The nose of the Rhetoric 25 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey isn’t so much its nose as it is my nose: My nose, being Eskimo-kissed by a dryad, one of the Grecian nymphs who lived exclusively in oak trees. You might rightly wonder at the dryad’s journey from Greece to the Stitzel-Weller distillery in Shively, Kentucky, and you might reasonably question why I should be so blessed with such a kiss from such a nymph, one who normally gives butterfly kisses. Good questions! Regardless, it noses as if it 1/3 of the staves comprising the cask were cherry wood, not oak, and we got the sense that it was the belly, the main section of a Steinway grand piano, that was repurposed for storage of cheese wheels. A veritable kaleidoscope of butterflies, dancing and flitting in and out of sunbeams shot through the attic skylights, hover cloud-like over halloumi cheese that’s been floating in metamorphosed lemon juice. That is to say, lemon juice that was super-cooled by liquid nitrogen, then super-heated into a gas, then plasma, and then condensed back to room temperature. I got, and John disavowed, vanilla beans that had been warmed in the armpits of a ballet dancer. Look, I have to go where the brown spirits take me!
The mouth is light and nimble, with the vanilla from the ex-bourbon cask pushing its way to the front. (Ex-bourbon?! you might be exclaiming. Well, to my mind, after 25 years, that bourbon done divorced the cask, had a rumspringa or two, then, metaphorical hat in hand, came back to the cask pleading to reunite.) There are lemon wedges and Pink Lady apple quarters, flash-seared in a hibachi burning yew wood. It opens slowly, like a benign, creaky-kneed, Robin Williams-like genie, unlimbering itself out of a bottle that it’s been in for a long time. Drinking it felt like jumping on trampolines made out of bourbon clouds.
The finish is like going down a long, long log flume from which the water is evaporated, but by some trick of physics, vaporization, and surface tension, it’s going along swimmingly. I conjecture that the flume may have been lubricated with cinnamon, Mazola corn oil, and the flop sweat of an old-timey, wanna-be starlet failing a screen test with Orson Welles. On the afterfinish,* there was a faint hint of the molasses that dare not speak of itself in polite company. It’s as if on God’s mixing board for bourbon, all the flavors were muted so that the truth of an aged bourbon could take the center stage spotlight and declaim its rating!
On the scale of poems whose mighty vision rings down through the ages–
The Rhetoric 25 Year Old is William Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
The Rhetoric 25 comes trailing clouds of bourbon glory, intimating immorality with each sip.
[John: Bill! That’s immortality, not immorality!]
Well, my thoughts are impure and imposterish, John, but never impious.
*– [John: Afterfinish–the finish of my finish is my friend.]
–Our thanks to the Orphan Barrel Distilling Company for the sample!