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20160501_153022Sitting on the floor near the fireplace, she tossed the photo across the way and it landed right in my lap.

“Remember this?” she asked while the photo was still in mid-flight?

I glanced at the image.

She knows me well enough to judge my attempt at hiding an internal wince. “Barely,” I said and took a sip of the whisky in my hand.

“Did you ever figure back then,” she started, “that you’d end up married with four kids?”

Still examining the photo and trying to calculate my age, “I thought I’d be dead by now, actually.”

IMG_20160501_0001“Be quiet,” she said playfully and threw a glue stick. She was working on the family photo albums.

“Really, did you ever figure for where you are now?” she continued.

I guessed I was about 20. The photo was taken just before I made my way down to the lake at a Christian summer camp in Illinois where I worked as a lifeguard and counselor.

“Does anyone really figure this far into the future?” I asked still scanning the snapshot.

“So, no, then?”

“Well, let’s just say this…” I said holding up the photo and pointing to the cup in my hand. “Knowing how much I was making back then, I can tell you for sure that what I love to drink now is definitely not in that plastic cup.”

“Yeah, no kidding!” she said and laughed. We both knew that had my preference now been my preference then, I’d still owe quite a bit more on my student loans.

20160501_170323Good whisky is worth it, though, and thanks to my friend Nathan, I’ve discovered another edition equal in stature as that of a camp counselor’s measly paycheck: The Longrow Peated Campbeltown Single Malt edition.

I can’t get this stuff here in Michigan. For the average whisky drinker, this is no big deal, but for a guy like me, this a tragedy of epic proportion. I don’t know what the Michigan Liquor Control Commission has against the Campbeltown distilleries, but I can tell you that there’s some sort of embargo in place for that region and it is adding years to my life. Although, a sniff and sip from this gem takes them away.

The nose is a warm apple strudel with a sweet cream cheese frosting. Breathing in again, there is a distant smoke from the smoldering crumbs at the bottom of the oven.

In the mouth, the first sensation is that of the sweet frost twirled in smoked honey and spread over a malt cracker.

The finish is a phenomenal mosaic of ashen toffee, tobacco, and immoderately crusted apple crisp.

I suppose that when I observe such archaic images from days gone by, rather than trying to figure out my age, I think I’d rather speak with regard to intervals prior to my discovery of the aqua vitae.

My best guess, that’s a photo of me 10 years before I knew better.