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As some of my regular readers will know, I’ll sometimes find the story of this or that whisky stirring a remembrance of words spoken by one of the wiser folks of humankind. In other words, I’ll sometimes discover a quotation from Twain or Dickens or whomever. I shall do this again now.

“Friends are friends until they’re not,” my brilliant wife has observed. And the substance of her meaning is a direct outflow from her life as a pastor’s wife. She knows all too well that her husband is always just one decision, action, conversation, or sermon away from ticking someone off and seeing that which once was become a thing of the past. She knows all too well that if she shows up on Sunday and gets the cold shoulder from someone who only last week was as fresh and friendly as a springtime sprig, it’s because of something I did.

Actually, let me rephrase that. It’s for three specific reasons, at least. First, it is entirely possible that I screwed up. But there’s one thing that the people in my congregation know very well about me: When I make a mistake, I’ll go to the very edge of hell’s gate to apologize and remedy it. I’m pretty forthright in sharing that the ability to apologize and amend are qualities I hold in the highest regard, and so I practice them. Second, it’s possible that because fewer and fewer church members these days take the doctrines they confess very seriously, when they run into a clergyman who does, the relationship can get a little dicey. Third, maybe they do take the Christian faith seriously—that is until the tenets are applied to them personally. Then the level of acceptance changes slightly and they find themselves on the same rocky road as those who could care less about the Church’s teachings.

In the end, a good portion of the troubles are because folks simply struggle to actually believe that the field of theology is in any way an objective thing. It is, instead, in every way subjective—what they want, what they think they need, what they’d like to see happen, what they believe to be true—with very little room for being guided by an outside source of objectivity. To make things worse, they call upon a guy—a pastor—to administer the objective truths to which they say they subscribe, but then they fail to ever believe that he can be an objective administrator in their particular circumstance.

In all this, like I said, the pastor walks a very thin line and is always only a singular event from a friend becoming an enemy.

“Friends are friends until they’re not,” the wisest of the Thoma family has said. I completely agree.

Thank God whiskey doesn’t work this way, though. In a sense, you can count on it, and it’s always very honest. It has qualities that are—permanently and completely—objectively true.

Now, not all whiskies wield this wonder in faithfulness, but there are more that do than don’t. The limited edition of the Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey (2015) is one. It’s a friend that will never betray.

A generous pour into a Glencairn, rock, or plastic cup—no matter your carelessness—this whiskey rises to greet you at its gate with what is at first a kindly embrace of sweeter vegetal notes. With intention, it holds you in that moment in a way that lets you know you are welcome in the visit—giving over a graze of barley and dried fruits.

Once inside and seated, the first sip—a conversation between friends—reveals a gesture of salt, butter, and almonds alongside a jovial sharing of dried banana chips with a sprinkling of pepper to make them crisp.

Your stay with this friend is medium in length, and you’re glad for this because it was starting to seem as though you should eat the entire batch of peppered chips, and with that, the bite on your tongue could easily have become too much. Still, the visit was extremely pleasant, and it was one that you’d welcome time and time again.

I guess, in the end, when the Gospel is despised and a relationship is found coming undone, I wonder if such a delightful dram might be the inroad to repair. It seems possible as they sure are a lot alike.