While whiskey has always had its loyal following, it’s garnered a new fan base over the last few years. From Mad Men-esque tippling to the hipster obsession with American-made spirits, whiskey has as much mystique as ever, and bartenders are conjuring up craft cocktails that highlight whiskey’s rich flavors rather than drowning them in mixers. Still, amid all the taxidermy and upgraded Old-Fashioneds, many myths about the spirit persist.

Yes, whiskey is intimidating. But if you can get past the first throat-numbing sip, the warming, complex notes of a Scotch single-malt or Kentucky bourbon—formed over years of pushing in and out of porous wood barrels—will begin to open up. True whiskey splendor requires dedicated drinking. For that, we defer to an expert to help us debunk some common myths and buzzwords surrounding brown spirits.

whiskeyproThe expert: Tommy Tardie, owner of the Flatiron Room in Manhattan. Tardie says he followed his gut when he opened the Flatiron Room one year ago with a then-impressive menu of roughly 300 whiskies. Now, with more than 750 in stock, the bar might have the most heavy-weighted whiskey menu in NYC. And every Wednesday, Tardie and his staff taste new whiskies from distilleries around the world to keep the collection continuously growing.