Black Book
Blind Test

Every now and then I flee the big and hectic city of Amsterdam to absorb some peace and quiet in the country. My family owns some property in 'De Veluwe', one of the least populated area's of Holland. Once every year, usually at the first full moon of the summer, my brother and I organize a big all-night theme-party in the middle of the woods. The party-place is a clearing, surrounded by old oak trees, the light is provided by a flew globes hanging in the trees and the music is hand-picked by myself. (... and therefor of excellent quality.)
Drinks and overheated guests are cooled in a big old bathtub in the center of the clearing. A lot of people bring their tents (as well as a wide variety of drinkable and smokable substances) and the partying usually continues until the sun rises.

Well - If this isn't a nice and pointless bedtime story, what is?

N eedless to say, this proved quite a blemish on my newfound status. When I finally managed to return to the party-place, the bottle was already empty. And I knew I could never again bring up the glorious moment in conversations with my friends, because it would always be linked to my somewhat less glorious finale and exit.

So there I was - with half a bottle of Bowmore 12 and a fresh one in the pipeline. Surrounded by my friends who would think of me as a suave and sophisticated malt-oracle in the future. The full moon was beaming it's beams and Puccini's Madame Butterfly was playing in the background.

Well - not difficult at all, really, considering the state I was in. With a benign nod I accepted. After some more serious sniffing and a few guzzles I managed to narrow my options down to a Bowmore (any age, they are so hard to keep apart), a 6 yrs. old Lagavulin or a Bunnahabhain. The amount of sherry in nose and palate finally made me decide on the Bowmore 12 yrs., and guess what: I was right.

E rik, another friend of mine, declared that the challenge obviously wasn't challenge enough. He double-dared me with a new challenge: If I could determine the distillery as well as the age without a nosing glass, he would get me another bottle of that very same malt. If I failed, he got to drink the rest of the green chemicals bottle. And there I was, faced with a difficult decision.

So that was a nasty mess I had gotten myself into.
I had never done
a real blind test before, so I was likely to make a fool out of myself in front of my friends. After all, I was the one constantly whining about the subtleties and differences of single malts. I was in luck, though; Unwittingly, Richard had made it easy for me by picking an Islay whisky - that peaty and smoky aroma is unmistakable. But my friends didn't know that, so why make them any wiser? I amazed and astonished them by declaring it an Islay whisky after only two sniffs from the bottle.  Richard reluctantly had to admit that I was right so far.

In 1995, the theme was 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', so everybody danced about in toga's and big white sheets to the subtle rhythm of new age music. It must have been around midnight when Richard, one of my best friends, came up to me and told me he had an interesting challenge for me. Because I already had a few cocktails, I was feeling pretty daring (I think you know the feeling...).
Recklessly I accepted, without knowing what the challenge was.  Richard smiled viciously and unveiled  a large green chemicals-bottle with a large toxic-sign on it. He told me he put three-quarters of his favorite single malt in it, and I could have it all if I could determine the content of the mysterious green bottle.


The leaves of the oak trees gently shivered in the wind and it was a true "Midsummer Night's Dream". It could have been one of the highlights of my life. It was at that moment in time, that fate decided to fart in my face. I don't know if the diet of that evening (a lot of peanuts and a lot of booze) had something to do with it, but I suddenly needed to make an emergency-visit to the toilet.


Blind in the Woods

Bowmore 12 yrs. from Islay

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