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20150214_181348Do you want to know something that makes me laugh?

I really get a kick out of the staged Facebook profile pictures meant to look spontaneous. I find myself being heftily amused when I see an attempt to depict oneself holding an open book, maybe even having one hand casually supporting the chin while staring into the pages with a contemplative expression of absolute illumination. Oh yeah, and don’t forget that the backdrop is a perfectly rendered portrait of pristinely voluminous bookshelves.

This makes me laugh.

C’mon, man. Do you really think that I believe that you were so deeply fixed by that particular edition that someone was actually able to slink so stealthily into your study and capture this perfect moment? What are you reading, the original manuscript of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew? Sheesh.

Well, let’s just assume that the pose is real and your creeping photographer indeed has the skills and precision of Ansel Adams in the face of such a spectacular scene. Let me tell you what I would have done if it were me attempting to grab such a snapshot. I’d have been startled enough by your pose that I would have, most likely, dropped the camera and started shaking you figuring you’d had a stroke.

Never mind all this speculation. Do you want to know what truly betrays you, dear sir? The condition of your bookshelves. Everything is in perfect order. The shelves in your portrait look exactly like those canvas backdrops that you see behind special guests being interviewed on the cable news stations. I get the sense that if I reached out to peruse a volume, I’d bump into the canvas projection screen or I’d accidentally grab what feels like a book and pull over a wall prop.

While I am generally an organized guy, I am also someone who lives and works amidst a sea of books. They’re on every wall of my study and the bookshelves that contain them are almost always an overflowing mess. Books are stacked one on top of another. Some are folded in half with little concern for the binding but merely as such for the sake of holding my place. Papers and articles and journals are jammed in the empty spaces. It’s not pretty. I would not take a picture in front of it. It would almost certainly misrepresent the rest of my otherwise organized life.

Now I offer this merely to say that you don’t need to stage your presentation to be acceptable to the masses. Take, for instance, the Cragganmore edition at the heart of this review. Its adorning label is more so reminiscent of a beer bottle than anything else. In fact, in my opinion, it just looks kind of cheap. But the substance of the whisky inside is a completely different chronicle altogether.

The nose prefaces the contents as anything but economy or cut rate. There’s a dish of sun-softened berries and warmed cream in its breath, and with every inhalation, you become less interested in what you see, but rather more tuned to the possibilities of what you may learn when you chat.

Reaching out for that first handshake and conversation, the palate is confirmation that you’ve made a new friend you will enjoy visiting from time to time. And each time you are together, before the symposium begins, this friend so kindly sets out freshly baked barley loaves glazed in honey-butter with a little bit of strawberry jam.

The finish is short and sweet, as in sugary, with a windswept notion of something like paprika. Very strange, and yet, you would expect nothing less from such a substantive stature dressed so modestly.

So, please, learn from this humble whisky and choose a genuine photo for your Facebook profile. Let the caliber of your conversation be the greater concern.