IN THIS SECOND DECADE of the new century, we will need whiskey. We will drink it neat or on the rocks. We will chase it with beer. Brutes and loose women will go straight for the bottle. Gentlemen and ladies will take it in newfangled "cocktails". The rugged will pass a cup among friends in flickering circles of campfire light.

Whiskey is the great egalitarian booze. It encompasses a range of styles and flavors that at their furthest extremes are nearly unrecognizable from each other. There's a bottle of whiskey for everyone. If you take time to look, you'll find one as comfortable as a longtime companion. Not a bad trick for a libation that's essentially grain, water, yeast, and a little bit of time.

Come along with us as we explore the "what, why, how, and where" of whiskey, from small islands off the coast of Scotland to our own backyards. Wherever you are, stop what you're doing and find your local apothecary, public house, or club. It's time, ladies and gentlemen, to drink whiskey.