Table of Contents
Insights || Colin Whyte

Look under the covers at America’s greatest book store.

Playlist || Malcolm Johnson

Golden Dust, Dirt, Rust & Trust: A Pick Up Worth of Sound for the Soul.

Insights || Lisa Richardson

Growing up & growing pains: Can a garden town all get along?

Conversation || Zaria Forman

From Brooklyn to the ends of the earth, a compelling artist with a chill perspective dives deep into details.

Reflections || Trevor Komori

Forge on! Meet the man with a fire for recycling.

Legacy || Full Press Staff

Father, Son & the Whole Case of Scotch.

Insights || Andrew Findlay

Sometimes a cure is closer than you think.

To distill a tradition, it takes generations.

Message in a Bottle

Legacy || Full Press Staff
Full Press Staff

A Full Press, glass half full collaboration.

Thanks to Tom & Ian, and welcome to Kahloe!

Photos by Ian Coble

What’s more valuable than a $3,000 bottle of scotch? Sharing it with your children.

“Like the content of this bottle you have steeped and matured. You are adding complexity and smoothness. May you find your life as rich as this whisky.”

Beyond reputations or fortunes, it is the qualities passed onto sons and daughters that define a parent’s legacy. And legacies, like any good story, are often helped along by a special wee dram.

When Ian Coble came of age at 21 years old, he was gifted a bottle of 18-year-old Macallan single malt scotch by his father, Tom. Distilled in 1979, the bottle was originally bought for $51. On the box, handwritten in Tom’s upper-case lettering, was inscribed a set of “rules for drinking.” In Tom’s Bainbridge Island, Washington garage, 11 more bottles sat in a dusty corner. Over the next two decades, these bottles and the golden elixir within would help shape their father and son relationship.

“Drinking this scotch wasn’t about getting hammered. It was about where you were and who you were with. It was all very intentional. It was a special thing.”

Bottle Number One

Instructions on how to use:

  1. Must be consumed in the company of your father
  2. Both you and your father must be on a fishing trip at the time of consumption
  3. May be shared with others if Points One and Two are followed

This first bottle traveled with the two men to Alaska, where they floated and fished the wide, clear rivers of that great state. But that wasn’t the first time Ian had sampled Scotland’s finest export.

“I was 14 years old when I went on my first fishing expedition,” recalls Ian. “I remember there was always a bottle of scotch being passed around. Truthfully, that’s when I probably first snuck a sip. It tasted like lighter fluid. I hadn’t developed the palette yet.”

By the time he hit 21, Ian’s flavour profile had matured. He was an avid skier, a budding photographer and university student. Over the next six years, father and son would exchange a bottle on Ian’s birthday, each time with new instructions.

Aurora borealis, Alaska, 2014.

En route to a float trip outside Illiamna, Alaska. 2008.

Ian and Tom on their first trip to Alaska where they floated the Branch River over seven days. Ian is 14 years old.

Aklins Island, Bahamas, 2001

Bottle Number Two

Ian, Happy 22nd Birthday

The rules haven’t changed...Another year...another bottle...does it taste different? Here’s to joy, growth, fun and continued learning... With love and admiration, Dad

Over the years, each new bottle of birthday scotch went travelling, mostly on fishing trips (where at least one empty bottle was sacrificed to the River Gods on a bonfire) and mostly to Alaska. But the two also sipped the spirits while fly-fishing Wyoming’s Snake River, and bone fishing in the Bahamas.

Bottle Number Seven

Bottle number seven’s instructions contained the equation for the molar mass of ethanol plus “Oak” (C2H5OH + Oak) and handed over a little bit of paternal power.

“This whisky is 27 years old! And so, on this occasion, are you...both you and it are rare, of high quality, and of purpose. It is with pride we give this to our pride. Happy Birthday! Since we are on the second half of the lot, it might be good to start thinking how best to use what remains. Therefore, the rules of consumption are in your hands. Choose wisely.”

Looking back, Tom remembers why he made the switch from instruction to self-empowerment. Ian had grown into a man. He made his own choices. A father’s approach must evolve with his son’s journey.

“I learned the person you are giving the gift to changes with time. Life changes,” Tom says. “It’s the relationship, not the product, that mattered. I wanted Ian to make his own rules.”

Tom plays the role of fly fishing model for photographer son, Ian. Alaska, 2014.

Happy hour on the Unnamed River, Alaska, 2014.

Ian rowing, Tom fishing, a Dolly Varden on the line. Alaska, 2014

Tom, seeking shelter from the bugs at the river’s edge. Alaska, 2014.

Self-portrait by Ian, taken as they broke down camp where they have stayed—and shared scotch—many times over the years.

Bottle Number Nine

“[The bottles] don’t come every year, so when they arrive it is a year of significance. Like the content of this bottle you have steeped and matured. You are adding complexity and smoothness. May you find your life as rich as this whisky. May you share it with only those who deserve to share the bounty and richness of your life. Happy Birthday, Dad, 2010.”

As years went by, new bottles left the dusty case less frequently. The bottles were saved for significant life events. 

Bottle Number Nine found its way to the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where Ian had proposed to his girlfriend Karlee, and where they had chosen to be married. The handwritten label for that bottle simply showcased two words: “wedding whisky.”

Still waters run deep.

Bottle Number Ten

“Not to be wasted on anyone who cannot appreciate this water of life for what it is.”

There are only a handful of people who have sampled the scotch Tom and Ian shared in the past 17 years, most of them enamoured by the colour and complexity the liquid had gained in the cask. 

The “Final” Bottle

“To be shared with your first born on his/her 21st birthday...when this happens, then you will know and understand the sentiment with which this gift was given.”

The instructions for the last precious bottle—now worth upwards of $3,000—were meant to be the finale. In May of this year, Ian’s wife Karlee gave birth to daughter Kahloe, and father and son drank from the final bottle.

“I always appreciated dad’s gift of bonding through this tradition, but now I see it on another level,” Ian said. “I want to honour my dad. He started something beautiful. There should be an homage to that.”

Will it involve scotch? He laughs. “It’s sort of a family beverage now. I’ll add my own signature to it, but scotch it is.”

Epilogue: The Baker’s Dozen

“This bottle is given to Kahloe on the day of her birth, welcome into our family. This bottle is to be opened on your firstborn’s 21st birthday. It is to be shared with your child, your mother (Kahloe) and grandfather (Ian), hopefully on a remote river casting flies, in hope that a trout will rise... 

From your great grandfather Tom”