In this special bonus podcast, we take a moment to talk to Aaron Goldfarb, whiskey and cocktail journalist and the author of Hacking Whiskey. We talk about his origins and how he got into journalism. The state of NYC at the moment during COVID-19. Then we talk about what led him into covering spirits, his thoughts on the secondary market crackdowns, some of his favorite articles, and where inspiration strikes.
Alright, you knew I couldn’t do a whole podcast without screwing up. You’re gonna think I’m a boomer all these guys at home.
I’m Generation X. I swear it. Starts from the top.
Welcome to this special bonus episode of bourbon pursuit. We’re all stuck at home during quarantine. So I can’t think of a better way to make the time go by faster than bringing a few bonus podcasts to you all. In this episode, we’re joined by Aaron Goldfarb. He’s a renowned whiskey and cocktail writer. So you’ve likely come across many of his articles through vine pear, calm, esquire.com, whiskey advocate, bourbon plus, and many more. He has a book out called hacking whiskey and we talk about that later in the show as well. Now at the beginning of this podcast during that blooper, it sounded pretty good. Did that sound about normal? Well, it’s about the sound a bit muffled because I
wasn’t paying attention and didn’t realize that Aaron was talking into his computer microphone instead of the external one. But don’t worry just a few minutes in, we fix it and it all gets squared away. Now make sure that you are subscribed to our Facebook and YouTube channels because we are doing live streams pretty regularly now, and we’d love to have you join us. So enjoy this bonus episode and remember, keep those hands sanitized. We’re all in this together. Cheers.
Welcome back to another episode of bourbon pursuit, a special COVID-19 edition. Kenny here and we are talking with somebody that had tried to join us in the last roundtable but we had some technical difficulties so I wanted to reintroduce everybody to the man Aaron Goldfarb. So welcome back. Take us back to the show. Yeah, I think I might have faked those technical difficulties just because I wanted that one on one conversation with you. You know what? I you’re you’re making a little money.
blush a little bit. I appreciate the appreciate the kudos there. But honestly, we’re happy to have you. You know, actually, I got a message from Ryan and Fred earlier. They’re like, hey, Are we recording something tonight with Aaron? And because I just I just put it in our BP calendar. And Ryan was like, man, I hurt my back today. I can’t make it. I feel so bad. And then, Fred’s Fred’s. So everybody probably knows that he’s doing live streams every single day at one o’clock and nine o’clock. And he’s like, he’s like, I can’t make it just let Aaron know that he’s one of my favorite writers. And I was like, it’s like it’s okay guys. Like I can I think I can handle this on my own.
I don’t get double team. Yeah, when we start talking about whiskey and it’s an easy way to kind of get going. So I kind of want to you know, learn more about you, I guess, you know, we’ve I’ve read a lot of your stuff before, through various media outlets and everything like that. But you know, I, we don’t really know much about you. So kind of talk about a little bit like about your entry, like, first into journalism. And then really what
got you into whiskey as well?
Yeah, you know, my entry into drinks writing and whiskey is kind of just consistent failure over 20 years I, I went to film school
at Syracuse and I wanted to be a filmmaker. I kicked around in the early aughts and Manhattan, writing screenplays and trying to make films that didn’t work very well.
wrote a few novels those worked a little better. But this whole time, like any good writer, I was drinking heavily.
helps me get through the good times in the bed. Right? But unlike the other writers who might have been slugging handles of vodka, I thought, well, you know, there’s a better way to get drunk.
And luckily, you know, I moved to Manhattan in 2001. And that was right as craft beer was emerging. That was right. As you know, the craft cocktail scene was emerging in New York, the epicenter of all places. That was as you
You know, bourbon was again becoming hot, you know, Pappy 15 comes out in 2004, I believe and you know, you can get on the shelves for 30 bucks or 50 bucks. And that was a lot of money to me back then. So I didn’t buy as much of it as some of my friends that had normal jobs did at the time. But, you know, it’s very lucky to just be old and growing up at the right time, that naturally I was in all these scenes at the same time.
So I developed a knowledge base. I never had any plans to write about this stuff.
You know, your college counselor or your high school counselor doesn’t say, you too, can be a whiskey writer when you grow up.
You know, maybe they say that these days, but they weren’t saying that in the late 90s and early 2000s.
You know, I think maybe David wonder was the only booze writer on planet earth Michael Jackson, maybe
I’ve heard that name.
Before I know Fred’s talking about Michael Jackson before, and everybody wants to think of the pop singer, but no, there was somebody before that, that or maybe not before that, but still a person in the scene that was writing a lot about about Jackie and about cocktails. Yeah, you know, Lou Bryson, I guess was there, he’s always been there.
But you know, I built this knowledge base. And then, you know, around
the late aughts, the early 2010s. Now, all of a sudden, the mainstream publications were realizing, you know, these things are red hot, and we haven’t cultivated any writers that necessarily know about these things. So I was a writer, not a magazine writer, or website writer, and I knew these things. And so my first gig ever was for Esquire, I kind of fell backwards into one of the best, you know, in my opinion publications in in the history of America. And I was writing beer and whiskey and cocktail stuff for them. You know, from
I don’t know 2008 2009 on and then I kind of worked myself backwards and started writing for more niche publications, you know paunch fine pair whiskey advocate bourbon plus, and, you know, everywhere I’ve written for everyone by now, you know, I’m sure I’ll be fired from jobs and right for new ones I mean it’s the life of a freelance writer you take what you get and move on to the next one. That’s it’s interesting to like just like fall into Esquire that’s like somebody like in my world just saying like, Oh, I got my first job. It’s a Google right it’s like in the in the tech world. So I think it’s it’s really interesting and cool like how you want to do that so have you been Have you been in Manhattan in New York most your life or like his his New York something? Are you your homeboy, you Norco your whole life? No, I kind of have a weird growing up too. I’m, I believe, a fifth or sixth generation.
Born in New York, and I lived there till I was about three or four and then, you know, this was the early 80s
In New York City, which I don’t know if you’ve heard there were some issues. My my family moved to Oklahoma City. So along with Fred, I would be the second Oklahoma regular. I’m here.
live there till high school then, you know, back to New York since then. And I went to college at Syracuse and upstate New York, and I’ve been in New York City, now Brooklyn, since 2001. And I’ve been a Brooklyn since 2014. And so you’re also in the kind of like the epicenter of what’s happening right now with the Coronavirus I mean, especially with I shouldn’t say the episode that’s actually in China, but I’m saying like in America, like where all the eyeballs are on right now. It’s like where you’re at because it’s it’s the most you know, between you and San Francisco. It’s the most densely populated area inside of the United States and you know, the numbers that are coming out and staggering like, I’m assuming that like right now it’s it’s pretty chaotic, like you’d be able to just like, look out your window and just like to see the rat start scurrying because there’s no people out like, kind of give us an idea of like, what what’s
Life in New York City right now. Well, you know, it’s funny, I’m, you know, I’ve had some professional successes in my life, you know, books and whatnot. And that doesn’t lead to strangers from my past necessarily writing me but this everyone I’ve ever met in the world who’s got my email or phone number has been messaging me i think i think people assume with all the death and whatnot. It’s a zombie apocalypse here, but
you know, I, I go outside every day. Some days I take a jog. There are not a lot of people on the streets. I am in a quieter neighborhood in Brooklyn. I’m in Park Slope, which is a family friendly neighborhood, but it is. It’s, you know, a brownstone neighborhood. It’s not the sticks by any means. I don’t know what it’s looking like in Manhattan now. I haven’t been there in a month and I’m not sure if I’ll be there for another several months. But um,
yeah, the streets are empty.
There’s a lot
around the block space by six feet to get into every supermarket I go, I go Trader Joe’s he’s going crazy for Trader Joe’s during this and it’s it’s funny like you say that cuz I’ve noticed that even our Trader Joe’s there’s people like lined outside so we’ll say I would never go to Trader Joe’s because the aisle width and news York is incredibly tight so I kind of go to the places where I don’t want anyone bumping into me getting close to me.
You know of course unlike a lot of places we shop in New York by carrying it home so I go to my you know, snobby supermarket across the street and I put as much as I can possibly carry and I don’t even really think that hard about what the week of meals is going to look like. And today my family just ate a grilled chicken with you know, whatever scraps we could also find some days we’re eating incredibly and others were not like we ordered delivery about once a week that’s still very avid here.
If you haven’t heard just about every great cocktail bar is delivering cocktails right now. I haven’t done that a lot. Because I have lots of booze myself, as you can see, and I know to make cocktails, and I’d rather deliver him and not coming to my house, both for both of our sakes but um, you know, if if you
you know, if I didn’t have a family, I would just be reading a book a day and writing an article a day and watching a movie every night and drinking some whiskey and 90 days later, I’d come out of this, but I’m living in a house with a three year old and a newborn, and a wife who’s on conference calls 10 hours a day for her busy job. So it’s it’s very stressful. It’s very hectic, I’m outside of this dwelling 30 minutes to an hour a day if I’m lucky.
And you know, that’s life right now. It’s it’s for people that are single and alone. It’s probably lonely and incredibly boring. For people with families. It’s It’s It’s probably the most stressful
In aggravated and tense I’ve ever been, you know.
So I kind of want to get back into your a little bit of your your journey into bourbon and your journey into whiskey. Like Did you have a Sherpa along the way that kind of taught you? You know, because I can look behind you in the camera right here and I see a bunch of wild turkeys decades. You got some knobs you got, but I mean you got more Russell’s picks than probably rare bird 101 so
that’s, and that’s that’s part of it too. So kind of talk about like, who was who’s kind of like taught you the ropes.
You know, I kind of have a weird Sherpa. It wasn’t you know, an older gentleman. You know, a good buddy of mine from college. You know, we were talking about I was kicking around making, you know, $15,000 a year writing screenplays no one wanted he became a salesman from day one. And this is my friend Derek.
And, you know
He had a massive expense account. So he didn’t know more than me. But he could afford to learn things on someone else’s dime. And I mean, a massive expense account. You can’t even get guess the number and I won’t say it in case there’s
lessons and causes Listen, well, he doesn’t work there anymore. But in case any litigation is pending. No, he lived in DC, which, you know, of course, at the jack rose. We’ve heard about what’s going on with them right now.
And we, you know, he’d come to New York a lot for business. And again, this was when the emergence of really great bars in New York were coming, you know, milk and honey 1999 pegu club, I think that’s 2005.
PDT 2009. Now New York’s never been a really great whiskey city. To be fair. There’s just too many rich people that, you know, if jack rose existed in New York, it wouldn’t exist on day two.
They just got to make their prices even higher than if that’s what it takes. You literally cannot price trophy bottles high enough in New York to keep them in stock.
But anyways Derek, you know we’d come to New York and we just spent silly money trying every cocktail on the menu at PDT trying any good thing in the house and you know, in the in the arts in New York City
it was still a wine city. So, you know, things like Pappy were in George t stag and stuff you could, you know, get for a reasonable Port $20 report wasn’t reasonable to me back then. But of course it was reasonable to people with money so you know, even when I wasn’t a writer, even when I had absolutely no money, I tried every every great whiskey released from you know, the late 90s on I never owned any of these bottles till till you know the last decade when I actually started making money by
You know, I remember when Derek got I think a case of tornado survivor and just all this stuff we were we were trying all this stuff and I you know, we were both learning together on on his his company’s time. I mean, learn the learn on a case of tornado I think that’s your living right are you know the right people I mean that’s that just kind of give us the whole thing of like, you know you never own a boat, but you have a friend that owns the boat. And even better if the friend owns the boat and someone else is paying for it. See, there you go. That’s, that’s 10 times better. 10 times better. You know. And there’s one thing that you kind of mentioned right there about, you know, trophy bottles like in New York just being always astronomical and always rocket high. I mean, I’m assuming at this point, like you’ve given up the chase in regards to finding something around New York, you’ve got your local spot, or do you just rely on as you mentioned earlier, just like buying pics from some of your favorite people in the scene?
Yeah, well, you know writers like me.
are lucky I get to at least try everything
released because because companies send it out they don’t necessarily send full bottles but Buffalo Trace since you know the B tech lineup every year and you know, every company wants you to taste their stuff.
And I like all that stuff if I ran into, you know, George t stags or hands at reasonable prices, I do buy them.
But you know, one of my favorite things to drink is is Russell’s reserve pics and they’re 50 bucks or 60 bucks. That’s what I’m drinking most nights. That’s what I was drinking earlier tonight. This is what I’m drinking right now.
Oh, there you go. The bourbon Community Roundtable internet friends pick. I thought I thought I’d kiss some ass. We’ll take it. But you know, some of this stuff is extraordinary. wilderness trail is extraordinary right now and even though I have you know, thousand dollar bottles in my house that I really don’t give a crap about them being
drained. I’m reaching for wilderness travel right now I’m reaching for Russell’s reserve single barrels almost every single night that I’m drinking.
So, you know, I don’t I don’t know why. That’s what interests me. You know, Blake said to me, you know, he’s drank so much great stuff that he kind of enjoys the rawness of young young craft whiskey. And I wouldn’t say I enjoy that that much. But you know, wilderness trail has a flavor profile, you’re just not used to, you know, how many more, you know, aged mdps can you drink? How many more you know?
weeders from Buffalo Trace, can you drink you know, at a certain point, it’s fun to try new flavor profiles. And that’s one reason I think you’re seeing a lot of bourbon geeks get into Armagnac or wine or other stuff just because they’re bored with with their palates. After you’ve drank everything. You’re just like, you know, I need something else to excite me. Yeah, that’s true. I think you I think you bring up a pretty good point too, especially when we talk to a lot of people in the whiskey realm. And I think it was probably what
Three years ago, maybe two years ago when this whole like MGP craziness, like what? A Well, I mean, just it went off the off the rocker. And there are groups that were searching and hunting and just trying to find this, you know, anything over 10 year MGP and just clearing out these smaller distilleries that had anything left of it. And people are really hung up on it. And, you know, when they look at even like what we did, and starting on whiskey line and saying, like, Well, why don’t you go MGP right, because everybody else was doing it. Right. And, and I think that’s, hopefully it’s at the point that you people will start getting that sort of fat or palate fatigue of trying the same thing over and over and over again. I think Blake’s a little bit of a special character thinking that like, Yes, I want young, young Raul whiskey.
I wanted to see if he get that tattooed on his back or something like that. But um, I think I think you do bring up a solid point there because there’s a lot of not only great values, which you just talked about in the Russell’s world, and you get a lot of diversity, especially with those pics
There’s a lot of good stuff coming out from younger distilleries now that are starting. And I think this is a while we see the the plunge of MGP stock in B, you know why I think people are going to start changing their their minds here in a little bit. Because there has been this idea that, oh, like, I’m not buying gun whiskey, I’m not buying something that’s not from Kentucky. That’s I, I was that person like two years ago, maybe even three years ago, I was that person too. But now like, we’re starting to get to the point where a lot of these distilleries around the country outside of Kentucky are having products that are four years old that are their knockouts, I mean, they’re fantastic. And we’re going to get to the point here in the next, maybe another two, three years, where the shelves are just gonna be littered full of just goodies like that. Yeah, well, you know, it’s funny, a lot of people used to think craft whiskey sucked because it wasn’t old enough. And now you have craft whiskey.
That’s you know, and it’s second decade and some of it still sucks which proves
the reason it sucked was not because it was young and then you have wilderness trail and new riff which are you know, four or five years and they’re they’re incredible you know a lot of craft whiskey I drink one time just to see what it tastes like well there’s Tron New Roof I actually reach for over you know, the big boys
So, you know, it wasn’t he that a lot of these brands that I will not name unless you you know, get me in a bar, not on your podcast were bad was because they were bad because they were distilled poorly because maybe they were fermented poorly because who knows why.
But you know, wilderness trail is as certainly shown that youth is not
any excuse for not being great. So so you know a lot about whiskies we can get that we can look behind you can read a bunch of your articles about whiskey, but you make a lot of different articles about mez cows and
About everything, like, kind of talk about your journey into other spirits like, it’s it’s cool to have your buddy that helps you get into this wonderful world of bourbon that probably spoiled you beyond belief. But then how do you how do you get into all these other sex of like figuring out I know you’ve done stuff on like the perfect Martini or stuff like that to like, kind of talk about, like, how do you get into the realm of doing that as well? Well, the cynical answer is I’m a freelance writer, and every article I write makes money so
you tell me what to write about. I’m in exactly. I’m writing an article right now. I’m sorry, Fred. Pay to pay was good.
But no, you know, I have a theory that guys like us.
We collected things and we were obsessed with things from day one. I collected baseball cards, comic books, anything and I collected them as hard as but I needed full sets. I needed everything I needed to know every any passion I need.
To know everything, and then you know on to the next one. So at a certain point, you don’t know everything about whiskey That’s impossible. You’re still learning stuff. That’s why I think a lot of people have moved back towards towards dusties. Because, you know, once you’ve kind of mastered the modern whiskey culture, you got to start learning. Oh, that distillery produced that Oh, that’s where you know, you know, stilts or whatever. And then you start moving on to other things and other tastes.
You know, as I said, Armagnac has become an inexplicably kind of big amongst, you know, upper echelon geeks. You know, it’s just fun. I do drink neat whiskey almost every single night. I’m not, you know, reaching for other stuff every single night, but I like to learn
You know, I drink a lot of rum rums a very weird category as I’m sure if you’ve read ROM curious. You might know Yeah.
down around here somewhere. Yeah, yeah.
A lot of cool things in ROM. You know, I’m Mike my quarantine drink of choice has actually been gin cocktails, which are fun. Yeah, I will say that I am a big fan of gin cocktails. It’s just something that is it’s light refreshing guys. Actually gimlet is like my number one. That’s what I always reach for. That’s actually my my wife and his official cocktail of quarantine the gimlet. See, we can hang out. It’s like It’s like Gatorade and cocktail form. And I’ll tell you
and shout out to new riff. They’ve got a barrel aged gin, and that’s what I’ve been drinking and it really is. Yes, it’s fantastic with it. I have a bottle of that over there. I like their gin, but I’ve never thought to use a barrel aged and am I gimlet? Alright, tomorrow. Here you go. We’re creating new traditions around here already. Yeah. So no, I you know, I’m just a fan of everything except vodka actually, but I will write about it.
You know if if something’s interesting, I want
Drink it if something’s tasty, I want to eat it. If something’s good to read, I want to read it. You know, there’s lots of things in this world I don’t just don’t understand people that you know, kind of get stuck in their lanes and don’t try to enjoy and learn as much as they can about everything. It’s It’s fun to learn things. I mean, that’s kind of the most fun thing is, you know, I’m trying like everyone else. I’m also getting into arm and Yak and it’s fun to start at zero. And you know, after a year ago, I kind of know a little about Armenia. I could I could tell someone about that. Oh, I know a little bit about mezcal. I don’t know a lot about mezcal, you know, that article you’re referencing, we did a blind tasting with two bonafide experts. And, you know, I think I have a pretty good palate. So I can say what I think is good and bad, but I can’t tell you about you know, the varietals of a golf a or you know why this one tastes like this or where this grew or you know, the different ways of fermentation but they knew all that, you know, and it’s inspiring to think, wow, I could learn all that, you know, bourbon kind of really only has one way to make it
mezcal is infinite. You know, rum has so many. Just lots of stuff to learn and so little time, except now when we’re all sitting home.
So you’re, you’re like a leech of information is that what it comes down to? Because you’re able to kind of just talk to a lot of these people that are really, really know it alls in this world and just kind of really take their story and harness it and develop something that is appealing to a visual reader. Yeah, I mean, you know, I’ll never convince my parents that the most fun thing about writing about alcohol is is actually getting free education is not free booze, but, you know, it’s, it’s really great. You know, some of my story ideas are literally like, you know, I’d like to know a little bit more about that. And, you know, it’s like a con game, I can reach out to the most important person on the topic, and they’re going to talk to me if you’re an average off the street, and you email the most important, you know, Armagnac maker Gen distiller and said, Can I talk to you for an hour they’d be like,
know why, but you know, they’ll move mountains to talk to me just because I will write about them. So, you know, it’s it’s not just a way to pay the bills. It’s not just a way to get free drinks. It’s, it’s, it’s a free education on topics that interest me and you know, after over a decade of this stuff, I still have a passion for it all. So when we get back to like a whiskey article, is there one that you’ve written over the years that you look back and you think like, man, I loved writing that one like was, you know, was it the person? Was it the? Was it the whiskey? Like, what was it that that really like, drove you for that article? You know, my favorite articles are kind of goofy or dumber, less prestigious ones. I mean, I will admit, like the one you did with, what was it? Janae Yeah. Janae. And she made that ridiculous, old fashioned way back in the day that went viral. And you kind of said like, all right, where’s she now sort of thing? Yeah, I mean, those are my favorite to write.
You know, I can I can write a, you know,
interview with a distiller or an article on how a whiskey is made, you know, in my sleep but you know, the kind of weird ones one of my favorite articles I wrote for ponch probably four or five years ago was the history of when it became very trendy in New York and Miami for bars have beds in them literal beds in them.
And those stories are always very hard to report. You know, if you if you want to write a story about you know, a distillery today, it’s very easy to get these people on the phone to talk to you, they’ll talk to you all day. But if you you know, I wrote a history of of foam parties a few weeks ago for fine pair, How the hell do you find a guy in the 90s who decided you know, we should blast foam into these a booth in nightclubs. It’s not easy.
And it’s, it’s, you know, I could write a lot easier stories I could write, you know, what we call listicles Top 10 whiskies and, and, you know, get paid And work for an hour but you know, I just thought
have a passion for finding these really stupid, weirdo stories and bringing them to you. I just had flashbacks of like Panama City Beach, Florida next spring break. It’s just what happened right there.
I can’t wait to read that article and it comes out. So there’s nothing that you’d mentioned right there about like, top 10 lists. And it seems like that is that seems to be a driver for a lot of lot of articles. It seems that it I mean, it could be articles, it could be YouTube videos, it’s anything anything as a top whatever. It just drives people to it. I mean, do you have a like a love hate relationship with it?
Yeah, I mean, you know, every time uh, you know,
Esquire, GQ, you know, best whiskeys to drink right now. 10 best, whatever lists come out, you know, I see the Facebook comments I’m not seeing articles written by me articles written by anyone. And people resume their, you know, the, the brand paid for them or whatnot.
It’s it’s not that insidious but you know it’s it’s kind of like an ecosystem. You know, the brand hires a publicist and pays them, the publicist and bottles to a writer. The writer drinks the bottle, the writer wants to keep the publicist happy. The publishing company asked for a top 10 whiskies list. They publish the last 10 whiskies the last 10 publicists they like sent to them, rinse repeat, so I don’t really like that stuff.
publicists probably hate me more than most writers in New York because, you know, kind of
bitchy and I don’t play those games. But you know, every writer on planet earth writes listicles whether it’s David wonder richer, you know, whoever, you know, they pay the bills. They have good SEO. Everyone argues about them. It doesn’t matter what website it is. If you write the top 10 whiskeys right now it’ll do pretty well for the day. I try to write those as little as possible. They do not interest me
if I’m doing
Those kind of lists I tried to make them interesting. I did a
about every year or two, I try to pick the best whiskey in every state for Esquire.
That’ll keep you busy drinking. Yeah, it’s tough. It’s tough. And you know, people get furious. That’s not North Dakota’s best whiskey house as this guy ever tasted, blah, blah, blah. The answer is probably no, I’ve tasted maybe one or two Caesar, but I’m trying my damnedest unlike a lot of writers who are listening, you know, but as I said, the last 10 whiskies they’ve gotten the mail.
But, you know, it can be very tough to be thoughtful in this industry. When a lot of
you know guys like me, or girls like me that get paid to do it can kind of just phone it in, you know, the amateurs actually put more work in it because they’re doing it for a passion not to make money. So you know, whisky blogs are some of the best smartest out there.
You know, a lot of professional websites and magazines, it was just, you know, Hey, could you write this over the next hour? Well, I don’t know anything about vodka. Okay, well, right, it’s
go to the store, get five bottles, review it come up with a list. Yeah. I mean, is that is that something that in the writing world, I mean, I guess I can kind of even picture it my own world where it very beginning of my career, like I was gung ho, and I was trying to cut my teeth doing grunt work and trying to, you know, doing a lot of like, like, really hard kind of it stuff and like working insane kind of hours. And then at some point, you’re just like, Okay, give it up. I’ll focus on what I’m good at. And then, you know, kind of just like, let the professionalism take off from there. I guess in like, the growth pattern of what a writer is like is does it kind of have that same sort of trajectory or path in regards of, you know, you start off early, as you kind of mentioned as an amateur trying to like write a top 10 list and then you’re like, Okay, I’m done with that, like, I’m going to try to find some more
Interesting. Well, I mean, food and drink writings unlike any other, you know, we’re so close to the subjects, you know, we have friendship with bartenders and distillers and whatnot.
And if we weren’t doing it, we’d still you know, drink these things and go to these bars. I don’t think anyone would, you know, hang out with politicians if they weren’t a political reporter. You know, and there’s, you know, the famous thing that just sports writers hate sports by the time they’ve been a sports writer so long.
Yeah, you know, when you’re early on trying to break into writing, and it’s probably different now.
Or maybe it’s even tougher now. You’ll take anything someone gives you it just seems like so hard to get paid a literal dollar to write something. So it’s less early on for a lot of these writers and I noticed it amongst younger younger writers right now about finding your voice and trying to do in anything interesting.
And more letting you know the site’s dictate you. And the funny thing is, if you came to these sites as a, or magazines or newspapers as a 22 year old with these outlandish ideas with these crazy ideas with these ideas that no one else is writing, you probably have a better chance of selling it, you’d probably have a better chance of making good money
and it took me a while to figure that out.
figure out exactly like Oh, you’re gonna pay me more I’m gonna go over this way. Yeah, wait, I’m gonna give Redbird a shout out. Yeah, go for it. David’s a good friend of the show. So he’s an adult and I can see you’ve got all you got a lot of Turkey breaks over. Okay, yeah. wrestle wrestle the muscle there. so fantastic. So I guess another question is, is that you know, once you start getting into this world, and yet, I can always understand as a writer, you have to be conscious of, you know, where the money’s coming from. And so that’s what you focus on. But is there something about whiskey that keeps you intrigued or keeps you kind of always tied to it?
We’re like, What is it? What is it about whiskey or bourbon that like keeps you wanting to come back for more? Well, the one thing I don’t write a lot about is mine. And I never really understood why I don’t dislike wine. I’m not a connoisseur. And then I realized and I said to my
editor, puncture Italia, I just don’t find wine funny. But whiskey is so funny. And if you’ve read a lot of my stuff, it’s about you know, secondary markets. It’s about Turkey dues. It’s about you know, California gold. It’s about infinity bottles. It’s about, you know, geeks lining up at jack rose, even though you know, there’s a pandemic, you know, there’s just so many funny characters. The distillers aren’t necessarily funny character characters, but they’re not necessarily funny characters. But the collectors the the people that drink it and pursue it and and the people that listen to podcasts about it. They’re just funny characters.
Probably a funny character to look, I live in a 1200 square foot apartment with two children and I got an entire room of whiskey. That’s, that’s, that’s not probably a good use space.
But um, yeah, it just infinitely cracks me up to to go on the internet every day and just see what whiskey geeks are talking about doing and drinking and trading and arguing about meaning and all that stuff. And maybe one day it won’t, but it’s really funny to me. And, you know, if you’re writing a boot story, and there’s not something funny about it, it just doesn’t interest me that much. As Sure. There are some of the good memes that come out of whiskey and come out of bourbon, especially, you know, even those secondary markets where people get butthurt. And then you’ve got the the other groups where there’s people that basically have court hearings about you know, stuff like that. I’m kind of like, what at what other point would people just have this like fake court system over a transaction of bourbon that happened on the black market, like
It’s it’s comical. Yeah, I mean, you know, my like, career like, ethos has been trying to explain this weird world to like normal human beings like no you you first of all you have to know like 10,000 acronyms.
Yep. Yeah, I always I always thought that there’d be like a good t shirt like just full of acronyms like everywhere. You have to have like a stock market ticker in your head. What? Happy 23 Pv w 23 is now worth 19,000 You idiot. Then you just have to I mean, you have to know like if I don’t pay attention for a week I come back and I’m I’m I’m messaging my friend Derek who’s still locked in on it. Like what the hell is going on with this? Is that a real thing? You know? Is this is this will it box club a real thing? And you know, that was I tell you what, that’s been one of the greatest recent ones when it’s you can just tell the the oh geez versus the new people that are into it. They’re like, Where’s the signup button? I don’t see it. Yeah, well, that’s you know, that’s
Also really funny to see you know, it drives me nuts because you know even though I said you know from the get go I was trying very good stuff I still you know, paid my dues and spent money on regular Maker’s Mark and odd and stuff and these guys who were you know not even drinkers last week or you know, thinking they can just go from like nothing to balling out with you know George t stag or whatnot, it’s like you know, slow down
train your palate start with 80 proof let’s, let’s get you up to
this level. I will say that is is like one of the corner cuts that you are, you know, corners that you can cut here in the in the whiskey world is that if you come with a big enough checkbook, you could have one of the best collections that are out there in bourbon, you know, because it’s still, you know, especially in regards of what scotch prices and everything like that our whiskey prices even Pappy 2318 1900 dollars a bottle. That’s that’s a drop in the bucket for what some scotches go for so
If you come with a big enough checkbook, you could have one of the most insane bourbon collections that are out there just by buying directly off the secondary. Yeah, that’s why it cracks me up you know?
Every so often there’s yeah well constantly there’s How do I get Pappy post have money. I mean, it’s not hard.
You know, my friend of mine, Alex Bachman, he, I think he still does he used to
fill bars with with with spirits that was his job to find, you know, a new bar opens and they want the you know, most sick list he’d fill him up and you know, everyone Oh, we got the full Pappy collection. We’ll just give him $10,000 and he can do that. It’s not very hard. What’s hard is finding 1960s tomorrow. What’s hard is finding you know, 1950 stencil well, or what’s hard is finding, you know, obscure scotches you’ve never heard of, or Japanese releases of, you know, whatever. That’s hard buying, you know, Van Winkle or B tech that comes out every single year. You just need market rates.
Money. And again, it’s not that much. You’re right. I know you’ve written on the secondary market, but I want to kind of get your idea of like, Where is your stance on it in regards of how it was taking down or how it was kind of like ripped out? Like, was it a good thing for distilleries? Is it bad for the overall ecosystem of bourbon? Like, what’s your what’s your take on that?
Well, you know, I used to say, I was a free market capitalist. Now I’m stuck in a pandemic.
You know, you don’t really see the secondary market for new scotch. And why is that? It’s because it’s priced correctly.
A lot of bourbon is not priced correctly by the distilleries.
Because they want to be the good guys who, you know
20 years ago, there was no such thing as bourbon that cost more than $50. And you know, Blanton’s you know, in the 90s didn’t sell for $30. So they remember that time, and they remember that time is bourbon being in every man’s drink. And so
They don’t want to charge what it should cost.
And, you know, I’m very friendly with Buffalo Trace, but I don’t think you know, releasing their press release every single year and saying MSRP, Pappy 15 $80 or whatever it is, I don’t know what it is right now. I don’t think that makes him look like a good guy. It just makes everyone else fight over what the accurate prices.
So I don’t begrudge anyone for charging what they charge. I don’t begrudge anyone for paying what they pay.
And I think it’s kind of ridiculous that the distilleries get mad at so called gouging. Well, they should price it what its price because no one’s bought an $80. Pappy and, you know, a million years unless they live in a control state I suppose and won a lottery, which is likewise absurd. These places. These places would need lotteries if it was priced correctly.
So now, you know, I think that the the online Secretary
The market does the job that the distilleries didn’t do and that everyone’s mad at the liquor stores for trying to do.
Do you think that this is also a play by some of the distilleries to say, well,
let’s look at the long game here. Let’s not try to make a quick buck off of it and price it at the market instead. And you and you know that you’ve seen pretty much every distilleries putting in multimillion dollar expansions and everything and so they’re betting on this on the long term. And it’s it’s the Amazon model, right? It’s it’s like let’s let’s do, you know, massive scale and not try to do you know, just short bursts of high volume? Yeah, you know, that that’s true, and that’s, that’s a fine way to work. You know, how many total van winkles are released a year 80 to 100,000 compared to how many Buffalo Trace Eagle rare whatever. So you know, how much of a moneymaker is it for them, whether it’s
Priced correctly or priced at whatever they want to call the MSRP. Yeah, I think that’s a fine strategy and I guess honestly, Buffalo Trace is maybe the only distillery that has to deal with that for roses one release a year old forester one release a year, you know, all these places with one release here.
have to figure out what it what it should cost. So, you know, if that’s what they want to do, I think that’s fine. It feels a little hypocritical for them to price it at, you know, a very low MSRP and then get mad at people for pricing. It is the correct one. I likewise think it’s silly for
liquor stores, though to you know, proudly put up their George t stag for $900. It’s like, you know, I think you have better goodwill. If you sold it to your best customer for $90. I think you’d have better goodwill if you figured out a way to get it to a true lover for $90. Instead of making that extra three or $400.
But you know, I people,
economist aren’t necessarily opening liquor stores. So
that’s, that’s for sure. Everyone’s trying to figure out what works best for them and and pays the bills. Well I think the moral of the story there is that every other distillery needs to come out more special releases. Because if you do that, then they just keep following that same exact trail, every release should be a special release, right? Absolutely. Every bottle of special bottle.
And so I’m gonna just kind of like go back to like one of your stories real quick, because you had mentioned the California Gold stuff. And I know the person that makes that he’s a good friend of mine. And I know that when you write stuff, and whether it be about secondary, whether it be about something like that, you might get a lot of blowback catch a lot of flack online, like have you ever like felt like Oh God, like people are really attacking me over something like this? Yeah, I mean, you know,
If you’re a writer on the internet, you get called an idiot everyday your life.
But if you feel like you’re exposing Fight Club or something, well, you know, it’s tough because you know, I’m both a part of the hobby, I enjoy drinking these things. And I don’t want to ruin the hobby, but I’m also looking for interesting stories. And after writing these stories for years, it’s impossible to ruin the hobby. California gold was again, something I drink at my friend Derek’s house.
And for a year or two, I was like, you got to get me in touch with our friend.
And, you know, he’s he didn’t want he didn’t want press and then for whatever day when he said, Okay, I’ll talk to you.
my daughter was a newborn then and it was about the worst behave she’s ever been. And I was conducting this really tough score of an interview while she was just losing her shit. And yet, it did very well and
Now people I see a story came out and
can’t even remember a literal magazine citing California Gold the other day and it didn’t even it acted like everyone knew what that was. It was very weird, but I’ve become friends with Mr. California gold.
We talk occasionally. He’s always got interesting takes on things. And I think it’s great even though most of the commenters under Facebook will say it’s not that good.
Well, most of the commenters are probably the ones that never actually had a chance to try it. And that’s what it comes down. Yeah. So joke’s on you with that one.
Whiskey. Awesome. So, oh, yes, yes. Make sure you’re talking about hacking whiskey real quick. I want to give you a plug for that. Sorry for the shameless plug. No, at least through this is actually a perfect book for this time. came out in 2008 18. has a lot of my funny stories like California Gold, infinity bottles, I think I think I’m the first person read about infinity bottles. Maybe the second I don’t know.
Really funny geeky stories plus experiments you can do from home blends.
Like you know, Travis hills.
The four roses thing Yeah, barrel proof yellow label. Yeah, really fun. you acquire every single four roses and make a barrel proof yellow label. And we did that and he also tried to do creating his own Moray mirages or marriages or whatever they’re called, looking all the small batch limited edition selects and then actually trying to go and find those exact age ranges and try to do the race and ages and stuff. Yeah, I wrote about Yeah, I wrote a punch article about that too.
Where Blake mentions that he likes to Vitamix his blends because he puts them together and people were furious about that.
But yeah, there’s fun experiments fat washing which is infusing you know, meats and butters and stuff into whiskey for cocktail, smoking cocktails.
Making foods out of whiskey. It’s it’s a very fun book. If you’re
stuck inside with nothing to do except a lot of whiskey and how am I going to use this for everything I’m going to do for the next 90 days? A lot of fun experiments. There you go find it on Amazon I’m guessing Yes. Like everything else and they’re still delivering so you don’t have an excuse go by hacking with order it right now. It’ll be there tomorrow. Well, you know, Aaron, I want to know like I said, this is a really good opportunity to kind of catch up talk about more I guess more about you your writing career and as well as just talk about whiskey in general, and kind of get an update on what’s happening instead in New York. So it’s been a pleasure getting to talk to you this time. It was fun. We didn’t have any kids run in and yell at me.
Technically, I could hurt I hurt I hurt him a little bit the background so yeah, I mean, we’ll we’ll clean it a little bit and post but yeah, it turned out I think the biggest technical difficulties my quarantine beard.
are you growing it out until you until you can walk outside and and shake hands with somebody again? Or until my wife divorces me?
Whichever one comes first. No a day for whichever one comes first. There you go keep that razor handy though. Yeah.
Well Aaron, that was awesome talking to you. If anybody like wants to get in contact you or wants to, you know follow you on social media how they gonna do that?
If they want to yell offensive things at me Twitter’s fine at Aaron Goldfarb,
also at Aaron Goldfarb and Instagram.
And you can probably figure out my email address too if you want to send me crazy tips about blends you’re making or weirdo stuff going on in the secondary market that I can turn into a story and get everyone mad at me for ruining bourbon. I guess it’s another thing is like, do you actually search Instagram to be like, Oh, that’s interesting. Like I could write an article about that. Like, is that are there ideas that pop up like that? Yeah, like like most human beings on planet earth when I have nothing to do, I’m looking down at my phone looking at Instagram, not necessarily whiskey stores.
But there’s just so many bottles out there and things so quickly become hot. You’re like why is this cool guy making a big deal about something that what is this?
And I usually as Derek I say what is it?
You know? Yeah, yeah, yeah, you see weird stuff on Instagram and you file it away I usually screenshot it
to pay attention to it because I’m usually looking at Instagram late at night after a few and the next day go Is that something and you know if you see it happen a few more times. Okay, now you got a trend. Let’s follow this. See what’s going on. But yeah, yeah, that’s a good place to find stories. See if you can get inspiration from anywhere then. Anywhere just when you’re in the house, the only place you can get inspiration from is your phone.
Awesome. So Aaron, thank you again for coming on the show is a pleasure to have you. Make sure you go you follow Aaron on other social media channels. You can follow bourbon pursuit as well. And we’ll see you next week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai