, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

20170204_171935“No man ever steps in the same river twice,” Heraclitus so famously posited, “for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Brilliant. And he’s inarguably right; that is, at least if you’re willing to bare yourself honestly.

All of us are changing from moment to moment. And even if one is unwilling to admit the constant variations, the river into which we just took a careful step, when we take another, it will have already been revised. It will have already seen the tiniest of fragments of stone and silt and life in general carried away to another place—to create and then lose in that same millisecond what was new.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice.” Thankfully this maxim is sometimes true when buying cheaper whisky to review.

Most often when I buy a cheaper whisky to sip and then tap away at the keyboard in reflection, the review almost always takes shape as a warning for all of you—strictly selected words to shape a precise landscape of imagery so that you will be well-informed and enabled to beware.

Price matters.

Okay, go ahead and mutter those words at your florid screen. Go ahead and call me an ignorant snob. Take a quick second to howl at the screen (even though I can’t hear you) and tell me just how misguided I am and how you just adore Scoresby, and Lauder’s, and so many other streams of sewage that roll from the globe’s corners into 2-Liter plastic containers destined to flank the booze aisle at Walmart. I’ll wait right here.

Okay, finished? Good.

When it comes to whisky, you get what you pay for. Price matters.

But sometimes—just sometimes—this rule doesn’t meet up with the bottle’s contents as it should, and not because the rule is unreliable, but because sometimes a distillery with a good whisky underestimates its own value. The Spey River Rum Cask Finish is an example.

You can get your hands on a bottle of this stuff for about $40. Not bad. But here’s the thing. I’d be willing to bet that if I poured the contents of this whisky into an empty bottle of the prized RumCask 17-year-old edition from The Balvenie (which is currently worth a few hundred dollars in the marketplace of rarity), I think most whisky drinkers might not be able to discern the imposter. It’s young and inexpensive, but it tastes a little higher up the shelf than where I discovered it.

It’s really pretty good. In this instance, the riverbank canon of “cheap” has changed course.

The nose of the Spey River Rum Cask steps very carefully, giving up in its foaming current spices such as anise and cloves. The longer and higher the aroma is permitted to rise, the more the rum begins to stand alone.

There’s a sweeter grip in the mouth, one that sees something fruity, maybe sugared apples—or even cinnamon applesauce—before engaging in a cereal complexity which adds wonderful highlights to what is an already pleasant surprise.

And the finish, well, that’s something else entirely. Here you find yourself savoring warmed caramel and the cloves from the nosing. There is a slight nip, but it is in no way suggesting an imbalance with the alcohol. It’s more like the cloves got a little excited and decided to grab hold of the tongue—like curious little river creatures taking to the canoe bottom.

So, yes, price usually matters. But ignore it when you’re considering the Spey River Rum Cask edition. In this circumstance, $40 doesn’t mean it’ll be one of those “Yeah, um, I don’t know about this” moments, but rather it means that the folks at the Spey River Whisky Company might not fully recognize the value of their own Scotch.

Right now, that’s a good thing for the rest of us.