Monday, March 9, 2015

Whiskey or Bourbon?

I keep a small bottle of Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Sour Mash Whiskey on hand in case of snakebite. I have clearly established that I live in rattlesnake country, chronicling in this very blog the time I discovered a dying rattler in the middle of Snokomo Road, and publishing unmistakable photographic evidence of a rattlesnake crossing Vera Road.  The fact that I have seen two rattlesnakes in Kansas in the entire 62 years I have been alive does not diminish the constant risk. It only proves how damned smart I am in avoiding rattlesnakes.

Speaking of how damned smart I am, I was wondering what the difference is between whiskey and bourbon. I googled the question and came up with this jewel: "The simple answer is that bourbon is always whiskey, but whiskey is not always bourbon." What kind of answer is that?! It is the written equivalent of an Escher drawing. Further investigation reveals the difference has to do with the percentage of corn in the mash and proof (as in 160 proof) and geography and spelling. (The Scots spell it whisky.)  I still do not know the difference and it is safe to say that all of the people publishing information on the internet also do not know the difference. If I am ever snakebit, it will not matter whether it is whiskey or bourbon anyway.

I am only kidding of course about drinking whiskey in case of snakebite. Despite watching hundreds of Westerns at the dawn of television with my Grandpa, whiskey has no medicinal properties against venom. Perhaps a shot from a whiskey bottle to a dying cowboy back in the Old West was simple manly solace before he bit the dust.

Speaking of manly men, when my future stepfather first met my paternal male relatives, Grandpa and my uncle took him aside to offer a male bonding shot of whiskey straight from the communal bottle. The fact that my stepfather did not suffocate or strangle on the whiskey - or bourbon - or moonshine remains a shining pinpoint of triumph in his life. He tells the story, laughing over the stoic calm of my uncle and grandfather after a man-sized gulp of firewater in comparison to his entirely unprepared throat-searing shot of torture. Men do things differently than women. I am not saying one way is superior to the other - just different. To tell you the truth, I wish women could establish pecking order and seal their hunting and gathering bonds with a simple shot of whiskey. My God, life would be so much easier.

The real reason I have whiskey on hand is because about once every couple of years or so, a shot of Jack and Coke seems good to me. I have to drive to the truck stop to buy a small bottle of Coke before I can imbibe. Buying a Coke happens only after I have been thinking for two or three weeks that a Jack and Coke would be nice. I had the last bottle of whiskey for so many years that it turned milky and I poured it down the drain.  Stocking up prior to the last big blizzard forecast for my part of Kansas, I bought a new bottle - in case of snakebite.