Vol. 1, Issue 28, November 25, 2003
From Edinburgh to Edo: a Shocking Turn of Events
As some of you may have Inferred, I am a bit of an Afficionado when it comes to fine Scotch whiskies. There are few Pleasures in life to Compare to the peerless smooth Single-Malts and Blends from the Highlands; a refreshing dram of smooth and spicy Royal Salute raises the Spirits in the Morning as surely as a Tumbler of smoky Black Bottle does in the Evening. My study is a bit of a Wonderland in this regard, with bottles stashed Hither and Yon. I bring a bit With me as well, to Ensure that I have an appropriate Flavor to complement whatever the Club serves for Supper.
But on this day I am Astounded - nay, positively Agog - at the news that the Land of the Rising Sun has faced down the doughtiest Titans of the Highlands and defeated them in an expert Tasting. Can this truly Be? Has Japan produced better Scotch than the greatest Distilleries in Scotland? I think at first to have been taken In by one of those other Webamagraph publications whose Reporting is somewhat Spurious; but no, this is not one of Ephram's flights of Fancy. I then suppose the Judgment to have been passed in haste by unappreciative Americans, who have been Known on occasion to mix single-malt Gold in noxious Concoctions containing Coca-Cola or even - horrors - Kool-Aid. But alas! It was a panel of Canadians; and say what you will about our Anglophone Northern neighbors, they Do know their alcoholic Drinks.
The suspense was too Great, I could not bear it. Quick! A pouch of Coins with stern Instructions to one of my 'Baleen Street Irregulars' (I cannot trust Ephram with such a task!) sends the lad to my habitual Liquor-Store. He returns a scant half-hour Later, with a bottle of the Giant-Slayer itself: 20-year old Nikka Yoichi, distilled in far-off Hokkaido. This then is the Brew that laid low the grand highland Masters of distillation. I tip the lad, I open the bottle, I sip cautiously, eyes Closed.
Zounds! I am Speechless.
Now this sublime Single-Malt shall never bear the moniker of "Scotch;" that is Reserved for whiskies from Scotland, much as the French alone are entitled to produce true Champagne. But what's in a Name? That which we call a rose by any other Word would smell as Sweet. There may be Power in the Names written on the bottle's Label: but I cannot help feeling that such writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn Silence. Even the mightiest Name on a Label cannot speak Up if the contents of the Bottle fail to Impress.
For my part, I shall never Forsake the enchanted Classics from Caledonia, but I shall make some room on my Shelf. Minds, and Liquor Cabinets, should never be Closed.