OMG, my fellow inebriates. I glanced at the gerbil tank (which I rarely do because I’m terrified of the gerbils’ ability to chew and shred). And what did I see?
It was Cocoa the Gerbil, villainously gnawing on the box that used to contain LAGAVULIN 8 YEAR OLD 200TH ANNIVERSARY WHISKY. Where did he get that box??? And where was the bottle?
In a panic I ransacked the kitchen looking for the bottle. Surely it had to be there, with the two inches I remembered of smoky, peaty yet round and buttery not to mention complex whisky. OMG, where was it? Under the sink I went looking for at least an EMPTY bottles from which to inhale the tarry, honey-roasted, briny dregs. But the recycling had gone out days before, apparently with my precious Lagavulin.
This was unforgivable. Not just because my dad and his friend R had finished it, but because Cocoa was now having his way with the box! I’m terrified of Cocoa at the best of times, and here he was lording it over me that my beloved whisky had been drained.
What the hell was I doing while Dad and R inhaled its sublime smoky yet fruit-forward notes, then sampled its gently charry, burnt-sugar flavour with its hints of licorice and seaweed followed by a baking-spice kick? WHAT WAS I DOING?!!
I was avoiding Cocoa, that’s what. My dad has finally found an effective guard for his liquor. As long as that gerbil tank stands between me and the kitchen, all booze is off limits.
Whaaat, my fellow inebriates? You say you don’t want balls in your Canadian whisky?
Well, you might want balls in your Canadian whisky if they were THESE balls.
That’s right, my fellow inebriates! Giant balls of ice!
My dad brought home these spherical ice moulds for my mum’s birthday a while back. At first she was very ungrateful, not having ever expressed a wish for such things, but after experiencing them in a rock glass of CROWN ROYAL RESERVE Canadian rye whisky, she repented of her birthday brattiness and agreed that Dad had found a good thing.
Now, whether you should add ice to your whisky in the first place is its own controversy. If your whisk(e)y is cask-strength OR cheap and nasty, you need no excuse. But what about a reasonably nice rye whisky like CROWN ROYAL RESERVE? Purists might urge you to drink it neat—all the better to fully experience it. And adding water (not ice) can actually help release flavours in a good whisk(e)y that might not otherwise come out, by breaking the surface tension of the drink and creating a reaction that releases aromas. But ice? That’s where purist and drinkers like my mum diverge.
Adding ice to whisk(e)y isn’t unforgivable, but it does limit the “nose.” If you have a very high-quality beverage, purists will urge you very strongly to forgo the ice. But if you, like the dwellers of LBHQ, are on a soul-destroying budget, well, you’re gonna want to add ice your wretched but affordable swill.
So how did a thing like CROWN ROYAL RESERVE enter our house? Not for donkey’s years has my mother purchased a rye that didn’t come in a plastic bottle.
It was my Uncle J (who doesn’t know I call him that) who brought this delightful premium version of CROWN ROYAL to LBHQ. In kneejerk fashion, we got out the ice (and the Coca Cola in Uncle J’s case) and went to town on the bottle. While we can’t report what it tastes like neat, we nonetheless detected CROWN ROYAL RESERVE’s notes of maple and caramel, its smoothness and its balance. What it lacks in complexity it makes up for with its well-behaved sippability. All of us went back for a second belt, and my mum crunched her ice into nothing.
Which is probably why Dad bought her the ice balls. When you have a mouthful of screaming dental work as my dad does, listening to your wife of 13 years crunch the shit out of the ice in her CROWN ROYAL RESERVE must make you want to call a lawyer. Hats off to my dad for taking the high road and buying her ice balls instead, underappreciated though they were initially.
A few warnings about these very large balls:
You have to be smart about how you put them in your drink.
RULE ONE: Ice first. You cannot pour your rye and then chuck one of these balls in. You’ll lose your rye. And yes, Mum tried it.
RULE TWO: Be careful. These are big honking balls. Even if your rock glass is empty, you mustn’t drop them in or you’ll risk breaking the glass. And yes, Mum tried that too. (Run hot water over the spherical ice mould to loosen the ice ball, take off the ice-mould lid, put the glass upside down over the mould and then flip it right-side-up with the iceball pressed against the bottom of the glass. Voila!
RULE THREE: Knowing that you can’t put your booze in the glass first, if you’re concerned about measuring that booze, you won’t be able to use the iceball-filled glass as a visual measure for your pour-line—at least not until you get used to having big balls in your glass. Grab a jigger so you can measure your booze and then pour it onto the ice.
And if you don’t want to measure, that’s fine too. No car keys, though, my fellow inebriates! Stay home and keep pouring CROWN ROYAL RESERVE over the ice until it melts. Your balls will stay with you all night long.
My fellow inebriates,
I promised you a sob story revealing why my typists (aka Mum and Dad) have left me to twiddle my thumbless paws for over a year now while my blog wallows in the lowest reader stats it’s ever seen.
But then I had breakfast (aka FEENEY’S IRISH CREAM), which had been lurking in the back of the fridge since Christmas. Obviously my mum was the last tippler, because the top was barely on (she has no idea how to close anything; either it’s barely on or it’s hopelessly misthreaded and you have to bash it against the sink to get it open). Anyway, it was my mum’s incompetence that enabled my miraculous Feeney’s breakfast.
An odd breakfast, you say?
You wouldn’t say that if it was in a morning coffee on New Year’s Day, would you? Then it would be okay. Or if you were camping. If you’re camping anything goes! To further make my case, I had no idea what date it was today. For all I knew, it could have been New Year’s Day. I don’t pay attention to calendars. So I slipped the top off the Feeney’s, inserted a straw, and…OMG, my fellow inebriates, what a yummy breakfast! You have to try this, people. Never mind what day it is. I suggest doing it just because it’s a day.
A 750mL bottle of Feeney’s sells at our local booze store for $20.99. That’s $6 less than the more famous Bailey’s Original Irish Cream. So how does it compare?
If you ask my dad, who immediately noted the price difference, he’ll say Feeney’s has nothing on Bailey’s. Ask my mum, presumably responsible for the half-bottle’s worth missing before I discovered it for breakfast, and she’ll say it’s practically identical. Made with cream and aged Irish whisky, Feeney’s is rich and luxurious, smooth and slightly chocolatey. Perhaps it tastes different (better?) than Bailey’s—but who knows? I’d have to urge my parents to buy both at once, and that’s about as likely as an asteroid hitting the house. Nope, the holiday season is over, and we probably won’t see either beverage until next winter.
Totally aside, but just to give you a small update of what’s been going on at LBHQ, while I consumed my delicious Feeney’s breakfast, I was observed by GERBILS. Yes, for the past 13 months, gerbils have been living with us. They reside in a gigantic glass tank in the dining room. At first I was afraid they would make similar fridge forays to mine and finish off the booze before I could, but then I realized they’re confined to their tank. My dad says they don’t feel confined because the tank is huge, but hey—who knows what they’re thinking? (Except Miss V, who can channel them.)
To be frank, I’m a little jealous of them, because when we first got them my mum said: “Wow, it’s great having animals in the house. They’re so animated, aren’t they, LB?”
And then she said to the kids, “Make sure you never put LB in the gerbil tank. If you do, they’ll chew him up in no time flat.”