“This is not written by a connoisseur of bourbon. Ninety-nine percent of bourbon drinkers know more about bourbon than I do. It is about the aesthetic of bourbon drinking in general and in particular of knocking it back neat.”
–Walker Percy, Bourbon, Neat
Walker Percy, is one of the few authors who fits my criterion for the perfect American author. Southern? Check. Catholic? Check. Enjoys Whiskey? CHECK. While we featured him previously here as Whiskey Man of the Week, I promised that we would devote a separate post to his famous essay, Bourbon, Neat. This essay, dedicated to the proper enjoyment of America’s prized variety of whiskey, is an excellent introduction to the virtues of drinking.
Drinking Bourbon is an activity, a shared experience, that lends depth to situations. He puts it perfectly, and existentially by saying:
“The pleasure of knocking back bourbon lies in the plane of the aesthetic but at an opposite pole from connoisseurship. My preference for the former is or is not deplorable depending on one’s value system—that is to say, how one balances out the Epicurean virtues of evocation of time and memory and the recovery of self and the past from the fogged-in disoriented Western world. In Kierkegaardian terms, the use of Bourbon to such an end is a kind of aestheticized religious mode of existence, where as connoisseurship, the discriminating but single-minded simulation of sensory end organs, is the aesthetic of damnation.”
This essay exemplifies the enjoyment that comes with drinking with friends. Most times, the quality of the drink is irrelevant. It is a shared experience with friends that makes the moment memorable. For us at Whiskey Catholic, it is all about sitting around our table with a new bottle, Andrew’s record player spinning in the back, enjoying both the spirits and each other. Walker Percy captures this as only he can. I encourage all of you to spend at least one night a week with just friends and a proper amount of whiskey. No games, no tv, no activities, just conversation with friends; trust me, it’s incredible.
Check out Bourbon, Neat here