Smithwick’s—yummy, cold, and redolent of all the crap in our very old freezer

My fellow inebriates,

My dad swears by this freezer thingie he uses to keep cans of beer cold.

It even has a bear on it.

In this case, we’re having a Smithwick’s Red Ale. It’s a nice malty, mellow beer with low hops and creaminess.

I don’t know why my dad didn’t tell my mum about this beer—she would totally like it. Maybe he was using his freezer thingie to hide the words “Premium Red Ale.” It doesn’t matter, though. The freezer thingie itself is, in any case, a deterrent (for her, not me); she says it “smells like the freezer.”

I found Dad’s beer because I can smell it with my bear nose. Sure, I can also detect the freezer thingie’s gross freezer-burnt-what-the-hell-was it sitting-next-to-why-do-we-never-clean-the-freezer-maybe-the-whole-appliance-is-faulty-oh-wait-did-we-finally-bury-that-dead-gerbil odour, but I don’t care. As you can see, I bellied right up to it so I could help my dad drink that Smithwick’s.

I highly recommend getting several freezer thingies for your household so you don’t have to share.

I also recommend a dedicated beer fridge/freezer for them so they just smell like beer.

And if you have a deceased gerbil in a baggie in the freezer (because the ground was too hard to dig in winter), it’s probably time to have that funeral.

I AM CANADIAN

Canada may be flawed, and it may have lots of work ahead to make things right, but I am an optimist, and I love my country.

Bushmill’s Black Bush—luring bears into the liquor store

My fellow inebriates,

This week one of my favourite booze websites, Good Spirits News (GSN), drew my attention to Bushmill’s Black Bush Whiskey. When I saw they had given it an A+, I immediately went online to see if our government booze store stocked it. Score! It was even on sale for $34.99.

Bushmill's Irish Whiskey bottle

For this marvellous shopping trip, I accompanied my mum, riding in her backpack. I hadn’t been out of the house since long before the pandemic, so this was novel. The whole world had changed. Our booze store had even rebranded.

My mum was reluctant to take me along. In the past, I’ve attempted to stay behind at the store. But she told me if I tried to hop out of the backpack this time and take up residence in the Irish whiskey section, I’d probably end up being destroyed (and not in the good, wasted kind of way). She pointed out that I was no longer as fluffy as I was when I first sprang from the liquor store’s Christmas share-a-bear sale so many years ago.

I countered that neither was she.

Still, I took her point about the common practice of darting bears that show up at liquor stores and promised to stay in the backpack.

Happens all the time.

Thus we made a surgical strike, claimed our Black Bush and hightailed it out of there.

Two days later (why??? why do I always have to wait???) we tried it. Our friends at GSN were correct—Black Bush is a fine whiskey that’s weighty and rich in a classic toasty-caramel vein. On the nose you get faint nuttiness and butterscotch. On the palate it has a ton going on—some spices, some dried fruits and some tea tannins. Those flavours develop in your mouth and finish off on the sweet side. In short, it takes your palate through a small journey, much like my foray in the backpack, although without the threat of being darted.

Black Bush is made from 80% malt whiskey and 20% grain whiskey, which makes it a bargain (regular $38.99). It spends years in sherry casks, which confers a sweetness on it that my dad and I noticed right out of the gate. My mum didn’t find it sweet, but that’s because she’s been hanging out in the Canadian rye section for so long. Still, she felt connected to this whiskey because it hails from her mum’s birthplace, County Antrim in Northern Ireland (although Bushmill’s is owned by the folks who make Cuervo).

By Jonathan Schachter, 2005, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5848335

Given how little travel is going on these days, Black Bush is the closest we’re going to get to Northern Ireland anytime soon, so we might as well drink copious amounts of it.

And you, too, my fellow inebriates. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced whiskey you can sip or mix into a mean cocktail, this is it. Get your mother to put you in a backpack and take you to your local booze shop ASAP!