Let’s say that you took a bottle of sherry from your aunt’s house and then poured it through a Shop-vac HEPA filter. Let’s add further that you did this because you were inspired by your boyfriend’s portrayal of an alchemist in his 15th C. reenactment club. Let’s finally clarify that you gathered the filtered sherry into a copper cup and whispered Latin over the swirled concoction. If at this point you breathed in a bit, you’d sense what we did upon nosing the Oban 21. It’s a tone-setter, attention-getter, sweater-weather kind of nose. Bamboo milk distilled into rocket fuel, Winesap apple cider, tincture of rosemary, halved grapefruits rubbed with sage—a recipe for the ages.
The mouth is thrilling. I was prepared to make a series of puns about obaning my mind, but this is not a dram for jokers, rakes, and the impudent. [Bill: puts glass down momentarily] It makes we want to take a bath in this, with a titanium loofa. [Bill: shakes his head and brings his glass back up to his lips.] We begin to wonder whether it would it be better with water added. But we don’t dare adulterate this beauty! I open the ledger to indicate that it’s a Gremlins whisky: not to be fed after midnight, and perfectly delightful without the addition of water. We find pepper and appealing parts of the mint family—the Gomez Addams of the mint family. We get the experience of baskets of apples of a sort that are riper and sweeter than any we’ve ever eaten. It puts the “bro” in ambrosia.
The finish is more of the mouth, just later. The philosopher in me cavils at how analytically empty that utterance is, but the poet in me is unmoved. For he hears a concert hall timpano struck with an inflatable novelty sledgehammer, just echoing goodness through the room. I try to muster a quip about the Ring Cycle, for such is the ringing of pleasures through the mezzanine of my palate. The final sip was the best one. Ah, the fugitive quality of pleasure! It has been said since antiquity that time flies, but what pierces us is that it is pleasure that does not stand still. I now skim over the ledger past the entry for “desert island dram” and put a heavy, felt-tipped marker check in the box to indicate that this is a whisky that joins the limited pantheon of my death day drams.
On the scale of desserts that confer immortality–
The Oban 21 Year Old Special Release is a longevity peach or shoutao—This lotus seed bun is made to look like a peach, a symbol of longevity in Chinese mythology. I raise my glass of Oban 21, I give a shout-out to shoutao, and I nod knowingly to the invisible gods around me.
–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample!