Just above my main whisky cabinet is a mirror. I visit it each morning before departing for the day. It has two small drawers above the whisky compartment, one of which is compartmentalized and holds the tabs for my clerical collar. I pause at this drawer each and every morning as I make my way into what is almost always a day of unknowns.
Each morning, there is that moment when the one standing there before me is as silent as I even as we both give a glance, fix our collars, and await the other to speak. He is listening, and I am, too. We hear the same thing. It’s something of a line from T.S. Eliot, a low susurration of thought to remind us, “In my beginning is my end.” The thought consigns a grin, not a smile, and speaks aloud, “Pax tecum, amicus meus.”
Eliot’s words have various meanings for me. As they belong to my day, they remind me that no matter how surprisingly wonderful or gruesome the day yet unknown may be, as God allows, my ending will be as my beginning – here with my wife, my four children, and all that comprises the warmth and security of my home. And so I petition God’s willingness, “Peace be with you, my friend.”
Eliot’s words mean something completely different when I open the cabinet below the mirror. They retell the story of the first time I came face to face with a finer Scotch whisky. They prompt for me to acknowledge that such a beginning was also my end.
I scoffed at the price there in the little shop in London, and I considered it foolishness that I would ever give over a portion of my wage for such mammon. But with that first sip, so began a course that has now seen the wage become the mammon and the whisky become the wage, a stipend acquired by gathering and saving over the course of many months, a payment of sorts granted by the Lord – a holy thing for a holy one – when I feel as though I can’t go on any longer or that I’m coming undone by the weight of everyone else’s sorrows.
Look now to the mirror once more. Ask the one there, “Tell me again, dear friend, which whisky is the one you most prefer?” Affirm his answer as true and good, but then urge him to consider that there may be another one in waiting. I say it could be the Reflexion.
The bottle will be judged by some as too ornate, almost certainly adding to the cost of production and increasing the final fee, but just as we do not serve the Lord’s Supper on paper plates and plastic cups, but rather use flagons and patens of polished silver, I would suggest as Publius Syrus that “A fair exterior is a silent recommendation.” This whisky is deserving of such ornamentation.
The nose is a sea swept Florida breeze crisscrossing a citrus grove. In another breath, the sky cedes a touch of the honeybee’s hard work gathered and clinging to an almond tree.
On the palate, the cinnamon has been divided from the color and sprinkled into chocolate once simmering but now stirred and cooling in a sherry oak bowl. The image is hypnotizing.
The finish, while medium, is exceptionally full. And yet it leaves one believing it was short, but only because of the sadness that it must leave at all. As it goes, it combines all that is the nose and palate and bids a kind farewell.
“Ah, yes, and farewell to you,” my reflection and I say. “When will it be that we join with you again?”
“If God wills it, soon.”
“Yes, and we pray that He does. Pax tecum, amicus meus.”