Scotch whisky, wouldn’t you say? I would. And I can say that when I discovered this bottle on the shelf in a shop near a friend’s home, I was swift to snatch it up, having been so kindly tuned to the delights of Ardbeg by my children’s pediatrician.
The Corryvreckan edition is named after the world’s third largest whirlpool, located in the highly turbulent waterway called the “Strait of Corryvreckan” between the isles of Scarba and Jura. “Corryvreckan” translates from the Gaelic as “cauldron of speckled seas.” Now, don’t go and underestimate the word “speckled.” In this postmodern era, that word is somewhat softer than it should be, as if the seas are sort of choppy but manageable. For the ancients, in this case, the word offered images of nothing less than incredibly violent waters more than capable of tearing a seafarer and his vessel to shreds. Take a trip out onto this particular waterway, which has indeed claimed so many lives throughout the millennia and continues to be noted by the Royal Navy as nearly unnavigable. A lesson will be learned, and the appropriate credence to the Gaelic language will be given.
Pagan folklore heralds the waterway’s power as coming from Cailleach Bheur, the goddess of winter or, more precisely, the queen of the gods. They believed her raging actions in the waterway signaled the transferring of summer’s power to the power of winter. When the waters are raging at their peak, the Scots know to batten down and prepare for winter’s icy rage.
All of this said, as I have already encouraged you not to minimize the “speckled sea,” neither should you underestimate this whisky. Ardbeg’s Corryvreckan edition is not for the faint of heart. It should also be noted that when I opened the bottle in my friend’s home, both our wives scowled scornfully at the scent wafting with tidal force through the room. “Oh, that’s horrible,” they said, being slammed by the overwhelmingly turbulent earthiness of heavy peat smoke. The men, however, offered grins of eager anticipation and then hurriedly urged the naysayers to another domain.
The nose is incredibly smoky, leaving no doubt that you are only now adrift upon the calmer waters of the outer rim, and yet the current is pulling you closer, promising that you will meet with a more challenging rush very soon. The palate immediately sees the waters surge, spinning their wayfarer with a spicy rage of salty citrus and rich peat. The finish caps with strength and longevity. Its tenacious pull drags the wayfarer down into a calming depth of surprisingly gentle cinder-kissed cinnamon tinges.
I can’t imagine that most readers will ever have the opportunity to visit the actual whirlpool. In fact, when it comes to water thrills, most will get as far as the log ride at Cedar Point or Busch Gardens. Nevertheless, fellow sailors, you need not fret. When the wife and kids are begging you to join them in that giant fiberglass vessel shaped like a hollow log, kiss your bride, embrace each of the little ones, bidding them Godspeed in the voyage. Promise to meet them on the other side of the sea (the hotel), where you have already experienced the raging Corryvreckan. When the sun sets and the crew is reunited, all will have fond memories of a fabulous ride.
But you will be dry.
Actually, don’t do this. Go on the ride with your family. You rarely get to enjoy times like this. You can easily acquire this bottle at most upstanding liquor shops. Save the whisky for later that night when the family is exhausted and fast asleep.