With an article on the decline of fine-drinking experiences on trans-Pacific flights still fresh in my mind, I found myself preparing for the return-leg of a trip when a thought occurred: Was there a way to play by the rules and still enjoy a spirited flight? Depending on your point of departure, yes. With a little planning I scored a couple of decent mini-bottles prior to heading to Kansai International Airport (Osaka, Japan). Not wanting to beat around the bush, and needing to know if I was going to need to engage in some quick pre-flight consumption, I approached security and asked if I could bring some really small bottles of alcohol with my personal effects. “Are the bottles is a ziplock bag?” was the response. It is interesting what you can find at an airport when you really try. After procuring one slightly used ziplock bag, which apparently protects the rest of the passengers from the peril of quality whisky, I got the thumbs of and breezed through security with nought but a smile from the staff that perused my baggy. Then I hit duty-free. While, unfortunately, the Hibiki 17 mini-bottle was only available as a gift when you bought the big bottle, there were options. So between duty-free and my super-market purchases I boarded the plane well-stocked and in high spirits, which is exactly what I enjoyed. Getting stuck in the center seat of the center aisle didn’t hamper my mood. Promptly on the heals of the stewardess’ clearing of the tray of mostly-untouched chicken-something, I set up shop. Yamazaki 12 was first out of the gate. I like Yamazaki 12 and am content to enjoy it on a regular basis. But I was not prepared to be blown away by it, which I was. Perhaps because of my Pavlovian acceptance and expectation of mediocrity on flights, I was not prepared to imbibe and enjoy something I would willing drink under normal circumstance. Bright honey-citrus and apricot jam headed up a light-yet-bold sweetness and a bit of coffee taffy. Angular malts and graining notes that coated the mouth resolved into a lingering fruit palate. A touch of spice palled around with some toasty jam preserves then lingered off into the sunset. If I seem a little effusive about what is typically a good-but-not-amazing whisky, it is because at 30,000 feet with a 120~ mile-per-hour tail-wind it was amazing. A Bowmore 12 followed and did not disappoint (though I don’t know how my neighbors felt about the wafting peat). A few mini-Nikkas later and I was safely described as in fine spirits. A little planning had gone along way (a couple thousand miles, actually) and I was content to nap or read for the rest of the trip. And, yes, I still scored some Chivas of the passing drink carts… for later emergency purposes should I get stuck on a tarmac somewhere.