I had a sip of Eagle Rare Single Barrel, the first in a long time, and was just blown away by it soft sophistication.
It occured to me that its profile is not that different from a great favorite of mine, Jack Daniel's Single Barrel. Each has a sweet entry that is almost delicate. They both easily glide across the mouth with an elan that might be compared to a sparce but delicious meal whose satisfaction derives from all the things it holds in suspense.
They are like the beautiful woman whose charms are always just out of reach...........and all the more aluring and compelling for that very reason. Nothing is consumated with these whiskies, all is ever in anticipation. They are delicate in the sense that a mere nod in this or that direction can upset the balance........they never give such a nod. They never take a trail that would give away their secret or reveal their mystery.
Our desires can never be satisfied, the harder we try the more they elude us, tease us, mock us...........what can we do? I do not know.
Yet, the beautiful woman, the delicious meal, the wonderful whiskey remain directly in our path and cannot, and should not, be avoided. If for only a moment I can admire the woman, taste the meal, and enjoy the whiskey. The best of these (which we must not try to own as a possession) do not tease or mock (that is for the cheap and imitative which are aimed directly at the possessive among us), nor do they really 'satisfy'............but they please and touch us at a profound level.
If it was in your mind that the spirits produced by the world's great civilizations were only about a decent sip or worse yet, getting drunk, leave that behind you. The efforts of the great distillers, vintners, and brewers (past and present) were never directed to that purpose.........that has always been easy to achieve. T'was something else they were ever after, and neither the cost of the product nor its age will ever be a perfect guide to its achievement. It is only the palates of its loving adherents that can stamp a spirit as great.
I offer two, Eagle Rare Single Barrel and Jack Daniel's Single Barrel, each in the $40 range, as examples of great spirits, even knowing that as single barrels there will be some inconsistencies in the quality.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas