It’s clear from the start that the Virginia Highland Malt Whisky, a Highland Scotch whisky further matured in Virginia port-style wine barrels, evades easy categorization. Upon closer examination–and just a little of it, in fact–one realizes that this dram is actually a category-buster. Or maybe category-obliterator. Or category-confuser. To the point that it induced in me a nearly complete synaesthesic experience. I say a “nearly complete” synaesthesia because once one begins experiencing smells and flavors as tactile sensations, it’s hard to say exactly where the lines are being drawn. And maybe that’s the point: On the nose, it’s like reading the case file of a guy with multiple personality disorder (and all his personalities are interesting, attractive, and cool dudes)–in Braille, of course. And fishing the lone whole apple out of the cider punch bowl in a Turkish harem. And digging through the fluffy shoes in a remote corner of Zsa Zsa Gabor’s back-up walk-in closet, only to stumble upon her candy corn stash. The mouth is a rather different (tactile) sensation: being on the inside of the washing machine that uses Kirsch as detergent to scrub the pointy edges off of a Calvados. Or maybe being on the inside of a concrete mortar when the pestle hits to grind whole cumin seeds into powder. And then tarragon. And then rubbing my fingers across the bubbly surface of a Denver omelette in Poughkeepsie. The finish stretches out with all of the spicy electricity of a flirtation so skillfully interjected into a conversation that it sits there between the two of you to be savored like a pot full of beer-cheese fondue. But it gets better the longer it goes, like a rough draft persistently edited by E. B. White and John Updike–again, in Braille. The finish is a summer day that fades and lingers. It’s a kitten slowly pulling his tail through your fingers as he tries to get away so he can curl up where your butt just was on the sofa.
The Virginia Highland Malt Whisky is rubbing a tobacco leaf between your fingers and getting a nicotine high–For some, it’s justification for a career choice. For others, it’s a little bonus for otherwise arduous labor. For yet others, it’s a cheap alternative to transdermal patches. It may not be as unequivocally recommendable as the runner’s high, but then again, what is?
–Our thanks to Patricia Jones and the Virginia Distillery Company for the sample!