14 years old, angelsportion, balvenie, divine service, family, florida, liturgy, lutheran, lutheran service book, michigan, parenting, pastor, review, routine, scotch, sunday, thoma, vacation, Whiskey, whisky
I leave for the church around 5:30am. Everyone else in the house continues sleeping. They awaken, prepare, and arrive at the church at 9:15am. I greet them in my office as I’m vesting. We hug one another. I kiss my wife. She kisses me. The service begins at 9:30am and concludes around 10:45am. I greet them again at the doors of the narthex as the congregation is exiting. Some leave for the day. Others remain for the bible study, being sure to pillage the snack table before it begins. I return to my office to remove my vestments, often discovering that a kindly soul has prepared a small plate of goodies for me. If not, I make my way back to the snack table to gather whatever stray morsels I can find. I fill my coffee mug and the study begins. A few minutes after noon, we conclude. I meet my family back in my office. I share my schedule of afternoon appointments. They depart. I arrive home later in the day.
The two Sundays we are away on vacation, this routine is modified.
I awaken at or around 5:30am. Everyone else in the house continues sleeping. They awaken, we all begin preparing, and then we depart together for worship. We arrive and are greeted as visitors. We choose a pew hoping we haven’t unwittingly confiscated a devout Lutheran’s territory. Because there is no printed order of service, the children begin wagering their vacation spending money on which liturgy will be employed from the Lutheran Service Book. The youngest wins five dollars from each of the others when Divine Service Setting Three is announced. She wins five dollars from me since my money was on Setting Two. My wife leans to tell me how it just doesn’t feel right that I’m sitting with the family. She suggests I move to another seat somewhere else in the facility. The service begins. Even the children betray their uneasiness by leaning forward to look at me, as if wondering, “Who’s that guy sitting next to my mother?” Nevertheless, the service ensues. At first, I whisper the liturgist’s portions, earning an annoyed glance from my daughter. In time, the habit is restrained and I assume my role alongside the rest of the congregation. After an hour or so, all is concluded. We do not stay for study, but rather depart for home. When we arrive, lunch is served, and then even without waiting for our food to settle, we go swimming. My after-worship presence being an uncommon experience, my wife nobly resists the urge to encourage me to eat at a different table or to go swim in the neighbor’s pool. Marinating in the deep end beside her, nursing a macaroni-salad-induced cramp, I’m unobtrusively grateful as I’m tolerated by the pride.
The thing about routines is that most people desire them even when they think they don’t. My presence in the pew beside my family is proof. I suppose another thing about routines is that most people may never realize they’re in one until it’s thoroughly exploded by an outsider. In certain circumstances, the disruption is indeed necessary for the good of those involved. Consider an act of intervention for a drug addict. Or my family in worship.
Okay, so maybe those two are far apart by comparison. Still, I think you get the idea. As routine-disruption meets with whisky, I’d say it depends.
In my opinion, artificial flavoring is a sure way to negatively affect the whisky-making routine. Peanut butter, cinnamon, cherry, and tamale syrups are ungodly exploders that should be kept far from any and every barrel. But that’s not to say that all changes introduced to the process are bad. Some may be just what was needed for attuning one’s senses to betterment. Take, for example, The Balvenie “The Week of Peat” 14-year-old edition.
Typically, a crisply sweet Speyside—and one of my favorites—this Dufftown distillery rarely dances with peat. And yet in this circumstance, the partnership is proved. With a gentler nose of peated vanilla, a sip carries the imbiber into an easy stream of honey-baked tangerines. Another swirl and nosing reveals charred malt. Second sip offers the same, adding to it a spoonful of peated applesauce.
The finish—a seemingly effortless balance of everything the nose and palate already introduced—helps secure this edition as one of The Balvenie’s better efforts.
I suppose I’ll conclude by adding one more routine-disrupting possibility to the category of “good.”
Typically, I buy my own whiskies. On occasion a distillery will send me a whisky to review. As of late, my eldest son, Joshua, has begun surprising me with whisky on special occasions, this 14-year-old edition from The Balvenie arriving on my birthday. At first, the gift of whisky is a bit jarring to a father. It awakens him to the undoing of certain expectations between parent and child. However, it also causes him to realize and then admit out loud to his wife, “Why did we have only four children when ten would have been just as joyful?”
I say this to my own detriment, knowing full well the spousal ire I’m tempting. My wife and I both know the Sunday morning routines in our family have always kept me in the chancel, pulpit, and sanctuary, all the while she was left alone to navigate the worship trenches with the Cheerio-munching versions of ourselves. This was rarely an easy thing for a person who was, in essence, functioning as a single parent of four. Although, this side of their maturity, I’ll admit my surprise at how easy her fury is deflected by the reminder that margaritas do eventually become just as accessible as whisky.