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December 17, 2007

Genie Walker Red

Filed under: Spirits — Mr. Henry @ 9:27 am

In 1962, Tangier, Morocco, was a cosmopolitan city, even though Mr. Henry had not yet been there.Eucalyptus Forest

He did not have the pleasure of attending Ridha’s circumcision party at the house on rue Darwin, a party deemed by all to have been a singular success, by all except Ridha himself, that is, who in addition to the unenviable discomfort of the ritual procedure suffered an asthma attack so severe that his father had to hustle him into the Peugeot 404 and carry him up into the Eucalyptus forest to breathe its calming natural vapors.

The drink of choice for sophisticated guests was “un petit whiskey” – a shot of scotch at the bottom of a tall glass embellished by one or, at most, two ice cubes melodramatically administered with silver tongs.Bastilla

In the rose garden, in the gazebo, and throughout the fruit arbor, guests feasted on Esther’s magical bastilla. They drank several cases of Johnny Walker Red liberally poured by police officers moonlighting as waiters. Upstairs in the bureau, however, for 45 years protected by sturdy lock from curious uncles and nosy gardeners, one case survived intact. When Nadia closed the house this summer, she added that case to the shipping container.

Distilled spirits are supposed to be perfectly stable. Once bottled they are said not to age or change flavor either for better or for worse.

Through 45 years of winter fog and summer scirocco the cork stoppers have dried and become brittle, yet they pulled away without crumbling. About a centimeter of liquid has evaporated from each sealed bottle and the whiskey has darkened slightly. The small exchange of oxygen caused a madeirization, a slow alteration of both color and taste.

Johnnie Walker Red Label
At this writing Mr. Henry has just drunk from one of these bottles and he can announce here for the first time a breakthrough in modern whiskey-ology. The 1962 scotch tastes smoother and has less bite than a current one, now more a sipping scotch than a mixing one.

Once freed, the amber genie in the bottle unleashed swirls of memories from spirits long departed. Pouring a third one for purposes of further research, Mr. Henry raises a glass to the circumcised and to the uncircumcised alike.


  1. Dear Mr. Henry,
    > Forgive a pedant, but in your last posting, you did not spell “whisky”
    > correctly, which in its scotch form lacks an “e.” That’s an old bar
    > bet:
    > “I’ll bet you a round that you can’t spell “scotch whisky.”
    > Michael

    Comment by Michael — January 7, 2008 @ 8:39 am

  2. Mr. Henry is sure he knew this when he began writing the post, but somehow, doubtless the effect of his tenacious research, by the end of writing the distinction had slipped his grasp.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — January 7, 2008 @ 8:48 am

  3. I read some great trivia in Vanity Fair: apparently, the spy hunters who were after Carlos the Jackal could tell he was on his last legs economically speaking when he switched from Johnny Walker Black to Red.

    Comment by raincoaster — January 14, 2008 @ 2:06 am

  4. Raincoaster, could it be that Carlos was saving his money for the operation?

    My recollection is that he was captured during the course of his stay – and, Wikipedia notwithstanding, he was in for liposuction – “varicose vein” indeed!

    Comment by La BellaDonna — April 4, 2008 @ 9:56 am

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