Whisky Wind-down, 24: Snow Day

A bottle of Resurgens Rye and a glass of same sit on a snow-covered table in front of a brick wall.

Today’s dram: Atlanta Spirit Works, Resurgens Rye

Today’s tasting notes: I first tried this at a party last year, and I’m pretty grateful to the person who brought it, both because I went to the party in need of a subject for a Whisky Wind-down post and also because it was my introduction into Atlanta Spirit Works, which has since become a favorite of mine.

I still love the aroma on this. It’s like the best warm loaf of bread right out of the oven. The flavor has bite, but maybe not as much as you’d expect on a rye whisky. It’s in beautiful balance with the mild sweetness and finishes oh so warmly. Just the thing for a cold night.

Today’s thoughts: Atlanta is renowned for its responses to snow storms. If by “renowned” you mean “mercilessly mocked” and by “responses” you mean “hahaha, we’ll come up with a plan two hours after it starts to stick.”

Now, in fairness, as Mayor Kasim Reed famously huffed at a news conference during Snowpocalypse 2014, the actual city of Atlanta makes up just a tiny portion of what most outsiders consider ATLANTA, which is roughly everything ITP (local colloquial for Inside the Perimeter, the area within I-285).

And while I give Reed marginal props for making that nitpicking point, it’s rendered moot when the larger issue is our leaders can’t decided whether to under- or over-react to any particular storm. 

I vastly prefer the over-reaction end of the cycle. It’s fine and well to be the city that gets mocked for taking a day off at the slightest suggestion of snow. I like that city. That’s a safe city to live in. It beats the hell out of being the city where government officials and business owners are so damned stubborn that they fail to take action until after the last minute, leaving people stuck in their cars for hours on end or stranded in powerless schools or worse, all-in on the off-chance that “productivity” might take a slight hit for calling a snow day too early. Fuck productivity. Nobody’s getting a damned thing done except anxiously staring out the window and refreshing their weather apps, anyway.

Today’s personal observation: I do go on about this, don’t I? Nonetheless, the site motto will remain as is … although “whisky ramblings and snow musings” does have a nice ring to it.

Today’s toast: To a warm dram on a cold night.

2017 Whisky Wind-down: Primer

If you follow my writing here on even a semi-regular basis, you’ll have noticed, well, “semi-regular basis” is about as good as it gets. There are, shall we say, “gaps” in my publishing schedule, assuming I have a publishing schedule, which, of course, I do not.

And yet, last December, I posted daily for an entire month.

I owe that rare publication streak to whisky and friends. In the course of friendly conversation, I and several “booze enthusiasts” of my acquaintance noted the growing prevalence of alcohol-based advent calendars. Not only were they suddenly everywhere, there were seemingly collections curated for every palate and budget. It occurred to me that it would be fun to use one of these as a daily jumping-off point for writing.

Advent was starting by the time I had that realization. However, while I am overall pretty bad at planning ahead (and shopping), I am aces at keeping whisky on-hand.

I daily profiled (to the limit of my amateur-but-improving abilities) one whisky from my collection, with accompanying anecdotes and other ramblings each somehow thematically related to the selected dram.

It wasn’t advent, exactly.

That term has a particular meaning in liturgy relating to Christmas; since what I really wanted was to say goodbye to a shit year, the exercise instead became a countdown to the end.

I’m not going to rehash my loathing for 2016. I’m not even going to (yet) get into my feelings about 2017.

What I am going to do is get my ass back to the keyboard. I’ve been away longer than I meant to be. Now the whisky is calling me back.

With that, lastgreypoet.com proudly presents “2016 Whisky Wind-down 2: 2017 Whisky Wind-down, The Quickening Boogaloo for More Money.”

Or “2017 Whisky Wind-down,” if you’re into brevity.

Later today, maybe, I’ll get started.

Writing, I mean. The whisky is already open.



Note: If you missed last year’s adventure, you can catch up by hitting the 2016 Whisky Wind-down category tag. If that seems like too much reading, you can get the basics in last year’s primer or just skip to the end. If you are unfamiliar with whisky (or need a refresher) there is also this post on terminology.


2016 Whisky Wind-down, 1: Strong Finish

Today’s dram: Ardbeg, Corryvreckan

Today’s tasting notes: Before I can describe the experience of drinking this, I need to tell you how I found it.

I owe my love of Scotch whisky to reading and friendship.

Principally, it’s due to one of my oldest, dearest friends. We’ve known each other about three-quarters of our lives, and over the course of that time we’ve been influencing one another in various ways, the most consistent of which is reading recommendations.

Several years ago, he recommended to me Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon. Among other vices, the protagonist drinks Scotch whisky, with Laphroaig a favorite.

The writing made it sound good, so my friend picked up a bottle and has been collecting ever since. Whenever I visit his home, he brings out whichever bottle(s) he’s recently acquired and we enjoy a dram or two while catching up.

Lately, it’s been the same when he’s visited me. I was slow to pick up an enjoyment of Scotch whisky, but with time I’ve come to love it, and I take great joy in finding something before my friend does.

Thus, when he recently hit a milestone birthday, I turned to an author I was pretty sure he had not gotten around to yet, Joe Abercrombie. He writes grimdark fantasy, so Scotch whisky doesn’t appear in his fiction. But oh, does he go on about Scotch whisky on his blog.

I was pretty sure my friend would not be prepared for Abercrombie’s Whisky Deathmatch winner, Ardbeg Corryvreckan, and I was proven correct when I gave him the bottle.

Then he opened it, and we realized no one can be prepared for Ardbeg Corryvreckan.

This is cask-strength, big Islay whisky at its finest, with complexity galore added in.

At 57.1 ABV, it threatens to sear itself into your senses just on aroma. Fight through that. Inhale deeply. Find yourself in a peat bog on fire. Seek the ocean nearby. Promise of safety. Sip. Crashing. Waves overhead. Timbers around you. Someone screams. Darkness. Across from you, a hag in plaid smiles a broken-toothed smile and shakes her head at your foolishness. She gestures at the glasses laid out on her table. You toast. You drink. You wake. Gasping.

Today’s thoughts: A few months later, I thought, Shit, I need a bottle of that for myself.

It has been sitting, quietly, lurking at the back of the Scotch whisky shelf, waiting.

I’m still a bit under the weather, with diminished senses, but fuck it; I’m ending Whisky Wind-down the way I wanted.

The tasting passage above is half-memory, half bowled-over-just-now.


Just, wow.

The Corryvreckan, if you are unfamiliar, refers to a sea passage off the northern coast of Scotland. It is famous for a persistent whirlpool, which is the subject of myths, legends, and lost souls.

There are but hours left in the year as I sit and sip and ponder, staring into that swirly abyss.

“The year went by fast.”

“The year can’t end soon enough.”

“2016, you monster!”

All true. All false.

All depends on your perspective.

I fancy no one ever said it better than Dickens, writing the intro to A Tale of Two Cities — “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ” — but I imagine even that wily old wordsmith would look around at 2016, then quietly strike through half of that famous opening. The hopeful-sounding half, obviously.

And yet … can’t we, in every age, look at those words and think they apply? Are we not always lurching from the spring of hope to the winter of despair? Did not half (or, er, just shy of half) of American voters actually want an evil tangerine in the Oval Office?

I look around, and beyond the doom, I see a swirly mix of all that is wrong and right with the world. For every dark bastard, I see a hopeful naif. For every disillusioned Baby Boomer, a determined millennial.

I see the growing ranks of those who would, through active malice or indifferent selfishness, drag us to the dark depths.

Yet I see still more struggling against these currents to stay in the light.

Today’s solemn conclusion: What matters when a clock strikes midnight?

Today’s toast: To passing the time: May you do so with a suitable dram, in the company of friends.

Sunday Sports Thoughts, Feb. 23, 2014

I’m thrilled to see the Atlanta Braves extending so many of their great young players. I look forward to watching this fantastic group for many years.

Mind you, come 2017 I’ll be watching only from home; I am not at all interested in fighting traffic into Cobb County to sit in the sun in a crowd of 40,000. Nope. Not even a little.