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Although I’ve written about it in passing, I feel as though I need to visit with the point more intentionally.

Whole-hearted apologies take incredible courage.

What I mean is that it takes a valor born from an entirely different sphere to accept responsibility for one’s own faulty actions. And it takes an extra measure of that same bravery to follow with a full-throated concession to the wrongdoing. In my opinion, this is a authentic bravery that has the potential for overcoming the shadiest, and yet most natural, instincts of fallen man. It bears the muscle for real change between people, and it has so much of what’s needed for fixing a broken relationship.

But let’s just go ahead and steer into the unfortunate factuality that within the radically individualized society in which we dwell, apologies are scarce. Sure, folks say they are sorry for this and for that, but what’s common to so many of these passing confessions is the fear of real self-exposure, and with that, the darker inclination for the preservation of ego is engaged. Nowadays, apologies are so horribly riddled with holes. Almost every malicious deed, even as it is admitted, is also explained away by its perpetrator as being a justifiable reaction to a precursory event.

Take, for example, the following rather generic, but common, apology. We hear politicians employ it in various forms and for various shortcomings with regularity. It is often weaponized in our neighborhoods, schools, and homes. It is the common vernacular for so many.

“I’m sorry I said those terrible things about you. I didn’t mean to do it.”

Parse the sentence. Yes, sorrow is communicated, but it’s done in a way that the guilt that comes with wrongdoing—bona fide guilt—may be deflected. The apology is flanked by a cowardice of insistence that the victim is wrong for assuming that the aims of the offender were intentional. This is a loophole. It is an escape clause which allows for the offender to apologize, but to do so unscathed. Perhaps worst of all, there’s no petition for forgiveness. But why would there be? That would only be to certify the crime.

Now, consider the wording of the apology even more simply—as though it were spoken to a child—or a Spock-like alien from another planet. “I’m sorry for what I did. I didn’t mean to do it.” The logical follow up would be, “If you did not mean to do it, why then did you engage every available tool at your discretion to see it accomplished? I do not understand your human ways.”

Speaking of children…

There’s another kind of apology that works in a similar way, but what’s interesting about it is that while it can be a rather full confession, it is given in a way that removes the one giving it from all accountability. Parents are rather skilled at such treachery when it comes to facing off with their misdeeds before children. It goes something like this:

“Mommy is so sorry for using those bad words. She feels terrible about it and she really hopes you will forgive her.”

Nice. Third person. Very subtle. You didn’t do it. Mommy—that existential identity hovering beside but not within you—she’s the perpetrator. She did it. You are in no way responsible for her actions.

Talk about confusing our kids. Talk about setting them up for an adulthood of searching for loopholes. Talk about cementing them to an identity of complete incapability for taking responsibility for their own actions or reconciling with others.

Someone who has the courage to unreservedly apologize, actually ask for forgiveness, and seek to amend the wrong—in this day and age, such a person is the image of a rare valiancy of honesty and should be heralded as a giant among commoners.

Unfortunately, such honesty is probably as Thomas Fuller offered in his Gnomologia: “He that resolves to deal with none but honest men must leave off dealing.” Or perhaps Shakespeare narrowed the point when he offered in Hamlet: “Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.” Such people are becoming fewer and fewer, if not completely extinct.

So, what does this have to do with whisky?

Plenty. Well, two things, at least.

First, besides the Gospel itself, whisky may just be the only other thing that God has provided for a soul’s consolation when truly harmed by offense. We can’t necessarily expect our offenders to apologize sincerely, but we can always reach out to God for help, and then to that favorite bottle in order to enjoy a singularly calming dram before heading back out into the fray. I did this very thing last night by way of this ornately presented bottle of Pendleton 1910 Canadian Rye Whiskey. God is good. He provides.

Second, I am whole-heartedly sorry for being so intolerantly tough on Canadian Whiskies. I am discovering so many more than the usual suspects like Crown Royal and Canadian Club (which so often end up dominating the Canadian whiskey section on shelves in the American marketplace), and both my fascination and appreciation has grown.

This Pendleton 1910 Rye 12-year-old is a delightfully affordable concoction of craft and the care that sustains it.

The nose of this whiskey is busy. With the cork’s release, there’s an initial invisible mist of something rum-like. After a minute or two in the dram, the rum scent is accented by the inferred rye, a dash of cinnamon, and the call of something fruity.

The palate unveils the fruit and quite a bit more. The whiskey is thick with minced cherries and honey over a slice of steaming rye. In that sense, the bread is soft and sweet, not toasted. If you’re really paying attention, you may just pick up on something with a little bite—a spice of some sort that’s not exactly the cinnamon from the nosing, but perhaps something more involved. My guess: Allspice.

The finish is a medium scene held together by the rye and cherry characters. I sensed a little bit of something sour, but it wasn’t enough to change the overall contours of the experience.

Well done, Pendleton.

And Canada, please accept my sincerest apology. With that, I’ll await an honest letter from you, as well. You know, for the likes of Crown Royal and Canadian Club.