It takes a special kind of crazy to be a distiller. Find a grain, persuade it to start sprouting, and dry it out. Then grind it up, soak it in hot water, and let the sweet juice ferment into something sour and awful-tasting. At this point any normal human would say this was a colossal waste of time, the kind of thing someone with wild hair and a tinfoil hat would be doing on a street corner while wearing a sandwich board and yelling to invisible demons. The distiller isn’t far removed from this, because then they take the sour juice and boil it, and let the evaporate rise up through an expensive column, and when pure clear liquid that starts coming out the other end, they throw away. Only when they are partway through do they swat away at the invisible fairies dancing about their heads and start keeping some of the liquid. Is it drinkable now? Absolutely…not. Coming out tasting like gasoline’s dangerous brother it will make your curly hairs straighten and turn your eyeballs into raisins. It takes some hardcore crazy to keep going at this point. The distiller takes the clear poison and dumps it into a wooden barrel that he previously lit on fire. If I were you, I’d back away slowly and check your wallet.
But…hold on. A couple months or years later, when the distiller has retired to his or her cave to rock on their heels and mumble, the clear stuff has turned into something, well, spiritual. Transcendence has occurred. From poison comes a drink that talks of the land in which it was made, it echoes of the wood, rock, grain, it talks to you. But there’s more. It awakens in you a sense that this amber liquid that was born from the most harebrained and laughably obtuse process is a path to the divine.
Hindus say Om is the bow, Atman is the arrow, and Brahman is the target. Stay with me here. I think the whiskey version of this is “Grain is the bow, distilling is the arrow, and spirit is the target.”
I see spirit dancing in this glass, do you?