Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Angels Share

Of course, all great whiskies have some kind of magic to them, and who's to say that this doesn't come from the angels?... It would no doubt be possible to make a container the angels couldn't get into, but you wouldn't get anything like the same result.
Last night C.C. and I attended a Scotch tasting event hosted by my daughter's boyfriend, Jesse. I've never been to a whiskey tasting before. Never been much of a Scotch aficionado for that matter. But Scotch is one of those drinks that connects me back through time to my childhood, to my father of the deep passions and dark poetic soul. Of Gaelic roots, Scotch was my father's favourite drink.

Whenever someone came to our home to visit, how they 'took' their whiskey determined the whiskey my father served them. "You don't want to waste the good stuff on someone who's going to mix it," he'd say, reaching for the (as he called it, 'pedestrian of Scotch's') Johnny Walker Red Label. He didn't mind adding a wee drop of water, but Coca Cola? Sacrilegious! My father liked to quote Mark Twain who is attributed as having said, "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over."

Legend has it that when the Scotch is aged, it is the angels who consume the 2% that evaporates every year from the casks.

I wonder if the angels fight over whose whiskey they get to enjoy? Do the more experienced angels get the higher quality brands? Do the newbies have to tuck in their wings as they settle into a vat of 'pedestrian' Scotch?

It was a fun and enlightening evening. I was one woman amongst twelve men but never felt overwhelmed within the circle of testosterone surrounding me. I thought of trying on my Mae West persona and disarming 'my boys' with my wicked lustful joy, but opted instead to simply sit back and enjoy the wicked lustfulness of the Scotches arrayed before me. Wise choice. The lustfulness of each drop ignited my senses and stirred my Gaelic soul.

We sat around the oak table in the tasting room of Bin 905, a local wine shop where Jesse works, the tabletop covered with baskets of bread, carafes of water and strategically placed glasses for spitting out the Scotch. In front of each of us, six crystal snifters shone, a 'wee drab' of Scotch in the bottom of each. Jesse enthralled us with his knowledge of the drink and its rich heritage, ensuring every moment was filled with the tradition that embues the spirit with its Gaellic charms and lusty lore.

I can understand how the Angels could not resist the lure of what has been called in days of yore, "aqua vitae". The aromas wafting around me were irresistible. Smoky bogs and peat moss burning on the glen. The sweet scent of heather strewn meadows and honey suckle intermingled with salty brine of casks aged upon rocky shores in fresh sea air and sherry notes topped with vanilla and caramel.

I've never considered there could be angels flying high in their cups -- but after last night's tastings, I can no longer scoff at the possibility. Scotch is the nectar of the spirit world. The gods may have consumed their mead but higher up the ecclesiastic pyramid of potables, the angels flutter their wings in anticipation of a wee drab of nature's bounty.

It is in the smallest of moments that the angels open their wings and sigh in contentment. In their expansion our beings resonate in harmony, opening our heartstrings to possibility.

Last night, after the tasting was over, the delicacies of the cheese tray consumed and chocolate bites quit melting on grateful tongues, C.C. and I sat and chatted with two men who had stayed to linger. It was a moment filled with satisfaction and the sense of joy that comes from having shared in something special, in something beyond the realm of normal every day.

One of the gentlemen is the principle of the school where C.C.'s daughter attends high school. We started talking about the art and theatre event she'd held at the shelter where I work and one thing led to another. His compatriot at the tasting is an artist, a former instructor at the art school here, and keenly interested in giving back to the community.

"Why don't you drop in and take a look at our art studio?" I asked him.

And so, a new alliance is formed. Business cards exchanged hands with the heartfelt and fully intentioned commitment to be in touch and the angels smiled from on high.

Possibilities open. Horizons expand and life continues to weave itself through the gentle warp of living in the realm of wonder of the world around me.

As David Daiches wrote in Scotch Whisky in 1969, "Proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed."

I enjoyed myself to the fullness of my senses last night. It was a grand event where even the angels got their share of wonder.


Anonymous said...


great piece . .I used it, with some small edits, as the 360boom feature article today .. it's @

have a happy momma's day


M.L. Gallagher said...

Thanks Mark!

I love the edits. You made it much stronger.

Thanks for the Momma Day wishes -- I'm having a great one!