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“I’ll bet you’ve never heard this one before,” I said, calling to the rear passengers. I scrolled to the song, pressed play, and adjusted the rearview mirror to watch.

The beat was steady. The moniker bass line known by so many gradually began to permeate the expanse of the van. Evelyn’s head started bobbing in time. Madeline did what she could to shift her shoulders within the confines of the seatbelt. Harrison’s smile got a little wider as he tapped at his armrest.

And then Barry Gibb started singing.

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk. Music loud and women warm, I been kicked around since I was born…

Harrison’s enthusiasm came to an abrupt stop.

“He doesn’t sound much like a woman’s man,” he said.

I’m sure glad there weren’t any post-modern, gender-neutrality proffering snowflakes listening in. Although, had any been riding along with us in, they would have learned very quickly what a formidable foe Harrison can be when it comes to defending objective truth wrapped in logic and sprinkled with plain ol’ natural law—all the societal ingredients that no one ever thought to question until it was fashionable.

As it relates to the Bee Gees, he was, of course, referring to the upper-register character of Gibb’s voice. He wasn’t singing down where one might expect most men to sing. He was much higher—much more in the feminine range. And I tried to explain to him that despite his unusual voice, back in the 70s, Gibb was considered incredibly masculine. I showed the kids a picture of Barry Gibb on my phone when we got to our destination. Madeline was sure to critique his open shirt collar and the massive tuft of chest hair that looked as though it were a Wookie reaching up to grab his chin. Again, I shared that open collars displaying hairy chests were fairly popular back then.

“Just because it’s popular,” Harry argued, “doesn’t make it right.”

Bam. Take that you fidget-spinning lemmings.

“Do you have a really hairy chest, Daddy?” Evelyn asked. I guess she was far too busy the last few times we went swimming to notice.

“Not really,” I said.

“Good,” Maddy interrupted. “Cuz it’s gross.”

At this point, the temptation to turn up the heat on the conversation was far too great.

“Oh, the girls loved a hairy guy,” I said. “There were all kinds of commercials on TV where the girls would comb their hands through the hair of a man’s chest, and let me tell you, whatever product they were trying to sell, it sold big time.”

Maddy left the conversation without a word. Harrison reiterated that popularity doesn’t necessarily coincide with truth. He pointed to Christopher Columbus as an example. Evelyn told me she’d still love me even if I had a gross, hairy chest.

“Thanks, honey,” I replied.

“And,” she added, “I’d even try to convince Momma to keep loving you, too.”

That being said, here’s to all of the women and daughters out there who continue to embrace their Sasquatch-like husbands and fathers—men who, even as they exist in a time far removed from the follicly fashionable 70s, continue to show the rest of us the true meaning of a long drawn five o’clock shadow. And how better to honor them than by lifting a dram of something you would expect to be potent enough to put hair on your chest: The Ardbeg Kelpie.

Unfortunately, while this stuff is really good, if you were bald beforehand, you’ll be bald afterward. This isn’t a typical Ardbeg. It’s incredibly mild and short-lived. And as one bearing the name of a mythical, predatory water beast at that, I almost felt a little betrayed. I expected to be grabbed and pulled to a peaty death beneath salty isle tides. Or maybe, at least, sprout some hair from my hairless places. But neither occurred.

The nose is gently peaty—almost fruity—as though the peat were soaking in fruit cocktail juices. And there’s a sense of something powdery and sweet. It brought to mind the dust at the bottom of an empty Apple Jacks cereal box.

The palate is a morning tide that, while it barely licks of peat, leaves behind a foam of sea salt carrying a hint of the flavored cargo from a sunken East India Trading ship hauling malted tree nuts.

The finish is swift, and by its mildly ashen character suggests that the ship sunk because it caught fire. Even more, the whisky doesn’t really fade, but rather is pulled, as though it were being reeled from the shore back into the sea by something waiting below the surface at the edge of the deep.


My guess is that it’s not a Kelpie. The whisky’s not that fierce. My money is on a hairy-chested “Barry Gibb” look-alike merman.

Yeah, that’s probably it.