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20160707_175409She was little and grayed and pushing a shallow cart of groceries. I was beside the bin of sweet corn removing cobs from their waxy sheaths. There was barely a span of four feet between us, and within that span, a roll of tear-away sacks and a scale for measuring the weight of whichever produce selections the customers were fancying that day.

She lifted a bunch of grapes from her basket, and as they crossed the expanse between us, she tore away a few of the bunch’s individuals and then set the rest on the scale.

I thought nothing of it. Certainly so many have casually snatched a few here and there to munch while wandering the seemingly endless arteries of the store.

But then she removed the grapes from the scale, tore off another handful, shoved them in her mouth, and then set the bunch back on the scale’s pedestal.

And then she did it again.

And again.

Finally, after a few more mouthfuls, the cluster eventually measuring at the weight she preferred, she tore free a plastic sack and pulled it up and around what was remaining of the grape bunch.

Now, what was I to make of this? It certainly was the boldest bit of in-store snacking I’d ever seen. In fact, I’ll bet that whoever was monitoring the security cameras above us was even at the very moment wrestling with what to do.

She ate at least a third of the bunch, and yet who is so bold as to arrest a hunched-over and grandmotherly 85-year-old woman for shoplifting – that is, for eating far more than a legitimate taste-test of fresh grapes? And she so brazenly performed her dastardly deed right in front of me as though she was completely without care, which led me to believe that I should not be surprised if I return next week to find her near the lettuce with a fork and a bowl in hand, having already used a pocket knife to chop up some tomatoes and cucumbers, and a freshly opened bottle of Italian dressing in her shopping cart.

The only thing I can figure is that she was a walking amalgam of “old school” and “fixed income” and she was not going to pay the asking price for the grapes. She didn’t care who was watching. She didn’t care if anyone would speak up. She was going to choose the bunch she wanted and then whittle it down until it met the price she could afford to pay.

Come to think of it, the sweet corn looked pretty pathetic. The price-per-cob certainly didn’t match the quality. For every cob you buy, you should get two more. With that, I wonder if anyone would have confronted a clergyman boiling some water right there next to the bin, dropping in a few cobs, and while they cooked, hustling back through the store to grab some spray butter, salt, and a few paper plates.

Too bad I couldn’t get away with something like this in a liquor store. As I get older, and with the price of Scotch ever on the incline, there may come a time when the essentials – such as the Compass Box’s “The Lost Blend” – will be needed and this penniless clergyman will be forced to test the fortitude of the college student monitoring the security camera. I mean, who would be so bold to arrest a hunched-over and grandfatherly 85-year-old clergyman for taking a sip from a whisky bottle?

Well, come to think of it, I guess I would. With only 12,018 bottles of this stuff in circulation, we shouldn’t be letting any ol’ ratchet start popping corks while wandering through the store. Corral those folks into the Scoresby and Clan Macgregor section. This fine whisky needs protecting.

The nose of this delightful dram is a plentifully sweet mixture of fruit and amiable peat smoke. The charred mist so distantly nips at the edges of a full-bodied cruet of white grape juice soaking ripened nectarines.

On the palate, the smoke steps forward to take to itself the credit it deserves in the formula, and yet it by no means steals away the spotlight from what seems to be the more prominent highland character of the edition. The fruits mentioned earlier remain, except their abundant sweetness is now being tempered by a warming char – again, not prominent, just noticeable.

The finish is a delightful balance and summary of everything noted, and not only that, but a gentle tap of sugary malt makes its way in and through the medium fade.

Now, speaking of 85-year-olds wandering through the liquor store popping corks – who am I kidding? I’ll most likely be dead before I’m 65. But if I do reach 85, I’ll probably be the one working part time at the store monitoring the security cameras so that I can afford the essentials. But who’s to say that a bottle of “The Lost Blend” (if it still exists) wouldn’t go missing?