Though it is well known that Hankey Bannister is named for two gentlemen (Hankey and Bannister), I prefer to imagine that Hankey Bannister is rather one man, and a grizzled, world-worn one at that. I picture him as the interlocutor or perhaps co-conspirator from a Tom Waits song ( “…hey Hankey can I borrow / a couple of bucks from you / to go waltzing Mathilda, waltzing Mathilda…”). But when he’s not staggering along Heartattack and Vine, my Hankey’s attempts at late morning recovery usually involve very ripe–or even pickled–banana, canned pineapple juice, and maplewood Jamba Juice smoothies (because that’s what we get on the nose). And I imagine him drinking said smoothies as he lounges on an old four-poster bed he had begun–years ago–to refinish with leftover lacquer from This Old House (also on the nose for us), only to abandon the project in favor exploring the depths of a ridiculously reasonably priced bottle of blended whisky, like the one that, appropriately, rendered him eponymous. Undiluted, this dram is a bit jagged, like my imagined Hankey most mornings–or like a first date. The finish is short, but sweet, like that same first date, once an awkward hug goodnight is met with an unexpected soft kiss on the cheek that makes your knees give. Add some water, and Hankey smooths out considerably: he even smells a little like flowers once you water him. This is a Scotch that’s meant to be–not to push the analogy too far…oh, hell, why not?–on the rocks. Mr. Waits, if you’re reading this, consider this Hankey Bannister-inspired song title: “Knee-deep in a Two-Cube Cocktail”…
The Hankey Bannister Blended Whisky is “Disneyland is Vegas for children.”–Straightforward, true, just a little subversive, and considerably more accessible than “My father was an exhaust manifold and my mother was a tree”, but perhaps less attractive to hardcore malt fiends than “I love [William S.] Burroughs. He’s like a metal desk. He’s like a still, and everything that comes out of him is already whiskey.”
—Our thanks to Brian Johnson and InterBev Group for the sample!