Context: I think I’ve come a long way since I administered Jack Daniels No7 as alcoholic “face paint” in some sad adolescent mating ritual. There was a time when having a shot of Jack was intended to assert my position in the male pack, daub me with sexual allure, imbue me with maverick charm, cowboyish ruggedness, and increase my all round shaggability. In my youth, I mistakenly perceived bourbon to be very..... “American”, mysterious, slightly dangerous and very, very attractive to any women that happened to be in the vicinity. Unfortunately, my sexy, maverick, rugged cowboy persona was always a small town boy aspiration, and one that I never achieved. These days I’m more likely to break into a chorus of “Bless your beautiful hide” when recalling the heady days of my life in the West (North West of England that is). I’m now more “Fat Palance” than “Jack Palance”.
The short journey from malt to bourbon was just that – a necessary sojourn down an avenue that had to be explored as part of my “education”. It is part of the journey that I am learning to love. I've simply scratched the surface of what is a world of fine spirits - there's so much to look forward to. This particular bottle has added resonance in that it was a Christmas present from my eldest son. It isn't cheap (around £110) and I know that it meant a lot for him to buy it. It certainly meant (and still means) a lot to me. A symbol of a changing relationship between father and son, a different kind of bond.
Packaging: Nothing Freudian about this bottle! The Stagg horns (front of bottle), pose like bony fingers gripping the tall, slender vessel, thick-set base and thin guitar bottleneck top. This is a bottle that stands proud on the shelf, asserts itself – I’m Stagg, I’m bourbon, and I’m barrel proof (screw you!).
Colour: In a relatively full bottle there are reddish, ochre-bronze hues that lighten to rich, amber, beaten copper tones when in the glass.
Nose: This is one ballsy dram. Let’s get it straight from the start, this is full on. Oranges, tobacco, dried fruits, hints of mint and maple alongside sweet spices, cavort inside the glass.
Palate: There’s a feeling of controlled power in the mouth. This 71.3% abv bourbon releases a series of sub-concussive flavour blasts – leathery oak, floral notes, sweet mustiness, slight tannic astringency, and more fruit. Don’t be macho about this! Add a couple of drops of water to experience the full flavour palette – hints of sugary, woody smoke merge with the earlier flavours to create an altogether more gentle, perfumed experience.
Finish: Long, lingering.....an intense and deeply satisfying bourbon.
Extract from Chapter 6 *
The car headlights oozed out of the bitch black mountains and slid on to the stretched neck of road. Gunnarson’s finger twitched
“fuck.......fuck..., fuck.., fuck”
This was it, it was here and it was now. She eased her finger off the trigger and shifted position. It was a slight adjustment of shoulder, hip and knee but it was enough to send a paroxysm of pain down the whole of her left side. Her eyes rolled, vision fading in, out, and back in, her head pounding as if trapped under a sweltering, concussive forge. Two of her wounds had crusted over, the third opened slightly, weeping, percolating, dribbling into the dirt and sweat harboring under the shabby dress she had been inhabiting for the last three days.
The headlights disappeared as the car slid out of view, down a coulee that she knew to be just over two kilometres from where she waited. A brief contortion of thoughts, assembled over the last couple of years, created a moment of uncertainty. Was it to be tonight? Could this be the scenario she had anticipated for so long? Would it go as she had planned? Did she have the strength to enact the bloody tableau that had been two years, six months, and three days in the making?
The car had resurfaced and was now roughly a kilometre away, three or four minutes at most. Deep breaths, sucking at the air, drawing it in, dragging the car and its unholy, unsuspecting pilgrims ever closer. Galvanise, get it together, deep breaths, stretch fingers, innervate, ever closer. Thirty seconds...another 200 metres...tighten grip, raise the gun, ease into shoulder........the car ground to a halt, the headlights cut out.... silence.
* Please note that whilst this is titled "Extract from..." there is no completed chapter, and there is no book (as yet)! Just a bit of fun inspired after drinking a few shots of George T Stagg : )
© Alcock (2013)