“Good friends, good books, and sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” ~ Mark Twain
I’d personally add good booze into that mix but starting with Twain is never a bad idea, he weaves a good story. But the problem lies in what kind of story are you trying to tell with your whisky? Are we telling a historic tale? That would start with the founding of the Caol Ila Distillery in 1846. But that’s a little dry.
It could be a business biography. That starts in 2004 with the creation of Alexander Murray. An essential newborn in the world of independent Scotch bottlers they took a different tact. instead of focusing on small, rare bottlings they focused on volume. If you’ve ever noticed that the hosue labeled Scotch whisky at Trader Joe’s and Costco was surprisingly good, that’s because it came from these guys. But business is so impersonal.
Except it’s not. While moving volume, and checking history the gang at Alexander Murray made friends. And that allowed them to grow and bring out more quality under their own label. Take their 8 Year Old Caol Ila. Some may argue that it’s an unnecessary bottling with the quality the standard issue 12 year has. But they’re like two small town friends who move away to different cities. Same underling base, but a heavier oak presence gives this a more NYC feeling bite versus the original delicate, seaside village feel that Caol Ila usually has. But even more than that’s it’s opened their eyes to larger collaborations.
Yet another friend is David Walker, of Firestone Walker Beer. Working together they took 60 barrels used for aging the Firestone DBA and finished 6-8 year old single malt in them for another 3 months to a year. The resulting ‘Polly’s Cask’ is a complex melding of friendships, even just in the character of the whisky. Beer and Whisky are natural friends, and the barrels linking them here started as ex-Bourbon, turned into beer, and then finally into Scotch barrels. If that’s not a sharing between friends I don’t know what is. The result is an exceptionally nutty malt.
Both are a great example of the best times with friends. An everyday encounter, and a special occasion, too. And as I tell my friends all the time, I don’t care what you drink as long as you drink it with me.