Monday, February 19, 2007
Highland Park 12yo
Orkney Single Malt Whisky
Week EIGHT(8) of this Malt Mission, and we are going to start things a little differently.
Our local pub, The Brownswood Park Tavern, has welcomed us like family since we moved from Edinburgh to our peaceful little corner of Hackney in September. Sadly, the beautiful publicans from Northern Ireland, Billy and Kay, have suffered a few tragedies since we have known them.
First, their 14 year old German Shepherd, appropriately named 'Whisky', passed away in October. Then a month later, Billy's mother passed away back in Ireland. Time passed and we had many great nights locked-in with Billy, Kay, and a few bottles of whisky. We were very lucky to have our guests and visitors meet them and be so welcomed by them. No visitor left without wishing they could have spent more nights at the Brownswood. We were so happy to have been able to spend New Years in our neighbourhood and countdown to midnight at the Brownswood. Yes, the champagne was probably something a Frenchman would have frowned at, but the warmth of the place was something we will never forget.
Most recently, Kay, Billy's wife* of 20 years, passed away. Her funeral is tomorrow.
On Thursday, I bumped into Billy on the street and he looked awful. Naturally. Tired and pale, unkempt, and full of sorrow. I hugged him, said very little, and walked away wishing I had said more, offered any help I could, asked him how he is keeping, etc.
At 11.50am on Sunday, with Kristin's brother Espen and his girlfriend Hanne with us, we walked past the pub and saw Billy inside. His face absolutely lit up. He quickly unlocked the doors and invited us in. We introduced our guests to Billy as we always do and in all the fragility of a mourner he was as kind and warm as ever. He asked us to join him for a drink and we couldnt refuse.
He poured us typically huge drams of Highland Park 12 and with the pain and sadness lurking beneath the surface of every happy story he told, the spirit could not have been more satisfying and each of ours could not have been more lifted.
So for us, Highland Park 12yo will now always be Kay's Dram, a warming, gentle, complicated, interesting and satisfying spirit, one that sometimes needs to be taken to bed, and we look forward to enjoying many more with Billy... and any other spirits that may be lurking in the Brownswood.
*- they were never legally married, as they are both married to other people, but were wed by a ships captain on a ferry 20 years ago.
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