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Souvenir shops can be interesting places – wondrously delightful backwaters offering uniquely colorful items and situations from both regionally and around the world.

From crass t-shirts you usually only see worn by that particular uncle who, in most families, is the one member most only appreciate seeing for a few hours once a year at the family reunion…20160702_152413

…to what was once a proud 12-foot alligator now stuffed and surrounded by giant novelty sunglasses and useless knick-knacks…20160702_164738

…to restroom facilities that immediately retool your innermost desires, that is, upon first glance you become convinced that you don’t have to go as badly as you think you do.20160702_164817

With such a vast array of items and experiences, it’s hard to choose the right one. And yet, as I marched along following the kids – weaving in and out of tight aisles telling them to put down the item they just picked up, demanding that they take off the hat they just put on for fear of lice or ringworm – there was one item that stood out for me the most, and not because it was flamboyantly obtuse, but because it managed to blend its weirdness in a way that wasn’t all that interesting until you actually considered what it was trying to display.20160702_153308

Minnie Mouse, right? No big deal.

Except the kindly cartoon mouse looks a little surprised that we caught her burrowing up and out of a human chest as we thought only the grab-jaw aliens chasing Sigourney Weaver could do. And I’m guessing there’s no blood because she’s also a vampire. Minnie drained the unsuspecting t-shirt victim before tearing herself free from the corpse.

I was more tempted to buy this item than any other in the store, but better judgment convinced me that the regular passerby would never fully understand the real reason I was wearing a pink Minnie Mouse shirt. I can hear one now:

“Look at that guy in the pink Minnie Mouse shirt. He’s an animated one, I’ll bet. Reminds me of Uncle Steve.”

20160623_145803Forget Uncle Steve. It reminds me of the bonded Old Grand Dad 100.

This stuff blends in with the other Bourbons on the shelf, at least until a friend gifts you with a sample that enables you to recognize its distinctiveness among the many.

The first thing you’ll notice is, like Minnie, this stuff has some unexpected zest. When the cap is removed, it pops out of the bottle’s innards with the scent of corn that’s been marinated in a pepper and pulpy orange juice blend.

You don’t need much of a sip to notice the whiskey is struggling to decide if it wants to be friendly or mean, jolly or chest-bursting. There’s a vanilla-like gentleness at first, but then some cayenne pepper grabs hold and rattles you before turning back to give room for what seemed like a pinch of sweet rye.

The finish reminded me of Jim Beam. Not good. Cut with a little bit of water, it regains a level of its pleasantness, although the palate loses quite a bit of its notable zip.

I suppose I might consider buying a bottle. But I also thought about using the toilet at the souvenir shop.

On second thought, I think I’ll hold off on this one. It’s too weird even for a guy in a pink shirt sporting a devilishly vicious Minnie Mouse.