Growing up, my first exposure to people drinking alcohol was with my family in the context of a meal. Whether it was an aperitif before the meal, wine with dinner, or a snifter of finely aged spirits afterwards, alcohol was enjoyed in moderation and for what it added to the dining experience. I am certain that this early experience has helped shaped my own attitudes and practices around alcohol consumption. While I had some knowledge of wine and beer, once I was legally able to buy alcohol I wanted to figure out what kinds of distilled spirits people my own age were drinking. Spirits were at that time an undiscovered country with a bewildering number of options. I naively thought that people who drank spirits did so because they liked the way they tasted. What I discovered, was a lot of young people drinking for the effect and adding juices or other flavorings to mask the taste of the alcohol. To me this did not make a lot of sense.
The first alcoholic beverage I really enjoyed drinking, was a glass of Macallan's 12 years old Single Malt Scotch. It was an amazing sensory experience that captivated my imagination and my intellect. I began comparing it to the small number of other whiskies I had tasted and a question began to stir in my mind: Why did this whisky surpass all the others I had tried up to this point? This question compelled me to learn more; specifically why that glass of Scotch tasted the way it did, and generally about how Scotch was made. Since then the question, “what makes a drink stand out from the rest?” has fueled my passion for spirits, sustained my interest in craft beer and has piqued my interest in wine, and specialty coffee.