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20160207_155822The conversation turned from a cordial discussion of the whiskies I’ve reviewed to the photos I provide for each…

“I just use the camera on my phone.”


“Yeah, I just pour a little into one of my Waterford rock glasses, set it next to the bottle, and take a picture. I use a glencairn for Bourbon. Before we moved to our new home in 2014, I used to take the photos on my whisky cabinet. In the new place, I use the same spot on my fireplace for all of them. I think I took the Glenmorangie Lasanta on my dining room table. I took the picture of Scoresby at a friend’s home. A couple of times I’ve asked my wife to take the whisky photo. She has a great camera and she’s an excellent photographer and there’ve been a few exceptional whiskies or articles in particular that I felt deserved a little more photo drama than what my Samsung Note 5 could provide. My article entitled ‘Glencairn or Rock Glass… Does it really matter?‘ is an example. My review of The Balvenie 30-year-old is another.”

“Don’t you think you should make each photo as dramatic as possible? A lot of the whisky blogs do that.”

“I don’t know what the other blogs are doing. I got the impression that a lot of them used distillery stock photos. I don’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Well, because I’m rarely dealing with a sampling. Excepting only a few here and there, I own every Scotch you see in those photos. Many I buy. Some are gifts, but no matter the circumstance, I’m taking a picture of something that’s right in front of me in its fullest form. It’s my bottle, the one that I own. I can get to know it, investigate it, truly explain every available aspect of its hidden narrative for the reader.”

“When it comes to taking the picture, does that really matter?”

“No. Yes. I don’t know. I guess what I can say is that no one will ever be able to read one of my reviews and wonder if I’ve ever really experienced the whisky. There it is, right there on the Reverend’s fireplace mantle, in the same place as all the others.”

“What about this edition of the Elijah Craig?”

20160205_095426“I’m still rather new to Bourbon, and so far, it’s been a struggle to find enjoyment in it. The Basil Hayden is pretty good. I own that one. I own a few others, but I’m struggling to find an inclination to buy them, especially when someone is willing to let me take home a sample first. This Elijah Craig is a sample.”

“What did you think of it?”

“Well, I certainly tip my hat to it since the Elijah Craig of history was a fellow clergyman. We’re a rare breed, I tell you. A very rare breed.”

“And the whiskey?”

“I actually thought this one was pretty good. I didn’t have high hopes, and yet I was pleasantly surprised.”

“What surprised you?”

“The nose isn’t as syrupy or sour as other Bourbons. This one has a rarer placidness that continues from nose to finish.”


“Yeah, it’s gentle. It’s calm and more sophisticated than the bottle may represent. It was created to be great and not just to sell booze. Go into any liquor store and you’ll see rows and rows of booze. Scotch, Tequila, Rum, Bourbon. Booze and more booze. But on those same shelves are editions made by artisans and not marketing departments. I can tell by the balanced nose in this one that the distillers knew that there would be guys like me who actually care about this stuff, and they were aware that if I pop the cork and smell ‘cheap,’ there’s a good chance that it will be both the first and last bottle of Elijah Craig I ever buy.”

“What about the taste?”

“This one nips at the tongue a bit, but I suppose I’d give it a little leeway to be the 94 proof whiskey that it is. Personally, I like the burn. It’s why I rarely add water to my whiskies. But if the burn tastes and feels a little more like the Dow Chemical Company is its birthright, then the bottle sits in the back of one of my cabinets for a very long time. In this case, as I said, it nips. But there are some sweeter notes, too. I’d say that someone was a bit over zealous with the vanilla extract, although there’s a spicy, oaky character that brings back the balance. This is really noticeable in the finish, which I’d say is one that just crossed the border from medium to long.”

“So you’d recommend it, then?”

“Yeah, I suppose. I don’t rate whiskies using numbers, but in this case, as a Bourbon, I’d give it about an 8.”

“So, this one didn’t convert you?”

“Convert me? No. Stoke my determination to keep searching for the Bourbon that will? Yes.”