It’s hard to talk about how much I love whiskey without making it sound like I have a drinking problem. So let me be clear: The fact that whiskey gets me drunk is my second-least favorite thing about it. My least favorite thing is the price. But if someone made non-alcoholic whiskey that tasted like Ledaig 10-Year, my favorite scotch, I’d buy that just so I could drink it all day without — ya know — ruining my life.
It turns out, though, there are still plenty of uses for whiskey, even if you don’t like the taste (you monster). At least four uses, anyway.
Sanitize whatever needs sanitizing
You probably know that anything with a high enough alcohol content can kill the COVID-19 virus at the center of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, but scientists recently found that that virus is so frail that, unlike most viruses, it can be killed by anything with an ethanol content above 30% — which includes all whiskeys.
I probably don’t need to clarify this, but just in case: Drinking whiskey will not make you immune to COVID-19. Please don’t let that be your takeaway from this. But if you’re looking for an in-the-pinch hand sanitizer or disinfectant for your face-mask, whiskey will do. And in the case of the face mask, it’ll make the rest of your day smell amazing, particularly if you go with something as wonderfully peaty as Laphroaig 10-Year or as oaky as Aberlour 12. And if you’re working from home, you don’t have to worry about your boss noticing that you smell like whiskey at 2 p.m.
Use it as an ingredient in everything you cook
Whiskey is a great addition to sauces, dressings and desserts. You can find a way to use it in every meal. Breakfast? Make whiskey pancake syrup. Lunch? Bourbon chili. Dinner? Check this out: Start with a braised bourbon brisket with peach glaze, then treat yourself to beet cake with bourbon sauce. Everything. You eat. Is awesome. With whiskey.
As for which whiskey to use, ever since the quarantine started, I’ve been throwing a splash of Evan Williams (my uncle’s favorite whiskey) in everything I cook, from my chili to my steak to my chicken wing marinade. And… I mean, okay, I’m not exactly sure if it changes the flavor, but everything I eat is pretty delicious and I bet good ol’ Evan is at least partly responsible.
Start a fire with it
Probably less universally useful than the above two suggestions, but I tested this out in my cast iron pan just a few minutes ago and was happy to discover that, yes, you can indeed set Evan Williams on fire — though I imagine higher-proof whiskeys will cook better. So whether you’re having trouble getting your wood stove burning, or need to make a few molotov cocktails at short notice, whiskey is your friend in these uncertain modern times.
But since you’re going to be burning it, I gotta say, you should opt for something really cheap (like Jim Beam), some blended junk that you’re trying to get rid of (like Cutty Sark or Chivas Regal), or something just disgustingly undrinkable (like Jack Daniels Honey, though I can’t promise that’ll smell great).
Use it as medicine
This is cheating because you are drinking the whiskey in this instance. But it still counts, because instead of enjoying the flavor or trying to get drunk, you’re curing the common cold.
Not only do the hot water, cinnamon and lemon have powerful qualities to help reduce the symptoms of the common cold (note: not COVID-19. That’s different. Whiskey doesn’t cure COVID-19), but the whiskey has enough pain-killing properties to reduce the mild aches and pain that come along with a cold (again, the cold, not COVID-19).
But that only applies so long if you imbibe whiskey in the proper proportions. A touch of whiskey can reduce pain and help you go to sleep, but too much will disrupt your sleep and can even weaken your immune system. It’s a tough balancing act, but if you want to give it a try, I recommend George Dickel. It’s my other uncle’s favorite whiskey, and has some light citrus flavors as well as, to my nose, a woody harshness that helps clear the sinuses without being too medicinal. It also pairs well with steak, chicken, fish, mac and cheese, reruns of “30 Rock,” the music of Steely Dan, campfires, meeting your girlfriend’s parents, recovering from meeting your girlfriend’s parents, and other types of whiskey.
Please enjoy this advice responsibly.
Hearst Newspapers participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may get paid commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites. Also whiskey definitely doesn’t cure COVID-19.
Joshua Sargent is an editor for Hearst Newspapers. Email him at [email protected]
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