I am a Lutheran pastor. I enjoy Scotch. Yes, really.
In the Holy Scriptures, the Greek word for “angel” is ἄγγελος (angelos). It means, quite literally, “messenger.” It is the root of the word εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion), which is “evangelical” or “Gospel.” In the Book of Revelation, the pastors of the churches are called angels because they are messengers. Pastors are messengers, men who bring what the Christian church calls the Good News of Jesus Christ.
With that, distillers refer to the portion of whisky that evaporates during the aging process as the “angels’ share” or sometimes the “angels’ portion.” The point is, the longer it ages, the more the angels appear to take, sometimes as much as forty percent of a full barrel.
The name fits.
So, how did a man of German descent discover that his veins carry forth in swift order with the blood of Scots?
On my way home from Russia, while in London, I walked into a little liquor shop just to look around. The owner, noticing my wanderings, asked if I liked whisky.
“Not really,” I said. “Never had a taste for it. I’m more of a beer person.”
“Well, you’ve never had the right kind,” he answered, and not in a way that suggested he was merely trying to make a sale, but in a way that suggested he truly believed what he was saying and he intended to convert me to his creed. I was enticed enough to spare the time while he shepherded the way.
He led me to a few open display bottles and one by one gave me a sip, each time from a clean dram. He was right. I’d never had the right kind (not that American whiskies are bad – they’re just not this good). The bottles I experienced that day were never aged less than 18 years. One, a 30-year-old, was exquisite indeed, but my inexperience judged it far too extreme for my wallet. Knowing now what I lacked in knowledge then, I would have captured the fine single malt and made the appropriate Visa payments.
Not long thereafter, I left the store as a devoted disciple and the proud owner of a bottle of William Grant & Sons Limited Rare & Extraordinary – Twenty Five Year Old. Sadly, because of its extremely limited bottling, I will most likely never pass that way again. But our time together was sweet.
There are few things in this life that I truly love. My wife, my children, my family (both biological and “chosen”), these all hold that station. There are few things in this life that I enjoy just enough that they call with regularity across the chasm between love and enjoyment, petitioning a more prominent place. Of course, these things will never fully receive that station, but they will continue to bring meaning to the words, “Τὰ ἅγια τοις ἁγίοις” (holy things for holy ones).
This volume, principally dedicated to Scotch whisky, contains a record of these things, and God willing, a little bit more.