On the nose, this one is deep, dark caramel fudge compressed by a black hole into a jewel-like singularity, using techniques that push the envelope of molecular gastronomy right up to the fine line between the ridiculous and the sublime. And it’s served with a Golden Langkawi melon martini, fashioned from a miniature, white-fleshed Golden Langkawi grown on a bonsai melon patch that took eight generations of careful tending to yield this first, immaculate fruit (inside was a single seed they called Jesus). But that martini has been dried into a craisin and served in the upper right-hand corner of an enormous square plate. In other words, the nose is a $4,000 meal at a restaurant that closed its doors at the height of its popularity, which was a full twelve months before it opened. It exists in a plane few of us could dream of reaching, much less traversing.
The mouth is even better. It’s a depth charge of stupendousness, going off at the precise moment you want it to. And the chefs worked so hard on this one, they went all the way to quantum gastronomy: an entire candy store–and the pâtisserie next door–compressed into a slice of cheesecake which was then compressed into a crème to fill a hollowed-out splinter of the finest mahogany so it looked like an ice cream cone…under an electron microscope. And there is a faint hint of someone tossing a dandelion salad with wooden tongs behind you as you scrutinize this feat of quantum gastronomy called Drumstick for a Fire Ant.
The finish oozes butterscotch from treacle nanorod cannolis that the very precise sous chef went blind perfecting. They’re served alongside an 8.5 quart bucket full of an amazing spiced Christmas cream that was originally designed for a never-perfected Christmas sponge only protozoa could see. The huge amount of cream is meant to radically shift the diners’ perspective at the last moment, so that they can go back to regular American cuisine without their brains exploding.
But the coda on this one begins with the question: How did the ABV (52.5%) stay this high for 31 years? It must have aged it in the most serene part of Purgatory, far way from the eager angels as it banked decades of purification.
On the scale of occasions on which special indulgences are granted by the Catholic Church–
The Craigellachie 31 is the jubilee year—If you’re like me, you’re kicking yourself for having missed the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy that ran from late 2015 through most of 2016. That’s what this whisky is like: remission of sins and pardons raining down on all of us for a whole year, whether we’re all aware of that happening or not.
–Our thanks to Georgie Bell and Craigellachie for the sample!