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It was Max Planck who said something about how many of the greatest breakthroughs in history have been achieved by those who, while pursuing something completely different, made their discoveries by accident.
For starters, did you know that Percy Spencer, the man who discovered the modern utilitarian use for microwaves, did so by accidentally walking in front of a magnetron that melted a chocolate bar in his pocket? Had he been a tad taller or shorter, something else might have been melted and we would never have known Orville Redenbacher’s brilliance.
Did you know that the man who invented Velcro simply recreated the grasping power of burrs he so frustratingly found stuck on his pant legs and dog after a walk through the woods? Had he taken another route, would any of us be wearing shoes after eighty?
Did you know there’s a little blue pill being sold around the world that was originally designed to reduce chest pain by constricting the heart’s coronary arteries, and yet resulted in something far more lucrative for the manufacturer—but also dangerous enough that if its effects last longer than four hours, its user should seek medical assistance? Had Pfizer not made this discovery, would flyover Americans like me have discovered other shows worth watching because we changed the channel after having repeatedly seen the same ridiculous commercial portraying a man and woman in separate bathtubs on the side of a hill holding hands while watching the sun set? I don’t think so.
Perhaps the best-known example of accidental discovery is penicillin. As the story goes, Alexander Fleming took a two-week holiday from his experiments with the influenza virus. When he returned to his lab refreshed, he discovered a mold growing on one of the experiments that had killed off the virus completely. Had Fleming not done this, would any of us know the truest value to be had by vacationing. I doubt it.
I happen to be on vacation right now. And while I’m not as sloven as guys like Spencer or Fleming, being one to carry chocolate bars in my pocket in a warm laboratory or leave things behind for two weeks that will almost certainly be moldy when I return, I’ll admit I do appreciate accidental discoveries. For example, never assume an anole you’ve caught near the swimming pool won’t bite you. They might look harmless, but even the smallest one’s nip is surprisingly uncomfortable. Also, don’t think that a washing machine filled with beach towels will take less than two hours to cycle. It won’t. I’ll add one should never expect to travel ten miles along I-4 through Orlando in less than seventy-five minutes during the month of July. It’s just not possible. I suppose lastly, and positively, while traversing the aisleways of the local Floridian liquor store in search of Scotch whiskies unavailable in Michigan, I’ve learned never to bypass the Bourbon section. It’s there I’m likely to stumble across delightful gems such as the St. Augustine Distillery Company’s Florida Straight Bourbon.
Oh, the joys of unintended discovery.
The nose of this whiskey bears milder fruit scents of white grapes and mangoes. These promises make their way up from the dram on leisurely drifts of wine-nipped vanilla. A sip gives a sour made tame by caramel and mild spice. The finish—unfortunately short, but still enjoyable—renders buttery cinnamon atop the white grapes from the nose.
Admittedly, and beyond these joys, I’ve accidentally discovered this whiskey is perfect for lifting one’s spirits while awaiting clean towels, calming one’s troubled soul following a drive that would have been far shorter had the family elected to walk, and for nursing one’s wounds following a vicious anole attack.