The Bunnahabhain Ceobanach (NAS) noses at first like fermented orange juice (lots of pulp) evaporating slowly in the mid-afternoon sun in Mallorca in a Buick hubcap that was, improbably, lined with overbaked oatmeal black currant cookies before the hubcap was employed as a chalice to drink in the Summer Solstice. We also got the mellifluous notes of an orchestral harp playing ostinati derived from operas by Rossini. The harp is painted platinum, and is being pleasantly plucked precisely pizzicato by the precocious, pulchritudinous player, Penelope. John got steamed vegetables, because of course he did. What was it, John? Steamed cauliflower? Or steamed sadness piled in a failure heap in a bowl of despair? (h/t to KFC and Patton Oswalt.)
The mouth is Dee.Lish.Ous! It knocks vocabulary clean out of my mind, leaving only twinkly Christmas lights, strobe lights, whirling disco balls, and fulgurite, which is the silica glass made—ever so rarely—when a lightning bolt strikes sand under the perfect conditions. I…i…i…aye yi yi! It occasioned a brief encomium from us, lauding whomever the mixmaster was, blending various Bunnahabhain casks, holding snifters and tubes up to the light, alternately cackling like a MacBeth witch and cooing like a smitten turtledove, until the full potential was reached. I want to imagine that at that moment, the maestro exclaimed, “It might not cure cancer, but by my Aunt Ida’s garters, this will cure depression!” (Some might argue I have an overactive imagination.) We also got the peat-tang rumbling ruminations of a mahogany pipe organ being played by Keith Jarrett housed in a desacralized nondenominational church that’s been taken over by a semi-professional Frisbee Golf team, the Frisbeetarians. (h/t to George Carlin). There’s a statue of a tiger, named “Al Oerter,” made of pureéd peat, lavender, pencil shavings, charcoal dust, crumpled wide-ruled paper, and the acerbic wit of John Oliver: All held together with honey made by a collective of bees that ousted their queen and her drones, and who have been living ever since by the precepts of John Stuart Mill. It’s not clear how long the hive will thrive or even survive on sporadic parthenogenesis, but if any collective of bees can do it, it’s these spunky gals. Amazing.
The finish is like a delectable soft sunset detectable only by the alpenglow on the top of a pink granite massif. Peat rises like the overwhelming feelings of love Stephen experiences when looking at topographical maps of Norway. It refluxes like room-temperature lava gently overflowing from a caldera in Colorado. Warm and spicy, like my dreams of perfectly-textured potatoes in a Massaman curry.
–On the scale of rapidfire astonishment and delight building to a crescendo–
The Bunnahabhain Ceobanach is when you have cracked the enigma of the Sudoku puzzle you’re working on, and suddenly, the numbers just fall into place, like a domino-collapse of everything wrong in the world, leaving only you looking at the promise of a new hope.
–Our thanks to Michael Clayton and TD Artisan Spirits for the sample!