To give my opinion honestly…
When you take a trip through cyberspace in search of whisky reviews, in the end, many of the competing blogs, articles, and even the snippets from emblematic printed volumes seem to share the same general premises. Each is an exceptionally bountiful read, to be sure, full of lots of helpful information. Most deal with similar themes like history, aging processes, regions, distillery idiosyncrasies, and the like. I’m not saying this is necessarily bad; however, for me at least, it is a dry and impersonal tradition of simply introducing the reader to information that is easily locatable on Wikipedia or in travel books.
I’m trying to do something different. I’m working by way of narratives. I’m working to weave you, the reader, into the experience so that you taste and then either enjoy or despise the particular whisky edition with me. It’s so much more than sharing a few details and then giving a rating from 1 to 10, that is, suggesting that it might be relatively good or bad. I’m badgering your emotions. I’m trying to initiate a process that is designed to help you make the whisky experience your own and to enable you to reflect back upon the experience with a much fuller sense of having been a participant, or at a minimum, having been able to connect my narrative to your life.
Take, for example, the following remark from a woman who considered my review of Scoresby:
“I have to say it was a beautifully executed synopsis of the philosophy of relativism. I felt like I was back in college nodding my head emphatically at the instructor. Then to follow up such an eloquent lesson with that gut busting analysis… Let’s just say I had to redo my makeup. As I look at this unopened bottle I am filled with a sense of dread that when I open it a plume of toxic vapor and searing white light (ala Indiana Jones “lost ark”) will be released and scald the faces off of any one in the downtown Seattle corridor. If you hear about it on the news… You’ll know the truth. Wish me luck!”
You can see by her words that she “owned” the experience and she leapt from it with an ability to describe an expectation drenched in colorful imagery rather than a drab and forgettable rating as good or bad.
I’m not striving to maneuver mechanically. I’m working to build bridges with the readers that others do not. I want to engage the readers at a deeper level, bringing them into and making them participants in my own experiences through a vast array of tools of language at my disposal. As I already said, and while it remains my opinion, I believe that the reader will too soon forget the details of a routine systematic description, and yet will be less likely to forget an event in which his or her mind was engaged as an observer and/or participant because he or she could see the trees, smell the ocean air, hear the crowd, and interacted with the characters in the story as their paths intersected with a particular whisky edition. When the reader discovers the same whisky in a store, he or she will be able to enunciate, “Hey, I know that whisky! That’s the one that cost Frank the Wampa his arm!”
That’s my goal. However, I understand there will be a downside to this. It’s the reason behind this particular excursus.
As I reach for and into the reader’s “self,” sometimes it will be that I press to the extremities of comfortability, risking the reader taking offense, especially if he or she has claimed a particular whisky as his or her own prior to reading my review and discovering that I chose an alternate path. I know this. I get that it happens because I, too, am a member of the fellowship of undue human foolishness and have experienced the same sensations while reading other whisky reviewer’s concluding paragraphs.
And still, to avoid doing what so many are already doing well enough, I’m willing to take that chance, and I’m willing to own the content of my words before I click the blog button entitled “Publish.”
Now, having supposed all of this, “Come, let us reason together and enjoy a dram,” the Prophet Isaiah submits. Well, he said the first half of that sentence, anyway. How about the Glenfiddich 15-year-old Solera Vat? It’s a pleasant enough peacekeeper amongst enthusiasts; not the best, but also not the worst.
There’s an immoderate fruitiness about the nose, leaving the impression that it’s quite possible you are about to nibble upon some of those juice filled fruit snacks that you give to your kids.
The palate supplies a rich, chocolaty morsel just beyond the fruit juice. The sherry influence is copious, almost too much so.
The finish is rather stingy, finding its fade delta much too quickly. On the way out, it tosses a few more of those fruit snacks at you and then calls it quits.
As I said, it’s not the best, but for the price (about $50), it’s also not the worst. It is a moderately easy potion to keep in our midst in order that we might practice collegiality and smile together, because is it not true, as Mother Theresa weighed, “Peace begins with a smile and a reasonably drinkable dram”? Well, she said the first half of that sentence, anyway.