2016 Whisky Wind-down, 30: Smoke, Peat, and Love


Laphroaig cask-strength whisky, in a glass before its bottle, sharing a mantle with Christmas Cthulhu.

Today’s dram: Laphroaig, 10-Year-Old, Cask Strength (56.3%), Batch 2, December 2010

Today’s tasting notes: Do not drink this if you do not enjoy smoke and peat. Seriously, probably don’t even sniff it. If you’ve had Laphroaig before, you know its reputation as the smokiest, peatiest of all the notoriously smoky, peaty Islay malts. The cask-strength version is essentially the dire, half-dragon version. Do not attempt if below Scotch Whisky Character Level 10.

Today’s thoughts: My wife gifted me this bottle for a birthday a few years ago. Once, maybe twice a year I pour myself a wee dram and savor it for the smoky, peaty punch in the mouth it is. My wife I appreciate every day of the year. For her strength and compassion. For her humor and insight. For the support she lends me, in ten thousand little ways, from one day to the next. It’s no exaggeration to say I wouldn’t be who I am without her. Life is better as a great adventure, together.

Today’s note on drinking form: Some people choose to water cask-strength whisky. These people are weak. (Do not even talk to me about people who water standard-strength whisky.)

Or, to put it another way: my favorite whisky is like my favorite person: strong as all hell.

Today’s toast: To love!


2016 Whisky Wind-down: Primer

If ever a year called for a whisky advent calendar, it’s this one.

While advent has a particular meaning — counting down the days leading up to Christmas — I’m more excited to see 2016 out the door.

I did not prepare ahead and buy a whisky advent calendar, but I do posses a not-small collection of whisky, enough to daily drink a different dram as I delight in the demise of this damned year.

In that spirit, I shall marshal my spirits and begin 2016 Whisky Wind-down.

Each day for the rest of the year, I’ll pick a whisky and write something about it, something about the year, and something else.

I’ll probably do this daily, and I’ll probably be consistent in form, but no guarantees either way.

It won’t be just about the whisky, of course. I’ve got a lot on my mind lately, and I’ll use every dram as a vehicle to segue into something. Some of them, even, will be fun. I’ve been gloomy lately, much like 2016 itself, and it’s time to remember there is still light in the world. And while I don’t think we should lose ourselves in delight while the world burns, sometimes we have to remember that we can’t fight fires all day every day.

Anyway, it’s been a long year. Bottoms up.

Barkeep, Another

A hand lifts a chalice of beer in toast. The glass bears the name of the Trappist monastery that brews the ale inside: Spencer. The ale is the color of copper and topped with a stiff, high foam.
Here’s to you, Nanny.


In the very near future my writing will have a tendency to focus on drinking and reminiscing.

Before that starts, I’d like to revisit a piece wherein I did both of those things, albeit for rather different reasons. I’ve mentioned before — and it would likely be obvious to you, anyway — that I sometimes have trouble making the words flow. There are a number of times when I want to be here, saying something, and I can’t make it happen.

Then, sometimes, all it takes is a beer in a bar on my grandmother’s birthday.

I think about that evening a lot, actually. Whenever the words won’t come, which is all too often. My maternal grandmother never really knew me as a writer, but I still think of disappointing her when I’m not living up to my own expectations.

Anyway, here’s one occasion when I did, if only briefly:

A Trappist Toast

Notes: The font is funny on that page. That’s because I composed and posted the entire entry at the bar, using my phone. It bugs me, but not enough to change it, because seeing it reminds me that much more of the act of writing itself, which, well, not to belabor the point entirely, was much more important to me that evening than the actual words themselves.

(Also, I forgot the photo.)