Last week, I was tagged in an Instagram story poking fun at another Instagram post, a Glencairn glass filled with ice cubes and bourbon. I found the Gordon Ramsay themed meme humorous, so naturally, I shared it. I mean, ice in a Glencairn? Who does that? A while later, it occurred to me – maybe sharing that Instagram story wasn’t the best idea. At least, it wasn’t very nice to the owner of the original picture.

Looking back, it appears I’m tagged in these types of posts more often than I realize – people having a laugh at another’s drinking preferences. While I admit it’s silly to put ice cubes in a glass designed for neat nosing and tasting, participants may not know or even care. They could be a novice or simply enjoy sipping whiskey that way. And then there’s whiskey stones. (Ugh. I hate those things.) Yet, there may be people out there (probably are) that actually like them. Am I justified in calling them out or having a laugh at their expense? No, I’m not.

There’s no Fun in Shame

Confession: There was a time when I was a serial drink shamer. In my early days of whiskey enthusiasm, I made plenty of smartass remarks on Reddit (possibly other forums as well) criticizing individuals’ copious use of ice in their whiskey, particularly with rare or allocated expressions. It seemed funny at the time. It wasn’t. It was an asshole thing to do – nothing more or less than the actions of a whiskey bully. I’ve since grown and learned from my mistakes, primarily, that whiskey is best appreciated any damn way you please.

Truth be told, I’ve received my fair share of shaming – still get it from time to time. I suppose it serves me right. I once posted a picture of a Boulevardier composed of Russell’s Reserve 2002 and cheap Gallo vermouth. That drew some entertaining attention. And then there’s my infamous use of maraschino cherries instead of Luxardo or some other snooty cocktail cherry. Garnishes are apparently a very serious business. Granted, the feedback was usually in jest, but not always. And though it shouldn’t have bothered me at all, it did. So much so, I visited several grocery stores in my area to find cherries that might meet these armchair mixologists’ future approval.

Why did I go through the trouble? Did it really matter? I’m not a bartender or a mixologist. I’m not a whiskey expert – never claim to be. If I want to use $250 bourbon with cheap vermouth or store-brand maraschino cherries, so be it. At least, that’s what I should’ve told myself. But I didn’t.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with improving your drinks or cocktail game. If you desire to work in the drink slinging industry, it’s a must. But, if you’re like me – a person that appreciates casually sipping whiskey in different ways – don’t get down on yourself for trying new things and sharing them with the world. Right or wrong, in the end your satisfaction is more important. Who cares what Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit thinks? They’re not you.

There’s no Shame in Fun

The core of whiskey enthusiasm is enthusiasm. Without it, we’re just a bunch of Janes and Joes sharing rambling thoughts and pictures of booze. We should be encouraging, not shaming one another. Does it really matter if you like to fill your Yeti cup with freezer ice and Rare Breed? Nope. Hell, it’s warm outside here in South Carolina. Iced Turkey sounds pretty good to me. An Instagram post like that is worth a fist bump Emoji just as much as a post of a four-finger neat pour of Booker’s.

There’s a YouTube channel I follow called Trenny & C. For those unfamiliar, it’s two average Canadian guys having a good time chatting about various whiskeys (Bourbon, Scotch, Canadian, etc.). They claim no expertise or authority. They just have fun sipping and talking whiskey. Sometimes it’s neat pours (usually is), sometimes it’s mixed with Coke (almost usually is), and sometimes it’s in the form of crazy games like “Drinko Plinko.” They may not be everyone’s jam, but they’re enthusiastic, nonjudgmental, and welcoming of all. It’s a wholly positive show and one I recommend to anyone looking to unwind and escape from the nerdy, know-it-all side of our hobby.

Wrapping up, I apologize to anyone I’ve ever drink shamed. You do you. There’s enough conflict and hardship in this world. We don’t need it in whiskey. If there’s any whiskey-related social media posts we should be shaming, it’s “crotch shots,” bottle receipt pics, and photos of sealed rarities next to mysteriously filled glasses (WTH?). These types of posts merely service the ego of their author. They fuel FOMO, jealousy, and are ultimately discouraging to those new to this wonderful hobby. Besides, we’ve got enough arrogance as is.

I have a challenge for you this week. Try something out of the norm and fun with your whiskey. Pour Pappy in your coffee. Make a Slushie with your favorite Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel selection. Drink a fine Scotch from a red Solo cup. Whatever floats your boat. Just do something enthusiastic and creative, then post it to social media and tag me. If it’s responsible and tasteful (nothing offensive, dangerous, or illegal, please), I might just share it.

The bottom line is: if you’re drinking whiskey responsibly, “proper method” is irrelevant to your satisfaction. Yes, there are better ways to sip whiskey, situation depending. You wouldn’t bring Diet Coke to a bourbon barrel selection, would you? But for casual pours, accept no shame. And if you want to share your Iced Turkey Yeti with the world, do it. Tag me. I’ve got your back.


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