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Palm trees and sunburns aren’t the only indicators one has begun his or her vacation. There are other, less conspicuous signs that testify similarly. Consider the following list.

There’s a good chance you’re on vacation when:

  1. the word “doughnuts” is an appropriate answer to the question, “What do you want to do for dinner tonight?”
  2. a dip in the pool is an acceptable alternative to showering.
  3. brushing one’s teeth before lunch is a relatively adjustable goal.
  4. pretty much everything is importanter than proper grammar.
  5. chain restaurants you have back home suddenly become fantastical meal destinations.
  6. your current location’s list of invasive species includes iguanas and Burmese pythons.
  7. you walk into a clothing store with your family, and the clerk says almost immediately, “Welcome! What state are you guys visiting from?”
  8. you stop to take a picture of something interesting and hear another something hissing aggressively at you from a nearby bush.
  9. you can set the clocks according to when it storms.
  10. the clocks need to be reset daily because of the storms.

I’m sure there are other markers, such as the urge to write a whiskey review every morning before 7:00 AM for two straight weeks.

That’s not one? Well, it is for me. And this morning’s candidate—Starlight Distillery’s Carl T. Huber Small Batch finished in Oloroso Sherry Barrels—is one I received from an upstanding gent, Noah Hardy, the eldest son of my associate pastor and Bishop, Jamison Hardy.

This particular whiskey is a dark horse dram. Having never heard of Starlight Distillery, my expectations were thin. And yet, this edition keeps pace with other Bourbons, perhaps surpassing some of the better-known easy sippers.

With an explicit nose of warmed sherry and brown sugar, this delightful whiskey beckons its imbiber to take his time, remembering he’s on holiday—whether or not he is. It’s seductive in a restful way. The palate is the same, giving over mint, pecans, vanilla, and rubied tropical fruits. Again, the dram reminisces days in which lounging will always outweigh diligence, even when alligators are sunbathing only a stone’s throw away. The finish is a medium recollection of these things, particularly the nose’s sherry and sugar. A slight burn travels in its wake. But remember, a slight burn is not necessarily apart from a great vacation.

Indeed, the gifting of this whiskey was a kindly gesture. More importantly, it’s good. And since I’m writing this review based on notes I took before leaving for vacation (that is, the whiskey is not here with me in Florida), this particular possession might actually lure me home. Although, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen various Starlight Distillery editions here in sunny south Florida. The whiskey shops I’ve visited thus far certainly have a far better selection than Michigan, proving this state’s advantage. In truth, the only thing Michigan really has above Florida is its foliage doesn’t usually hiss at bystanders.