Enlightenment through Whisky

Enlightenment through Whisky
Here are 5 ways that whisky can help you achieve transcendent enlightenment—or at least be a bit of a better person.

Self-help is a big business—not as big as the booze business, granted, but booming nonetheless.

But why is that? We can develop so many of the qualities that smarmy public speakers and so-called gurus call on us to cultivate just by enjoying our favourite tipple.

Instead of eating nothing but kale, doing hot yoga all day, and shelling out for seminars on how to be a better person, here’s 5 ways that whisky can help you achieve transcendent enlightenment—or at least be a bit of a better person.

1. Learn to Slow Down

One of the refrains in nearly every guide to improving your life is to slow down and take some time out.

We’re all so busy these days that it seems we’re always rushing around and never actually living.

That’s why thousands of websites and books call for us to become ‘mindful’ and to practice meditation every day, stow away our phones and laptops, take a wilderness retreat, or try Pilates.

But whisky can do the same thing.

You don’t chug down a fine whisky—you sniff it, sip it, and savour it. You take a few moments out of your day to engage fully with your senses and with the world around you, appreciating the nuanced, smoky, peaty flavour of the Talisker 18-year in front of you.

In other words, you stop. You let go of all the crap that’s been bothering you all day and you focus on one single thing for just a few minutes, totally immersing yourself in that moment.

Guess what?

You’re meditating, my friend.

With whisky.

Studies have shown that just 20 minutes of daily meditation can vastly improve your health and well-being. How about making that 20 minutes of meditation over a wee dram?

2. Appreciate the Details

Along with slowing down and fitting in some meditation, taking a time-out with a glass of whisky can help you learn to appreciate the details, rather than always scoping out the big picture and hurrying on.

While you can toss back a whisky and go in for more, great sips deserve a little more time and attention. As the whisky warms in your mouth, different volatile chemical compounds are released and the flavour changes and evolves.

Take the time to notice all the sensations and start cataloguing your reactions.

Do you like the hot burn of young whisky the best? Maybe the caramel tones of whisky finished in rum casks is more your thing. Did you catch that hint of pepper at the very start of the sip? What’s all this about ‘stone fruit’, anyway?

Noticing how a whisky’s taste changes from the first sniff to the last drop trains you to pay more attention to your senses and to puzzle out your personal preferences.

Again, it’s a great way to get the advantages of meditation with a nice shot of decadence on the side—all wrapped up in learning to appreciate the little things more.

3. Broaden Your Horizons

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut…but it’s rarely a good thing.

Whisky aficionados all have their favourites, but it’s one place where you’ll never lack for ways to branch out.

If you’re not quite ready to give up your beloved Glenlivet to try some Australian barley whisky, start small. Instead of taking it on the rocks, try a glass neat—or with a single huge ice cube, or a drop of water.

All these ways of drinking change the character of the spirit, opening you up to a new type of experience with an old favourite.

From there, the sky’s the limit. Give port-finished whisky a try. Check out a spicy rye. Maybe even—say it ain’t so!—try a manhattan to see how the vermouth changes up the whole taste.

Trying new things keeps us engaged, active, and learning—it makes us more interesting, and it can even help ward off dementia.

And, of course, it’s easy to try out some of the best whiskys in the world with a subscription to Whisky Loot delivering them to your door every month. Just sayin’.

4. Look After Your Health

Zillions of diet, exercise, and general health books exist to help us live better, stronger, happier, healthier, and longer lives. We’re supposed to cut out saturated fats, stop eating fried foods, go low-carb, go no-carb, eat all the carbs as long as they’re whole and unprocessed, and so on.

It’s hard to make sense of what the best strategy is for living to be a hearty 103.

Well, unless you’re prepared to enjoy a nightly drink, that is.

More than 100 scientific studies have shown that drinking in moderation is good for your heart—and that’s not just red wine we’re talking about, but all alcohol, including whisky. {check out the UK gran who’s says Whisky is why she’s 100}

In fact, whisky might help you stick to that ‘moderation’ bit, because it’s so intense. When you’re meditating over a glass of scotch instead of tossing back pints, you’re more likely to stay in the healthy zone.

It’s a great zone to be in, too—moderate drinking can raise your levels of good cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, protect against heart disease, and even reduce your chances of diabetes.

Not too shabby for just having a whisky after work!

5. Expand Your Network

Humans are wired for social connections. Yet in today’s world, crammed full of online ‘friends’ and social networks of every kind, it strangely feels like we’re missing something sometimes.

Joining a friend for a drop of whisky can help overcome that sense of disconnect. Again, it’s all to do with taking a time-out for yourself rather than rushing from distraction to distraction. Meet up for a glass and just have a chat instead of texting. Really pay attention to what’s going on and see where the conversation takes you.

Whether you’re at your local bar, trying someplace new, or shopping for a bottle, asking the person next to you for a whisky recommendation can open up all kinds of possibilities. After all, you already have something in common—a love of good whisky—so you’re free from awkward openers and small talk.

Either way—whether with an old friend or making a new pal—whisky can expand our horizons and help us make more and deeper connections.

And that leads to some pretty fine life improvements.

So take the time to hoist a glass today.

If anyone asks, it’s your daily meditation.

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