Tag Archives: 99 Drams of Whiskey

How (Not) to Drink Whisky


The majority of this is pure silliness, it’s little more than whisky affectations gone to the extreme. To typical drinkers – meaning those of us  who go out to drink to have a fun night with friends where we spend time talking about anything BUT the quality of our drinks – there are only two bits of information here worth mentioned.

  1. For 22 year olds, its rare to have to add water make it smoother. Note, however, that I don’t say “You shouldn’t add water!”.
  2. Adding hot water to your drink will make it difficult to appreciate the subtleties of scotch whisky.

All of the other items are either nonsense, or tips for professional tasters and whisky critics.  For one, I’ve never run across a bartender who has heaped dozens of pieces of ice into a “scotch on the rocks”. It’s an exaggeration. Second, ice  in the drink is perfectly acceptable (albeit in a small amount), because it changes the nuances of the drink as the ice melts and the drink goes from cold to room temperature.

Also, I don’t think bars would look too kindly on folks, either customers or bartenders, who swirled whisky in a glass and then flung the spirit upon the floor.

Yes, great whisky can be poorly handled. People mindlessly handle well made products all of the time. But even the consumer who desires to treat a great whiskey with respect should approach the drink that’s comfortable to them. Anyone doing 95% of what the gentleman in the video is doing is little more than a poseur in my eyes.

99 Drams of Whiskey – Blog Tour Help wanted

Out of the many excellent suggestions offered in the brainstorming post that was published the other day, the one I can implement nearly immediately is the Blog Tour (mentioned by Amy, Rete, Jeff, and Scott). I’ve talked to the publicity guru at St. Martin’s, and she said she would help out in any way she can.

But to do this, I need sites who are interested in a) Reading the book, and b) Willing to commit to a post regarding the book.

So, if you fill these two categories, either comment in this here post, or drop me a line at KateATaccidentalhedonistDOTcom. What you will get in return is a copy of the book, as well as access to…well…me.

Do you want to do a whiskey review with me on your site? Do you want to interview me? Do you wish to only read the book? Any and all ideas are open for discussion.

What I need is your name, Website address, and mailing address so that you can get a copy of the book.

Many thanks in advance.

99 Drams of Whiskey – Let’s Brainstorm

Some of the promotional galleys of “99 Drams of Whiskey” are starting to come back, and the book has been getting really nice feedback. Kind words from Kevin Erskine, Peter Krass, and Charles Cowdery have all filtered their way into my inbox.

“There is so much hype surrounding beverage alcohol products that a writer’s best tool may be his or her BS detector. Kate Hopkins has a good one, but she never lets debunking make her cranky. She is open-minded without being a sucker. 99 Drams is an unexpected and fresh take on whiskey.”

–Charles K. Cowdery, author of Bourbon, Straight

“How can you not want to follow Kate Hopkins on a rollicking adventure that makes it perfectly acceptable to drink whiskey before noon? Her personal narrative remains lively and humorous throughout, with an excellent balance between storytelling, history, and facts. In my mind, her ‘perfect shot’ occurs in a mysterious gift shop in Scottish farm country, from an unmarked bottle filled with an unknown whiskey. This kind of experience and others like it make 99 Drams of Whiskey a great read.”

–Peter Krass, author of Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel

Whiskey is part travelogue, part distillery guide, and part history book. It is deeply personal, and told in Kate Hopkins’s humorous, engaging, and inimitable style. Through Kate’s eyes, I found myself looking at whiskey anew.”

–Kevin Erskine, author of The Instant Expert’s Guide to Single Malt Scotch

My thanks to these gentlemen, as well as the others who have taken the time to provide both insight and compliments about the book. It’s been a heck of a ride over the past few months.

What this now means is that it’s full steam ahead to the release date, now scheduled for May 26 – a mere two and a half months away. To say I’m anxious is a massive understatement. And I’m looking for a bit of help in reducing said anxiety.

First things first however. If you wish to pre-purchase said book, it is now available at most major online retailers, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and even Powell’s. If one is so inclined to see what the above three well respected whiskey writers are talking about, this is your chance.

I’m also looking for a bit of help. St. Martin’s has been nothing but wonderful in dealing with me and the book. And while they do have promotions lined up, there’s only so much than can do. That leaves it up to me to pick up where their resources end.

Part of me thought I could go to some third party promoters. But these folks cost money, sometimes more than I think is either respectable or even realistic for a book with a limited market niche. So if the third party promoters are unrealistic for my budget, then what?

Well then it hit me. Why don’t I just ask you folks for your ideas? Maybe some of you out there have an idea that I haven’t thought of, or have a new take on a path I previously thought of as impractical.

What would you think would be a good way to promote 99 Drams of Whiskey? Feel free to either leave a comment here in this post or send me an e-mail to kate AT accidentalhedonist DOT com. Any promotional idea I use, I’ll work to get the person who suggested it a free copy of the book. It ain’t much, I realize, but it may be interesting to see if regular folks can do things that the folks at wecanpromoteyourbookfortenthousanddollars.com cannot.

Woot!! (aka Holy Crap! I wrote a book!)

Let it be said that on this fine date of July 11th, 2008, I have finished my first book! There a few bits of window dressing that need to be applied (Appendices, Acknowledgments, and a forward), but those will be done in the next few days.

But the first through ending chapters are now done!! By this time next week, it’ll be off to the publishers, where they will edit it. Hopefully we’re looking at a release date of sometime in the first quarter of next year.

Excuse me whilst I do a little dance!

Whiskey Tasting Notes: Parker’s Heritage Collection

I haven’t done one of these in a while, as I needed to take a break from whiskey after going non-stop on them for nearly two months straight. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the recent trips abroad and at home, but too much of a good thing will quickly become a bad thing. Thus, the break. Meanwhile, I’m still putting in about 1000 words a day for the book, and will soon start the final editing process before handing off to my agent and publisher. But I’ll talk about the book later.

I got to taste this whiskey first hand at a visit to Heaven Hill, where Lynne and Dan led Krysta and myself in our own tasting event. Out of the several bourbons tasted, this is the one I migrated to, even though it was at cask strength.

What I’m about to say will likely tick a few whiskey folks off, but meh, I don’t think I’ve ever been too concerned about that. Cask strength whiskey is essentially a whiskey that has not had water added to it after aging. As a whiskey ages, a fair amount of evaporation occurs (to the tune of 2% a year), most of that water. So the whiskey will be stronger coming out of cask than it was going in.

This has become, what’s known in the marketing biz, a “thing”. Something to which they can upsell and mark-up the price of the whiskey by a few dollars and get even more profit from the customer.

The problem lies in the fact that, depending upon a consumers taste buds, alcohol is an anesthetic. Too high of a proof, and the taste buds, and nasal receptors literally become numb. And when these become numb, tasting…true tasting…becomes nigh impossible. The only way to rectify this is to add water to the whiskey, and bring it down to a point where the alcohol doesn’t numb the senses.

However, there are a few knuckleheads out there who don’t understand the above issue. So when water is added to a whiskey, they look at you as if you just spat upon a holy book. To them, let me say this clearly…if you want to taste a cask strength whiskey, you almost always have to add water. (As a side note, I’ve talked and drank with dozens of whiskey professionals, from master distillers to professional tasters to whiskey shop owners. Every single one of them added some water to their drinks. Not a one of them ever drank it straight. Of course the amount of water differed, but water was always added. Take that, you “purists”.)

So what is the big deal surrounding cask strength whiskeys? From my experience, once you deal with the excess alcohol, what is there is a whiskey that is far more complex in flavors than what one typically finds on the shelf of your liquor store. This is why I think that “Cask Strength” whiskeys deserve attention, not because they are a higher proof.

Parker’s Heritage Collection Bourbon was the whiskey that caught my attention while at Heaven Hill, and I had no problem in shelling out the $120 dollars for a bottle. I find that some bourbons push their oak-y flavors too far, and in fact, many distilleries strive to keep their spirits out of the barrels due to this same fear. This bottle pushes that time limit as far as it could go, without becoming excessively woody in it’s flavor. Oak flavors are there, at least a little, but with them was a nice cola undercurrent, with a little raisin and of course the ever present dark sweetness that bourbons are known for. It wasn’t overly sweet, nor dry, and struck a real nice balance upon my palate.

Out of the several bourbons we had whilst in Kentucky, this was the one of three that stood out. I’ll get to the second and third in different posts.

If you have the money, and don’t mind working with Cask Strength Whiskeys, I recommend Parker’s Heritage Collection.

The Last Distillery

Canadian Club/Hiram Walker today, and I am DONE! WOOT!

Alberta Impressions

The first thing that happened when I woke up on Thursday was that it became clear that I had acquired a cold. A slight fever, sneezing, and nasal congestion had all made themselves known. So before I could even head out to interview the fine folks at Highwood distillery, I had to get myself drugged up.

So any impressions of Calgary have been produced under the influence. You have been warned.

Every time I head to Canada, I feel as if I’m visiting my better-behaved, over-achieving relatives. Whereas America feels like one of those families where there’s an excessive amount of shouting at the dinner table and fighting over even the most irrelevant of slights, Canada feels like the family where they keep their house tidy and the shouting to a minimum. Every time I leave Canada, my eyes tear up as a look at the border from the back window, wondering if I’ve been adopted by America and Canada are my real parents.

And then I head back to my blog, and bitch about the most irrelevant of slights, and I realize that yes, I am an American. Damn it. If only we had better roads in America, it would make my life that much more bearable. It’s too bad we’re deathly afraid of taxes.

The thought that keeps coming through my mind is that this area of Canada is their version of Texas, albeit with better views, better road, better weather (I like snow), less evangelicals, less insane politicians, and less of an air of misguided superiority. If Texas were more like Alberta, I’d have no problem in visiting the Lone Star state.

There are ranches everywhere. Prairies literally go as far as the eye can see, as long as you look towards the east. To the west the Rockies look as if their are protecting the city of Calgary from the barbaric hordes of British Columbia.

And while I haven’t had the chance to explore the city of Calgary (I spent the day about 30 miles south), I will say that they have one selling point over the other provinces in Canada – The retail liquor trade has been privatized. As a point of
comparison, British Columbia (whose retail liquor industry is regulated) has 3,500 different products available to consumers. Alberta has 15,000 products available.

Yay, Alberta!

Side note – I’ve found two items that are indispensable to travel. One is a good GPS system in the rental car. This gave me one less thing to worry about in regards to finding addresses in unfamiliar places. Second is Tylenol Cold Medicine. Which I’m about to take once again as I go out to explore Calgary proper.