The nose of this dram is pure Bananas Foster, but I’ll wager that I’ll have to say a bit more to clarify what I’m trying to convey. You see, Bananas Foster is the professional name of a Proboscis Monkey whom you could still hope to see at Fire Island drag shows until relatively recently. Dressed in an impeccable tuxedo, he carried on as an English valet, always ready to help the performers with their zippers and pasties, to light their Virginia Slims cigarettes with his antique French lighter (a rather curious affectation, that lighter, now that I think of it), or fetch a cocktail. He always walked carefully, never letting his tail drag on the ground, sherry or cognac glasses clinking on a tray, and with a sweeping bow would step back to the edge of the stage almost disappear into the curtain. Everyone loved him. He was, however, the sort of fixture you could take for granted. How like one’s own youth in this regard! And yet it wasn’t until his appearances became less frequent that you could reflect on his importance over the years.
Forgive me, I’m just chattering away at old memories, aren’t I? Well, the popularity of Downton Abbey has, as you would imagine, sent nearby television journalists to inquire after him. Always seek the local angle, right? Well, Bananas, I’m happy to say, is doing quite well. Older, yes; and perhaps it is true that his eyes are clouded with both glaucoma and grief. (I will not mention the car accident that took the life of Formica Dinette except to say that Bananas warned us—with a decorum and restraint that we simply failed to heed—of the folly of relying on a chimpanzee to act as a chauffeur that night). But in spite of it all, there is an inner light that still radiates through those knowing, brown eyes. And it is, ultimately, to that wisdom and above all to the gentility that I refer when I say that the nose of the Classic Cask Aultmore 1981 reminds me of Bananas Foster. And as I drink it, I am forced to say that the comparison is not only sustained but deepened. For it is as difficult to describe the goodness of this dram as it is to tell those who didn’t know him how fine a Proboscis Monkey dressed as an English valet Bananas—our Bananas—was. Think of what the very best grass in all the world would taste like to a sheep. Have you words for that? Can your concepts denote it? Or imagine synthetic motor oil poured through sandlewood-perfumed muslin into a freshly restored Ferrari. Does this even begin to convey the utter fittingness of what is good? Does it account for the fundamental pull of what is right and true, and how such power overcomes all else? What I’m saying, then, is that the Aultmore 1981 is a Habanero-quince chutney, line-dried linen sheets folded by emphysemic soldiers, a scallop reduction that hardens to a dull waxy mass in the corner of a risotto pan. What’s I’m saying is, simply, this: that it is Bananas Foster.
The Classic Cask Aultmore 1981 is “Here lies the body of our Anna / Done to death by a banana / It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low / But the skin of the thing that made her go.”
*–Our thanks to Jerry Zimmerman (and Aron Silverman and the good folks at The Classic Cask) for passing on this sample to us. In our book, that makes him Great. Slàinte, Jerry!