…numb…

So… There are Scotches and there are Scotches. I’m more than a few pours into a throat-burning, heartburn-inducing, fire-breathing Scotch that I absolutely love.

So… My brain will be a bit fuzzy and my writing will be a bit rounded. Still, the #laphroaig Burns and awakens and — that sip.

That sip. First drink or fifth drink, it’s there. Clearly. It doesn’t leave you or doubt you or question you. The #laphroaig is just there in full intensity. Every sip.

There’s a thickness and oiliness to each sip. My esophagus can’t take the punishment and I cough. I exhale and expect to see flames or smoke or something.

Like so many other things in life, once we feel the extreme, the pain, the burn, the fire… We crave it. It must be part of our lives or we are incomplete. Sip after sip, I feel the burn.

I’m far beyond gone. Forever alone. No comparison or companion. The years add and add and add. Alone. The burn is my peace. The burn is my taste. The burn is my life.

And so short-lived at that.

Laphroaig 10 year. Experience it.

Advertisements

…the course of true love…

So… what does it mean to wonder and ramble? To wander and wax? The wine has washed my memories and my ponderings and now I sit and write.

Cabernet Sauvignon invites my inflections and my intonations to wonderous and strange designs and places. I don’t want to say that it’s now because I’m inebriated and therefore not in command of the creation of my words. Of course, I don’t want to say that. But, here I sit and here I write.

I’m in a class, a course, a lesson where I explore and think about what it means to teach. I am to develop a philosophy of what it means to me. And I can’t be honest. I will need to say that people are important and that their learning experience is important. How do people learn to appreciate a good #scotch? Like, a seriously good #singlemalt? They are explored and experienced by what the person puts into them. I didn’t learn to enjoy a Laphroaig by smelling it and saying it was awful and sipping it a bit and putting it down and ignoring it as an explosive exposition of ethers and aldehydes that overpower and anesthetize. I enjoy words that do the same. And so, I write.

However, I’m going to look back, one day, at these posts and realize that these are the most honest I’ve been. Mostly. But not really. And that’s the best part of my writing. People are shallow and assumptive and demonstrate the worst of what we do and what we think. I’m not alone in how I feel but I’m alone in how I write. But, I sit here with my Cab and I write.

I once wrote about authorial intent. The thing about it is, anyone can reflect and consider and analyze, but it’s only the author that knows. Very interesting. Very.

I’m going to have another glass.

This -place- is so empty. So every creak resonates and groans aloud. This -place- is hollow and empty and musty. It’s my mind and it’s my house. Is it my home? I wonder. I wonder and I write. While I ramble.

Honesty… my frustration with the work and effort I’ve put into my courses is that so many do so much less. So many hang their after course experience on the title. So many do a little and post some thing that says they did so much. They don’t deserve the attention they demand of the title and so they should fail. I try and I read and I write.

Tonight, my time is up and my eyes give up. Tonight the wonder stops, if only for a short stop. Tonight I will sleep and I will dream, alone, again.

And that’s okay. If I were not alone, I would not sit here now and write… Goodnight.

…and since you know you can’t see yourself…

My glass stared at me. It whispered awful things. Or maybe it was the whisky. Maybe the whisky whispered why was I and why did I.

The copper liquid called out to me in low unfriendly tones. It was not welcoming. It was not asking me anything nice or maybe even anything at all.

The glass may have not been a party to the communication beyond focusing and echoing the whisky’s awful words. But I couldn’t ignore it, the glass, the crystal shrine to the evil natured spirit.

Why was this different? Why did it matter this time? Why did it taunt and haunt me?

I answered the whisky in deflection, question after question.

“Your life crescendos while you mutter,” it said. The bass will soon overtake you, beating and thrumming you out of your own thoughts.”

The glass sat, uncommitted to either side.

My questions raced out, fighting the whisky word for word, vowel for vowel.

The glass sat.

The whisky screamed and laughed. I yelled and spit.

The glass sat.

The whisky stood tall in its glass walls and paused for a final measure of attack, readying it’s final volley of insult.

“There’s only one way out,” it said.

It was wrong, of course, there were two. I chose the latter and drank the whisky.

The glass sat.

…frustration…

Shakespeare wrote, “Who is a man that is not angry?”

Is that what it means to be a man? In social media and the news, it seems to be the case. Such a change from so long ago. Did The Bard, 400 years ago, see the changes we would be facing today?

Then I am not a man. I do not get angry.

When I feel rising frustration and building anger, I shut it down. Angry is not who I am. It is not who I want to be. It will never be what I accept. When alternate realities are presented that are simply not true, I shake my head in logic acknowledgment but then move on.

Especially when I am told to.

Talisker is such a storm. Four years ago, I would have written about Talisker as a fire, a movement, a sounding of peaty depth that drags your chest and throat through a trial where you emerge with a testament for or against such an experience.

The challenges today are a result of watered down experiences and softened tastes. Men and women grow up under cushy circumstances that allow for very privileged experiences and preferences. And people don’t want to experience hardship and they don’t prefer the narrow ledge over the lake of fire.

People are soft. People prefer soft. Martinis, flirtinis, appletinis, and any other fruity version of tinis are what they seek to consume when out in their cushy SUV and designer clothes for an Instagram documented night of posing.

Not me. I’ll take the Talisker. I prefer the storm. And not because I’m angry but because I rail against the soft tempered experience.

Laphroaig 10…the real story this time…

I came to Scotch late in my drinking career (yes, you just heard those words put together in a sentence…). Having grown up in Kentucky, I was a bourbon-man, knowledgeable by the age of 25 to debate anyone on the merits of the specific floors of Jim Beam’s warehouse, fully committed to what has often been described as “the American drink.” Nevertheless, I decided to expand my horizons a bit- in the form of Glenmorangie.

My first excursion into Scotch was a ridiculously drunken evening at a friend’s house, consisting largely of playing Advance Dungeons and Dragons, smoking White Owl cigars, and enjoying (?) the nuances of a bottle of Dewar’s. Suffice it to say, I was less than impressed- how many 17-year-olds (or 42-year-olds) are enamored of cheap, blended Scotch? At that point, I had decided that I hated Scotch- despite the fact that my future idol Dean Martin drank it by the bucketful (J&B with two tablespoons of soda, for the record).

When I realized that I might be missing out (I was around 30 at the time), I decided to defer to the provocations of my local retailer who was indulgent enough to recommend the Glenmorangie Wood Expressions. Having worked my way through ALL of them, I realized that Scotch was going to “work” for me…and things progressed normally. However, I had confined my purchases to Highland Scotches, as (in my ignorance) I assumed those were the best…

One night, I was on a phone call with my best friend, one Tim Denton, who asked if I had ever tried “Laphroaig…” I confessed to the contrary and he related to me an amusing anecdote about his wife picking up a glass (that had already been through the dishwasher ) and pronouncing that it “smelled like a dirty ashtray.” I was obviously intrigued and bought a bottle. It so happened that the bottle remained on the shelf for a couple of weeks until I had spoken with Tim again. When he asked if I had ever gotten around to trying it, I committed to tasting it while we were on the phone.

How is one to describe the first experience with an Islay malt?

All I can recall of my response to him was “incredible…how can whisky taste like this?”That first sip started a love affair that has lasted nine years so far. To the chagrin of my pocket-book, I currently have 1200 points on their website, which means in 9 years I have purchased (at least) 120 bottles of Laphroaig products (yes my liver is still reasonably intact). Although I have sampled literally hundreds of whiskys, Laphroaig 10 has always been my “go to”- and most likely never to be displaced. Laphroaig had an ad campaign a long time ago that simply stated. “Love it or Hate it…”

I love it.

…Scotch pairings…

Glenmorangie 10

  • Food: Soft cheese, fried cream cheese rolls, smoked cheese on crackers. Brie. Buttered toast with jam. Apples or pears.

  • Cigar: Medium-full to full, spicy or earthy. Avoid the sweet cigars.

Macallan 12

  • Food: Chocolate covered raisins, chocolate cake, spice cake w/ cream cheese frosting. Rich foods like cream soups or lobster bisque. Lean steak served Oscar style or with bearnaise. Butterscotch pudding. Any pudding except chocolate. Charred meats.

  • Cigar: TBD

Springbank 10

  • Food: Leaner steak like a sirloin or NY strip. Peppered steaks. Chocolate oranges. Caramel covered apples. Spicy food. Jerk chicken. Hot wings. Buttery stilton cheese. Lamb Stew.

  • Cigar: TBD

Talisker 10

  • Food: Dark chocolate. Chocolate lava cake. Smoked fish. Bacon wrapped scallops. Chocolate pudding.

  • Cigar: TBD

Laphroaig 10

  • Food: Cheesecake. Plain cheesecake. No caramel or strawberry sauce. Plain. Ribeye steak with lots of marbling. Heavy and highly flavored cheeses like a blue cheese.

  • Cigar: Go with an extreme. Either mild and creamy or full and spicy.

…Scotch Tasting…

If you’ve not attended a hosted Scotch tasting, I strongly recommend that you do.

Many people are introduced to Scotch through a big pour of something inexpensive and common, using a glass that doesn’t help the experience and may bring out the alcohol and the burn, and ultimately walk away thinking that all Scotch is a harsh palate burning assault that they never again want to experience.

Much like developing a palate for wine tasting, enjoying Scotch sometimes needs a guided tour through the methods and theory. Once you’ve attended a Scotch tasting, the possibilities truly open up for you and for your taste buds.

There will be such a Scotch tasting coming up and I’ll be sure to capture some photos and notes on the experience to share here.

The Scotch tasting will be a tour of the regions and the Scotches, in order, will be:

  • Glenmorangie 10
  • Macallan 12
  • Springbank 10
  • Talisker 10
  • Laphroaig 10

This tasting is meant to introduce new Scotch drinkers to approachable and accessible Scotches they may find at many decent restaurants. This tasting is meant to provide the attendees with a bit of insight so they can make informed decisions about what they like and don’t like and why. This tasting is meant to be the guided tour of history and trivia, of notes and methods, of criteria and range that will have you wanting more.

April 7th.

…a taste…

Some large part of tasting Scotch is the smell. When a taster raises their glass, what looks like a salute to the nose is an acknowledgment of the work and years that went into that glass, exploring the esters and aldehydes.

In this taste, some Scotches stand alone. Some Scotches do not need a build-up, a starter, a companion. Some Scotches carry their weight on good feet and face the taster full-on with a fierceness that needs no follow-up.

Lagavulin 16 is such a Scotch. It holds up as an oily, thick, deep drink all its own. One can sit down with a two-ounce pour of the Lag, a glass of water, and a good book, and enjoy a fine evening.

The Lag does not need a Balvenie or Laphroaig to warm up the palette.

Some Scotches do better with a companion Scotch. Some stand alone.

In that nose, that taste, that salute, one acknowledges the temper that lets such a drink be itself. There is no better drink. It brings everything to the table and needs nothing else.

 

…beauty and the beast…

She enters… beauty falling over her shoulders, preceding a wake of emotional destruction, laser blue eyes cutting down advances while opening doors.

Her court awaits – a smile, a drink, a slow blink. Careful precise turns and answers. Questions and deflections. Placements and adjustments. Everything happens – careful and exact and efficient and real.

A troll, a grunt, a lump sits. He garbles and burbles. Outside of this moment, nothing else happens for him. Everything is here. Right now. He mumbles and stutters. She doesn’t stop but carries the troll with her in her own timeline, her own action in the river, the analogy of time and perspective.

She knows what she knows. The troll does not. The balding and fat troll stares, sipping and sitting, an excuse, a loss. He follows her and hopes. His eyes out of his head, in his hand, extended to watch, pathetic.

The world twists. What she deserves is denied. A true soul of peace and love and she is leeched and lurched upon by trolls and ogres.

I had thought I’d do this as a subtle mash-up of emotion and review, a statement and a comparison. I thought I’d turn this into a discussion of Ardbeg’s Corryvreckan and Uigeadail. That was my intent, my goal.

Instead, I find I do not know my own goal. My words flow out of loss and pain and repudiation. I haven’t tried. She deserves more than my pathetic try, my attempt at grunting and pointing and gesturing.

They all do. But especially, she does. She deserves more. Better.

She entered. Her smell. Her smile. She overtook. The troll watched.