to the subject of the book. Add to that another 30000 words of first hand experiences (Trips to Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Kentucky, and Oregon), and that would give me about 100,000 words that I could pare down to the required 70,000 that I have to deliver by August 1st of next year.

Yesterday, I crossed the initial goal of 72000 words of notes and stories. So…yay me!!

Not ever having written a book before (and with that previous phrase, you can probably understand why), there were many opportunities for learning experiences. Some of the things I have learned include:

  • I can write nearly anywhere. I have written at the library, at the dining room table, in my bedroom, on breaks at work, at coffee shops, and one time at a restaurant. I don’t recommend breaking out the MacBook at a restaurant unless it’s a diner of some sort.
  • The book research is a blast, but there gets to a point where I can quickly tell if a writer hasn’t done their homework. It’s quite difficult to take a book seriously after you discover two major oversight.
  • The hardest part of writing? Distractions. And I don’t mean the surprises that occur – getting sick, or emergencies at work. The mundane aspects of every day existence also easily fit into the “things that need to be avoided for at least an hour a day”. This means everything from paying bills to video game consoles to e-mail. Time sinks are the bane of my existence because I’m quite easily distracted.
  • If you ever want to learn about a subject, write a book about it. When I started, felt I had the basics about the history of whiskey, but it soon become clear that I was an idiot.
  • Writing was much less intimidating once I decided upon writing between 1000 to 2000 words a day. Taking off one or two days helped as well, but I admittedly have the luxury of time.

Now, the things that I’ve learned about whiskey:

  • There are many, many whiskeys that I feel do not deserve the popularity that they have, mostly because there are many, many whiskeys flying under most people’s radar.
  • The resurgence of rye is a great thing indeed.
  • Whiskey itself has a great tradition. However, there are many brands who trade on a tradition that is mostly self-manufactured.
  • For me, the greatest fun in drinking whiskeys over the past few months has been learning how to “taste”.
  • American whiskey history goes beyond bourbon.
  • Fritz Maytag is my hero.
  • The current status of the bourbon industry (specifically the higher end bourbon market) can be traced back to Bill Samuels, Sr.
  • I have no one “favorite” whisk(e)y, but I currently have more affinity towards bourbons and Irish Whiskeys than I do Scotches. Saying that, I believe that there is more room for innovation in Scotch Whiskys, particularly when it comes to the barrels in which the whiskys are aged.

I have about another 5000 words of notes to put together before I start writing the narrative of the book, but I think I’m in a great position here. And more than anything else, I’m, having fun.

And I haven’t hit the main part of the traveling yet (that will come in February and April of next year).