18 years old, 57%, airport, angelsportion, berry bros. & rudd, bishop, brothers, cask ref. 224751, departure gate, florida, funeral, lutheran, north british distillery, procession, review, scotch, service, terminal, thoma, vacation, whisky
Driving to the airport after our annual Florida vacation is like traveling along in the funeral procession following the death of a friend. It’s quiet. It’s reverent. The procession’s mourners know when they arrive at the cemetery, all will enter its gates together. When they leave, one will stay behind.
The emotion in this is genuine, and sometimes the best any traveler can do is endure.
I think for future vacations, I will wear my black clerical collar the day we leave for home. It just feels right. I’ll bet my family would agree, being willing to don black, too. In fact, I could probably go full rites and ceremonies, vesting in my cassock and surplice and holding a graveside funeral service right there at the departure gate. Apart from the obvious fact that no sane person leaves Florida to vacation in Detroit, the somber silence palling the entire space is likely due to most of the folks being there for the same reason as the Thoma family.
Their friend, vacation, has just died. They’re in mourning. Like us, they need a comforting word, or in my case, a whisky.
I don’t mean to bring rain to any mourner’s already dreadful emptiness, but thankfully, when I leave the cemetery, I do not go to a whisky-barren landscape. At my home in Michigan, I have one cabinet, two sizeable trunks, and a spacious bar, all of which have met their capacity with various editions from around the world. I can meet my sadness with the joy of plentiful selection.
This time around, and after dealing with several catastrophes within moments of arriving home, a generous dram from the Berry Brothers & Rudd 18-year-old edition from the North British Distillery in Edinburgh seemed in order. This particular whisky was a gracious gift from my Bishop and friend, Rev. Dr. Jamison J. Hardy, a man who knows the countenance of the scene I’ve described. Or maybe he knows that the seductive draw of an overly busy clergyman’s time away on vacation can only be met by something with far stronger gravity—that is if he wants him to return to his post willingly.
This selection acquired by the merchants at Berry Brothers and Rudd certainly is centripetally gifted.
The North British Distillery in Edinburgh, Scotland does not make and send its whiskies directly into the consumer market. Instead, they’d much rather serve as a wellspring for other more mainstream blended whiskies, such as Cutty Sark and Chivas Regal. It’s not to say the good folks at North British don’t have what it takes to pierce the grim dismay of a society longing for quality drams on their own. They do, and this single grain whisky is a perfect example. It’s just that they’re more inclined to serve as a part of the framework for others to bring the sunshine. I don’t know why.
On my part, I’d recommend the North British Distillery take a chance at going it alone. The purest enchantment contained within this 18-year Scotch is the kind that shouldn’t be lost to a blender’s equation, no matter how good the blend it eventually creates might be.
With such a light nose of vanilla crème brûlée and concord grapes, you’d expect the ABV to be more in the 40s. But at 57%, this genius provision sourced by Berry Brothers and Rudd proves an incredibly sneaky delight. A sip reveals the grain’s sweetness. There’s a buttery assumption, too, along with a hint of raspberry jam on crisped toast. The finish matches the nose almost perfectly, except it adds to the mix a nip of spicy cola.
Again, hiding this flavorful masterpiece within the likes of mass-produced mid-shelfers is heart-wrenching—almost as tragically heart-wrenching as the drive to the airport following a glorious vacation.