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Whiskey Burned My Throat


I am not one for the fire water.  But, a couple of weeks ago, in Florida, my dad produced a bottle of 1945 Schenley’s Canadian Whiskey, bottled in 1957 and hidden away for decades.  Recently, some friends had convinced him to finally open it. 

It had belonged to grandmother’s number-two husband, the Italian contractor who gave her furs and jewels and many luxuries, but left her with little.  He was a self-made millionaire who came from Naples alone at age 14.  He was the deal my grandmother made.  And he was also the intruder on my mother’s life at age 15.  My mother left for a while and lived with friends.

Through events I can barely explain, we wound up living upstairs from them for five years of my childhood. I loved being near my grandmother.  But there was no question he was the boss. 

Going down to their apartment was like visiting another country--filled with ceramic cherubs, marble, and ornate Italian things. 

But most fascinating was the basement, where the boss had a party room and a most amazing mahogany bar.  That bottle of Schenley’s

sat perched on the glass shelf along with many other glimmering bottles.  I can still recall sitting on the swivel bar chair, my feet not touching the ground, staring at that it. 


Now, forty years later, my father poured me a shot and advised me to drink it “in no more than two gulps.”

The interesting thing is that unlike wine, whiskey ages in barrels, but once it is bottled it is done.  Which means that this 1957 whiskey was unchanged, and frozen in time.  It had not matured a bit from its days by the mahogany bar.

As I belted it back, I understood for the first time that whiskey is not about the taste in your mouth.  It’s the trail of burning fire left down your throat.

I had finally learned to enjoy the warm sensation and even took a little more. 

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That’s something I still have not learned to enjoy Laura. But then again, I didn’t have a 1957 bottle of whiskey to guzzle.

    – ciaochowlinda (March 13 2010 at 9:03)

Wow, what a treasure! I have only tried whiskey straight one time, but I can still remember the “trail of fire” you speak of.  I think I’ll leave the whiskey drinking to my husband!

    – Dental Plan (April 17 2010 at 11:56)

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