Paul and I have been pals here in Memphis since 1996, when we were Resident Advisors at a crumbling post-WWII dorm at The University of Memphis. He's been a regular presence on this blog for its duration, as I've used his place to entertain ladies while he was gone or hosted big dinner parties with friends and family. I snapped the photo at right in 2008 during Thanksgiving, which turned into a big opportunity to have fun and open up a half dozen bottles of wine while his sister kept me supplied with martinis. Cigars were a natural dessert, hence the photo. Turns out that Thanksgiving is a lot of fun when you've got all that going on plus some lamb and smoked pork going on the back porch, and about half a dozen people showed up each year.
The Paul has decamped to Nashville in order to be closer to family and for various other reasons. We here at BWR wish him the best, and I commemorate his move with one of the last drinks we had together, which was pretty memorable.
Highland Park 25 Year
$250/750mL bottle, 48% abv.
Paul had a glass of this in Seattle during a business trip, and vowed to purchase a whole bottle upon his return. From the northernmost distillery in Scotland, set in the Orkney Islands, this particular spirit is aged for 25 years in sherry oak casks from Spain.
It's a fascinating beverage because even a single shot goes through an evolution of aromas and flavors as you savor it and the whisky opens up. It begins with an almost sweet nose with aromas of cherries. On the palate, it's somewhat buttery and savory. Before long, a bit of orange peel and certain citrus characteristics appear. Finally, you get tobacco and vanilla and the deep, earthy part of oak, with just a residual touch of the peat reek. It may develop even further with more variations, but at that point my snifter was empty.
No cigars for this one. Although cigars and great spirits are a wonderful combination, when it comes to really spectacular Scotch there's no reason to dull the nose and tongue.
Good luck to Paul with his new life in Nashville, and for the love of God, this isn't the end of an era. It just means that instead of going over for a Friday night of frivolity, I have to stay for the whole weekend of Bacchanalian excess.
As he has said so many times with a sarcastic grin, "Damn the bad luck!"