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20160916_082047Her cold was getting worse. The poor little girl was sniffling every few seconds, doing what we all do when we feel as though the taps on our sinuses just won’t close correctly.

“Do you need a tissue, honey?” I asked and adjusted my rearview mirror.

She gave no answer, but instead gripped the arm rests of her booster seat and began a rather impressive duel with… something.

She inhaled a quick but sturdy sniff. And then she did it again. She did it several times in a row until finally she gave one deeply final exhale followed by an incredibly forceful and grunting sniff. I heard a shoonk followed by a pronounced swallow as the solid piece of whatever was causing her trouble broke loose and was no more.

“There,” she said resolutely. “I feel better. No, I don’t need a tissue.”

Managing my own gag reflex, I managed to steer the vehicle without incident even as the other kids in the car heard the same and called out, “Evelyn, that’s gross!”

20160916_082118Yes, that was gross. But not as gross as the 1960s Vat 69 sample before me now. It was much harder to control my gag while sniffing and swallowing this sour chunk of barrel mucous.

The only positive thing I can say about the nose of this dreadful dram is that if you have a cold, one wafting swell from this garbage and all of the viral troublemakers in your nasal cavity will pack up and find another place in your body to set up camp. It will help you to breathe better. It will sting for a moment, but it will help.

The palate defines the shoonk. It was a clump of burnt coffee grounds mixed with a vegetal hint of sun-sweating sweet peppers just beginning to rot.

The finish is harder to describe. A cube of sugar soaking in that little bit of fermented ooze trailing away from the peppers, maybe?

I don’t know how this stuff compares to the modern rendition, but I have to believe it should be relatively close. This little bottle was stored properly and was unopened and sealed very well. There was absolutely no evaporation.

I’ll be sure to seek one out a newer edition. Although, I’m feeling pretty confident that no matter which edition of the Vat 69 you hold in your hands, you’d be better off sipping a dram of my daughter’s snot.