Ock-un-tosh-un. Ockuntoshun. Auchentoshan. Sounds German, but it's actually Gaelic and was born in 1823 in Glasgow, Scotland, on the soulful river Clyde. Translated, it means "corner of the field," which sounds about right, if the corner of the field is shady, damp, green and on the banks of a twittering stream. It's a single-malt Scotch and will set you back $10.50 per generous snifter at Eleven Eleven Mississippi. Order one post-dinner, neat, and you're looking good for the evening, the balance of which will be spent walking a few inches above the ground, and sleep will creep upon you like a caterpillar.
It is the color of the tattered gold leaf on a beaten-down Bible, and in a certain light Auchentoshan seems to generate its own heat and energy. It glows at the center of Eleven Eleven's lower dining room -- the upper one circles us -- where a near-perfect gender symmetry has settled among the eight tables: Three men occupy a four-top; a complementing table of three women occupy another nearby. One couple sits across the room. Another, here. Two men at a two-top; a few tables away, two women sit at its complement. And across the way, five ladies (perhaps a bridge club?) gossip at a big round, next to six men at a long rectangular. Tonight we're a woman shy of a flat-line teeter-totter balance. And if you toss in our server, Rachel, we're good.
Within this perfect circle, we're drinking Auchentoshan, which, according to the bottle's label, produces a sensation "far removed from the toil and grind of the shipyards" from which it sprung. We're far removed, too, busy pondering how many boob jobs Jenna Jameson has had. We're considering her new autobiography and the notion of a celebrity-autobiography book club. We're not alone. Another table's talking White Castle. This is still south city, after all, albeit the fancy part. Still, there are worse topics; we're happy, basking in the glory of sautéed leeks in a wine reduction.
This particular Scotch is triple-distilled -- most are double-distilled -- purifying its essence one step further. The result is a clean, streamlined whisky that hits the nose with a touch of fruitiness -- plum, raisin maybe -- that turns nutty and caramelly as it hits the back of your throat. It passes gently, like a creek, with a subtle fizzle that warms the esophagus.
According to legend, the Auchentoshan distillery survived a German blitzkrieg during World War II, when the distillery was bombed. Blazing whisky flowed from the building. How sad. In hell, whisky rivers will burn, yet we will eternally dip our ladles and attempt to drink, only to be scalded once again. In hell, Jenna Jameson will be the poet laureate and will read from her diary paeans to her plastic surgeon. Down there, it's all men, and those that aren't may as well be.
But up here, the whisky glows in snifters and warms the cockles.