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20160328_143807Even though the restaurant was nearly empty, our meals were incredibly slow in their arrival. Flicking at her straw, Evelyn frowned and said in a mumble, “I don’t want to play this game.”

Madeline went first.

“Let’s see… What I like about Evelyn is that she is funny and she likes to give hugs.”

“Thanks, Maddy,” Evelyn growled. She was unflinching in her disgust with her brother, Harrison, which at the present stemmed from a brief moment of competition ten minutes prior in the car. I think it had something do with the fact that he was able to solve a math problem that she couldn’t.

Trying to change the tone of the gathering, I went next.

“You know what I love about Madeline?” I asked the group. “She’s kind to everyone, she loves to cuddle with Momma, and she’s really smart.”

Maddy’s grin was even bigger than before.

“Your turn, Harrison,” I prodded. “What do you like about Evelyn?”

“Yeah, okay,” he said surprisingly willing to try but also knowing that whatever he said was going to be forced and rather uncomfortable.

“I like that Evelyn is short.”

I’m sure glad that Evelyn doesn’t have super powers, especially powers available to her eyes – like laser beams or telekinesis. Harry would be crispier than the chicken strips Evelyn ordered.

“Give us something better than that,” I nudged.

“Okay, so, I like Evelyn because she’s… well… because she makes me laugh and she is fun to play with.”

“Your turn, Evelyn,” Madeline said. She and I worked the scene as if we’d practiced. “What do you like about Harrison?”

Still flicking her straw, “I like that he’s sitting over there by Daddy and not next to you and me.”

“Evelyn,” Maddy coaxed with much more care than I was prepared to give, “Harry just said some really nice things about you and he’s mad, too. You can try.”

The next glare warned Maddy that she, too, was treading dangerously near to the “Crispy Chicken Strip” zone. But what came next, I do believe, stunned even the universe itself.

“I like that Harrison is really smart and that he loves me and that he’s fun,” and the litany rolled along, “and he’s kind and he lets me play with his toys and he’s my friend…” After a few more descriptors, she brought it to a conclusion with, “and because he’s my brother.” As Harrison started to smile, so did, Evelyn. The clouds were dispersing and the two youngest of my four appeared to be pals once again.

“That was really nice, Evelyn,” Madeline doted. I offered the same.

“I win, Harry,” Evelyn interrupted and took a proud sip of her orange juice.

“What do you mean you win?!” he said shifting from joy to confused surprise.

“You only said two nice things,” she pierced. “I just said like twenty.” And then taking a quick sip from her drink, she ended, “You lose, Harry.”

Again, I think that the universe stopped spinning for a moment just to marvel and to take note of the six-year-old mind. Thankfully the food arrived before Harry could dive under the table to bring her to justice.

I think that this particular account serves as a useful translator for The BenRiach 10-year-old Curiositas Peated Malt because while I wasn’t expecting very much from this still relatively young whisky, it was, instead, an aquifer of descriptors proving itself quite capable against the better-known peats.

In comparison to most others, the nose of this whisky is a small, more intimate campfire of smoked fruit and the finished woodiness I enjoy smelling on the inside of my 12-string Fender acoustic guitar.

The Curiosita’s litany continues in the palate, revealing paled fruits such as pears, peaches, and sweet green grapes. Each of these is cut and served on a singed piece of southern swamp ash garnished with a minimal scattering of lilac petals.

And much like my six-year-old’s closing statement, the finish is most remarkable. It is short, but in its brevity, it collects everything presented thus far and caps the whole discussion with a confident nod that it ought not to be underestimated as a formidable competitor when choosing between peaty whiskies.

And by the way, the lunch ended without blood. It’s amazing what a piece of French silk pie can do when all efforts at diplomacy have failed.