Cheers, Dad(s)

My Fellow Inebriates,

Presumably I once had a bear dad—i.e., a dad with 74 chromosomes, not 46 like my human dad. Although I can’t remember anything before coming to awareness at the liquor store, I was probably lucky to escape the dodgy life of a wild Kodiak bear. Hell, my bear dad probably would have eaten me in the wild, since that’s what male Kodiak bears tend to do.

My human dad has never tried to eat me. He’s never even tried to eat his human kids. The worst thing he ever does is take mysterious business trips without me. But even that has its upside.

For instance, he got back from Vegas yesterday. I’d assumed he would have wrecked himself at the casinos and bars, sticking coins in slots and bills into g-strings, but instead he got off the plane looking reasonably well rested and bearing a duty-free bottle. Ahhhh!

Cheers, Dad.


Only a drunk would forget Robbie Burns Day

And I am a drunk.

The day is almost over—a day that did not feature scotch. A bloody travesty! But I mustn’t be bitter. I have some good whisky recommendations:

I’m going to pour some Malibu and pretend it’s a nice scotch while trying to figure out this poem. (I can’t help it! We don’t have any scotch! My parents have no idea how to stock a liquor cabinet.)

To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough

Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murdering pattle.

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion

Portrait by Alexander Nasmyth, 1787

Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An’ fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t.

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s win’s ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turned out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

– Robert Burns

CAOL ILA 12—Take me, I’m yours

You know I’ll drink anything, especially in a liquor crisis like the one we’re suffering right now at LBHQ. After waving a sad goodbye to the lovely New Year’s empties, my eye turns to our nasty little cupboard with its languishing Malibu and mescale. But it doesn’t take long for those neglected bottles to start giving me come-hither looks.

We all sometimes slum it when it comes to alcohol. Maybe we’re at a wedding where the freshly married have adorned each table with twin white/red bottles of the 28-day UVIN abomination they cooked up together. Maybe we’re basking at a beer garden listening to a band, too happy to scrutinize the beer. Or being polite at a dinner party. Or on a budget. Or an alcoholic—like your furry host here.

Increasingly the budget matters when it comes to booze. Market analysts say appetites for high-end hooch have shifted from North America to Asian markets where disposable household income has increased, whereas fewer North Americans can afford premium liquor these days.

That’s what makes my recent exposure to CAOL ILA 12 so poignant, my fellow inebriates. The knowledge that we can buy top-notch whiskey only on very special occasions (“not just so you can get wasted, LB”) makes me want to lash my parents into productivity and financial ease so we can purchase our own bottle of this golden stuff.

You see, we sampled CAOL ILA 12 at the generous behest of my newest best friend Christine, who brought it in a canvas bag with two other single malts this past weekend. Understandably, she took the bag home afterwards, although if I’d had a moment alone with her I would have negotiated a means of joining her.

I’ve described the first of our three samples, TALISKER 18, already. It was a tough act for CAOL ILA 12 to follow, and perhaps this ordering was unfair. (Perhaps we should have swished with Cutty Sark in between.) But CAOL ILA 12 held its own, offering distinctive characteristics that argued for its rightful inclusion in a tasting against TALISKER 18.

CAOL ILA is the largest of eight distilleries on Islay, traditionally a peat-cutting and fishing area on Scotland’s west coast. While it markets four single malt editions, much of its vast production goes into JOHNNIE WALKER blended whiskey. This might be why JOHNNIE WALKER is so damn good.

But CAOL ILA 12 is better. One whiff tells you this is no simple scotch—aromas of peat and honey, earth and vanilla float from the pale golden liquid. Redolent of campfires and misty nights, it has a medicinal hint, a whiff of iodine, brine, and complex herbs.

The sip is smoky, the peatiness walking a careful tightrope between too much and too little, sweet treacle and spice contributing delicate background notes, with unplaceable floral notes behind. Smooth and dry, it fills the mouth, its shy medicinal quality expanding in a serious, smoky finish. Sipping CAOL ILA 12 is a gift to the tastebuds—layer upon layer of artful scents and flavors, pressing you against the wall and ravishing you like there’s no tomorrow.*

This is the power of an exquisite single malt whiskey. Cutty Sark may get you drunk and Bell’s may get you laid, but a whiskey like CAOL ILA 12 will dominate you, and in a good way.

Unfortunately luxuries cost money, but you don’t have to slum it. Just remember that when you drink JOHNNIE WALKER, you’re getting some of that elysian CAOL ILA with it (albeit with a bunch of other malts). Think of it as a promiscuous Islay whiskey, and it’s all good.

 *What do you mean I don’t know what I’m talking about?