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IMG_2748What were you doing fourteen years ago? I can tell you what I was doing.

The first band walked out on stage. The frontman grabbed the microphone and started the crowd.

“How’re you #*%$ people doing tonight?!! We’re so-and-so, and we’re gonna #*%$ tear this place #*%$ apart! You ready to #*%$ rock-n-roll?!”

The crowd responded in kind, raising the noise as the first of two guitarists lit up the stage in time with the lights. The band played for about a half hour, all the while being as profane as possible to a short list of cover songs. We were next.

We only had about twenty minutes to get our stuff in place. The stage was dark, but there was enough light to navigate as I rolled out and set my Marshall stack to my favorite settings. My drummer, Patrick, set up his kit. Bryan, the bassist, and my good friend adjusted his amp and tuned up. I had tuned up in the car on the way over. I gave it another check, leaned my Fender Strat against the amp, and waited.

The DJ ended his current track and spoke over the sound to announce us. We came up to the stage from the floor. I went straight to my guitar, and as I adjusted the strap so it could hang low, I spoke an introduction, knowing that many of the crowd already knew who we were.

“Hey, everybody. Good to see you. We’re Boxhead. I’m Chris. That’s Bryan. And he’s Patrick. We’re ready if you are.” The crowd erupted, and so did we.

We played loud and fast for more than an hour—a typical set list for a place like this. Never once did I use foul language. I called out to the crowd, and the crowd called back. We raised our hands to the sounds, and they did, too. We played for an hour, and all but one song was original. The floor was thundering, and the folks who already knew us were singing along to lyrics they knew very well.

The headline band came on after us, doing the same things the band before us did. And yet, our show was just as good, if not better.

Now without appearing vain, I tell you this as I review The Balvenie Roasted Malt edition, not only because it was being distilled when I was in my rock-n-roll heyday but because it isn’t the headline edition of The Balvenie. Neither is it the opening act. Still, it is a sturdy edition that exists securely amongst so many in its own right, not necessarily needing to follow along and sell itself in the cookie-cutter frames as the others do. It is an intriguing whisky and worthy of its following.

The nose is cleaner than you’d expect from a bottle putting itself forward to the word “roasted.” The smooth scents of something sweet but promising a spicy edge will keep you very interested. The palate reveals well-roasted almonds and the emblematic Balvenie honey. Still, the spice lingers in the finish, leaving everyone in the crowd riled and wanting more. If this whisky had existed during my “Boxhead” days, I would have broken our “no booze before a show” rule.

I miss those days. Playing shows before a few thousand college students, feeling the rumbling floor of a club stage, even playing shows between scantily clad women in cages before getting home at 3 AM only to awaken again at 6 AM to start a regular day—all very exhausting, and yet, exhilarating. What’s more, as the comparison has been made to the distinct character of The Balvenie Roasted Malt, so was the clean-cut “Boxhead” unique in that we didn’t need to be provocative to keep the crowd rolling. We had just as much strength and stirred just as much enjoyment as the bands that came before or after us. We were genuine. The Balvenie Roasted Malt is genuine.

And now the road has led to bigger and better things—wife, children, theology, writing, and so much more. Life is good. God is good.