I admit it. I’m taken by the name “Devil’s Punch Bowl.” My mind turns to consider just what such a thing would look like. If it were up to me, it would be made from a minotaur’s hip socket and have a Sasquatch femur ladle—and all of it decoupaged with pre-Mulan Disney princesses. If this really is Satan we’re talking about, then I have to think it pours out several clowns into a phone booth. Your phone booth. Or maybe it’s the sort of thing that when you rub it, Justin Bieber and his entourage come into your favorite restaurant live tweeting his positive Yelp review, just as you are seated with an A-list literary agent to discuss your screenplay.
When you experience the stupendous dram that Arran has put together, you realize that someone there has a really good handle on the dark arts to conjure this liquefied brilliance out of malted barley. The nose is plums dried to prunes inside beds made of lemon skins. Also, perfectly ripe melon of a type you haven’t encountered before, perhaps a Kolkhoznitsa melon with its white flesh dappled with pomegranate juice, and set on a bed of ferns. Which reminds me of the wood-grained restaurant in the 80’s festooned with ferns where I first ate quiche. Finally, buttered banana chips on a porcelain plate.
Spectacular, the mouth is. Cadence of Yoda, it makes my syntax have. Wow, this is so good you’d sell your home for a dollar—and then not even complain when the buyer didn’t pay you. Hash pipe resin on a viola bow, forbidden fruit hard candies, and an officious interoffice memo forbidding intraoffice intercourse. Boiled out licorice coating the walls and ceiling of your kitchen. A ratatouille for the ages.
The finish has the bright bilious tang of Bernie Botts Every Flavour Jelly Beans Vomit Flavour. But with exceptional flavor and no retching. Guy Fawkes day explosions from the vantage-point of poorly-insulated B&B; with apologies to the poet, this ends with a bang and not a whimper. Verily, it bursts at the gustatory seams, like my entrails in the turnstile exits in Hell. What a cruel trick, those turnstile exits! I now realize my foolishness while holding my intestines tightly like a load of laundry fresh from the drier. The terrible tormenting devils are doubled over with laughter, while the other shades look on with familiarity and contempt. On the open, there’s even more explosiveness. Someone has been using my diamond-tipped tile saw to cut round Altoid™ peppermints into eight tiny triangles. This expression is something very special. I see it scrambling up Mount Olympus from the underworld. It means to join to the Pantheon. It deserves to.
The Arran Devil’s Punchbowl Chapter II is Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Richard Nixon, which interlaces Kafka’s dark parable with new stories of Gregor Samsung, who changed first into a beetle, and then into a 46” LED TV. How he struggles in his relationships with the remote control, the Blu-Ray player, and the balky HD antenna as he is probed repeatedly by an HDMI cable.