, , , , , , , , , , , , ,


My wife and I just returned from grocery shopping at Walmart. While we were there, we spent a little time in the electronics department looking at some clock-style radio/cd players for our youngest son. While we were standing there, another couple rounded the corner and rolled up next to us to contemplate the same items.

The gentleman – a sturdy guy, not hefty per se, just stocky, maybe 6’ 3” – reached out and grabbed one of the more boom box type radios. It wasn’t very big. In fact, it was relatively compact. With somewhat of a soft-spoken voice, he suggested it. But the woman – much shorter than he – snapped at him saying, “It’s for work! I can’t take THAT to work!” Putting it back on the shelf, I could tell he felt a little embarrassed. He added with a sheepish laugh that he thought she’d noted earlier that she wanted a CD player. There were only two radios in the section that played CDs. The rest were an assortment of wireless machines that connected to mobile phones and other devices. And having already spent a few minutes discerning the available selections, I knew that of the two CD players available, he’d chosen the better one for his bride.

She continued pointing to the different radios, “What about this one? How about that one?” With a patient and kindly spirit, he explained each to her, all the while she kept to the ratchety tone, treating him as though he was responsible for the limited selections. This lasted for a few minutes… until she noticed me watching her. Then, amazingly, she got nicer.

I was only a few feet away and I was, quite obviously and most certainly, staring. This was a gamble on my part. As I said, this guy was twice her size, and certainly heftier than myself. He could have seized the opportunity to gain favor in her eyes and asked me what I was looking at. You know, sort of defend her honor or whatever. But he didn’t. And I wasn’t really weighing that possibility, anyway. Actually, and perhaps sadly, my first thought was that she was fortunate to be married to such a kindly soul. Had she spoken in such a way in public back in the old country – that is, with such condescension for her squire – he may have felt more at liberty to exorcise the demon from her right then and there.

Anyway, Jennifer and I walked away. I didn’t say anything to her about it, and I don’t think she really noticed what had just happened. She was too busy trying to figure out a way to make one of the other clock radios meet our particular need. Had she perceived the event, she probably would have asked me (once we were a few aisles away) something like, “Do I ever talk to you like that?” Certainly, everybody has a bad day now and then, but Jen absolutely does not want to be the kind of wife that tongue-lashes her idiot husband…and I sure can be an idiot sometimes.

I share this because it makes me wonder if my review of the Old Pulteney 12 year old influenced the distillery in the same way that my stare changed the heart of the Walmart rabble-rouser. I wasn’t too gracious toward the 12 year old edition, and yet I’ve enjoyed a different bottle of that same edition since then and it seemed as though its demeanor had changed.

Whatever. I doubt they care what I have to say. But if they do, and they happen to be reading this particular review, they’ll note that I did enjoy the recent Christmas gift I received from my mother-in-law: the Old Pulteney 21.

The nose of this particular dram seemed heavy in the sense that it took a significant inhale to draw in enough to give me something to ponder. Once the aroma was finally lifted, my work was easy. There was a resonance of malt, sugar, and dried fruit.

The palate was a bit stranger, but similarly pleasurable. From my past experiences with Old Pulteney, and being that the whisky is 21 years old, I expected a lugging saltiness. But this was not the case. The salt was there, but only as a slightest pinch. At first, the whisky transmits a nip of honey and a little bit of what seemed like coconut. Nice, but weird. With another sip, the whisky gets a little feistier. It would seem that its eccentricity was stirred to reveal the flavor of what I can only say reminded me of freshly grilled asparagus speckled with lemon juice and olive oil. Certainly an excellent summertime reverie in the midst of winter’s longing.

The finish is long and syrupy. I kind of liked it. And the malt returns to recommend itself as a possible marinade for the oncoming summer’s grilling endeavors.

While I won’t say that this whisky is necessarily a favorite, I will say that it won’t be treated like “old man Pulteney.” I’ll stop by for a visit as it draws my attention, and I’ll do so without hesitation, especially when I’m winter wearied.

In the meantime, I’m going to go stare at a few of the crass editions in my cabinet for which I have very little appreciation. Maybe they’ll reconsider their rude behavior toward the one who wants to love them and perhaps they’ll change their ways.