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Do you remember that time when you were younger and the coach of your sports team decided he was going to broadcast his half-time locker room discussion through the loud speakers, making sure that the other team as well as the spectators knew his game plan for winning?


Yeah, me either. Apparently that’s only something you do if you are dealing with a barricaded gunman situation.

How do I know this? From listening to the radio today as I traveled from one location to another. The local news station buzzing, I heard a field reporter speaking with a police captain regarding an unfolding situation involving an armed man in a house who was refusing to come out. He’d already fired over a dozen shots at the police and was threatening to, in his words, “not go down without a fight.”

The reporter asked plainly about the game plan, and the captain responded with equal plainness, pretty much sharing everything they intended to do, even to the point of revealing how many S.W.A.T. teams he had on the scene, where they were positioned, the resources they had at their disposal, and when they’d most likely move in to secure the scene and what might precipitate that move.

Now, I don’t know if the gunman was listening to the news station, but I can tell you that if he was, by the information being shared, he’d all but been handed a ticket to the planning meeting with the S.W.A.T. commander, police captain, and the negotiator in the makeshift tent at the end of the street. The details being revealed over the public airwaves seemed to be a strange handling of confidential things, and quite possibly to the gunman’s advantage.

There are certain circumstances that rise to the level of ticketed invitation. A barricaded gunman situation is not one of those events. And just for the record, if I were the police commissioner, I’d be planning a little chat with my captain, one in which I’d explain to him the details of my strategy for such future engagements. And by the way, a key component of the strategy would be his absence from the scene. But as I said, there are certain events worthy of ticketed invitation, and the Stranahan’s annual Snowflake edition release is one of them.

The 2017 edition—Quandary Peak—was released on December 2, and as usual, it was done so in extremely limited supply. So limited, in fact, whoever organized the whole thing had to actually print on each ticket things like “Ticket valid only if still in line through 11 AM on 12/02/2017.” And from what I hear, with people camping outside the distillery in order to be one of the few to actually receive a ticket worth a single bottle at $99 plus tax each, this is a strictly enforced rule. You know what that means? It means don’t step out of line.

I received the generous sample for review from my friend Mike who traveled from his home in Iowa to the distillery in Denver where he not only didn’t step out of line, but was generously kissed by fate and granted the very first position nearest the front door. Good for you, Mike! And for me, too, since he was kind enough to share. Indeed, having now tried this exclusive whiskey, I more fully grasp the devotion of those referred to as “Stranafans.”

A sniff is easy and light, sending up streams of dark and meaty fruits carried on a high mountain breeze of rum spice and barely a pinch of pepper.

The palate is a down current of the rum and fruit from the nose meeting with another stream of caramel apples topped with singed almonds. It’s really quite delightful.

The finish is a medium jaunt. It dawdles along lazily with barrel spice, caramel, and a drop of salted butter. Then suddenly, it’s gone—dried up, evaporated, vanished—kind of like the chance for the guy who stepped away from the line for a moment at 10:59 to take a quick call from his wife. With that, I’d say he had plenty of time to ponder that poor decision while driving home empty handed. Even more so must we sympathize with the rage that has him holed up in a house in Detroit waiting for the S.W.A.T. team to breach his back door with a battering ram and smoke grenades.

You only get one shot at this stuff.