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Even though I have a nomenclated connection to the lead singer and world-renowned rock flutist, I wouldn’t say that Jethro Tull is necessarily one of my favorite bands, although, when it comes to lyrical prowess, Ian Anderson is quite nimble. I listen if only to be schooled in vernacular dexterity.
For example, combined with its minstrel-like undercarriage, “Poppies red and roses filled with summer rain…” just seems to spin from “Songs from the Wood” like a medieval quadrille. Alliterative. Syncopated. Very crisp.
Coming home from a School Board meeting a few nights ago, I decided it had been a while since I’d listened to my namesake, so I scrolled through and pulled up a “Best Of” compilation, and for the twenty minutes of “motorway stretching right out to the sun,” I settled into the likes of “Songs from the Wood,” “Skating Away,” an abbreviated version of “Thick as a Brick” (which was quite popular in the early part of the year I was born), a live version of “One White Duck,” and of course, “Aqualung.”
I guess that having been rejoined to such odes associated with my birth, when I arrived home, I was in the mood to sip the whisky my wife had purchased most recently for my birthday – the Highland Park 18 Years Old.
This is a whisky that requires dim lighting, a comfortable chair near a flickering fireplace, a little light music, and the company of your beloved. It encourages whimsical discussion regarding the events of the day, a compliment, a blush, and a reaching to hold your beloved’s hand.
In the nose there is at first the sense of a cool breeze sweeping through a berry patch and carrying a dissipating peat smoke from a fire burning in the farmhouse nearby. This is all far too enticing to the passerby, and so he investigates the first sip before a more detailed determining can occur.
The palate is equally alluring. The peat holds, but as in the nose, it continues to dissipate, except now it does so amidst hints of hot chocolate and almonds.
There is a medium finish to the experience. The berries prove themselves to be raspberries. The chocolate and almonds give way to a peat smoke doing what it can to become more prominent – not necessarily a resurgence, just more pronounced by the whisky’s oily coating.
Highland Park has an exceptional whisky here. However, like Jethro Tull, it isn’t necessarily something I go to often. And yet, once acquainted, after a time of absence, the void is indeed noticeable. This will surely drive one to its doorstep once for an evening visit and it will indeed be a splendid re-acquainting.