23 July 2007

ex scrinio MARCVS CRAPVLARIVS, scriptor de aqua vitae

Welcome to Roma Aeterna, humble home of your host, Marcus Crapularius. It seems those barbarians north of the Antonine Wall, in a cold and craggy wilderness called Caledonia, make a variety of lovely spirits. In their rough and uncultured tongue they call it "uisce beatha" or "whisky." We Romans know it as "aqua vitae." It is a terrible time to be a Roman these days, as you know, what with slavery and all forms of servitude falling out of fashion. How does a patrician get good help? Fortunately, I have a superb cup-bearer, and I aim to keep the little Ganymede away from the clutches of my grasping neighbors. That's what happens when you give the plebs the same status as the ruling classes--they want what you have! But that is a rant for another time, my friends. These Caledonians are kin of our Gallic brethren, but of a more independent nature, and known as "Gaels" or "Celts." This particular whisky is named for a bird, a sort of partridge or gamecock. TETRAO NOBILIS in our language, The Famous Grouse in theirs. (Though what is notable about a fowl I can't imagine!) It is a fine, smooth drink, I must admit, not as distinctive as some of the so-called single malts, but eminently quaffable. These tricky fellows sometimes make a "blend" of whiskies, smoothing out the rough edges by mixing different spirits to achieve a harmonious combination of flavors. Here at Roma Aeterna we usually like the unique, individualistic nature of those unadulterated single malts, but one has to be flexible and open-minded. There was a time, friends, when a Roman had no fear of losing his supply of delicacies, for he was the only one cultured enough to demand that commodity. What with "free trade" and other abominations, even the nobility have to fight for their share of rare treats. With supplies of aqua vitae subject to "market fluctuations" and other nonsense, one must be prepared to appreciate and enjoy a greater variety. Thank goodness those foreigners make such a diversity of excellent drink! Get your hands on some TETRAO NOBILIS, The Famous Grouse, and enjoy smooth sipping.

a.d. X Kal. Aug.

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