Whisky Wind-down, 4: Take a Chance

A hand holds a half-pint bottle of Crown Towers whisky, holding the loose cap so as to show the price: 1,778 colones (about three U.S. dollars). In the background, the beautiful Costa Rica countryside stretches forth.

Today’s dram: Crown Towers, Malt Based Spirit Distilled Admixture, Fine Spirit

Today’s tasting notes: Burn. Just burn. Like when a cartoon character drinks from a jug marked XX.

Today’s thoughts: I generally like to know what I’m buying, but in this trip I’m living in a bit of grey area with the language barrier. Costa Rica is pretty English-friendly, with many menus and labels appearing in both Spanish and English. Most establishments seem to have at least one fluent English speaker on staff, and many others speak some basic phrases. All of which is great, as my limited Spanish language education is two decades old and wasn’t that thorough to begin with.

A trip to a local grocery today was interesting. Lots of U.S. brands, with prices only slightly elevated for their importation. We mostly purchased locally made beer and snack foods, but I did, of course, peruse the whisky offerings. There weren’t many, and those were mostly familiar brands I could get back home.

But this little jewel was also there.

If I’ve translated the label correctly — no guarantees — it’s made in France from a mixture of malt whisky and neutral grain spirits.

Note to self: In future, avoid whisky made by the French for the Central American market.

Today’s toast: To adventure! En el supermercado!

2016 Whisky Wind-down, 29: You Might Like It

A whisky tumbler with a double measure of The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old sits on a desk before a half-size bottle of same and a stuffed Yoda keeps watch. Background: Bookcases.

Today’s dram: The Glenlivet, 12-Year-Old

Today’s tasting notes: Do not fear to drink this. Perhaps maybe try this if you’ve never had Scotch whisky before. It is the definition of approachable — an easy-to-enjoy whisky exemplifying the basics of a style, in this case a single malt from the Scottish Highlands.* Smell it, and it will take you to a warm happy place. Sip it, and feel that warmth flow into you. Hold it in your mouth briefly, savor the heat and subtle sweetness. Swallow, and feel smoothness with just enough of an edge to let you know it is actually Scotch whisky.

Today’s thoughts: Growing up I was a picky eater. That is a true statement, but it also rather understates both the past and present. When I was a kid, I hated eating almost everything. Ever heard a parent lament that their kid will only eat chicken nuggets and ketchup? Yeah, I hated those, too. Especially the ketchup. Bleh. And I still hate it. I hate nearly all condiments, in fact. And yes, hate is the right word. It’s not a word I ever really go for, but I will allow myself to be an absolutist and use that word in regard to those things. Ketchup? Hate. Mustard? Hate. Mayonnaise? Hatehatehate!

Send me food with any of that on it and tell me to just scrape it off? Fuck you. Scrape your face off.

My younger sister told me at Thanksgiving that her two-year-old son can’t stand mayonnaise, and she thinks he might be allergic because he throws up when he encounters it. When she said that, I wanted to run to him and hug him and tell him, “You are not alone! Uncle Jon also knows this pain!”

But he’s two years old, so I didn’t.

I will as soon as he gets a handle on this language thing, though.

What I will try not to say to him are things like “Try it, you might like it” and “Your tastes will change.”

How I loathed those phrases, which were thrown at me so often in my youth.

And yet … I now grudgingly admit they hold glimmers of truth.

I mean, I did finally learn to like pizza, a burger in a bun rather than separate, potatoes, pecan pie …

Oh, and whisky.

Contrary to appearances, I was never against trying things. I just wanted people to listen after I tried a thing and said, “No, this isn’t for me.” Usually, the gag reflex got the point across, but people are surprisingly persistent when you tell them you can’t stand a thing they love.

Here is where I nominate my mother for sainthood, because wow did I ever make her life difficult, what with the not eating most of what she ever put in front of me, which necessitated an awful lot of cooking something extra just for me, and so much special ordering at restaurants, and entirely too many patient conversations explaining my eating habits to other people, and … god, how is she not completely mad?

She is made of steel, that is why.

But under her steel beats the softest heart in the world, and she never let me go hungry or forced me to be miserable just because I was picky.

I am going to go call her as soon as I post this.

Today’s note on meeting the expectations of others: Fuck ’em. Yeah, me included, for telling you to try Scotch whisky. Don’t want to? Don’t. Grinning and bearing is overrated. Graciously decline where possible, threaten to stab as needed, repeat as necessary. And always, always, to thine own taste buds be true.

Today’s toast: To picky eaters everywhere: May the person who takes your order always listen carefully and get it right!


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* — Speyside. I know. But if you know enough about Scotch whisky to know Glenlivet’s sub-region, then that paragraph really isn’t for you, now is it?