The Taste of Home by Aeron Lanart
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It was too early in the day for his normal clientèle so when Joe heard the door of his bar open he had a damn good idea who it would be, he’d been waiting for the visit since their arrival from Paris the previous night. He turned to greet his friends with a smile on his face.

“Mac, Amanda. Good to see you. How were the holidays in Paris?”

“Cold.” Amanda shivered theatrically. Joe grinned.

“I’m sure you managed to find a way to keep warm.”

“Just one or two.” Duncan agreed leaning across the bar to slap Joe on the arm. Joe put three of his ‘good whisky’ glasses on the bar, chuckling as Duncan raised an eyebrow at him.

“I have a new single malt,” he explained, “And we have a tradition to uphold.” Joe removed the glasses to the other side of the bar where he could pour the whisky without either Duncan or Amanda seeing the label. The bottle was secreted back into the depths of Joe’s ‘special’ shelf before he turned round, placing two glasses in front of them. Amanda picked hers up first and took a dubious sniff, before a smile lightened her face.

“Well it’s not an Islay at least,” she said taking a sip. Duncan followed suit.

“Mmm. Definitely not an Islay. Or an Island, but there’s still something of the sea in it.” He took another sip. Joe watched with a smile as Duncan rooted through his memory of remembered tastes and region characteristics. He was fairly certain that the right combination would eventually surface, even if it did take another glass or two; he’d only managed to catch the Scottish immortal out once over the years. Amanda was grinning at him over her glass and he winked at her; Duncan had closed his eyes and appeared to be deep in thought. Immortal or not, Joe had missed his friends and the little homecoming ritual always warmed his heart. Duncan opened his eyes with a triumphant grin. “Got it.” He announced.

“So what does the great Scotch whisky expert think?” Joe hefted his glass and took another sip himself; Duncan was right, it definitely had a taste of the sea.

“It’s a Campbelltown; probably Springbank taking into account how light the peat is,” Duncan said. Joe saluted him with his glass.

“Got it in one. Care to take a pot-shot on age?” They all took another mouthful.

“Not one of the older ones, it isn’t sweet enough, but it seems too complex for the 10 year. Ummm...” Duncan shrugged at Joe, who grinned. He turned to grab the bottle from its hiding place and put it on the bar. It was Springbank, and a 10 year, but Joe had picked up on one of the 100 proof bottlings which were just that little bit different.

“Glad to see you haven’t completely lost your touch, or taste, old friend.” With a smile he topped up their glasses. “Welcome Home.”