Review – Anchor Distilling, A.H. Hirsch, Small Batch Reserve, 4 to 6 Years Old, 46%

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I’m fairly certain that every person has those moments when the reactive thoughts that exist in the furthest reaches of the mind have complete access to the thoroughfare of his or her mouth. I know I do. They don’t happen every day, but they happen enough to keep things interesting.

“What can I get for you, sweetie?” an unfamiliar voice buzzed sexily through the drive-through speaker, its friendliness causing the one occupying the front passenger seat, my youngest daughter, Evelyn, to lend a look of surprise.

“I just need a medium black coffee,” I replied, slowly turning away from the microphone to Evelyn with a wide-eyed expression that met her own.

“Did she just call you ‘sweetie’?” Evelyn whispered, her hands barely covering a staggered smile.

“She sure did,” I said, giving her a grin of uncertainty.

“Do you know her?”

“Nope.”

“That’ll be a dollar thirty-seven at the first window, honey,” the voice said in the same alluring tone. Evelyn’s eyes grew wider. I didn’t respond, but rolled forward.

With a few cars between us and the drive-through lady who my daughter was certain was trying to seduce me (and I say this not so much because of what the woman said, but rather how she said it), I explained to Evelyn that some folks just talk to others this way. They don’t mean anything by it. It’s just their peculiar way of being friendly.

“I don’t like it,” Evelyn said. “It’s inappropriate.”

“Yeah, it’s weird.”

“And Momma wouldn’t like it, either.”

“I don’t think Momma would care all that much,” I offered as we rolled up to the window, “but either way, let’s just keep our cool and get out of here.”

“Hey, sweetie!” came the overly friendly greeting through the window.

“Good morning,” I returned, stale faced. My daughter leaned forward, her weird grin having become a stare.

“That’ll be a dollar thirty-seven, hun.”

And then, even after I’d just instructed my daughter that we were to keep our cool—and as I’d warned at the beginning of this little adventure—my unspoken thoughts suddenly engaged with my mouth and I took the conversation to an extreme degree in the opposite direction.

“Alas, kind lady,” I said animatedly, exchanging exact payment for the cup of coffee, “’twas a score ago that many acquaintances would respectfully call me ‘hun,’ but even so, only when rightly preceded by ‘Attila the.’”

I heard Evelyn gasp.

“Have a nice day, sweetie,” the woman said as the window closed, maintaining her pace and completely unaffected.

Rolling away, we both laughed. And I suppose that’s why I did it, because I wanted to give Evelyn a good story to tell at school. I’m guessing that the words coming from the drive-through window were meant for the same. And by them I realized two things. First, that people are people, and taking them in stride is a better bet; and second, if my marriage were ever to dissolve, no matter how friendly the woman was at the McDonald’s drive-through, she’s not all that interested in me and probably wouldn’t be a rebound possibility. She spoke as she did to sell me coffee. That’s it.

When it comes to whisky, I’ve learned similar things over the years.

First, whiskey is whiskey. No matter the distillery, region, or whatever, taking each edition in stride is always the better bet.

As it meets the second point, I say these things revealing a somewhat penitent heart. In my earlier days with Bourbons, there were some distilleries, both big and small, that I’d been less inclined to appreciate because they seemed to be speaking a drawn and sensual word, but in the end, were really just exchanging my money for a business-as-usual bit of booze in a unique bottle with a decorative label. I’ll admit to having had that sense when I bought the Hirsch Small Batch Reserve Straight Bourbon, which is eloquently presented by Hotaling & Company and Anchor Distilling as having a connection to A.H. Hirsch and the moth-balled Schaefferstown Distillery in Pennsylvania. Admittedly, there’s some magic to this chronicle. But when you read that the whiskey is merely a celebration of “the Hirsch heritage through a range of sourced selections,” the intrigue dissipates into the realization that there’s not much about the whiskey itself that’s connected to the story. They needed a name for some whiskey they contracted from MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana—just like a billion other American whiskey labels on the market have done.

Having said all of this, I liked this whiskey. It’s really quite good.

The nose is a little stringent at first, suggesting something chemical in nature. A few minutes to sit, the chemical scent fades and becomes something along the lines of simple syrup in its cooling stage poured over tangerines.

The palate is similar. There’s a decent bit of souring citrus. But along the way, a heavier barrel flavor is introduced. I’d say it translates into the simple syrup being overheated, some of it having been scorched in the pan. I think this works well, personally. It adds some depth to something that could’ve been thin.

The finish is a medium draw of straight cinnamon and what seems a bit like over-toasted bread, not burnt, but real crispy. This may sound bad, but with ever-present lapping of the citrus, it puts flavor and texture together successfully.

Now a word of clarification. As you can see, a sourced whisky does not mean a bad whiskey. Read my stuff. You’ll discover that I’ve had many sourced whiskies that were good. It’s just the in-between sales pitch that bugs me. It feels wrong to make a connection with something or someone where no real connection exists.

In other words, don’t call me sweetie unless you mean it.