If you're into whiskey, you've probably come across writer Aaron Goldfarb. FromPUNCH,toEsquire, to Whisky Advocate, his articles have tackled everything from basic whiskey history to the art and science of the "infinity bottle." He also happens to be the author of How to Fail: A Self Hurt Guide, so needless to say, his storytelling is far from pretentious and stuffy.
In fact, it's that irreverence that makes Aaron the perfect author for Hacking Whiskey, our experimental, rebellious and even borderline offensive guide to having more fun with the time-honored spirit. We sat down to get to the heart of Aaron's whiskey obsession—and why he was so excited to turn the tables on traditional ways to drink it.
You've been writing about whiskey for a while. Why was it time for a book?
I never planned to write alcohol books. I wrote other kinds of novels and did alcohol journalism, but when Dovetail reached out about the possibility of an alternative whiskey book, I realized that I had already done a significant amount of research on the oddball corners of what whiskey geeks were drinking.
What is it about whiskey that makes it so hip—to the point of being cliche?
It's an aged spirit, so that's already rare and interesting. But aside from some really obscure Scotches, it's not that hard to understand whiskey, so there's the pairing of perceived complexity and actually being a subject that's pretty easy to get into. Also, it's inherently collectible in that you don't have to finish bottles in one night. You can display them like a trophies! But that's why I wrote Hacking Whiskey, to start to get past some of that trophy culture.
What do you want readers to take away from the book?
At this point, you're not going to get Pappy. You don't have the connections and you don't know what to look for. So what I'm saying is that it doesn't matter, because the stuff at your local liquor store is pretty good. And if you get into projects like infinity bottles, it quickly becomes rare and more fun. That's really the problem with whiskey right now—as it has gotten hotter, it's not as fun. I'm not interested in dudes fetishizing bottles (though, yes, I've done that myself).
Any particularly funny anecdotes from your research?
When "California Gold" was getting popular—which I did get to taste—there were people who said to me, "If you like that, you have to try Old Cousin Touchers." Of course, I thought they were trolling me. But I'm pretty good at finding anonymous people on the internet, and I eventually found the guy making it—right before I finished the book. That's just one of the weird stories from the internet world of whiskey geeks. You sign off for two days, and you come back to a whole new thing to dig into, as if you've been gone for years.