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20161020_192407Listening to my kids in the morning crunching on their breakfast cereal while attempting to have a conversation with one another, I’m guessing, must be a lot like a gathering of elderly folks around the meal table in the local assisted living home. Sure, the content of the conversations are probably different, but the choreography is almost certainly the same…

(Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch.)


“I said I can’t wait for recess, today, because we’re going to play freeze tag!”

(Crunch, crunch.)


“I said I’m glad it’s Friday!”

(Crunch, crunch, crunch.)


“I said when I get home today I’m going to ride my bike!”

The crunching noises caused by the continual grinding of the Frosted Flakes is such a mainspring of rattling interference in their heads that they can’t understand a word the person who is sitting right next to them is uttering. It’s rather funny to behold. And yet, it leads toward an awfully familiar feeling.

Sometimes I wish I could walk around all day with Frosted Flakes in my mouth. The constant grating would be a welcomed rampart and disruption to certain stretches of the rambling nonsense. Actually, let me flip that statement around from the active to the passive so that I feel a little less guilty for saying it. I suppose that sometimes I feel like I’ve got a mouthful of Frosted Flakes when people are talking to me. They’re speaking clearly, but I just can’t seem to decipher their words or purpose.

Some whiskies are that way, too. They are attempting to speak clearly, but something else is getting in the way. The Cleveland Black Reserve Bourbon is an example.

While this is a relatively decent bottle of whiskey—better than a good number I’ve tried—it has something buzzing in the background that makes it a little more challenging to enjoy.

Straight from the bottle, the edition gives over a breath of roasted almonds. It isn’t long before the almonds are found glazed, cooling, and being scooped into cone sacks. There’s also a hint of corn flour and a tinge of malt. But before all of this makes its way to the olfactory bulb and into the limbic system, there’s a distracting buzz of alcohol that confuses the stream.

(Sniff, sniiiiif, sniiiiiiiiif.)


“I said I smell roasted almonds!”



“I said I think those almonds are glazed!”

The palate is no different. The alcohol nip is distinct enough that the emerging malt and salted sweet corn are left to shout at you from across the field.


“What was that?!”

“I said there’s salty sweet corn over there waving at us.”

“Huh?! Speak up!”

“And malt, too!”

“Dangit, boy! Quit yer mumblin’!”

“Never mind.”

The finish is medium-long, and if you’re really paying attention, much of the sweetness in the nosing is finally delivered on a slowly receding tide of the now constant alcohol burn.

happyhearingaidAs I said, this booze isn’t too bad, but it is one that you’ll want to splash a little water into in order to clean the airwaves of the extra interference. I didn’t do that during my test-run, but I can pretty much guarantee it would have been like handing out hearing aids to the residents at the aforementioned assisted living facility.

* A special thanks to my friend, the Right and Reverend Troy Neujahr, who gifted me with a tad less than a solid half of his bottle (and the bottle itself) when we visited together recently. Very generous. Also, it was a privilege and pleasure to meet Stephanie, his kind-hearted wife, who allowed me to sit with them in their hotel room and talk booze, religion, family, and the dreadful effects of cheap wine and umbrella drinks upon post-modern American society—or something like that. Cheers and slàinte mhath!