The Beast of Dufftown snorts—we expect fire streaming from its nose, but instead, piñata-like, out pop candied Vienna sausages, little samples of linen from a Savile Row tailor’s shop, and even littler chunks of Beef Wellington of the sort one would find served at a Swiss Embassy for a reception honoring the visit of Sir Ringo Starr, Knight of the Elliptical Table. We got undercurrents—by the way, great Bill Evans/Jim Hall duo album!—that started to grow into overcurrents. It was tempting to write “overCURRANTS,” but really, it was more like Overlord Oranges! Assertive orange soda poured over orange creamsicles by an orangutan named Orville. I noted that I got foundry and forge gloves with palms made from used basketballs, while Stephen and John stared at me quizzically, as if they were uncomprehending cats. There were also glissandos of grassy bamboo notes and a lovingly conserved early model of a combustion engine made from teak by the lost-to-history mechanic Otto Montpelier.
The mouth was perfectly sound, meaning (1) that the glug-chug-glug of my microglorps were like the tintinnabulations of the Lollipop League playing a percussion suite written for triangles; and (2) that the mouthfeel logically satisfied all whisky axioms under all possible interpretations. It blongled around my mouth like a perfectly tempered clavier and rollicked like an archaeopteryx and an ankylosaurus dancing a tango for the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. It coats the mouth while reciting the best of all Dad jokes. It’s honesty, integrity, and a cure-all for diseases of the soul: It puts the arch supports in my walking brogues and the Damascus steel sword in my swagger cane.
The finish is long with an abatement of the Mortlach meatiness. It manages to not boom, nor walk a tightrope; however, it rages against the dying of the light and insists that it is not on a diet! It comes on like your best friend’s pet malty lion who sleeps on a bed of stacks of 100 dollar bills. (Did I mention your best is friend is rich? In this scenario, your best friend is very rich.) It cloys just the littlest bit, like using beef tallow to lubricate screws that you’re hand driving into the walnut panels you’re installing in your Malt Cave. It’s explosively filling like a supernova of Mortlach; it’s like being punched in the jaw by circa 1987 Mike Tyson when you thought the two of you were just goofing around in the ring. —and truly, he wasn’t trying to knock you out. He really was just clowning around!
On the scale of meeting again what once you loved but had forgotten about–
The Mortlach 12 Year Old is picking up, for the first time since you were a teenager, a book that you had read and reread (and rereread), then put aside–You find that the prose was written by a true stylist, that there were layers of meaning that you didn’t notice (nor would have understood), and that revisiting the plot, with all the wisdom conferred by experience, is seen to be both powerful and a diamond of consistency. You look for glitches, MacGuffins, and lacunae, but find yourself (current) congratulating yourself (teenage version) for sensing that perfection lay ahead in your life.
–Our thanks to Mortlach for the sample!