Lutheran pastor moonlights as Scotch whisky reviewer

Reverend is also a blogger and poet

By Jennifer Eberbach
Livingston Daily Press & Argus

HARTLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A Livingston County reverend wrote a book, and its subject matter might surprise you. "The Angels' Portion: A Clergyman's Whisky Narrative" is a collection of Scotch whisky reviews that reads more like a collection of creative short stories.

"Eyebrows raise sometimes. You enjoy Scotch whisky? Isn't that out of the ordinary for a pastor?" the Rev. Christopher Thoma said of how some people react when they find out he is a Scotch whisky aficionado, blogger and collector.

Thoma, the pastor at Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Hartland Township, developed entries from his whisky review blog,, into a 380-page book, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus ( ).

Far from your typical booze reviews, Thoma's "tell stories, quote literature, dig into history," capture moments with his four children and wife Jennifer, sometimes come in the form of fan fiction, and "there is a lot of theology in there, too," he said.

For example, his review of a Lagavulin 16 is "fan fiction that I made up" about what he imagined really happened before Darth Vader threw the Emperor down the Death Star generator shaft in "Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi."

"It was because he was being a jerk and drank his whisky. You don't steal a Sith Lord's whisky," Thoma laughed.

Each review is a narrative story built around "some kernel of inspiration," from his real-life experiences as a pastor, husband and father, to history and literature, to Indiana Jones.

The pastor addressed the elephant in the room. Yes, he is a man of God, and yes, he enjoys a good drink of Scotch "in moderation, of course," he said.

"I don't hide it and I don't flaunt it," the reverend said of imbibing.

He is actually quite critical of people who bring that up as a negative.

He does not go easy on "the pietists" in his review of a 12-year-old Dalmore. In his opinion, God never required people to abstain from drinking alcohol.

Thoma is convinced that there is "a whisky for everyone," even if you think you do not like the taste.

He was never a Scotch drinker until he was in London and went into a whisky shop, where "the owner said I hadn't found the right kind, and let me sip some," he said. "I walked out with a $500 bottle of William Grant & Sons, a 25-year special release," and the rest is history.

The pastor said that the cheap but widely sold Scotch whisky Scoresby "is the worst on the planet." He compared it to floor paint and how animals mark their territory.

His favorite distillery is The Balvenie in the Speyside region of Scotland.

Thoma is already a published author, article writer, blogger and poet, and he enjoys writing hymns and sermons. He often writes about theology. His published works include "Kids in the Divine Service," ''Feeding the Lambs: A Worship Primer for Teachers of Children" and "The Homiletical Canvas: Poetry in Service of Preaching."

He is working on a children's book.

Published: Tue, Jun 02, 2015