There are legends out there in many places that writers, maybe not all writers, but let us say torn writers of passion, the ones fighting dragons, or demons—or those just struggling while trying to lay word to some distantly perceived, muddled thought that has in the long hours of their daily fight introduced them to the warming glow of whiskey. Faulkner was rumored to have lived in a world of bourbon-induced thoughts, all the while tripping through southern swamps seeking the wild black bear. Joyce, one would suspect, allowed the Irish nectar to dredge out his guilt and at the same time induce him to fondle a language into a world of confused beauty and barely comprehensible gibberish that only the pedantic, self-possessed could gleefully hope to consume.
For me, I think on those writers, wondering if I were to take on, say, more than a wee dram, would I be able to travel among the Harrisons and Hemingways? I’m not one to normally nonchalantly rattle my limited ability with alcohol-induced confusion but it seems fitting, at this late hour to seek a modest bit advice by having in front of me, a serving of Jamison, the Irish claim to a yeoman’s whiskey. Fresh from an afternoon of Erin fiddling, a handsome tumbler now sits quietly and pleasingly to my right, resting on an ancient table constructed not far from the home of Herman Melville.
Sitting unconsumed, it is a clear liquid, unassuming but for the distant tone of well-processed alcohol. It offers no hint as to its ability to make me write, or not write. As I learned one night in Dingle under the watchful eye of the bar keep, a bit of water has been added, and not the ice I tend to favor in my often-provincial hand. As I sip, the angel’s breath is drawn in and drops into my chest and in passing tenderly kissing the delicate nerves of a welcoming nose. In this elixir, there is only a faint hint of the bogs of Ireland. It is more an earthy tone of grain roasted, of a malt of youth we found in milky shakes.
Initially, I am not drifting up the west coast of Clare but do see myself as being younger, maybe not much younger because I still remember the experience with the mirror this morning, an indelible image I will not forget for some time, a time after most of the bottle has been consumed and my aging eyes are well-blurred. But that is not the point, the point is about my writing, about the history of whiskey appreciation and writing.
A few sips in and I am thinking more clearly, maybe realizing I will have to have just a wee bit more to make me into a James Joyce. In fleeting moment, I am recalling the my wife’s Wild Turkey pie we devoured only an hour ago. Yes, the all-feathery, elegant, locally harvested Wild Turkey.
My mind reeled as the words, “Wild Turkey” flew by! Good God, its Hunter Thompson in front of me—and his endless bottles of Wild Turkey that made him go gonzo. It is the Hunter Thompson whose chair I briefly occupied at the Woody Creek bar those many years ago in Colorado. It is coming to me now. Its working, The whiskey is working. I am channeling but I wanted more. I wanted Steinbeck, maybe Faulkner. Not Joyce for I have to be understood.
And so as the evening is swallowed by the fleeting music of resting sparrows, and the bucolic mumblings of so many distant fairies tucked endlessly in some deep and darkened hollow waiting for the comforting singing spring, the story ends—for this evening as the last Rose of Summer Fell, my fancy turns away and another dram is poured.