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20160512_161231The kids and I have been on somewhat of an Elton John trip lately as we travel back and forth between home and school, and so I wasn’t surprised when I called out from the front to the rear for song requests and received a barraging response from Madeline and Harrison for tunes such as “Crocodile Rock,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and “Benny and the Jets.”

“Can we listen to ‘The Ping-Pong Wizard’?” Evelyn shouted above the voices of her older siblings.

“It’s not ping-pong,” Harry said correcting her. “It’s pinball.”

He’s always the first to fix her miscalculations, even though it most often only wins for him an unmatchable look of disdain from the no-nonsense six-year-old.

“Whatever, Harrison,” Evelyn defended. “Daddy knows what I mean.”

“Yeah,” he kept pushing, “but they’re not the same thing.”

Accepting the challenge, Evelyn pushed back, and at first I thought she was just trying to cause Harrison to spin a rod.

“Yes, they are.”

“No, they’re not,” Harry insisted.

“Yes, they are!” Evelyn turned and formed the dreaded stare.

Harry didn’t back down. “Pinball and ping-pong are not the same thing,” he said. “Tell me how they’re the same.”

“Because,” she said emitting a strange confidence and looking back through her window, “I’m not very good at either of them, so to me, they’re the same.”


“Makes perfect sense, Evelyn,” I interrupted with a call to the back “‘The Ping-Pong Wizard’ it is, then.”

I set the tune in motion. Harry sighed. Evelyn bopped along. Madeline rolled her eyes at both of them. I enjoyed a moment that, before too long, saw everyone, including Harry, singing “ping-pong” in place of “pinball.”

If there’s anything I’ve learned as a parent thus far, it’s that there’s almost always an undiscovered boulevard of thought in most conversations. Another is that kids have rather keen insight, and if left to ponder an idea, they’ll often find that pathway. In other words, they find something new in what was once thought to be spent.

In a sense, I feel similarly about several of the whiskies in my possession. No, not that the kids should be allowed to ponder and “discover” them, but as I revisit with various editions, I continue to detect new peculiarities, and for me, this is rather fascinating.

Take for example the Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve edition, which I decided to go ahead and purchase in order to write what I was expecting to be a negative review.

I had a sip from this whisky some time ago, and I don’t remember liking it. I remember sipping the dram and thinking it was a little too waxy and narrow, that it didn’t really have much to offer me. This time around, however, the experience was very different. With each sip, I was found learning rather suddenly how ping-pong and pinball – a bad whisky experience and a good whisky experience – could be bridged by a few overlooked details.

This time around, the nose was anything but narrow. I sensed lime Sour Patch candies, a little bit of caramel, and oak spice.

In the mouth, this whisky is by no means waxy, but rather it bestows sugary pomegranate tannins, spicy nougat, and light roasted coffee.

The finish is a medium breadth of what seems as though it could turn to become a searing alcohol note, but this ends up not being the case with the lime returning to the scene to serve as a chaperone.

For the price – around $45 – this is a pretty good Scotch whisky, and I dare say that I may end up adding it to my “Top Fifteen for under $75” list. At a minimum, I’ll be thinking on how I handed over a crown of appreciation to the Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s Reserve each time I sing:

But I ain’t seen nothing like him
In any amusement hall.
That deaf, dumb and blind kid
Sure plays a mean pinball…

Or ping-pong. Behold, it matters little to the Thoma clan.