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“I see a cloud that looks like an alligator,” Evelyn said and pointed to the clean blue horizon beyond her car window. We were sitting at the longest stop light in town.

“I see a polar bear,” Maddy offered with a similar finger point.

I scanned the sky past the windshield. “I see a canoe,” I said. “And there’s a robot toaster in it holding an oar made from a helicopter propeller. I think he’s being chased by a piranha with a slice of lasagna in its mouth.”

The girls didn’t respond, but I did catch Madeline’s glare in the rearview mirror.

Leaning over to her sister’s window, “I see the polar bear, too, Maddy,” Evelyn said. “And I see a puppy.”

“Where?” Maddy asked.

“Above the polar bear.”

“Oh, yeah. I see it.”

“I see a cloud that looks like the Pope,” I offered. “It’s not Francis, though. It’s John Paul. And it looks like he’s performing an exorcism. Or maybe he’s just waving his hands and parting the waters at a public swimming pool. Yeah, that’s it. I can see the high dive over his shoulder.”

The light turned green. We turned left and made our way toward home. The girls continued to call out images.

“I see a bunny,” Maddy said.

“There’s a flower,” Evelyn added.

“There’s a great big floating school bus,” I said. “Hmm. That’s weird. It looks like it has surface-to-air missile launchers on the top. I suspect Raytheon made those bad boys.” I gave a quick glance to the back of the van. Maddy was set in her signature look. Evelyn was looking out the window and listening to me. “Oh, look!” I added. “There’s a squirrel in fatigues punching in a launch code and turning the key. Hit the deck, girls!”

“Are you really seeing those things, Daddy?” Maddy asked with a rhetorical tone while donning what could have been judged a partially hopeful grin.

“Sure,” I said. “And look! That cloud looks like an X-Wing fighter. And take a look at who’s piloting that rebel hot rod. It’s R2-D2! And C3PO is in the back. It’s about time the little astrodroid got to fly one of those things.”

Maddy rolled her eyes. Evelyn patted her arm, “I see it, Madeline! There he is! R2D2!” Maddy stole a quick look out the window but then almost immediately sank back into her seat. Opening the book in her lap, “Whatever,” she said. A moment later, we were home.

I liken these events to the perceptions held by many as they sip a whiskey while reading the reviews that guys like me scribe. In fact, I would imagine that there are plenty of other reviewers out there who’ve received the prodding commentary that sounds a little bit like “How do you get all of that from this whiskey? All I get is the burn.” They think we’re making it up. They’re seeing polar bears and we’re seeing robot toasters in canoes being chased by pasta laden carnivorous fish. Our abilities to discern the details astound them.

The truth—and I’ll only speak for myself—is that I’m really rather sensitive to the nuances in every single thing I taste. I don’t know why. I just am. My nose is the same way. I can smell things well before others do. Sometimes it’s a blessing. Other times it’s a curse. When it comes to whiskey, if the dram is incredibly wonderful but has a price tag that far exceeds anything I can typically afford to spend, it’s a curse. It can also be a curse when your gassy seven-year-old daughter farts in the car. While it’s merely a laughable annoyance to the rest of the passengers, for me, it’s a chalky mouth and nose full of toxins in a gas chamber. For the record, even if it’s 30 degrees below zero, all the windows in the car get rolled down until all is fully ventilated. And as their tiny tears freeze to their tiny faces, I can breathe again and all is well.

In the case of the Canadian Club Reserve 9-Year-Old edition, my abilities are both a blessing and curse—a blessing in that I have detected several little delights in this dram that make it well worth the purchase, but a curse in that I almost didn’t buy it because I’ve been mostly disappointed by the usual suspects I’ve discerned in other Canadian Club editions I’ve tried in the past.

This one, however, is pretty good.

The nose is crisply rye-like with a touch of orange marmalade. The palate is just as pleasant. The rye is there, but the marmalade begins as a sweeter citrus only to become a tad sour—but not in a disappointing way. It’s an interesting shift from orange to lime, and all the while this is happening, there’s a sense of white chocolate with almonds serving as the fruit’s carriage.

The finish is like the polar bear cloud—simple and not all that imaginative. About all I could find was the rye and barely a hint of vanilla.

“You found all of that in this whiskey, Reverend? Hey, look! That cloud looks like an alligator!”

Yes, I did. And yes, it does. But if you take a little bit of time to examine and ponder that alligator, you’ll see that it’s actually an African crocodile. With a bowtie. Watching TV.