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20151107_143029My son Harrison is brilliant.

Yeah, I know a lot of parents pridefully declare this of their children. This time it’s true. Harrison is brilliant.

He’s eight years old and has a mastery of the English language that I rarely see even in adults. He can spell any word you present to him. He’s an incredible problem solver. We see this not only in his skillful math work, but in his ability to solve puzzle games. He’s an even better problem creator in the sense that he can take an immediate topic at hand and create a relative off-the-cuff joke; you know, one of those “What do you get when you cross a such-and-such with a this-or-that?” And don’t be surprised if in that same moment he comes up with a play on words or a knock-knock joke that stumps even the quicker witted intellects in the room. Many of them are pretty corny, but hey, he’s configuring his surroundings in creative ways and I’m always amazed as it happens.

These same cerebral capacities translate into logical script. He writes in his journal every day, talking about the day’s events, noting descriptively what he had for lunch, sharing stories about school and home life. And a reader can actually follow and understand because his handwriting is impeccable, not the typical scratch that would befit the average student his age.

But these are chiefly mental things, which is why I noted his handwriting. This is evidence of a physical competence that is just as absorbing.

He’s definitely a gifted musician. He’s been taking piano lessons for a little more than a year now and he’s very close to mastering the theme orchestration to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. Right now he’s working on a piano rendition of “Stairway to Heaven” during his free time. Interestingly, there’s a public park nearby, and on the main play structure is a set of rainbow colored chimes. It isn’t uncommon to hear “Mary Had a Little Lamb” being plinked by various children here and there. We were there a few weeks back, and it wasn’t too long into the visit that I heard Harrison tapping the infamous Led Zeppelin tune on the little metal chimes. He tapped each one to know its sound, and then he went into his rendition.

I’m convinced that if he doesn’t become a famous musician, he is just as likely to proceed toward a dazzling upland as a writer. Maybe he’ll even be kind enough to take up the Angelsportion.com mantle when I’m wrestling with my sanity in a home somewhere. Who knows?

There is another combination of skills that gather into a single entity that I know well and appreciate only a little less similarly – the Ardbeg Distillery. Certainly it isn’t as close to my heart as that of my son Harrison, but because it is the steady producer of some phenomenal Scotch whiskies, it is a very close second.

Each time I try an edition from Ardbeg, it almost always proves itself for joining the ranks of Reverend Thoma’s darlings. This remains true with the Ardbeg Auriverdes.

Released in 2014 in celebration of Ardbeg’s long-standing and yet self-established “Ardbeg Day,” this whisky exists to stir the hearts of the loyal Ardbeg disciples. And it does.

The sugary smoke plume is the first thing to greet you. It chars the senses in ways that disclose that it has a curious nature, but that you ought not to underestimate it. Nevertheless, the further into the cloud you go, the more you may be drawn by a distant chorus carrying you to the malt and vanilla noted in the labeling.

On the palate, as you arrive at the cloud’s center – a hearty peat drenched in thick spices and coated with barrel char – the beast shows it’s playing a fully orchestrated version of Metallica’s “Of Wolf and Man” with your mouth chimes. Forget the “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” stuff. Sure, the bottle is a pleasant enough green (verdes), and the contents are a shimmering pour of gold (auri), but don’t be fooled. It’s here, it’s skilled, it’s multifaceted, and it means business. The other kids, the lesser peat monsters, gather entranced with the hope to become this in later years. Some may, but most probably won’t.

I would imagine that the finish is probably going to be too long and too imposing for most casual whisky drinkers. In fact, I’d say it’s likely to be an all-around turn off to anyone unfamiliar with the various Ardbeg offerings. But if you do try it, give it a chance to wrap up its performance by handing out smoked chocolates to everyone in the audience. You may find this to be just the right conclusion to an otherwise unfamiliar and yet captivating presentation. For the rest of us Ardbeg fans, it’s another display of multiple skills coming together in a singularly vibrant whisky.