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20150825_211340Take a pinch of Mark Twain’s wit, a princely measure of Noah Webster’s skill for defining, a dash of Emily Dickinson’s observance, a sprig of Theodore Roosevelt’s forthrightness, stir in a generous helping of Edgar Allen Poe’s gloom, shake it well, and then pour it into the head of a Victorian fellow with a great hairdo and a gentleman’s moustache. This is Ambrose Bierce, the late nineteenth and early twentieth century writer who, by thorough comparison to the writers of his day, was a virtual font of stinging sarcasm and jovial negativity.

It was most appropriate that I happened to be reading a portion from Bierce while sipping the Aberfeldy 21.

Bierce, in his crass and demeaning way, seemed to make the point that the common man was indeed capable of knowing greater things, but it would be required to bring him to this knowledge through extreme trial. While this isn’t exactly a novel surmising, for Bierce, a raving pessimist, this signaled something lively – like that one bulb on the strand of Christmas tree lights that you thought had burned out but then flickers occasionally to show that it is not yet departed.

AbierceBy the way, when I referred to Bierce as a “pessimist,” I did not use this descriptor lightly. It is to his credit that we own the following avowals: “Optimism, the doctrine or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly,” and “Cabbage, a familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head.”

In general, it’s easy to see that he doesn’t think very highly of the human race, but I suppose what I am suggesting is that I think it’s possible for the reader to discover in Bierce’s cue a flickering optimism, a scale-tipping hope for heaven beyond the apparent presence of hell.

Again, this fell rather conveniently into stride with the Aberfeldy 21.

Admittedly, this was my first go-round with the Aberfeldy wellspring. I’d had the fullest intention of trying it at some point, that is at least until I read an article revealing Dewar’s as its owner. With this, I was facing a conundrum.

Dewar’s is, in my humble opinion, a mortally wounding blended Scotch. You only consume it if you really need a drink, are nearing death, and it’s the only booze available. If these three strictures do not intersect, then you do well to avoid it. Aberfeldy, being one of Dewar’s holdings, was guilty by association.

My pessimism was stirred by a general uneasiness that the overseers of one would influence the other, and I questioned spending the marks to buy something that I was convinced would be disappointing. In other words, I would need my bulb to flicker with hope toward heaven in the face of what I was pretty sure would most likely be hell.

As you can see, my innermost optimism won. And I’m glad for this.

The nose of the Aberfeldy 21 is faultless – rich with fresh citrus and vested just slightly with malted cherries.

The first sip is transcendent. The nose hands over to the palate a heavier dosage of the malted cherries and then adds a little bit of honey and white chocolate. A second sip seems to stir in a bit more of the honey.

The finish is medium, that is, it is a silky conferring of warmed malt that lasts just long enough for you to ask yourself why you didn’t try this splendid concoction sooner.

Oh yeah, because it says “The Heart of Dewar’s” on the label. And Dewar’s blended Scotch sucks.