Friday, July 27, 2012

An Impostor Abroad: Stephen visits Ardbeg

     On an uncannily gorgeous June day, my pulchritudinous traveling companion and I strolled out of the bright sunshine into the incomparable Ardbeg Café, which offers (as far as I’m concerned anyway) the best lunch on Islay and which also houses the Ardbeg gift shop.  There, Jackie Thomson, the Visitor Centre Manager, met us and handed us off to Christy, our intrepid tour guide.  In the course of the tour, I came to think of Christy as “Christ with a Y”, in no small part because this was the phrase I used in referring to how she spelled her name and because she responded that she gets that all the time.  Fortunately, Christy did not suffer from a messianic complex, and unfortunately, she couldn’t turn water into whisky, but she did do an excellent job of showing us how the Ardbeg distillery does.  One of the many factors that contributed to that assessment was that Christy was born and raised an Ileach, a fact that lent great authenticity and charm to her understanding of the history of the distillery (not to mention other personal stories she told).  
     She also kindly chided me, along with the other Impostors, for not having reviewed more Ardbeg expressions and for having commented so unfavorably on the one we had reviewed.  Duly chagrined by our oversight on both of those matters, we’ve since remedied the latter issue and will soon begin addressing the former.  (We own, have tasted, and have even taken notes on a number of Ardbeg expressions, but had, rather inexplicably, just failed to post reviews as of yet.  But they’re coming.  Stay tuned.) 
     Other highlights:
•    Ardbeg is a very small distillery with a very interesting history.  There are also many great stories relating to the distillery that reflect the local flavor of the town and Islay more generally.

•    Ardbeg has only two stills, one wash still and one spirit still.  Given the ubiquity of its brand name, its reputation amongst whisky drinkers, and the distinctiveness of its spirit, the fact that the distillery has only two stills is rather shocking.  But Ardbeg prides itself on its artisanal character, and this is a big secret to its success.  And it doesn’t hurt that the two stills are HUGE.
•    Especially on a nice day, Ardbeg’s location right on the water makes it a stunning place to be.
•    The vast majority of the casks Ardbeg uses are ex-bourbon barrels.  That much may be obvious by the color of the whisky and the soft vanilla just behind the peat in pretty much every expression Ardbeg produces.
•    And once again, the Ardbeg Café is simply brilliant. 
     Looking back on my whole experience at Ardbeg, our Ileach tour guide captured well the combination of grounded history and youthful exuberance that is characteristic of Ardbeg.  Thanks to its recent history, especially that leading up to and following Glenmorangie’s purchase of it, Ardbeg comes by that character honestly.

     But Ardbeg has also carefully cultivated the character that circumstances gave it.  No one does branding better than Ardbeg:  the distinctive artwork, the cheeky slogans, the little dog, the black and green labels on the dark green bottles, and even the tattoos (both permanent and temporary) all help give the uniquely peaty spirit an aura that it simply would not have otherwise.  That’s not to diminish the spirit one bit.  Rather, it’s a claim that underscores the formidable power of great branding.  If you love whisky, it’s impossible not to be taken in by Ardbeg and its marketing: it’s that well done, and it only adds character to what is already a singular whisky.
   

                                                                 --Stephen


  
Stay tuned for reviews of more Ardbeg expressions in coming days...  
  
 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Glenrothes 1988-2011 (750 ml mondo grenade)

Tasting notes:
     We’ve seen really dark, ruby-red whiskies before, but this 23 yr. old really gets our attention.  The nose is like a Persian Buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus).  Not for its smell, but for the many layers on the nose that open up like the profligacy of petals on this pretty flower.  First, there are sultanas kept overnight in broth of brandy so as to serve as the central player in a brilliant attempt to bring the gustatory marvel that is the Turducken to the vegan and raw foods crowd.  Then the still-wet sultana is stuffed inside a sundried chokeberry, which in turn was placed inside a slightly rotten Riesling grape.  Then, in a universally-panned political statement, the trio of dried fruits was pushed into a Palestinian date, enveloped in turn by an Israeli fig, and then forced into a Iranian prune.  After this, it’s the aroma of a hydoponically-grown pluot, now made to surround the mass, which in turn is encased by a pear that had undertaken its entire lifecycle up to this point inside a paper bag tied in place by Monsanto-trained bonobos who could reach the farthest limbs more easily than Capuchin monkeys.  This, and nothing less, is what we got on the nose. 
     The mouth is fiery, but it’s also as if it were quickly extinguished by freshly-cut straw banded with a leather thong.  [Stephen:  Not that kind of thong, Bill!]  In this way and in others, the mouth turns out to be “inflammable” in both key senses of that term.  The mouth puts a garland around the dried fruit Turducken, a garland of African violets, or perhaps of the more absurd Africanized violets.  This last addition takes the whole effect up a level, transforming it into a vegan Turbaconducken.   [Bill:  Improbably enough, I'm still thinking about the other kind of thong...]  The mouth is remarkable.  Exceptional even.  It’s an exceedingly long mouth: it’s a blossoming Cherry tree, but from a distance and on a sunny day.  It also features marzipan raindrops and raisins barely digested by a Cedar Waxwing as it hits a windmill and lands on an electrified fence.  And I’ll be damned if it isn’t also like swimming in a dried fruit sombrero, while being showered by tinkling cupids. 
     The mouth is so long that it occludes the finish, a “post-mouth mouth," as it were.  Or perhaps that’s just what a finish is.  But it doesn’t feel like that, it feels more like experiencing phantom limb pain:  in this case, the phantom mouth.  Even more accurate would be that it’s occurring in a phantom orifice.  It’s as if my tongue had a nictitating membrane that could experience this post-mouth mouth.  It’s a veritable deus ex mouthina, with God leaving us to experience the tri-partite mystery of a mouth followed by a post-mouth that was different from a finish. 
  

Rating:
--On the scale of noteworthy achievements in 1988--
The distillation of the Glenrothes 1988-2011 is Public Enemy's “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”--
          Bass! How low can you go?
          Death row. What a brother knows.
          Once again, back is the incredible
          The rhyme animal
          The incredible D, Public Enemy Number One.  
It think it's fair to say that the good people at Glenrothes received the memo: Turn it up!  Bring the Noise!  This they did, and we have them to thank for doing so.
  

                                                                            --John



Our thanks to Danielle Katz, David King and Glenrothes for the sample! 
   

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our first interview: David King, President of Anchor Distilling Co.

We've resisted doing interviews in the past, because we weren't sure how to do them in proper Malt Impostor style.  But the confirmation of the Higgs Boson particle made it clear to us.  How exactly that worked we don't have space here to explain, but suffice it say, it was some heavy stuff. 
But we're very happy with the results, thanks in large part to a cooperative interviewee...


The M.I. Interview:  David King, President of Anchor Distilling Co.

MI:  We understand that you're now the U.S. importer of the Glenrothes.  Was it the case that you just found it on the side of the road, as it were, when one of your competitors discarded it, or did you actively pilfer it from their portfolio?

DK:  Well….pilfering is definitely to be avoided, and things that I have found on the side of the road are tricky too particularly if you are going to put them in your mouth, but those lovable Brits Berry Brothers and Rudd know a good home when they see it and a good dram, too.

MI:  We also understand that the Glenrothes is just one part of a large portfolio of whiskies you import.  However, your company's name is Anchor Distilling.  Do you do any distilling, or is your name just a misnomer?  And if it is a misnomer, why would you do that to people?

DK:  We do distill on a daily basis. We have a small but perfectly formed distillery right here in San Francisco where we produce Junipero Gin, Genevieve Genever and Old Potrero Rye Whiskey, none of which are misnomers but all of which are difficult to spell.

MI:  If Glenrothes were a dog, what breed would it be, and how long did it take to housebreak?

DK:  I love the question and on a personal note I have been described as a Rottweiler puppy: still quite nice but potentially dangerous… still, enough about me. Glenrothes is a relatively large distillery but only 2% of production is used for single malt. So I am thinking a highly bred big dog…how about a red setter? Because a bit like their puppies the vintages are all a bit different. In terms of house training, this malt is pretty well behaved but we have been producing since 1879 so we should be avoiding the little accidents in the corner by now.

MI:  We've heard rumors that the Glenrothes does well.  Like top 30 whisky brands in the U.S. well.  Why do you think that is, and how much do you think it has to do with the fact that the fat, round bottle just takes up more shelf space than other whiskies' bottles do?  Oh, and a follow-up:  what do you think was the actual inspiration for the distinctive Glenrothes bottle:  a fishing float/bobber or a hand grenade?


DK:  Yes, Glenrothes does do well, but as the school report says, "could do better".  I do think as bottles go, small and round is good, which is not true in many aspects of life. I think the fact that Speysides do well in the U.S. helps because it is a great example of the region. The actual inspiration for the bottle was the sample bottle used by the distillery manager in his office, which mysteriously was always less than half full. For clarification it was the whisky sample bottle, not his medical sample bottle!

MI:  Lots of whisky makers, like Balblair, Glenrothes, and Highland Park (in the UK market, at least) are jettisoning traditional age statements in favor of Budweiser "born on" dates.  [USA! USA! USA!]  And some (like Macallan) are getting rid of age statements altogether.  In view of all of this, describe the quality of your wife without reference to her age or birth year. 


DK:  Well as you should know by now, it is maturity that matters, not age! As in if you are good enough, you are old enough, etc. Having said that, I have always appreciated a younger woman (but not in a Jerry Lee Lewis kind of way). As long as she is balanced, interesting and versatile, I am well satisfied. Oh, and she is Scottish as well, by the way.

MI:  We're assuming you wanted to talk to us in part because you were trying to get the word out on where the Glenrothes is heading in the near future.  Other than into our mouths, where is it heading?  What do they have up their sleeves in the near term?  And how much of it are we going to be able to taste?


DK:  Actually, Glenrothes the village is not really going anywhere at the moment, but the whisky is progressing. We release new vintages in addition to our reserve range and try and make each one a little different. I am currently particularly excited about the 1988 vintage, as it takes me back to the days when I was slim and had hair (on my head). We will soon be releasing a selection of very old single cask bottlings of which there will be very limited supply.  No doubt they will come at a cost, but that’s why I love the Select Reserve for everyday and sometimes even twice a day drinking.

MI:  Would you rather sell one ten million dollar bottle of Glenrothes, or ten million $1 nips? Explain.  And show your work.


DK:  You are not the first to ask to see my work, but hopefully it speaks for itself.  We Scots try to be relatively humble, generally speaking, although I was never sure about that Gordon Brown. Anyway, as a man of the people, I would like more amongst you to try The Glenrothes so I would err towards the $1 nip, even though economically it would be a struggle.  So how about 5 million $2 nips?

MI:  We've been told that you started out with Berry Bros. & Rudd over 15 years ago, so you've had some connection to Glenrothes from way back now.  Who is this "Berry Bros. & Rudd" and what role does actor Paul Rudd play in the day-to-day operations?  And using an analogy like "Crunchy peanut butter is to foreplay as skinning a fish is to smelling nice", characterize your new role with respect to the Glenrothes in comparison to your old role.


DK:  Berry Brothers and Rudd are Britain’s and probably the world’s oldest wine and spirits merchant. That means they source really good stuff from really good people and sell it to discerning chaps like yourselves (oh, and they have been doing it since 1698).  I personally have not been there for over 300 years, but the owners of the business are on to the 8th generation, which shows stamina if nothing else. Amazingly, there has never been a Paul Rudd in the company, but he could be an Anchor Man here in America?  As to my new role versus the last… A honey badger is to a bee hive what a Scotsman is to a bar.

MI:  Finally, on recent trips abroad, both Stephen and John noticed the Glenrothes Robus Reserve in duty-free shops.  They also noted that it's a full liter (as are many other duty free only expressions) rather than 700 or 750 ml.  Several questions:    What does Robus (or is it R.O.B.U.S.?!?) stand for?  Is it a secret acronym or does it refer to the sculptor, Hugo Robus? And why 1 liter?  Is one expected to drink the difference on the plane?

DK:  The good news is you were both clearly drunk (normally the best way to fly unless you are the pilot) as it is ROBUR Reserve, not ROBUS Reserve. This refers to Quercus Robur, which is the type of Oak used to make sherry casks, as opposed to Quercus Alba from which Bourbon casks are made. So Robur Reserve has an extra percentage of first fill sherry casks in the bottling compared to Select Reserve. Alba Reserve uses only used Bourbon casks in the bottling. Hugo Robus the sculptor has, to the best of my knowledge, never sculpted a cask or planted an oak tree, but if he were to, I am sure a Glenrothes would aid his labors immeasurably. Finally with respect to the liter size you are expected to share the remainder with your fellow passengers and possibly the crew, although as mentioned above, with the exception of the pilot, unless he insists, in which case make sure you have enough, so buy two bottles.




--Our thanks to David King for answering our questions and for being such a sport in doing so!
  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Bell's Blended Whisky (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes: 

You can't unring a bell.    
     --Tom Waits

 
True, Tom, so true.  But for our purposes here, it'd be much more appropriate to say: You can't unsmell a Bell's.  Sure, the smell will fade over time, but until it does, you'll be confronted with mutant green apple turpentine assiduously sweetened with saccharin.  Oh, and as you ponder this singular aroma, you'll also notice that the legs on this dram seem to be trying to escape the glass.  But there is no connection between the two.

A bell's not a bell 'til you ring it...
     --Oscar Hammerstein

 
Right you are, Oscar.  But even more right would be: A Bell's isn't a Bell's 'til you drink it.  And it's really not.  And by that, I mean that it's on the mouth that Bell's really shines.  Though it's a bit thin and watery in terms of mouthfeel, there's a nice complementary set of flavors here:  snapdragon blossoms up against a wisp of gunpowder from a stage gun, extra wide pine floor planks recovered from a 150 year-old house and slathered with caramel sauce, and an ultra-premium pâté made from ultra-premium moles--and another made from ultra-premium mole (sauce).

Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.
     --Graham Greene


You just plain nailed it, Graham.  Nailed it.  But that guy would be a much dumber leper indeed if he'd lost his Bell's... No wait.  That isn't the direction I'd meant to go with that... Wait, we were headed toward the finish, weren't we?  Hmmm... Let's see... Oh!  Got it!  The dumb leper who's lost his Bell's links up here because there's a great burn on this dram's finish...much as I assume leprosy...burns?  God, that's awful.  While it's true that the Bell's has a nice burn on the finish...well...yeah.  Moving on...
    
Overall, this is an exceptionally solid dram, especially for the price--so no Liberty Bell cracks here.  And it won't make you go deaf like the bells of Notre Dame did Quasimodo.  But get a good taste of this dram, and it very well might inspire a Pavlovian response next time someone mentions a Bell's.

  
Rating:
--On the scale of obvious quotations for this post--
The Bell's Blended Whisky is John Donne's
     Therefore send not to know
     For whom the bell tolls,
     It tolls for thee.
--That's right:  Bell's tolls for thee.  Get thee to a nunnery. 
    
  
                                                                            --Stephen
  
 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An Impostor Abroad: Stephen visits Compass Box

    One Saturday afternoon after completing a couple of weeks of work in Oxford (I was there on a grant funding my research on Bill's formidably fantastic ferret fascination), I took the train into London's Paddington Station, then worked my way to the Compass Box offices in the Chiswick.  There, Gregg Glass treated me to many of the intricacies and joys of the Compass Box approach to whisky and whisky blending.  If you don't know much about Compass Box, the short version is that it produces artisanal whiskies--and really, really good ones.  Compass Box also knows a thing or two about marketing.  Beyond that, you can find a lot more on the company and its philosophy here.
     As with some of my distillery experiences in Scotland, this was not a typical experience (but in this case also was not a tour).  Gregg treated me very well, and I jumped at the opportunity to learn more about Compass Box and to get pictures of the new packaging on its main line of products.  More on that below.  But the opportunity to try my hand at blending for the first time was a pleasure I had not anticipated being able to have.  I dove into it with great relish (figurative relish:  no pickle relish made it into my blend, nor did any other hot dog condiment).
     We once imagined that it would be, and now I can say it definitively: blending is difficult.  In fact, it is truly painstaking work.  The Compass Box offices are filled with sample bottles from all of the casks being considered for new expressions and from those being saved for future reference.  And when you see the care and detail that the folks at Compass Box put into their whisky blending, it makes your head spin (or at least it did mine--and the Artist's Blend High Ball that Gregg handed me as I walked in the door did not contribute to that effect one iota--if anything, it helped me not to feel too overwhelmed in the face of all of it).
     When I tried my own hand at blending, the initial results were not good.  Over-over-peated, to be more exact--and I'd only used 10% peated malt!  I'd like to think I learned quickly and recovered well, but it's more accurate to say I muddled through and have a nice sample bottle full of a decent whisky to show for my efforts (mostly thanks to the incredible whiskies I employed as "ingredients").  
Other highlights/fun facts about Compass Box:
•    Compass Box was founded by an American, John Glaser, who remains the face of the company.
•    Apparently, something about our site piqued Gregg's interest and imagination, because when I arrived, he'd fashioned a set of Malt Impostor glasses out of a pair of squash googles, two bungs, and some muslin (they appear in two pictures in this post).

•    Compass Box has done more for making the public aware of the greatness of aged grain alcohols than probably any other whisky producer in recent years.

But enough of that, check out the gorgeous new(ish) packaging for Compass Box's main line of products (click on any of the pictures to see a larger version).  You can at least get a hint of the old packaging by checking out the minis from our reviews here and here and here.  Somehow I missed photographing the Spice Tree that day, but you can see the new packaging for that expression here.









                                                                              --Stephen


   

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Antiquary 12 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes: 
     I had apprenticed under Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, so it was with a blend (get it? blend? even though it's not one?) of trepidation and curiousity that I approached the small faceted phial with the quasi octagon—but really, a dodecagon—label. It was faceted like a cathedral trapped in a mirror, or perhaps emerging from a lake. It also looked like something that might adorn Twiggy, dangling from one of her ears. The ochre fluid contained within, if I could safely access it might be an exotic poison, an antidote for asp bites, or as I dearly hoped, Amrit (अमृत), the Nectar of the Goddess conjured by Vishnu to restore immortality to the Devas.
     I gingerly removed the phial's lid, muttering an incantation under my breath to prevent a djinn from escaping. Putting my nose over it, clenching ipecac in my other hand, I breathed in slowly, deeply. Like the goatskin leather scraped by an OXO peeler installed on a djembe, or a lemon-rubbed drum kit hyperkinetically played by Max Roach, either or both of which were sequestered in a hayloft in a croft in Glenrothes that had recently been home to an Asiatic pachyderm visiting Scotland. Suddenly, the kiss of kohl-eyed Kali. [Stephen:  Bill! That's the wrong link! Use this one!]
     The number "12" was enscripted, raising the question: Was this elixir mixed by a 12-year old or was it a reference to the 12th sutra in The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali?
     I closed my eyes, crossed my heart, hoped to die only to be reborn, and sipped. "Watery," I thought at first, and then a kick on my frenulum and Plica sublingualis banished that notion. There was an excluded middle: all fire at the front in hole; a hybrid yellow bell pepper stuffed with dried poppy seeds (and I can't imagine wet poppy seeds). The end was nigh, and the end kept going on and on like a Doors song. Would it end? Could it end? Should it end? I mentally flipped through my early model (late 50's) Rolodex of symptoms of poison and tangs of antidotes, but found nothing akin to the sensations I was experiencing. 
     And then, bitter and astringent, like the casually discarded loofah of a petty princeling or emir. This couldn't be the Amrit, but I needed more of it! Directly, I drained down the distilled dregs and waited for death or a different disaster,    perhaps eternal limbo. Instead, a raga faintly heard grew expansive, and I enjoyed better the suddenly witty dialogue between sitar and tabla. Concerns about carrying bootlegged antiques past military checkpoints and passport controls faded. I laughed from the heart. Life immortal? No. But I had stumbled upon the water of life.


  
Rating:
--On the scale of low expectations that were exceeded vastly by several orders of magnitude--
The Antiquary 12 is the surprisingly funny, intelligent, and satisfying movie outside of your normal spectrum genres that you were dragged to by your significant other. At first, it was a grumpy concession to go at all—"Who will watch the ferrets?"—and then...parking was easy, matinee prices were in effect, the popcorn had real butter and brewer's yeast on it, and the movie lit up the screen, the night, and your love life. Bravo, Tomatin!

    
  
                                                                            --Bill
  
 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Ardbeg 10 (50 ml airline bottle)

[A good long time ago now, we tried this dram amid other varied expressions from different distilleries during a trip to The Last Hurrah bar in Boston.  There, we did a brief review, and really gave this dram the short shrift, in part because its phenolic profile was so overwhelming after having sampled other, tamer drams.  So this full, proper review is long overdue.  And given that it's our 3rd year Maltiversary today, we thought it fitting that we could make up for our half-assed earlier excuse for a review with a truly singular set of tasting notes, which we feel John has provided here, raising the bar for whisky tasting notes everywhere.]
 
Tasting notes: 
     The 25th anniversary of the disappearance of Angel Ignacio Illapa Valpariaso-Quispe gives the reviewer a chance for reminiscence.  And a bit of reverie, if I may be permitted.  The story of the bantamweight boxer from Bolivia is well known, not least because of his rather unfortunate moniker.  This is not, however, to say it wasn’t fitting.  For Angel “Lady Hands” Valpariaso-Quispe brought something distinctive to the squared circle.  His hands were uncommonly small.  As an amateur he had to put so much tape on them that he couldn’t feel his punches at all.  I can assure you, however, that his opponents felt them, all right.  His fig-sized fists found kidneys and ribs with devastating regularity.  And the sharp crack of his jab routinely opened up the sluices above the brows and cheeks of his opposition.  All of this is well known and hardly needs repeating here.  No, this is a moment for remembering his trainer, Rafael “Rafe” MacCutcheon, no known relation.  How this Scotsman ended up in rural Bolivia is disputed.  He used to tell stories of various adventures (usually involving a “magic forest”) or fanciful genealogies (Jorge Wilstermann was variously his father or an uncle), but the reviewer rather suspects it was owing to his dispute with his missionary parents over the validity of the maxim, “spare the rod, spoil the child.”  Rafe could look his mother in the eye at age six and was a notch taller than his father before his eighth birthday.  So it comes as no surprise that the parents couldn’t discipline this truculent titan, and so left him behind when they continued to Argentina.  Neither is it surprising that he would find his own success in the ring.  Of course, it’s his later impact on the townspeople of Yapacaní and above all on Lady Hands that we are here to remember.  And I begin with the true story behind a pivotal point in the pugilist’s career.  For it was Rafe who found the way to toughen up Lady Hands’ knuckles so that the tape wouldn’t cause them to bleed during the late rounds of his matches.  His method may have been inspired by Moises Alou, but in its munificence it far surpasses it.  You see, he poured out a healthy measure of Ardbeg 10 onto his own bear-sized hands and rubbed them into the tiny raised bumps from which Lady Hand’s delicate digits extended so tentatively, like the pearlescent tentacles of a skittish sea anemone.  No one in Yapacaní knew what Rafe kept in that curious green bottle in his bag.  Some said that the smell of this salve was that of a merino wool sweater worn by a lizard in a rainstorm.  Others were convinced that it was the breath of a Tusken Raider (morning breath, they insisted).  Another camp formed the view that it was a smell of two soups served on one tray: a lamb stew with herb sachet, without the lamb, and a very pleasant bouillabaisse centered on the head of a prize tuna.  Finally—and I mention this more in the spirit of comprehensiveness than endorsement—a distinctly minority position was that the hand salve smelled of a Wiccan poultice for treating shingles. 
     I myself can report on the taste, for my curiosity got the better of me on the night of the split decision with Aucapoma Apumayta Arancaya-Goldberg.  Tic Tacs®, mint jelly beans, Colman’s mustard, and an invisible tea steeped by a young girl in a princess outfit and offered in an exaggerated pantomime of generosity to her teddy bear.  My own later travels would trigger the memory of what I didn’t know then was peat.  A very well-rounded peat of the mechanically extruded sort, not the hand-cut sort.  There was also nothing jagged at all, in spite of Angel’s wincing when Rafe’s glistening mitts enveloped his pixie hands.  Yes, I rather think now that the taste was what you’d expect from an anise malting floor with lemons and jelly beans strewn about.  The finish was the postprandial cigarette smoke condensed on the windshield of a 1972 Jensen Interceptor with a stubborn fuel leak and balky transmission.  Like the memory of that encounter, the finish doesn’t change, it’s a veritable idée fixe, the way that some believe that Mt. Fuji does not pass through seasonal transformations, but rather sits atop the axis on which the world turns, like a Hello Kitty pencil eraser.  The Ardbeg 10 has precisely that kind of fidelity and perseverance in its finish.  It is a lodestone, a benchmark, or a garden spike sprinkler, if we're to take account of the viewpoint of a mole.  Yes, and yes.  What I now know to be the Ardbeg 10, and not what Rafe called the “Special Potion" from the "Magical Cabbage,” is all of this and more.  I am not sure that it can save boxing careers.  But in its own small way, I suppose that it saved my life.
  

Rating:
--On the scale of evidence in the investigation of the disappearance of Angel Ignacio Illapa Valpariaso-Quispe--
The Ardbeg 10 is e. e. cummings' poem,"somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond"-- Found amid the usual post-fight detritus in Lady Hands' training room, most of which is a knee-deep whirl of discarded tape nearly a tenth of a mile long, was this poem torn carefully from an anthology.  It was the last line of the poem that moved even the most seasoned investigators to tears: "nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands."

    
  
                                                                            --John
  
  

--Our thanks to Ardbeg and Christy for the sample!
   

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