How best to convey the balancing act of a nose that is utterly determined and still delicate? With story, of course. There is, initially, the whiff of lavender-scented paper onto which a love note is lovingly scrawled in purple pencil. It is folded twice by quivering hands recently moisturized with ylang-ylang ylotion, and then placed in a vellum envelope. This is in turn gently licked, not because of the tasty strip of gum arabic adhesive, but simply because of the texture of the vellum. Her tongue satisfied, the writer secures the envelope flap with an obelisk of rose oil wax heated until it drop-drop-drops and an ancient brass seal presses it flat.
What, then, of the mouth? It is, above all, the team of seahorses that carry this letter to its destination, a pony express reimagined in a mystical maritime tableau. They have fattened themselves on Chlorphyta and Euglenophyta algaes—chewy and rich, with all of the piquancy of a Hervé Mons cheese spread across a rosemary cracker by the back of a pewter spoon. Thus fortified, the team delivers the message to its eager recipient. He breaks the wax seal with a sandalwood letter opener onto which a fesnyng of ferrets has been carved. The still-wet vellum paper, held under a whale oil lamp, quickens the pulse of the reader. He now sees the heart of his inamorata, for it has been revealed in the inscriptions on the paper. “Do u like me” it reads, without a question mark. Then, below, two crude boxes are drawn; next to one a “Yes,” the other a “No.”
The finish of the whisky tracks the long, enticing, and complex beginning of this relationship. To continue, still holding the confirmation, the seal, this final assurance that his love was not in vain, he searches for his special calligraphy set fountain pen and screws in the fattest, most oblique nib. Filling the reservoir with J. Herbin Éclat de Saphir ink, he carefully drew the check in the “Yes” box after practicing three times on blotter paper. Smelling the ink, the fishy vellum, he prepares a tightly packed bowl of Capstan Yellow Ready Rubbed tobacco in his Meerschaum pipe and lights it by dropping in an ember from his coal scuttle. After watching the letter disappear on its return by seahorse, he finds himself spending hours selecting items for a Bed, Bath, and Beyond bridal registry, trying to imagine what she would choose, or what she would think he would choose, or what he would think she would think he would… well, hours passed, as you can imagine. On the list: unbleached Egyptian cotton towels, a red rubber tub stopper, aromatherapeudic shower curtain rings, a boar bristle shave brush, and assorted custard-colored disks of shave soap.
The Arran 12 Cask Strength 2013 Edition is Holbrook Jackson’s claim that the book is “a peculiar anthologic maze, an amusing literary chaos, a farrago of quotations, a mere olla podrida of quaintness, a pot pourri of pleasant delites, a florilegium of elegant extracts, a tangled fardel of old-world flowers of thought, a faggot of odd fancies, quips, facetiae, loosely tied.”–He goes on to say of the Anatomy of Melancholy what I say of this fine whisky, that it is “for a rainy day and a cosy corner.”
–Our thanks to Sam Filmus and ImpEx for the sample!