I just hear “Johnnie”

Are you in the “Yanny” camp or the “Laurel” camp?

LBHQ is divided—or at least the humans are: two for Laurel and two for Yanny.

I just hear “Johnnie.”

Nope.

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Lagavulin 8 Year Old—Destroyed by Cocoa the Gerbil

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?

Cocoa with Laguvulin box

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?

lagavulin_8yoIn 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.

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Photo courtesy of Miss V

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.

 

The balls you want in your CROWN ROYAL RESERVE

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.

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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.

20170118_2008191Now, 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.

crown-royal-reserveSo 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.

20170116_1959091RULE 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.