The nose opens with an overly-ripe Valencia orange that’s been mouldering in a nest made of cat-o-nine tails on a basalt slab in a marble mausoleum. There are marshmallows that escaped the all-too-mellow marshes and made their homes in a brown patent shoe-leather factory’s smoke stack. The nose is bracing, but not in a suspender- or girdle-like way.
At 102 proof, there’s proof of life, proof of the afterlife, and proof of the Riemann Hypothesis, with a dozen or so proofs left over! It’s got more “Wow” than a 1970s Bang + Olufsen turntable being spun by Twiggy. Even in a tiny driblet (all Stephen would save for me), there’s enough smoke and burn to sear an abscessed tooth, regrow a root, and reënamel the, uh, enamel. In other words, the mouth mirrors the flux and reflux of history, as empires rise and fall, and new ones emerge from the ashes of the old. This is better than castles in the air, and phunkier and phreakier than a lemur at an art opening in a bad part of town.
The finish takes the ashes of empire and reimagines them as the frontmatter, filler, Oxford commas, and endpages of romance novels and turgid academic monographs sent back in time to the Library at Alexandria to create a truly epic conflagration at the Burning. For all that, it’s as savory and smooth as swallowing a cacao- and cocoa-buttered baby iguana on a dare in Cabo San Lucas.
–Our thanks to Laphroaig for the sample!