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20160606_185501“Are there hurricanes where the earth shakes?” the six-year-old shouted over the radio newscast from the back seat.

“What?” I asked and adjusted both the volume and the rearview mirror to give her my attention.

“The man on the radio,” she attempted to explain, “he said there’s a hurricane in Florida right now.”

“He sure did.”

“Are there hurricanes where the earth shakes?” she asked again.

Attempting to remain focused in the midst of some pretty heavy traffic, I was genuinely confused by her question.

“What do you mean, Honey?”

“Are there hurricanes where the earth shakes?”

“Evelyn,” I said, “I really don’t understand what you’re asking me.”

“You don’t?”

“No, honey, I don’t.”

“Okay,” she said. “Let me ask you in a different way.”

She took a deep breath and appeared to expand the presence of her posture and the animation of her gaze. Gritting her teeth and widening her eyes, she shook her hands in the air in front of her and spoke loudly and in as deep a voice as she could muster, “Are there hurricanes where the earth shakes?!”

That didn’t help me, but I pretended it did.

“Oh, I get it now,” I nodded and tried not to laugh. “I don’t think there are. Nope, no hurricanes where the earth shakes.”

“I didn’t think so,” she said crossing her arms back to her chest and looking out the window.

I sure hope I didn’t set her back educationally in some way. I can see her coming to me a little later in life to report that she failed her meteorology exam and holds me responsible.

“Sorry, kid. I was trying to pay attention to the road and you weren’t making any sense that day. My best guess in the moment was that you were trying to ask if the places that experience earthquakes also suffer the battering of hurricanes. I didn’t know, and for a moment I thought you were going to fly out of your car seat trying to dramatize the same words again and again until I gave you an answer. So, I gave you one.”

Sometimes figuring out the contours of a whiskey for the sake of a review is a “best guess” for me, as I’m sure it is for other whiskey reviewers. Take for example the James Oliver Rye Whiskey from Indio Spirits. When I first popped the cork, I smelled what I thought was apple wine. But believe it or not, at the time, I didn’t actually know if there was such a thing. I assumed there probably was because people make wine out of just about everything these days. In fact, I read an article not all that long ago about pumpkin wine as well as a wine made from lizards. I figured that if these aberrations existed, certainly apple wine did, too. And if it did, then this is what it probably smelled like. I’ve since smelled apple wine, and guess what… I was right.

The palate of the James Oliver Rye holds a little bit of intrigue, too. There are some honey notes as well as a prominence of the rye grain, but then there’s something else, and my best guess is a honey crisp apple soaked in buttermilk that has a pinch of horseradish mixed in.

Weird. Not a bad “weird,” but more of a captivating “weird.”

The finish is medium to long, depending upon how long you let this stuff simmer in your mouth. Still, you needn’t be afraid to keep it in there a while even though it may seem a little feistier at 50% ABV. It’s still a smooth-ending whiskey, with only a tad bit of the horseradish poking you in the neck. I don’t generally appreciate anyone or anything putting jabs to my neckline, but I found this whiskey’s spicy intrusion to be less offensive and rather enjoyable.

I do have two suggestion for the folks at Indio. First, maybe once you get this stuff onsite there in Oregon, you could let the whisky age for another year or two? At two years old, I wonder if this stuff is reaching its potential. And second, get someone to rewrite the blurb on the side of the bottle. I know that when it comes to summarizing the life of the whiskey’s namesake in a one-inch by one-inch space, there’s only so much anyone can do to get the right words in the right order, so maybe farm it out to someone other than the person who etched the current rendition. It isn’t very well written, and with that, it’s a lot less interesting. It’s a sort of “hurricanes where the earth shakes” type of communique and it left me wondering just what to do with it. I’ll bet if you tightened it up, it would further the mystique of the edition.

Again, that’s a best guess.