Whisk(e)y How To, Whisk(e)y Wisdom

The Magic of Three


Numbers have funny personalities. For example, 5 is a typical middle child with an identity crisis. He’s the only odd number that gets confused for an even.

7 is a diva. She enjoys being the first number you think of, and likes to accessorize when traveling.

10 is an all-around good guy. He’s easy to work with and has a great social life, unlike 1.

1’s manic-depressive personality is draining. One day he’s the winner, the next he’s lonely – even though 2 is right next to him.

Speaking of 2, she’s motherly. 2 works hard and rarely gets any recognition for it – probably from being next to squeaky wheel 1. But 2 is ok with that. She just likes to see people together.

9 is blond, blue eyed, and says “no” a lot. She also likes to pretend she’s a smaller number, “I’m only 9.99!”

8 is great but flies under the radar.

6…well, we leave 6 alone. He’s into some weird stuff.

4, the poor thing, she tries so hard to not be average.

And then there’s 3.

The more you learn about 3 the more you’ll love her. 3 is striking, smart, and strong. She’s cool, quirky, and confident. 3 is memorable, magical, mysterious. She’s emphatic, insightful, and fun. Most importantly though, 3 is understandable.

What does all this talk of numbers have to do with whiskey?

It has to do with the question; How many whiskeys is too many to try at once? Or in other words; What’s the ideal number of whiskeys in a flight?

The answer is: 3

Your brain is wired for 3, it’s drawn to 3, and you’ll get the most out of a 3 whiskey flight. Why? Because compare and contrast is how your brain learns best. So why not compare 2 whiskeys side-by-side? You certainly can, but it turns out your brain gets bored, pretty quick, with side-by-side tastings. But when you compare three things, your mind is intrigued and engaged. You’ll have more fun and keep at it longer, growing your personal bank of whisk(e)y wisdom.

So if more variables mean more engagement, then four whiskeys is better, right? No, and five is right out. Again three is the sweet spot. Why? Because anything more than three and your brain drowns in details. You miss things. Also, your brain will naturally break four down into two groups of two. Then you’re back to a side-by-side comparison.

Instead, choose a time tested charismatic number. If you want to grow in whiskey comprehension, make 3 your go-to girl.

Let her take you by the hand. She’ll treat you right. She’ll make you a whiskey master.

Will you try a trio tasting today?

— Zac Smith