Whiskey Story Swap – February 2020

This is an experiment. I hope you’ll be inclined to join in…

Posted at the end of every second month, the WHISKEY STORY SWAP is an invitation to readers to share a whiskey story that has stuck with them. Stories from the hunt, a tasting, a bar, a corner store, a gathering of friends, a toast gone hilariously wrong, a bottle trade gone spectacularly well… Long, short, funny, sad… You name it.

All I ask is that we keep things clean so everyone can enjoy swapping stories. Whiskey is made of, and for, stories to be shared by everybody.

Please add your story in the comment section below. To kick things off, here’s my own whiskey story for February 2020:

I was recently at a donor event for a theater I often work with. It was a dinner and we were seated around a handful of circular tables, artists interspersed among donors, staff, board members. Catered food. White table cloths. A lemony vodka-based cocktail before dinner. Red and white wine during. Champagne for the toast after. (No whiskey!) A usual scenario for such events.

The donor whom I was seated next to—a retired gentleman who’d had a career in law and loved theater—asked me what my next project was. He’d assumed I’d have some play to talk about. Instead I talked to him about this whiskey blog. Turns out he’d spent some time in Scotland in the Islay region, touring distilleries. Our conversation ended up wandering around whiskey, theater, the law profession, world travel, gardening, and existential questions about leaving one’s mark on the world.

It was the latter topic that struck me most. I was quite surprised when the gentleman paused, looked into the distance of his many years, and shared with me, “I haven’t made my mark.” There was a barely contained sadness to his delivery. We sat in silence together a moment. The bouncy chatter of others continued on in the room around us, oblivious to our pause. Eventually I offered, “You may have made a mark without realizing it, and someone might come along and tell you one day how much you impacted them.” He nodded, not appearing convinced, his fingers lightly tapping the stem of his empty wine glass.

He was at least a couple decades older than me. But what he was experiencing felt very current to me as well. I also question my impact, and my potential now for making any impact at all in what until now has been my life’s overwhelming focus: theater. I shared this with him. His eyes narrowed and he looked at me differently. 

After more conversation—we talked about passion, theater, whiskey, making things that matter—he paused again, then said, “This is not where I expected things to go when I asked you what your next project was.” We laughed, a laugh weighted by two lifetimes. We were no longer an artist and a donor, but two people who shared a question about our role in the world. When we parted ways we agreed that a whiskey tasting was in order, and perhaps also some time devoted to tending his home garden.

Like theater, whiskey is a gateway to unexpected connections between the disparate stories of our lives—even as they continue to unfold.

I’d love to hear your stories. Please share them in the comments section down below.


4 thoughts on “Whiskey Story Swap – February 2020

  1. My story is about my journey into whisky. Others might have similar experiences. As a youth, whisky was something for mixing or making cocktails. I knew that people liked sipping scotch but on the odd occasion that I had tried this I hated it. I will admit that I was trying grain scotch at hotel open bars, so bottom shelf stuff. I was oblivious to the difference between these and single malt scotch. I happen to get a first class upgrade on a cross country flight and noticed a younger gent drinking Glenlivet neat so I figured lets try one more time since its free. I couldn’t believe how different it was, I loved it. Now that I had crossed the barrier to sipping whisky in its natural form I joined a local scotch club and discovered the diversity in it. I then expanded into tequilla and bourbon, the latter being where I feel most at home. My morale is don’t label all spirits under a blanket label. If you don’t like what your drinking try something else. There is such an amazing spectrum of flavors to experience. Slante!


  2. I was waiting in line for the Bacon and Bourbon festival and I was speaking with a Korean War veteran. The vet was stationed in Europe somewhere (don’t remember where). He was drinking with his buddies at a bar and met a German gynecologist. They got to know each other after drinking a couple of bottles. Turns out, the gynecologist worked in France. The vets asked: “Why did you move to France to start your practice?” The gynecologist replied: “Have you seen German women?”
    We all started bursting into tears laughing. The gyno also said: “Once I saw the lingerie on the French, I decided right there and then I could get used to this.”
    We got inside, shared some whiskey, and parted ways. One of the best stories I will always remember.


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