Wednesday, February 07, 2007
When we spun to a stop we had just one door that could open. We were battered and bruised and cut by glass but mercifully were not more seriously injured. There were eleven cars piled up across the highway. I remember the television news team arriving before the ambulances, and in due course we were all shuttled to the emergency room to get checked out. Aside from shock and wounded pride, I was in pretty good shape, and as I sat waiting my turn I noticed a couple sitting next to me with strangely happy smiles on their faces. After introducing ourselves and figuring out which vehicle we had been in line (they had been in a pick up that struck us a glancing blow and bounced up the guardrail to the head of the line), I asked them why they were so cheerful.
"Well, on the one hand, we've lost our magic staves", said the grinning bearded man, "but on the other, it turns out we are expecting a child."
So that is how I met the John and Laurie Zeron, Druids from the Waters of the Brandywine Grove in Newark, Delaware. They were practitioners of Ár nDraíocht Féin, "Our Own Druidism", a neopagan religion started by (Isaac) Bonewits of self-described "polytheistic Nature worshipers, attempting to revive the best aspects of the Paleopagan faiths of our ancestors within a modern scientific, artistic, ecological, and holistic context." Waters of the Brandywine ADF Grove was different from its peers in that its liturgical language and pantheon were both Old Polish - a nod to John's ancestry and interest in eastern European goddess worship. Under his faith name Niszsa, John Zeron was the senior druid of his grove and also a liaison with the local police department to help them distinguish tree hugging, single malt swilling pagans from devil-worshiping cults.
Single Malt scotch whisky was their sacrament, drunk from ox-horn cups (multiple times) during their rituals. I kept up a friendship with the Druids for a number of years, and even celebrated the Winter Solstice with them in 1989 with a Bryn Mawr wiccan friend as my guest. Waters of the Brandywine was a working class congregation so they didn't shell out for top shelf, but still I found the complex taste and fiery glow of the single malt very enticing and embarked on an exploration of a more corporal than spiritual nature into the marvelous world of scotch whisky.
Read the whole thing, as they say in the biz.
I've not yet had the pleasure. They make whisky the old fashion way, so I understand, and are the only independant distillery on Islay. But what is this about the American Defense Threat Reduction Agency http://www.dtra.mil/ conducting intelligence operations there because the distilling equipment could also be used to make chemical weapons? Taxpayer money well drunk, I guess. Read about it here: I'll likely blog about it tomorrow. http://www.bruichladdich.com/wmd_story.htm
Laphroig is very good and great bang for the buck; Lagavulin 16 is among the best and not out of this world, but the best has to be MaCallan 25 - however very expensive. I'll keep an eye out for Bruichladdich - I've not seen it before, but Jackson only gives it a 79 for the 25yr and 75 for the 10yr. I know, I know ratings are hype, but I've come to trust Jackson's, at least for my taste. I think the only way to truly sample the malt is to visit the land, which I've yet to do, but will!