Friday 17 April 2015

"Our Better Angels" by Sean Kavanagh

Old man McClarty fretted about the weather.  Too sunny.  Too bright. Not at all the image from the label on the bottle.  If the tour group turned up now, they’d not get the full feel of the place. The old distillery sat at the side of a river that emptied further into yonder loch.  Behind it, a craggy hill (it was actually a small mountain, but locals called it a hill).  And that was the picturesque that sat on the bottle label, immortalised one hundred and ten years earlier by an artist in Glasgow who’d never visited the place (though he had seen an old, murky photograph).  It was enough, even for the slothful painter.  The artist’s rendering of the idealized highland distillery was exactly what the owner had wanted.  When the boats when out from the dock, heaving with crates of their brew, taking the water of life with them all over the world, that label was what he wanted them to covet.  And the founder had got his wish.
The same today.  Except that now people did come and visit.  People wanted to see the place for themselves.  McClarty looked at his watch.  Still an half hour or so.  Low cloud and a grim sky could appear by then he thought.
Mrs Barry came running across the small courtyard where they stored the empty barrels.  She had ‘that’ look on her face. McClarty took a breath.
“He’s up to it again," she flustered.
“Pay it no mind Mrs Barry."
“But I thought he’d stopped all that."
McClarty put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Let it be.  And anyways, it’s my problem."
“…the tourists…”
“Are my problem too.  Go on. Away with you.  It’ll be sorted." He looked up, his conversation broken by the sound of the tourists’ coach.  He also notice a light drizzle on his face.  “See Mrs Barry, even the weather’s playing our auld song." They both looked up at the now grey sky.
He walked off to greet the outsiders.

The distillery tour guide Mr McClarty had reached the end of his slow speech about ageing the Whiskey.  It was always the same speech, but he delivered it with gritty humour and a clear passion.  “And so, that 5% of Whiskey which evaporates during the ageing process, that which vanishes to leave the pure behind, well, that we call the Angel’s Share. “
The tour group laughed as they always did and exited to the gift shop.

From the corner McClarty heard a drunken hiccup. McClarty looked over at the familiar problem. “Off the wagon again eh? You really need help Gabriel, you really do."
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