Swooning over a Swan
The Professor is in trouble. And he should be. A salesperson told him about
three new bottlings of Bowmore single-malt scotch, and he ordered them without
even glancing at the price.
"These sell for two grand apiece in the liquor store. How many of our customers are going to spring for a dram of one of these?" yelled the boss, his face turning bright red as he thought about his money gathering dust on the backbar.
"Let's see, that works out to just under $84 an ounce. Suppose I can sell them at, say, $100 an ounce. That gives you around $15 profit per drink, even if you were buying at retail. If I sell 60 shots you'll be making a profit, and we'll still have about a dozen shots left. Hefty profit if I sell them all . . . "
"You're a dreamer, Professor. A dreamer . . ."
"Set me up a flight of those Bowmores, willya?"
The order comes from Doug, an entrepreneur who hangs out at The Professor's bar when his travels bring him to Fog City.
"Three half-ounce pours are gonna set you back one-fifty buckaroos, my
"In that case make it 3 full ounces. I just closed a huge technology deal in India. And while you're at it, set up another flight for your good self and that grumpy looking guy with the loud voice".
The Professor can't even look at the boss, and he tries to hide his smirk as
he assembles the flights of whiskies, one for Doug, his new-found savior, and
two sets of half measures for the boss and himself.
All three bottlings of Bowmore were distilled in 1964; one was aged in a used fino sherry butt, another in an oloroso sherry butt, and the third slumbered in a used bourbon cask -- each for more than 38 years. What will the trio make of these?
"Fino.Fino. Fino. One of the most elegant, delicate drams I've ever sampled. Did you
get pears and newly mown grass in the nose?" asks Doug.
"Yep, and a real subtle smokiness on the palate. The oloroso bottling was great, too -- full of Christmas spices and dark fruits", notes The Professor.
"I enjoyed the bourbon cask whisky -- very masculine with leather and tobacco notes. If we weren't tasting it against these other two, I dare say we'd be raving over it".
The boss has calmed down now that he has a little whisky in his system. Not to mention the $600 in his register.
"Wanna make me a Copper Swan to round out the afternoon?"
"Sure, Doug. What kind of whisky?"
"Well, the original was made with the Highland Park 12-year-old. How about we step it up to the 18-year-old while I'm still feeling flush?
Highland Park, made on the Scottish isle of Orkney, in the Outer Hebrides, is an incredibly balanced single malt with salty notes, whiffs of peat and a very full body. The 12-year-old is delightful, but the 18-year-old, with muted iodine notes followed swiftly by peat, honey, dried cherries, heather and a great, sharp, lactic note, is one of The Professor's all-time favorite malts.
The Professor pours a good measure of whisky into his mixing glass, adds a touch of apricot brandy and stirs the drink over ice for almost half a minute.<br>
"It's important to mix cocktails long enough for them to chill properly, and to add enough water to the mix to soothe the soul of the spirits," he explains to Doug, who is drumming his fingers on the bar while he waits.
The Professor strains the cocktail into a chilled Champagne flute.
Far easier to handle than those damnable martini glasses," he says as he releases the oils from a large lemon twist onto the top of the drink and gently rubs the outer rind around the rim of the glass.
Doug takes a sip of his Copper Swan, and sighs. "This is as close to nirvana as I'm going to get," he says.
"Let me take you one step further. This one's on the house."
Out of the corner of his eye, The Professor sees the boss shaking his head in disbelief as he disappears toward the office.
"You just can't resist, can you?"
"No, Doug, I can't. When I'm in the boss' good books, things just don't seem quite right around here. Wanna try a Rob Roy with this Bowmore fino cask?"
THE COPPER SWAN
1 1/2 ounces Highland Park single-malt scotch
3/4 ounce apricot brandy
1 lemon twist, for garnish
Stir all of the ingredients over ice for 20 to 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add the garnish.
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