Whisky 101 – Understanding Whisky – Whisky Advocate

Whisky 101 – Understanding Whisky – Whisky Advocate


I have always believed in trying to educate myself when it comes to my passions. I remember reading a book about Richard Feynman in which he describes a conversation he had with an artist friend of his. The friend told him that scientists can not see beauty, they only make it a dull thing.

Feynman thought about what his friend said for a moment and then replied back.

“I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is … I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.”

― Richard P. Feynman

Feynman’s response to his friend was perfect and it has been something that has stayed with me ever since.

When it comes to Whiskey and other distilled spirits, when you know about the how process all came together it doesn’t subtract from the tasting experience, in my opinion it adds to it.



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