Aberfeldy, with its iconic red squirrel and auspicious Pictland pedigree, holds out exceptional promise. In Norse mythology, Ratatoskr the red squirrel runs up and down the world tree, conveying messages between an eagle soaring above and a worm, Nidhogg, below. Not an enviable job, really. Besides, what do eagle and worms have to say to each other? No wonder the gossipy rodent is regarded with suspicion by all parties—it stands apart, and yet, at the same time, circumperegrinates all of nature. The Aberfeldy 12 has a similar ambition and, naturally, its reach exceeds its grasp. Day-old toaster waffles, desiccated, stuck to the plate in a hardened crescent of grade B Vermont maple syrup. Chalk dusk on a horse saddle. Vienna sausages in a pineapple-peppercorn brine. Roasted skirret in an earthenware dish. Tattoo ink pooling in untranslatable Ogham inscriptions. A sip of too-hot green tea taken next to an open can of furniture stripper. The Aberfeldy 12 has aspirations, all right. Do you think that your chattering rebuke touches me, you provoker of eagles, you annoyer of worms?
The Aberfeldy 12 is אֲנָקָה, found at Leviticus 11:30. Like the inscrutable dram, this term has been interpreted quite variously, translated as “ferret”, “gecko”, “shrew”, “hedgehog”, “newt“, “chameleon”, “frog”, or “groaning lizard” (on account of a suspected etymological link to the Hebrew word “to cry” אנק ). But what is this pain or sadness if not the exasperation of the red squirrel failing to make himself understood?