The first thought I have as I nose this is one of deep familiarity, but for a moment I can’t place it. Then it hits me. I’m standing in my third grade teacher’s supply closet, with light from the classroom creeping below the door. No one knows where I am or even that I’m not where I’m supposed to be. I breathe in some bright, brassy, and spicy smells from the metal buckles on her damp, red trench coat. Then I smell four different kinds of peppercorns. That’s because we’ve just completed the class in which we matched each peppercorn to its location on the world map, and their oils are still on my fingertips.. Then there’s her perfume, emanating from her purse, I thought at the time, but I’m sure it was suffused in her soft, soft scarf that I was just then touching.
The mouth on this rye reminds me of my third grade self. Young, to be sure, but with bit of derring-do. All that spice and pepper is there. But there’s also tannic qualities, I find, as I sip the still-warm brown unsweetened tea from my teacher’s mug. And more spice from Mr. Levering’s cedar shoe trees, whose smooth edges I’m touching and—hey, why are Mr. Levering’s cordovan brogues in Miss Sanderson’s class room supply closet?!
The finish on the rye is as inevitable as that of illicit teacher love affairs. It’s big and nice and resonant like menthol, but soon the bitterness comes in. Broccoli rabe dusted with pecan nut pith and Italian roast coffee. Clouds of bright spice and heat suffuse me and, no, wait, that’s just Miss Sanderson finding me in the supply closet wearing the scarf tied around my waist, standing in the too-large shoes, and holding the cedar shoe trees like bunny ears. Then there was her screaming and collapsing and the kids rushing forward and the principal rushing in and Mr. Levering hovering over my fallen teacher and his red face and tears and then Mrs. Levering the guidance counselor swooping in and then her red face and tears and I take another sip of the thick now-cold tea.
On the scale of amusing things about Maryland style–
The Røknar Maryland-Style Rye Whiskey, Batch 1, Bottle 219 is the Baltimore accent–In the hands of Scott Van Pelt, this distinctive accent has the unfailing power to induce schoolgirl giggles into ESPN colleague, Tim Kurkjian. We think this rye has similar perseverance in hitting its target.
–Our thanks to Cheri Reese and Far North Spirits for the sample!