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Let me make a few qualifying statements. This whisky was a gift from some folks I truly adore, and because Chivas Regal has been heavily marketed and thereby regarded as a high quality whisky, they purchased it for me expecting it to be wonderful. But they didn’t know, and I cannot lie. Knowing them to be good friends, I expect that this will make them laugh. So, here goes…

I called my wife at work yesterday to ask her about her day. She’s a social worker, and so much of her day is spent on the phone with folks who, even though she is their lifeline, yell at her and demand the impossible. Perhaps worse, so many of these people have income streams that resemble nothing near poverty, are very capable of working, and yet choose to exert incredible amounts of energy to avoid working and ultimately defraud the intent of the whole system. She deals with this all day every day.

Imagine it in this context. A healthy, pregnant woman sitting at my wife’s desk. Having laid four different cell phones on the desk because a call was coming in and she didn’t know which phone was ringing, the woman answers the call, concludes, and then snidely answers my wife’s question as to why the woman is applying for assistance by telling her that it is because she is pregnant. Meanwhile, and unquestionably obvious, is my very rotundly pregnant wife smiling with gritted teeth knowing that she is going to work right up until her due date, which at that point was only days away. This is the norm. People figure out how to be the hard case.

Mix into this scenario that because she is good at her job, my wife has been moved into a position that requires the management of 700+ cases when before she was only handling 100+, and even those were nearly unmanageable. Sprinkle into this that she is a “stay-at-home-mom” at heart, and dreams all day of being able to visit her kids classrooms, drive on field trips, and essentially do the things afforded to the stay-at-home position. In one sense, she could make this a reality. She knows the system better than anyone else and certainly could find ways to make the government pay us, but fortunately she is diligent, honest, and upright. She listens to everyone make excuses for why they can’t work and she never does. It’s not her. I should add to this that while pastoral education is one of the most expensive on the planet, the financial payout is minimal. Sure, I make a little extra here and there with various writing opportunities, but we could never live off of it. We have four kids. We have bills that will never go away in our lifetime and we need the insurance. She knows she needs to work, and so she does.

“So how’s your day?” I asked while driving from one visitation to the next.

Still within the morning hours, the tired voice on the other end offered, “Well, let’s just say that I’ve spent more time than I should today investigating elective surgeries that will qualify me for some time away.”

I chuckled, and so did she. But consider the psychology here. When you are contemplating ways to go under the surgical knife in order to avoid something, it must be pretty bad.

“You do realize that you just gave me a blog post introduction in that response,” I offered.

“Feel free,” she laughed again.

And so, to get to the point of this review… I think I’d rather have surgery than finish this bottle of Chivas Regal. I know a lot of folks like this stuff, but rather than consume this swamp water on a regular basis, I think I’d much rather have my L4 and L5 fused, or perhaps have a third eye attached in the middle of my forehead. Hold on. Make that the middle of the back of my head. Pastors deal with difficult people, too… all the time, in fact. Might as well make the surgery worth the effort.

First of all, the Regal is a blend. In my opinion, this always makes the nosing an interesting challenge. When you twist and remove the cap (which says a lot about the whisky already), you are hoping for something balanced. But I rarely experience this with blends. I don’t know. Maybe I’m not as gifted a reviewer as others, but this is true of this edition. There was a medicinal twinge that nipped me, as if the doctor let me smell the concoction he was going to use to put me under for surgery. I did sense a little bit of caramel, and I pressed forth with the hopes that I might receive the same. Sadly, this did not happen.

The palate, while noticeably nutty, gave the impression that someone burned the nuts they were attempting to merely roast. While mourning this tragedy, the disaster continues with charred bits of nut falling into acerbic honey. The finish nearly saves the whisky in that at first you think it will be short. But then you take a sip of water to exorcise the demon from your mouth and find that you’d better forgo the bottled water and get some water out of the baptismal font to dismiss this tenacious beast. In fact, to make a similar comparison to the beginning of this rant, I think I’d rather drink baptismal font water which has seen hundreds of the faithful dip their fingers into it in order to make the sign of the cross and prepare for worship. I’d do this during flu season if it meant avoiding the Chivas Regal.

Okay, you get the point. Whisky is to be enjoyed, not endured. For me, the Chivas Regal 12 year old requires the endurance of a social worker.