“Whiskey is good proofing water.
It tells you who’s real and who isn’t”
— Thomas Shelby
Fans of the hit BBC series know that there are two things that The Shelbys and their Peaky Blinders gang are excellent at. One is crime and the other drinking whiskey. Over the course of five seasons, the spirit has been used as a bonding tool, a negotiating tactic, a rite of passage, a romantic gesture, a family therapist, and, of course, a celebration ignitor.
Despite the fact the storyline is set in the 1920s, much of the whiskey philosophy they embody still stands in our opinion, just like the distilleries they drank from. So check out a few of the best whiskey takeaways from the show’s run so far and apply these rules and techniques to your own festivities.
By order of the Peaky Blinders.
PART I — THE WHISKEY
Drink It Irish
Set in the 1920s, a frequent question that comes up when someone orders whiskey is Scotch or Irish? The latter means the traditional whiskey that we are used to, and a smoother product because it is triple distilled, typically. By law, Irish whiskey is produced in Ireland and aged in wooden casks no less than three years. Distilleries in production back then still exist today, like Bushmills.
Want more Irish whiskeys? We got you covered.
Drink It Neat
These modern days we are privileged with the ready availability of ice. This was not so back in the days of the Peaky Blinders, it was a luxury to be able to freeze water. Of course, the Shelbys eventually work their way up the ranks to where they can afford it, but the moments they use it are few.
So until you make it huge, order your Irish whiskey neat, and appreciate the bite.
PART II — THE COMPANY
Drink It With Friends New And Old
Thomas Shelby doesn’t relegate himself to drinking with family members exclusively. As he mentions in the quote at the top of the page, it is an excellent choice for introductory meetings as well. Someone who also understands this is London gang leader Alfie Solomons, who in their initial sit-down says, “Rum’s for fun and f**king, innit? So, whiskey, now that…that is for business.”
Drink It With Lovers
Thomas Shelby is a bit of a ladies man, aided by his commanding style and wit. But even with all of these advantages he still understands that a little liquid confidence never hurts. This comes to light when during his reunion with Grace. “So what made you think I’d go to bed with you after one whiskey and some conversation?” Grace says.
Tommy responds, “Well, I was accounting for three whiskies.”
Drink It With Adversaries
One way to prevent the raising of a fist is to raise a glass. Nobody knows this better than Thomas, who partakes in a pour while sitting across the table from his new frenemy fascist Oswald Mosley. The meet starts off friendly enough, with Mosley offering him a serving from his own personal bottle at the bar, but we get a taste of his temper when the bartender is slow to produce it. “I’m getting impatient for my f**king whiskey!”
Can’t fully blame him, it did take awhile. We would be upset too.
PART III — THE MANNER
Drink It In Style
Though they are just as likely to drink it straight from the bottle, The Shelbys can also make drinking whiskey look very good. The Peaky Blinders upscale outfit of a three-piece suit, penny collar, flat cap, tie-pin, and pocket watch, just doesn’t seem complete without a hefty rocks glass. Not only that, but it gives you something to stare at intently while the light glistens in the brown elixir and you contemplate life’s curiosities.
Drink It With A Heavy Hand
There is one facet of life in which a Shelby is always generous, and that is in a whiskey pour. Not once do you see one of their guests or friends have to look at the bottom of their glass. They, of course, know that there is no quicker way to make a friend than treating them to a proper amount, and no quicker way to make an enemy than skimp on the serving.
Drink It With A Toast
The quickest way to elevate a raised-glass moment is with a side of poetry. Something insightful that can bring your company further into the moment and bring the beautiful fragility of life into focus. There have been a few good ones shared by the Peaky Blinders and their crew, so you can start by borrowing this old Irish one, which is excepted by Grace in the first season.
“May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong, And may you be in heaven a full half-hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”