Just when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, here we are. Both my countries continue to plumb the depths of their foundational pathologies. In India Kashmir continues under a repressive and brutal lockdown, while the ruling BJP takes advantage of the pandemic to crush political dissent elsewhere in the country as well. In the US the march of fascism gets more open and confident every week, seemingly. And last week the Minneapolis Police Department re-confirmed what should need no re-confirmation: the enduring—because foundational—racism of American society, and the particular inequities and contempt faced by black Americans, 155 years after the end of the Civil War. There seems to be no end to the shit coming relentlessly down the pike, no sign of hope convincing enough to believe in. And here I am blogging about whisky and food.
Well, I tell myself, as long as that isn’t all I do, it’s okay to continue to do that. But that is not to say that the urgencies of the current—forever current—moment do not have any bearing on the worlds of whisky and food. The history of racism in both these cultural domains needs to be faced and combatted as well. The world of American whiskey—as I have written about before—is built on a denial that is also a tacit celebration of racist history. Food media has a long history of erasure, appropriation and tokenization of African American (and other minority) traditions and talent. The restaurant industry likewise is riven with inequality—from ownership to employment to media coverage. And below it all are the murky, exploitative industries of food production. In all these places it is minorities and particularly African Americans who are at greatest risk: if the system won’t get you, the pandemic (or the next disaster) will.
It can all seem too much. But we have to keep chipping away. I am not going to try to overstate the quality or quantity of demolition likely to result from a food and whisky blog but we have to bring these issues to the surface in every arena we work or play in; and we have to engage with them in the broader world as well. At one level my task will be to fill in my shamefully blank knowledge of African American-owned restaurants in Minnesota and begin to write about them as and when the pandemic allows. On another, it will be to continue to get involved in political action at the community and state level; and to contribute money, emails and phone calls if/when I cannot put my body on the line.
Do those things and it will be acceptable to also continue to engage in far more trivial activity.
Speaking of which, here is the usual long list of potential booze reviews for the upcoming month. As always, please write if in anything in particular catches your eye. And do also write in if you have any sources of greater social and political hope to share.
- Ambassador 25 yo, Blend
- Amrut BA17/2013 (Blackadder)
- Ardbeg Corryvreckan, 2011 Release
- Auchentoshan “Heartwood”
- Auchroisk 22, 1990 (Whisky Fässle)
- Benromach 8, 2011 (for The Whisky Exchange)
- Ben Nevis 18, 1996 (Liquid Treasures)
- Brora 19, 1981 (Signatory)
- Cartron 15, Marc de Bourgogne
- Clynelish 24, 1989 (Adelphi)
- Convalmore 21, 1984 (G&M)
- Dufftown 9, 1999 (G&M for Binny’s)
- Fettercairn 17, 1995 (Exclusive Malts)
- Glenburgie 14, 1997, Cask Strength Edition
- Glenfarclas 21, 1980, Dark Sherry Cask
- Glenglassaugh 30
- Glenlossie 29, 1978 (Gordon & MacPhail)
- Glenlossie 35, 1975 (The Whisky Agency)
- Glenrothes 33, 1972
- Hampden 6, Stolen Overproof Rum
- Hanyu 2000-2012, Chibidaru
- Jacoulot 7, Marc de Bourgogne
- Labet 2003, Marcs de Jura
- Nikka 12, Single Grain Coffey Still
- Port Ellen 24, 1982 (Signatory)
- Springbank 10, House & Tree Label
- Springbank 1997, Batch 1
- Tamdhu 26, 1984 (WWW forum bottling)
- Tomatin 23, 1976 (Old Malt Cask)
- Villa Zarri 24, 1991, Italian Brandy