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Do you like puddle jumpers?


Then you might like the flight to Bhutan's Paro International Airport-widely considered the most dangerous in the world to land.


Only nine pilots on earth possess the training and experience to make this flight.


I assumed that number was to dwindle to eight as our Dornier VSTOL barely cleared the 18,000-foot sawteeth of the Himalayan peaks to drop us like a stone upon the laughably short tarmacadam of the "Paro International" runway.


Several merged vertebra later, I emerged from a fuselage that to my surprise was still intact, and gamely made my way to the terminal to collect my meager personal effects (and wits). Within the modest terminal building awaited my contact, Ugyen, a retainer of some sort to His Highness, the Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King), Khesar Wangchyuck.


Bhutan. So this is where great-great-great-uncle Bertie "Bruce" Glendidit met his end, thinks I. And almost me, too!


Now a legend for his clumsiness, he'd been a subaltern on Sir Francis Younghusband's daring expedition to Tibet, which had crossed Bhutan, enlisting its leader, the original Druk Gyalpo, to take on the less-than-welcoming Tibetans.


Perhaps, instead of the musket, they could have offered whiskey like this: K5 - The only whisky from the Himalayas.


Crafted by hand to commemorate the Fifth Anniversary of the coronation of the latest Druk Gyalpo.


After all, Himalayan folks enjoy a good drink, of beer or something stronger, and this K5, a patently astonishing blend of imported Scottish Malts, Himalayan spring water and special Bhutanese spirits. I was eager to try.


Ugyen took me to a new bar on the outskirts of the Bhutanese capital, an odd place, really, called the U Ultimu Thulu, run by a Czech émigré named Ladislas, who enthused about the K5 as though he'd rediscovered what the ancient writings called "Soma", the beverage the writers of the Vedas had used to transport them to the realm of The Gods. Perhaps it was the altitude, and the scenery, that so transported them. And us, as it turned out.


Because the tasting of K5 was so transcendent, I will not attempt to use words to describe its flavor, but rather will attempt to beam its flavor notes directly from my mind to yours, using telepathy to stir your tastebuds.




The 8- and 12-year old scotches, blended with the Bhutanese "White Lightning" creates a whiskey to bridge East and West.


Told you it was awesome!


K5 is the only Himalayan spirit sold in the United States, and is available, albeit in vanishingly small quantities, for a limited time.


I am NOT getting back in that airplane, so...




Gopal Karma  

(formerly Commander H.G.H. Glendidit