Review – Bushmills, 21 Years Old, 40%

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20160906_184309I have discovered the truest and most natural test for discerning whether or not someone is a controlling person. Invite him to join you for lunch at Subway, and then stand back and watch the depth of his involvement in the creation of his sandwich.

I was enlightened to this method last Saturday when I took my four children to the fast food sandwich shop for lunch. Before us in line was a gentleman and his wife. Her order was swift. His went something like this…

“I’ll have a six inch ham and cheese on flat bread.”

“What kind of cheese?” the young girl attending to his sandwich asked with a smile to match the patron’s.

“Would you mind alternating between American and provolone—one slice of American then provolone, then American, then provolone?”

“Uh, yeah. No problem.”

She arranged the cheese accordingly and then continued, “Would you like it toasted?”

“Yes, please,” he said. “But take it out at 35 seconds, okay? That will give it just the right touch of warmth without melting the cheese.”

“Um. Sure,” she said with a slight pause and then turned to put the sandwich into the toaster oven.

Thirty-five seconds passed and she returned to the preparation table.

“What would you like on it?”

“I’d like a careful drop of Italian dressing under each of the provolone slices and a drop of mustard under the American.”

“Um. Yeah. Sure,” she offered and went to work popping the condiment bottles and carefully lifting the cheese slices.

“And now, if you don’t mind,” he said after the final drop of mustard was skillfully dripped into place, “I’ll have lettuce on the half that ends with the American cheese and cucumbers on the other.”

I was entranced. My kids were, too. Even my six-year-old—the most particular of the bunch—with her mouth gaping, could not break her stare.

“Now,” he instructed, “I’ll have some mild peppers across the entire sandwich, but don’t put on more than eight. And if you stagger them slightly and evenly, you’ll be able to lay three tomato slices on top and they won’t shift when I take a bite.”

“Just three tomatoes?”

“Just three. Yep, right on top of the staggered mild peppers. And would you mind moving that lettuce up into the bread so it isn’t hanging over the edge? Thanks.”

“Anything else?”

“Make a racetrack of mayonnaise on the top.”

“A ‘racetrack’?”

“Yeah, like this,” he said and drew the shape of an elongated “O” in the air.

She traced a singular lap on the top layer of the sandwich.

“Now do the same with the honey mustard.”

She did the same with the honey mustard.

“And one last thing,” he began while pointing to the knife lying beside her on the countertop. I was leaning forward ever so slightly now, ready to act if she decided to grasp the blade, lunge over the sneeze guard, and stab him in the throat. I’d hate to see this young girl ruin her life.

“Cut it into four sections, please,” he finished. “And then wrap them individually. It helps me to feel fuller if I’ve opened four sandwiches instead of one.”

Interesting idea. Never thought of that. Annoyingly stupid, but interesting.

She did as instructed and completed his order. And she didn’t stab him. Well done, young lady. And be sure to thank your lucky stars, my good man. Had my impatient six-year-old been the one making the sandwich, you’d be lying in a pool of your own blood and gurgling a barely intelligible, “Four bandages. Someone… please… wrap my wound with four bandages…”

This man was a control freak. Either that or suffering from an obsessive compulsive disorder. And while I wouldn’t want him in front of me at Subway, I’d be fine with him at the helm of a distillery. It’s the control freaks practicing such precision who put out the best drams.

20160906_184208Take for instance the Bushmills 21-year-old. This is obviously the result of a meticulousness nearly extinct in our modern society.

The nose of this Irish nonpareil could be carved into four distinct scents—honey crisp apples, medium roast coffee, freshly baked bread, and sherry.

The palate offers over a friendly helping of apple butter on freshly warmed (35 seconds, perhaps) bread that gets only partially sour when the alcohol finally sets in.

The finish is a longer expression of the coffee and sherry, with the former traveling further than the latter.

This is a well-refined whiskey, tuned with the best that Bushmills has to offer and carefully prescribed by a Master Distiller, namely Colum Egan, who obviously ordered not just the steps of the workers, but also the very natural elements in his grasp.

I’m curious how Egan would handle a ham and cheese sandwich.