1970s, 1980s, 58.8%, @angels_portion, angelsportion, batch 004, bud light, campground, camping, canoeing, cask strength, fireworks, fishing, glengoyne, hiking, kx150, lutheran, review, river, scotch, the dukes of hazard, theology, thoma, utopia, Whiskey, whisky
I have many fond memories of spring, summer, and fall days begun in the morning dew beside a smoldering campfire and ended beside that same rekindled fire pit. And in between those bookmarks of daily existence, the hours were spent getting dirty and getting hurt—hiking, climbing trees, fishing, canoeing, and so many other activities that almost always resulted in the need to bandage up at least one in the troupe.
I think one of my favorite things to do was to wade waist-deep in the swift moving river that formed the northern edge of the campground my family frequented most. Like bald, uncoordinated, albino bears, my older brother (may he rest in peace) and I would try to catch the fish with our hands as the water pulled them past. We were never all that successful, although, I do recall a time my brother managed to snatch one, but the barbs on its fanned dorsal fin convinced him to set it free.
Another of my favorites was to pretend to be a primal hunter. Again, teamed with my brother, we’d fashion long tree branches into spears and creep through the shadowy underbelly of the forest’s darker parts attempting to harpoon the chipmunks darting from tree to tree. We never caught a single chipmunk, but it was fun.
I suppose another of the best moments involved riding our bikes through the trails at top speeds. This was, of course, long before there were ever such things as mountain bikes or laws regarding helmet usage. We wore baseball caps, and our bikes were rattling pieces of crap we pretty much built ourselves. They had sparkling banana seats that could’ve just as easily been hung from the ceiling of a disco, and plastic license plates that said things like “CRUISN1” or “ROKNROLLR” we got from boxes of cereal like Honeycomb. They had baseball cards in the spokes to make them sound like motorcycles, and their frames were adorned with “The Dukes of Hazard” stickers we got from a bubblegum dispenser at the K-Mart where our mom worked as a cashier.
These were our ATVs. These were our camping stories.
But things are different now, and for me, the psychology of the whole thing has advanced far beyond what a kid may or may not have been capable of recognizing.
What I mean is that as a kid, it was necessary to comb your hair, tuck in your shirt, clean your room, and take a bath. When you went camping, none of those things mattered anymore. You could be dirty, and being dirty was the way to be free from the normal regimen of life. As an adult, the radius of life’s filth expands to meet you both inside and outside of a campground scene, and with that, the opportunities to get dirty are less inviting. Again, I guess what I mean to say is that even as life is much harder and much messier, why would I want to put myself into a situation where the simpler things are much harder and much messier, too? When I come home from a day of psychological dirt—from dealing in the wretchedness of life—I don’t want to be attacked by mosquitoes while walking to an outhouse that hasn’t been cleaned since 1979. I want things to be easier. I want to be clean. I want my crystal rock glass, not a red Solo cup. I want to wash the cares of the day away in a shower that isn’t made of rotting planks and crawling with spiders. I want to depart from that shower and make it to my favorite chair without feeling the need to return to the shower to wash off the dirt I gathered along the way to the chair. I want a fire, but I want it in a fireplace that’s beside my favorite chair and brought to life with the flick of a switch. If it’s raining, I want to experience the cloud’s tears from my front porch and not in a tent that’s filling with water because we didn’t know its canvas base had a hole. I want to choose a whisky from one of my various cabinets, not the choice between cans of Coca-Cola or Country Time lemonade floating in a cooler that used to be filled with ice, but is now nothing more than a swimming pool for soggy cheese slices, a gallon of warm milk, and a package of hotdogs that didn’t seal properly.
I want easy.
Of course, I might be willing to change my mind on all of this if I could just find a campground that doesn’t have a sign at the entrance which reads: No Alcoholic Beverages Permitted.
You know what, forget what I just said. That’s a Utopian idea. Just ask anyone who’s spent the night in a campground that allows booze. It’s anything but clean, easy, and restful. I just want to be home. In a sense, I want everything you’ll find in a bottle of whisky from one of my favorite distilleries—Glengoyne.
Even when it comes to an oomph-capable dram like the Cask Strength Batch 004 edition, which hovers at an ABV very near to 60%, all of my previously mentioned descriptors fit. This is an easy, clean, and restful Scotch that serves to distract from any of the harsher things life pitched during the day.
With the first pry of the cork and a nose to the bottle, there’s a generous stream of sherry and sweet cream. In the glass, while these remain, mixed berry coffee cake is added.
The palate is a bowl of sun-ripened cherries thinly coated with cinnamon and mingled with the coffee cake from the nose. The finish is nearly the same, with the only difference being a tap of black pepper.
Pleasant. Clean. Easy. Restful. Unlike the campground that welcomes imbibing campers—which is the same one with fireworks being set off at all hours of the night by raucous crowds revving KX150s and guzzling Bud Light.