Anthony Bourdain has a hard time coming to terms with being a whisky snob. After all, even though scotch aficionados would prefer that you drink it straight, he understands the need for novices to dilute the stuff with a mixer.
“I might die a little bit inside, but I’ll keep it to myself,” he says, sipping a glass of Balvenie 21 Year Old Scotch, one of his favorite whiskies that was showcased at the Balvenie Distillery Rare Craft Collection this week, an event series that highlighted the stories of five diverse craftspeople across America. “Oh, who am I kidding? I’m a snob; let’s face it.”
Bourdain does not have a favorite whisky cocktail. In fact, after spending time with the distillery team at Balvenie, he feels guilty for even putting an ice cube in his whisky to “open up the spirit.” He does say that if you are a beginner, to not feel ashamed for putting a little water in your whisky, but hopefully, “as you progress in your journey, you’ll find your way to the promised land of drinking whisky neat.”
So, what makes a proper whisky then?
“Magic,” he says without hesitation. “Care. Attention. I would have to go with the metaphysical answer, because I just don’t know.”
Even though Bourdain remains humble when faced with the task of explaining the mechanics of high-quality whisky, he does not hesitate to spill details on his upcoming New York City food market/hawker center, opening on the Hudson River in 2017 with features like a rooftop garden, live butcher, late night barbecue, and Korean karaoke.
“This is definitely not a food hall,” he said. “You will be able to buy expensive Spanish ham and also get a cheap bowl of bamboo noodles with no difference in awesomeness between the two. It will be not some hygienic, careful space… it’s not a Wes Anderson cigar box filled with beautiful, delicate, clean things. It will be a living breathing space open to all that will celebrate craftspeople, and will reflect what New York is all about.”