This Town Ain’t Big Enough for two Single Malts….

Okay, so yesterday was an angst-wallow. Today, we are back on the happy upbeat track–not least because my husband and I are caught up in yet another “only happens in small towns” funny story.

Most of you know that Jack recently became an American citizen. And of course a lot of people wanted to congratulate him. He’s one of those charismatic individuals.

And he’s pretty easy to buy for: just get him whiskey.

But here’s where the small town bit comes in. We have one liquor store in Big Stone Gap–conveniently located across the street from our bookstore. On sunny afternoons we amuse ourselves by sitting on the porch with a tally sheet, marking down Baptist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, Catholic, Baptist, Baptist….

Jack and the ABC store manager are on a first-name, how’s-the-family, dude basis. They exchange Christmas and birthday cards. Jeff calls to see if Jack’s okay should he miss that weekly visit.

And Jeff orders a particular favorite for Jack, not a blend, but a single malt that is Scottish in make, expensive in price. I don’t complain; my husband doesn’t chase other women, like televised sports, or expect me to do all the laundry.

It’s an unusual whiskey, and Jeff had never even heard of it before Jack introduced him to its finer qualities. So it’s the only single malt in town–not to mention the only ABC store. Jeff started ordering one case per year, 12 bottles which Jack purchases once a month, interspersed between his cheaper weekly stock-ups.

Jack hauls out the single malt for special occasions–like rainy Monday evenings when a friend drops by unexpectedly, or Saturday jam sessions,  or days ending in “y”–and he’s introduced several people about town to his favorite.In fact, he became quite the evangelist for this particular brew.

Which means he now has competition.

Jack discovered what a good salesman he was about three months ago, when he went across for his monthly treat and Jeff said, “Oh, sorry, Jack! Your friend Bill was in here and bought four bottles. Said he loved it at your house. The case is empty. I’ll order more. Be here in about a week.”

Galumphing home, Jack thought dark thoughts about Bill.

But when that case came in,  Jack got only three bottles. (He figured maybe it was time to stock up.) The other nine had already been purchased by friends and bookstore customers who had heard Jack, over the course of his single-malt-less week, extol its virtues and lament its rarity.

Again, Jeff ordered more–and suggested Jack write the company explaining the circumstances and requesting a commission.

This time the whole case was empty before Jack even darkened the ABC store’s door. But the funniest part was yet to come. That was about the time that people knew Jack would soon become an American citizen. Over the next two weeks, friends dropped by, bearing gifts. Tall, thin gifts that sloshed. Jack racked up eight bottles of his favorite elixir, none of which he bought for himself, because his friends had beaten him to it.

We don’t know who’s got the other four bottles.

Jack figures, the next time he heads over to see Jeff, there will be less competition for the water of life. But then, you never know. We have an anniversary coming up.


Filed under Big Stone Gap, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, VA

3 responses to “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for two Single Malts….

  1. The particular single-malt in question is ‘Ochentoshan’ which sells around here for about $45 a bottle. But the good news I dispensed around town was that it is overproduced, so it’s also sold anonymously over here as ‘McLelland’s Lowland’ for about half that price! Oh – and by the way, it’s whisky and not whiskey, and Jeff is George ;0)

  2. That wasn’t Wendy – it was me (Jack).

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