Whisky Advocate

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing

September 11th, 2012

Want proof? Have a read through this short piece we found last week entitled “20 Facts That Will Make You Sound Like A Whiskey Expert.”

The point here is to educate. If someone is going to mislead, that’s worse than not even writing the story in the first place. What’s even sadder is that a similar version of this (“18 Facts You Must Know To Sound Smart About Whiskey” ) also ran back in 2010. (So much for learning from your mistakes.)

Why don’t we make the most of it? Read through it. If you see something that’s not true, let us know what it is. (No cheating: don’t read the comments at the end of the story.)

No Responses to “A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing”

  1. Neil Fusillo says:

    You sure don’t have to read very far into it to find the first mistake… wow…

  2. Joe Hyman says:

    Why learn from your mistakes when you add to them?

  3. Jordan says:

    #1 – Canadian’s use the e-less version as well

    #2 – all whisk(e)y starts as beer. Not sure about the hops though, except for Charbay’s

    #4 – while close, the angel’s share varies a lot depending on climate. And corks aren’t perfect, so given enough time there’s definitely evaporation.

    #5 – again, the angel’s share varies depending on climate. And there are certainly other reasons why a whisk(e)y might be rare

    #7 – drink your whisk(e)y however you like it. There will be some diminishment of flavors with too much dilution and chilling, but whatever

    There’s more, but I’m giving up. It’s just too painful.

    • thebitterfig says:

      Yes, whisky is made from mashed and fermented grains. Beer is made from mashed and fermented grains. However, I still think beer is more than undistilled whisky, and whisky more than distilled beer. It’s partly the “all squares are rectangles” thing for me, mixed in with a general dislike I have for definition creep. When ‘beer’ replaces any instance of ‘mashed and fermented grains’ it just starts to lose its meaning. For example, Sake is from mashed and fermented grains, but I’d greatly prefer to call it it’s own thing, rather than lump it in with stouts and porters and lambics and lagers and so forth. When definitions start getting too broad, they cease to mean anything.

      However, this is more my own rant about language rather than anything relevant to whisky.

  4. OudErnest says:

    The comments are pretty hilarious and worth the read just for them. Incredibly ignorant piece though

  5. Louis says:

    Thanks John, for making us aware of this article. At least the next time we hear someone quoting this mis-information, we’ll know where he got it from.

  6. John Lamond says:

    What amazes me is that someone got paid for writing that. The grammar is also pretty appalling.

  7. “Whisky is not the same as Whiskey.” Actually, yes it is. One word, one meaning, two spellings.

  8. Armin says:

    Well, “Business Insider”, that says it all. Most of their article are just like that. Dumb linkbait with mostly incorrect “facts”. Nothing to see here, move on.

  9. sku says:

    I think this is my favorite line: The five regional whiskeys always included are: Scotch Whisky, Irish Whiskey, Kentucky (Bourbon), Canadian Whiskey, and Tennessee Whiskey. The disputed two regional whiskeys are Japanese and New Zealand.

    I like that this make it sound like some sort of official list. Who exactly is disputing Japan as a whiskey region anyway? Where did they get New Zealand as opposed to Wales, Sweden, Australia or any of the other places making whiskey these days?

    I wonder if this article is tongue in cheek. It seems like you would have to put in some serious effort to get things so wrong.

  10. Jim Clarke says:

    I don’t have enough palms to plunge my face into after reading that. So instead I’m going to numb the pain with a nice Bushmills distillery edition.

  11. RobinRobinson says:

    With “Wall Street” advice like this, we now know why our financial markets are a mess. It was enough to make me start adding ice to some burnt ass whisky.

  12. two-bit cowboy says:

    There’s a striking difference between knowledge and wisdom.

    knowledge: knowing a tomato is a fruit.

    wisdom: not putting a tomato in a fruit salad.

    moral: don’t eat a fruit salad made by Linette and Courtney (or is it Courtny?)

    • I’m using that one later. Well said

    • thebitterfig says:

      Of course, there are a certain segment which will take that as a dare – make a good fruit salad with tomatoes in it. The Terrible “T” plus peaches and red onions over greens, with poppyseed dressing? It’d be good. Might not count as a fruit salad, though.

  13. Brendan says:

    The writing generally sucks.

    Specifically, I guess that some may still think that you are a whiskey expert when you insert unnecessary apostrophes (eg – “angel’s” is either a contraction of “angel is” or a reference to something belonging to an angel – not the pluralization of angel).

    The comment about how the angel is can’t touch whiskey after bottling isn’t completely correct. Distilled spirits gradually lose alcohol to evaporation after you open them, which is why many informed whiskey drinkers use a layer of inert gas or other tactics to preserve the proof in opened bottles.

    What kind of research is necessary to identify the flavor of burnt ass?

    Adding one cube of ice is “moderately acceptable?” Oh my, who is going to don a black ski mask and knock down my door if I add two cubes to some white dog on a hot day? Is moderately acceptable better or worse than somewhat acceptable?

    Sir Shackleton did not leave a single bottle behind in Antarctica – he left 10 bottles, according to the Whisky Exchange. Geez, National Geographic wrote about this.

    OK, enough about this goof.

  14. Words fail me…I just….I just need someone to hold me. The people that read this could be dealing with millions of dollars on a daily basis. And….I just…doesn’t…why…

  15. Stevely says:

    Someone doesn’t have to be knowledgeable to appreciate a fine whisky. Sometimes there is more knowledge than there is an appreciation – or lack of both as demonstrated by this article.

    I can not help but wonder what my lack of knowledge was ten years ago though. I hope I have grown in both appreciation and knowledge. Time for a Mortlach to ease my pain.

  16. Jeff says:

    It is difficult to see where the content for this thing came from; would anyone really just try to make it all up but, on the other hand, even the smallest bit of research would have meant that they would have gotten most of this simple stuff right. “Whisky” and “Whiskey”? The mind boggles.

  17. Luke says:

    I agree – a painful article to read!

  18. Karl says:

    John, as humorous as the article is I had a thought.
    Would you consider writing an article exploring the possibilities and the opportunities of increasing women’t interest in whisky and whiskey?
    I see a lot of value in this, and I would much prefer my partner to partake in the interest however she hates the smell of it – understandable when she almost always drinks vodka polluted with other flavours, juices and soft drink.
    I would be interested in hearing what your opinion of the matter.

  19. Lazer says:

    In all fairness, if you’re really a wall street insider, you aren’t reading this magazine. This magazine is written for the outsiders, the wannabe’s. The level of writing is more a reflection of the readers of the magazine rather than the ability of the writer.

  20. Randy Perrelet says:

    Courtney Comstock in 2010.
    Linette Lopez in 2012.
    How about Hillary Higginbottom in 2014?
    All they need is some new clip art and, bada bing bada boom, new article.

  21. Andrew Ferguson says:

    That is brutal. Who ever wrote it should be ashamed… double so for whomever plagarized it!

  22. MrTH says:

    There’s a greater lesson to be learned here than the fact that this particular bozo doesn’t know much about whisky. Here is an article about something we know pretty well, and we can see it’s full of nonsense. In fact, the majority of the time I read a piece about a topic I know something about, I find errors and nonsense. It makes me realize that when I’m reading an “informative” article on a topic I don’t know much about, I need to take it with a grain of salt, at least. It certainly helps to know the credentials of the author–I know I can trust whisky information from journalists who specialize in whisky, like Dave Broom or Jim Murray. But if I don’t know the topic, I probably don’t know the real experts, either. As for journalism in general, I think it’s suffering from the death of the liberal arts education. Journalists no longer get the broad education they used to, which not only teaches a lot of Stuff, but teaches how to examine Stuff. A good general journalist doesn’t know everything, but knows how to find out who does know what’s pertinent to the topic at hand.

    • Terrific point. I have had the same experience and concern. Reporters generally just write what they’re told and are no better than their sources.

      • MrTH says:

        That would be bad enough, Chuck, but it’s amazing how often they don’t even understand what they’re told, and mangle it in passing it on.

  23. >> In fact, the majority of the time I read a piece about a topic I know something about, I find errors and nonsense. It makes me realize that when I’m reading an “informative” article on a topic I don’t know much about, I need to take it with a grain of salt, at least.<<

    Truer words have never been uttered.

  24. Aaron says:

    How about this one: “Most of the Bourbon and Tennessee whiskeys are made using hops (as an antibacterial) to propagate their yeast.”

    I’ve never heard of the use of hops in American whiskeys. Any truth to this?

  25. tmckenzie says:

    John is right, hops in the yeast tub, to kill bacteria. You never taste it though.

  26. Keith says:

    I think Bourbon County’s official slogan should be “BOurbon County, Kentucky: We Don’t Actually Make Any Bourbon Here.”

  27. jf pilon says:

    this is horrible! almost verything is either false or only half true. My god, we do have our work cut out for us…

  28. Joshua Powers says:

    Everyone deserves a little humor piece now and then! Maybe this guy had too many bottles of vodka-sorry to offend the vodka drinkers-before he wrote he article. I love the comments in the region pieces that generalize the entire flavor profile of the various styles of whisk(e)y produced in those regions. In the Canadian Region section Seagram’s and Sons is popular and Crown Royal is too — same company — yet presents it as if they have no connection.

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