Dracarys! I whisper to myself, amused, as I look closely at charcoal dragons sketched on the side of a paper lantern, taking in the hints of smoke on the purple rice paper. Then I get the dark, perfumey sweetness from lacquered wooden boxes with strange figures on them. The figures look as though they would be at home on the third panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights, that is, if Bosch saw fit to depict carnies from a county fair dressed as zombie clowns. Then there is more sweetness, a higher sweetness, as I inspect chess pieces whittled from Jeffrey pine, sugar maple, and sassafras wood all arranged in the Ponziani opening. Outside the window is a sugar cane field so thoroughly ablaze that the word “engulfed” cannot even rise to describe it. The flames create spectacular, oracular, and not at all vernacular, shadows on the wall. I yearn to see that of which they are the representation. I lift the glass to my lips.
The mouth possesses utter sweetness, but it’s heavy like canned peaches in a syrupy brine. I chew on this befogged nectar, perfectly balanced, with the thickness of amber, and my thoughts retreat into confabulated memories. First, a unicyclist on a tightrope tied between two of the largest redwoods in the forest—which is to say, there is old wood but also lively intrigue. Then there’s a slender woman straining to hold a fishing rod on a boat deck. Her smile is juxtaposed against the frowning, upside-down U of the rod, whose shining tip pulled down so that it resembles a child’s jittery finger pointing at a grouper the size of an easy chair just now emerging from the depths—which is to say that the lively intrigue is salt sprayed, strong, and prodigious. The final image is of a concatenation of angels dancing on the offset head of a rail spike—a marriage of the diaphanous and the ferruginous, a microcosm of heaven and earth.
The finish glides on for so long, and with such imperceptible continuity, that one needs the units of time employed to describe continental shift. Kiloannus, megaannus, and gigaannus, however, make me giggle, and this is not a whisky to be drunk in Giggle Town. So I decide instead to describe my pleasures as moving through Permian into Triassic delights. Yes, that’s better. Then my lips repeat “Gondwanaland” like a Vine video screened in a hall of mirrors, until this too amuses me incongruously and I check myself again. Once composed, I lean forward and feel myself diving into a massive bowl filled with grapefruit syrup, a 19th C. tool chest, and palm fronds covered in fruit leather HAZMAT suits. I’m far away from Giggle Town now, as I stand at the intersection of Transcendence Ave. and Transfiguration Blvd and, with apologies to Heraclitus, find that I cannot sip twice from the same Glencairn glass. For if there is Port Ellen 37 in it, then it is I who is more changeable than a raging river.
On the scale of geologists whose theories required centuries to be proven correct–
The Port Ellen 37 Year Old 2016 Limited Edition is Abraham Ortelius–This Flemish cartographer is now thought to be the first person to suggest the basic elements of continental drift theory in 1596. He did so on the strength of seeing what was plainly there on the maps of the world to which he devoted himself. We recommend that intense study of this Port Ellen dram will similarly show how the marvelous emerges out of the obvious.
–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample!