Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #022 – “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Date:  November, 2010

Host:  Scott

Whisky:  Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Edradour Straight From The Cask Chateauneuf Du Pape, Isle of Arran Bourbon Cask Single Cask

Rum:  Cadenheads Green Label Laphroaig Cask Matured

 

This month was a sort of renaissance for the club.  We initiated two new members, tackled a classic (complete with iconic literary character), visited a few exceptional drams and had a great conversation that sort of put us back on the rails in terms of insight, intellect and enjoyment.  We’ve had a run of books recently that to some were homework and to others lacked enough meat to provide topics of discussion.  Such is the nature of this endeavor though.

Pat, Jay and I put in a somewhat tardy arrival (apologies again Scott).  We had been to a guitar clinic at Long & McQuade, watching the inimitable Gordie Johnson dragging the blues kicking and screaming from a Gibson acoustic.  Damn…I love this guy.  If you haven’t checked out Big Sugar, friends…you’re missing out.  Helluva way to kick off a great night.  We boogied back down South in time to kick things off a tad later than usual.

Introductions were in order between Jay and Chris.  These two chaps had yet to meet, but here’s hoping they become as tight as the rest of us.  Lance spoke a few words in honor…we raised our glasses…and commenced things as a new entity.  The initiation itself?  Can’t tell you that here.  The masons would be proud though.  ;)

Scott’s pick for November took a few of us by surprise.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.  Somewhat surprising to see how few of us had ever actually read the exploits of the iconic Sherlock Holmes and his esteemed colleague, Watson.  A few of us took a little initiative and read more of the Holmes canon in order to flesh out the big picture.

Among the topics covered, we spoke of style, narrative structure, the gothic horror element, our preconceptions, the depth of character, deduction and much more.  This was much more like the conversations of old.  When it came time to weigh in it seems most impressions were favorable.  Some took exception to the flow and arc of the tale (ie. early climax with drawn out denouement), but in the end still enjoyed the tale.  A favorite element for all was atmosphere and setting.

Well picked, Scott.  There are some truly legendary authors out there yet to be tackled by the Liquorature gang (Asimov, Howard, King, Dickens, Melville, Nabokov, Vonnegut, Bradbury, Orwell, on and on), and Doyle was certainly one that needed to be read.  I think we’re all glad to have read this one.

Should note that the Ginger Buddha had done the place up in style too.  Maps of the moor, facsimile letters and documents and great visuals were posted and strewn around the room to add a little ambience.  Nifty.

When it came to the bevvies…

Scott paid a visit to Andrew Ferguson at the Kensington Wine Market for a little guidance in his selection.  Not that guidance is necessarily needed, but hey…Andrew knows his stuff…has some unique malts…and often has open bottles to sample before making your selection.  Together they came up with a solid Isle of Arran Bourbon Cask (single cask) and a gorgeous rich Edradour SFTC Chateauneuf du Pape (also single cask).  Before hitting these beefier cask strength numbers, we sampled the Johnnie Walker Gold Label.  Nice.  Quite nice indeed.  The Edradour was the runaway though.

And rum?  Well…this was an abortion.  I speak only for myself here (and perhaps one or two unnamed others), but was this distilled Barbie juice we were drinking?  Holy plastic flavors.  In a sojourn down to the afore-mentioned KWM I had seen a Cadenheads bottling that had been matured in Laphroaig casks.  I mentioned this to Scott, and unbeknownst to the rest he did indeed pick this one.  Peated rum?  WTF?!  While the rum appreciators said, “bah…this is not rum…it’s more like a whisky”, the whisky drinkers were swishing out their mouths in distaste and declaring it nothing like our beloved malts.  In hindsight, I’d be curious to know if any actually liked it.  Something different anyway.

As is becoming the standard, the lads are merciless with their needling.  The Star Trek and wrestling references not only continue unabated, but a few have taken it upon themselves to draw obscure connections and parallels with our book selection.  Sigh.  And here I thought I had surrounded myself with the elite.  This delusion was further shattered by the avalanche of Mandingo, John Holmes and general porn comments.  This little foray into the gutter was the lowest we’ve sunk yet…and was bloody hilarious.  If we needed any more assurance as to why this is a men’s club…this was it.

All in all, a truly memorable night.  It was great to have Chris back in the fold (you may remember he had sat in on our ‘”Wizard’s First Rule” gathering) and equally great to have Jay for the first time.  I think this group is going to work out just fine.  Though we’re a little bigger now, all concerns about too many seemed to unfounded as we never really had any “shhhhhhhhh” moments.  Well done, all.  This was a great night to have been the new guys’ first.

A few random thoughts:

Rod Stewart has ‘Bob’ hair…the Glencairn dilemma…Hamlet in the original Klingon…”Honey, I’m coming home”…countless Star Trek, wrestling and porn references…Mandingo…hostel head (Ostby)…plastic in my rum…the pink box…

mmmmmmmmIMG_5109IMG_5119IMG_5120
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A little more ... I can get the whole thing in....IMG_5142IMG_5145IMG_5150
 
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IMG_5189IMG_5193IMG_5194HOUNDSOFBASKERVILLE
– Curt
 
 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #021 – “Honor Among Thieves” (Jeffrey Archer)

Date:  October, 2010

Host:  Bob

Whisky:  Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 21), Highwood Rye (Canadian), Springbank 10 y.o. 100 Proof

Rum:  Bacardi 8 y.o., El Dorado 15 y.o.

 

We have yet to have a night out at the acreage that is not a resounding success.  Until now.

Kidding.  This was an amazing outing.  Full of laughs, memories and mockery.  Most are, but this one will shine on long after the event itself fades a little.  There just seemed to be something magical about it.  I think the others would all say the same.  Thankfully the weather cooperated (this is late October, after all), though it wasn’t looking too promising earlier in the day.  At one point in the morning (nearing noon) I had ventured out for a Red Bull, and the frosted lawns intandem with my visible exhalations made me groan.  ‘Dear gawd…he doesn’t expect us to sit outside in this, does he?’  The temperature soared through the day though, and the evening turned out to be quite pleasant around the firepit.

Robert elected to do things a little differently with the bevvies this eve.  We arrived to 6 decanters on display, each labeled with a ‘W’ or an ‘R’ to denote whisky or rum, and a number to differentiate them.  Yep…Liquorature’s first blind tasting.  Robert’s concern about embarrassing anyone or making anyone uncomfortable was completely unfounded, as the whole gang thought it was a brilliant turn and had a blast with it.  The only challenge he made was to share which we liked the most.  Cockiness got the best of a couple of us though, and it soon became a contest to determine the drams themselves.

Here was the rundown:

  • W1:  Highwood Rye (from right here in Alberta)
  • W2:  Ardbeg Corryvreckan
  • W3:  Springbank 10 y.o. 100 Proof
  • W4:  Aberlour a’bunadh
  • R1:  Bacardi 8 y.o.
  • R2:  El Dorado 15 y.o.

I’ll leave the results a secret here, something only for those that attended.  Needless to say, it was a great time, and something I think we should do more often.  As the boys become more serious about their liquor and the palates evolve a little, this is a nifty little exercise.  Everyone is already seeing how much their appreciations and personal tastes have changed over the years.  Well done, Watson.

Though I initially gave our host credit for the wonderful chili (and the whole spread really), he finally conceded it was his better half who had put together our feast.  Hope you thanked her for us, though I’m sure some of the over-full groans and belches may have reached her ears over that 33km distance.

This was our last gathering of the old guard, as next month we welcome Chris and Jay to the newly conceived G8 (as christened by Surujbally).  So, though we were down Bauer tonight (and Lance couldn’t make it), Robert’s priviledge to invite a guest rewarded us all with an evening of socializing with Mike.  We all knew Mike from other circles, so it was a relaxed and easy fit.

We dove into the book after the rumblin’ tums were fed.  Everyone geared up and we headed outdoors to sit around the fire.  Robert shared why he picked this book, and Mike was able to relate.  Having spent time working in the Middle East, many of the travel experiences and stuff were easily-relatable.  Of course…he’s also a sucker for the political intrigue/action type story (as we know from his adoration of The Lion’s Game).  Robert…three books…three British authors.  Hmmmmm.

Consensus from all pretty much aligned with Surujbally’s review (http://www.liquorature.com/?page_id=648).  We enjoyed it for the story, but there wasn’t a lot of depth or chearacter development.  We all conceded however to enjoying and needing these books in our life.  We spoke about the Middle East, the portrayal of Hussein, the possibility of the implausible events (as Robert said…hey, why not…who would have believed 9/11 could have happened if told in advance?).

From there it became just a great guy’s night.  Funny as hell.  Extremely enjoyable.  One of my personal favorites to date.  A lot of bevvies consumed too.  Mike trotted out a bottle of Bacardi 1873, and I saw that by the end of the eve, Robert’s EH5 had made an appearance as well.  Damn rummies.

To close out the night we ventured in and settled around the basement to laugh our asses off to Napoleon Dynamite.  Good times.

Thanks, Robert.

The randoms:  Mike’s inclusion…the platypus is god playing lego…Clint Kool-aiding the glass door (unbelievable)…they rapin’ everybody…great Cuban cigars…the mediocre jock…Mike’s turn to grab firewood…Robert wretling with the deer…when the boss takes a sh*t next to you…’backin’ up, backin’ up, backin’ up, backin’ up…hacking up a lung to lose weight…condoms as PPE…the blind tasting and the bet not taken…Mike’s attempt at kindling a taste for Scotch…the aftermath of Mike’s attempt at kindling a taste for Scotch…great chili…so much more.

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #020 – “Shogun” (James Clavell)

Date:  September, 2010

Host:  Pat

Whisky:  Forty Creek Barrel Select (Canadian), Johnnie Walker Green Label, Dalmore 12 y.o., Aberlour 12 y.o.

Rum:  Angostura 1919, Bacardi 8 y.o.

 

This…was a helluva read.  Which, only logically, led to a helluva night.  Pat pulled no punches with beverage selection.  Four whiskies and two rums.  We had a little Canadian content here, as he broke out the Forty Creek for us.  Not quite as mellow as the Alberta Premium, but delish nevertheless.  It was nifty to finally sample the JW Green.  It is certainly the sum of its parts, with a couple of its component whiskies being blatantly obvious on the palate.  The rums, as has been typical of late, were quite well-received as well, with the Angostura 1919 leading the charge.

Pat’s amigo from work, Lorne, sat in for this session.  I’ve said it before…I have nothing but admiration for anyone who can walk into a room full of strangers and, not only fit in, but seem comfortable.  Lorne was involved in much of the evening’s conversation, raising points of his own and contributing to threads started by others.  He was keen to sample all the bevvies (we all are, of course, but that’s not what I mean…he was all about trying new things).  It was good meeting him and I hope he does join us again at some point.

For those unaware…Pat, Clint and I all built the same model of house on the same street.  As we all have vastly different tastes though, we modified the hell out of them, and I’m sure most people wouldn’t even realize it was in fact the same plan.  That being said…there is just something about Clint and Pat’s set-up that usually elicits great conversation.  Uh…Excepting last month’s abortion with HHGttG, that is.

This was our second true epic novel to date (the first being ‘Atlas Shrugged’), so I was quite curious to see how it would turn out this time ’round.  Quite well in fact.  We chatted about the aesthetics of the novel; historical accuracy; character development; sex issues; religion; concept of death; bodily functions and hygiene, etc.  From there we discussed  some other examples of historical fiction.

As the night progressed, I snuck out a couple samples of my own to share with the gang.  First…I poured from both the Alberta Premium Rye 5 year and the Alberta Preumium Rye 25 year to let the gang see the difference.  A little later I broke out Ardbeg Supernova.  Lorne in particular had been hankering for some peat, and I think this monster absolutely sufficed.

One more bottle surfaced before the end of the night.  It was a sad occasion in all honesty, as this was Bauer’s last meeting with us.  He is moving on in life to a new home and career in Saskatchewan (don’t mock him too mercilessly).  While on Islay (Scotland) a few days previous, I had picked up a little something special for him.  All the gang chipped inand we presented our Bruichladdich boy with a hand bottled (by me) and hand numbered (one of only ~420) valinch of a single cask from the Bruichladdich shop.  The cask is called ‘Music Man’.  If you know Bauer…it truly could not have been any more fitting.

Though there were a few scheduling issues for this little powwow (mostly caused by me trying to ensure I could be there for Bauer’s last sit-in), it turned out to be a great evening.  Cheers to all involved, the following in particular:

  • Bauer – best in all that comes, mate.  You’ll be missed ’round here.  Thanks for everything.
  • Pat – For hosting and putting together a fine night
  • Lorne – for braving us eccentrics for the night.

Slainte!

The brilliant randoms for the night…a duck for pillowing…selection of ‘Geonesis’ for ladies to read in our December mixed meet with the ladies’ club…’Twilight’ stopping the conversation dead…Lorne’s presence…roadrunner with blood…sampling the ABP25 and Supernova…Bauer’s sendoff.

201_6323201_6329The Last Hippie Communes with the Universal All201_6336
 
201_6337201_6340I'm concentratin' here!201_6344
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– Curt

 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #019 – “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” (Douglas Adams)

Date:  August, 2010

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Host:  Clint

Whisky:  Glenmorangie Original, Glenmorangie LaSanta, Compass Box Peat Monster, Buffalo Trace

Rum:  Captain Morgan’s Special Reserve

 

Well…another one in the annals of Liquorature history.  I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed in this one.  The gathering that was, not speaking to the novel here.  Though it is always a blast to get together with my comrades, it is slightly…unworthy…when we have a night like this.  Hey…gotta be honest.  That is the backbone of Liquorature…the right to free expression.  Though there were several attempts to keep the conversation on track, it just seemed like derailment after derailment until finally the white flag.  Oh well.  Nearly all of our meetings are brilliant (all modesty aside), so I suppose the occasional fluff meet is okay.

As I said, we always have a great time when assembled.  This was no exception.  Barbs and jeers flowed freely through the evening, and I believe the highlights all came towards the end when we simply settled into converstaions about photography, drink, friends and…uh…Harry Potter.

Clint’s foray into bourbon was a nifty little odyssey that included mint juleps to kick off the festivities.  The sweetness of said bevvies was an instant antagonist for the usual flurry of rum vs whisky digs volleyed between myself, who was right, and Senor Surujbally who swills that vile pirate sweat.  ;)   After this, we nipped at the Buffalo Trace (stunning nose led into a surprisingly abrasive palate) in a Liquorature first.  The rum, as has become custom took a sh*tkicking.  Not necessarily cause it was liked by all, but seven people will seriously dent a single bottle.  That being said…it was a well-received cane.

As for the nectar of Scotland?  A Glenmorangie double-header, with the LaSanta winning over many, and a visit by an old flame of mine…Glenmorangie Original.  Tasty.  Ostby pulled no punches and trotted out a fourth whisky as well.  Compass Box’s Peat Monster.  Though we had tried (and enjoyed) this many, many months ago, this revisit surprised many of us.  Those that had tried it previously were a little taken aback at how bold and beautiful the peat was here.  Glad to try this again.

The book itself was well-received, I think.  I was called out briefly for a family emergency (thus missing some of the action), but even so I don’t believe there was too much in-depth chatter about this one.  Whether or not that is even possible was actually a topic of discussion.  Regardless, the lighthearted humor was a welcome relief after the burden of Dostoevsky.

Though a little off the rails, much like the book itself it was noted, still a fun night.

Highlights…Bauer in a sombrero…mint juleps…Two And A Half Men camp…Slartibartfast, the fjordmaster…drinking outside the box…’Mt. Gay…Which way are you going?’…godforsook to Kandi…some great pics by Pat (have yet to see Lance’s)…and finally…

“If I stop thinking about it, it will come to me.”

“I stopped thinking about sex and it never came to me.” – Bauer.

Until next…

Slainte!!

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The Liquorature Full Quorum, including the back of Clint's head
– Curt
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #018 – “The Idiot” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

Date:  July, 2010

The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky

Host:  Lance

Whisky:  Yamazaki 12 yr old (Japan)

Rum: Old Port DeLuxe (India), Mount Gay Extra Old (Barbados), El Dorado 5 yr old (Guyana).  (Also sampled: Appleton 30 yr old, Kraken Black and Clemente agricole)

 

Cane night at Chez Surujbally.  Our host extraordinaire not only trotted out a fine selection of new bottles, but also broke open a swath from own stash.  I think there were 10 rums altogether that got battered, as well as 3 whiskies.  Lance was kind enough to allow me nips at both the Johnnie Walker Blue and the Glenlivet 21 Archive, both of which will have reviews up in the coming days.

A gorgeous summer eve led us all out to Lance’s back deck to sit in the sun and watch the day end.  For only the second time we allowed a visitor to sit on for a session.  The famous, or infamous, Sir Bear (Keenan) joined us for this evening of carousing.  True to Lance’s word Keenan was not only a tangible being, but a gentleman and a scholar.  In a bold move, Lance’s enticement of the Bear involved an invitation to select the book for our gathering.  Hence…’The Idiot’.

Keenan is a brave man.  Not sure I would have wanted the responsibility of picking a book for a group of people I had never met.  Though I won’t say everyone enjoyed it…I will say that it was a good selection.  We had a whirlwind of conversation on this one.  I think we probably spent a solid couple hours on the book all told.  The consensus?  Uh…not so good.  Most took exception to the title character’s seeming lack of spine or sack.  The meandering Victorian language and frustrating lack of action…ANY action…were deal-breakers for most.  A few things stood out in positive relief however.  A few passages were existentialist Dostoyevsky at his best (mostly the end)…a couple of great humorous scenes…some ridiculous (though very broad stroke) characters…and the best thing of all for some of the gang?  To be able to say they have now read Dostoyevsky.

The everyman’s meal (chili) was a success as well.  The gents lauded Surujbally’s culinary prowess (notice I said ‘Surujbally’…and not ‘Lance’….this way if it was Kym who did the deed…I’m still covered).  I don’t believe there is such thing as a red n’ white blooded Canadian who doesn’t love chili.

The night’s sipping (and dear gawd…there was a lot of it)…started for this guy with two higher end whiskies that Lance has been nudging me to review for a while now.  The always disappointing Johnnie Walker Blue (Sorry, guys) and the rather delectable Glenlivet 21.  Aside from appreciation for the drams, I’ll say no more here.  Look under reviews in the near future.  After that it was on to the Yamazaki for me, and a whole schwackload of rum for the rest.  I sampled a couple, but find the stuff is just too…well…not for me.

The Bear and the gang seemed tickled pink with choice though.  As there were simply too many on offer to keep track of, I’ll let the boys’ comments below attest to quality of what was out.  There was more than a little stumbling after all was said and done.  Again…anyone who cares to confess their sins can do below.  Under the whole ‘what happens in Liquorature…stays in Liquorature’ clause it is verboten to rat out another…HOWEVER…if said individuals care to consider their (mis)deeds as a badge of honor…hey…confession is good for the soul (and a few laughs!).

A great night full of laughter and mockery.  Keenan was a welcome addition for the eve.  Nice guy,  open and involved…contributed more than just a book selection.  Glad we finally met, sir.  Hope to see more of you in the future.

The rewards of tackling Dostoyevsky are many, but for a few of the gang it is simply to round out the bell curve.  This was will be low ranked for most.  As always though…all conceded that it allows that frame of reference that you carry forward.  I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a sense of relief at moving into the next couple of selections.

Highlights:

…making mad rubles…the literary equivalent of Buckley’s…Archie became the new wrestling/Star Trek (but fear not…the boys still brought up this tripe as well)…the hedgehog and Milo Minderbinder…’the best scotch I ever had was rum’…mount gay marriage…an afterparty at the Bull…the Iron Sheik…

Until next we meet…Slainte!

201_3686201_3689201_3692What was I drinkin' again?
 
201_3694The Inimitable Keenan, aka "The Bear"201_3705201_3708

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– Curt

 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #017 – “On The Road” (Jack Kerouac)

Date:  June, 2010

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Lagavulin 16 y.o., Aberlour a’bunadh (batch 27), Bushmills Single Cask (Rum Cask) release (Cask strength)

Rum:  The Kraken

 

Well…we were down a couple members (Pat and Scott), but the rest of us took one for the team and had an extra bevvie or two (Clint and I…an extra three).  Casual night of sipping and chatting.  I think we spoke more to the writing style itself than to the lasting cultural resonance, but…such is.  Lance has written up a fine review under ‘Books’.  Consider it a companion piece to this, in that I will not speak too much to the book here.

I conceded to the lads that I sort of regretted this choice after having made it.  Thinking I maybe should have taken the club in a different direction instead of opting for this.  Ahh well…we’ll have to see how I feel about it as the dust settles.  Good thing this setup we have is not finite.  In theory, I’ll be able to torment the fellows with many more inane choices before we call it quits at the ripe ol’ age of ‘who knows’.

There were quite a few laughs, some good-hearted mockery (mostly at my expense), and a touch of insight too.  I opened up on why I chose this book, and the fellas opened up on why it did/did not resonate.  Clint and I confessed to having an artistic bent and soft spot for books such as this.  Most telling, I think, was asking Robert (who did not enjoy this ‘godforesook book’) if he would have reacted to it differently if he had read it in his teens/20s (as I did initially).  Another great conversational tidbit centered around whether or not we saw in ourselves more of Dean or of Sal.  Interesting to see these moments of introspection.  These conversations are part of what makes this club so central to our lives now.

Drinks were varied and well received.

I brought out the Lagavulin 16 year old for the peat contingent.  Funnily enough, I think we’re starting to bring Robert around to the smoky side of Scotch whisky.  He has long been our anti-peat’er, but has recently shown appreciation for this Lagavulin, the Octomore (world’s heaviest peated whisky, I might add!), and PC6.   Another convert?  Lance…you’re next.  Lagavulin, incidentally is one of the distilleries I will be visiting when on Islay in September.

Next up was a single cask (selected for Canada) bottle of Bushmills.  Being a fan of Bushmills already (hey…it’s what I cut my teeth on), I was blown away to find this snazzy cask-strengther in a beatiful wooden box.  I though maybe we’d tempt Lance with a dram, as it was aged in rum casks.  Nifty.

Last up…Aberlour a’bunadh.  We in Liquorature have quite an affinity for Aberlour.  The 10 y.o. is a staple in many of our homes, and there have been a few bottles of a’bunadh now as well.  This particular bottle was from batch 27 and boasts a whopping 60.1% abv.  Big bold sherry goodness.  Mmmmmm.

The evening’s big surprise however, was The Kraken.  A black spiced rum from Trinidad & Tobago.  Brilliant packaging, and an absolutely unique flavor profile had me finally blown away with a rum.  Dear Lawd, was this stuff good.  Massive vanilla and molasses rounded out with some bold but smooth spice.  I – definitely not a rum drinker – kept a glass of this going all night alongside my whisky.  From now on, I will always have a bottle of this kicking around the house.  Highly recommended.  I anxiously await Lance’s review of this snarling beastie of a rum.

So, while tame in comparison to some of our other soirees, this was a good night.

Highlights:

Jalapeno fire crotch…Torchy Pedon (sp?)…Lance digging at Robert for the Eng/Ger game (which Germany won handily)…’pumped his own tires’…jon bovi…Bauer’s lid being normal for a change (were you feeling alright?)…the Kraken!…daffodils blowing in an Arctic mist (Thank you, John Glaser)…jolly rogering…Moriarty the primitive.

Until we gather to commiserate over how rough it was to make it through Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot”…Slainte!

comp1Bauer fiercely defending his sandwichThe wares on displaycomp4
 
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– Curt

 
 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #016 – “Looking Backward: 2000-1887” (Edward Bellamy)

Date:  May, 2010

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  Bruichladdich Rocks, Bruichladdich Peat, Bruichladdich Waves, Bruichladdich Links 16

Rum:  Newfoundland Screech, English Harbour 5, English Harbor 25 (courtesy of Sir Ruminsky)

 

Helluva night, lads.  This was a perfect example of how I had initially seen this club working out.  A fine mix of food, friends, drinks and books.  Dynamic and sprawling conversations that drew out both fact and opinion from us.

On arrival, we were met with a spread of bevvies like we had yet to see.  Bauer, in his attempts at wooing the bigwigs at Bruichladdich I believe, has been slowly running through these Islay malts each eve he hosts our motley collective.  This particular night he tabled four different ‘Laddichs, two rums and a to-kill-ya.  Senor Surujbally blew the dust off one of his unopened gems to allow the boys a sip of the infamous EH25.  I had to take a pass, myself, as I had tried it on a previous occasion.  In good conscious I could not rob the misguided West Indi boy of his grail.  I did however, finally sample the EH5.  Verdict…meh.  Hey…that’s just me.  Pass the malt, please.

So…Bauer knocked us all for a loop here with this book selection.  I am still unclear as to the exact path he took to find it, but I know he was looking into other books, and one thing led to another.  Regardless of the journey though, the destination delivered.

Let me veer off a little here.  We in Liquorature have a tough time defining our exact goal with this club.  Obviously the central tenet is enjoyment, but how do we define what constitutes that?  It could be that a) we have a book that we enjoy reading while we read it and therefore earn our just rewards;  b) we have a book that pays off in spades when it comes to gathering night, through great conversation and stimulated discussion;  or ideally c) we have a book that does both.

We have now had a few books (Blood Meridian, Atlantis, Looking Backward) that have left a couple of us…underwhelmed in terms of literary enjoyment, yet have led to brilliant nights of hanging out.  On the flipside, the one book which should have had us talking the sun up (Atlas Shrugged), didn’t create half the ripples I’d hoped for intellectually, but was met with overwhelming acclaim.   Being biased as to Ayn Rand’s school of thought, I like to think that the Liquorature guys are just so logical and bright that there was nothing to bother questioning about her uber-manifesto.  ;)

At the end of the day, each of these books pays off dividends to some of us more than others, but ultimately reward the club as a whole.

It was fairly unanimous that Looking Backward was a hellish read.  To quote Robert, this was my ‘godforsook book’.  A mix of dry literary stylings and Victorian language left us all slack-jawed and glazing.  More than a couple of us were 11th hour finishers here.  It was evident early however, that this book would net a fair amount of criticism, which of course, is good discussion.  I leave the rest to Lance (or whoever writes up the book’s review) to flesh out for you.  Trust me…I said my piece this evening.  The last thing I want to do is rehash THAT.

So…the rest of the evening…

Lots of laughs.  Great to see everyone speaking out.  As mentioned last time ’round, everyone seems to be opening up more and more each time.  Pat, suffering from back troubles, was a trooper just for coming out.  Hope you’re feeling a bit better, amigo.  The mood was light, even when into politics and world religions for a bit.  This was a great night.  Stayed on topic for about two hours all told.  Not bad for a novel no bigger than an Archie Double Digest

Thanks, Liquorature guys, for making this what it has become.

Bauer…well done.

Highlights…

Bruichladdich Links…Eh25…Bob “I just snorted Coke”…reconciling revolutionary communism and objectivism…mmmm…shrimp…devolution into a bit of Atlas chat…Pat’s painkiller cocktail (share next time, wouldja?)…John Wayne in leotards…laughs at my expense as the boys inevitably touched the two taboo subjects (I’ll never tell)…and Bauer’s attempts at unnerving me with a playlist chock full of his bad music.

Until Kerouac, boys…

Slainte!

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– Curt

 

 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #015 – “Wizard’s First Rule” (Terry Goodkind)

Date:  April, 2010

Host:  Scott

Whisky:  Cragganmore 12 y.o., Scapa 16 y.o., Dalwhinnie 15 y.o.

Rum:  El Dorado Demerara Distillers Single Barrel 10 y.o., Santa Teresa 1796 (encore presentation)

 

So…our first foray into fantasy was a rousing success.  Both in terms of reception to the title in question, and for hatching a lively discussion.  Well picked, Scotty.  The evening was a blast.  Festivities were underway sometime around 8:00.  With a couple of stragglers a little later than our 7:30 curtain call, a few of us were chomping at the bit to crack open a bottle.  Scott’s selection of malts took us from Speyside, through the Highlands to the Islands.  A fine range, and much to Robert’s delight, I’m sure…no peat monsters lurking.  It was a gorgeous eve in which a few of us strolled the distance to/from Scott’s place, so some lighter bevvies were an ideal decision.  The rum?  Hey…what can I say…never made it that far.  Lance will sate your curiosity with a review in the near future, I imagine.

This month’s gathering saw our first guest.  An old friend of mine, Chris, joined us for the eve.  I ran into Chris a couple months back, after not having seen him in a while, and while catching up told him of our little collective.  He said he had been trying to form or find something like this, but that most of friends were…Neanderthals (I believe was his term).  I told him I would see what we could do about having him sit in for a session.

I am always impressed when someone can walk into a room filled mostly with strangers and fit in comfortably with no noticeable lags in conversation or awkwardness.  Such was the case this evening.  While he interjected thoughts and insight throughout the discussion, I also noticed Chris having many side-conversations with the Liquorature folk.  There’s a sort of pressure involved with being the guy to bring a guest, but the pressure was eased early, as Chris fit in well.  Thanks to the crew for making him welcome.  You are truly all gentlemen and scholars.  I should also note…a fear I’ve had (and shared with Robert at least) regarding having more than our seven-man crew appears unfounded.  My concern lay mainly in whether we’d all be able to speak with so many in the room.  Tonight proved otherwise, and I believe is a testament to the level of respect we all show one another.

Scott’s book was quite well received.  Though I am a newb to the world of fantasy, most of the others definitely are not.  It was enlightening to see their take.  High marks from most, and at the very least there was a healthy level of appreciation, if not outright favoring opinion.  The criticisms raised were poignant, and comparisons against some of the benchmarks in fantasy lit were informative.  The aspects of the book which garnered the most appreciation from us actually seemed to be the parts that most deviated furthest from tradition.  A few of us have since picked up, or continued reading on in the series.  Sigh…only eleven more books or something.

The night was rounded off with some chatter about other books, other beverages, travel, history of video games and…what Liquorature night would be complete without those torturous forays into discussions of Star Trek and old school Wrestling?  The boys love to rag on me for my absolute revulsion of all things related to either.

As always, a ridiculous dose of humor, mockery and sarcasm were prevalent.  Clint’s reaction to Bauer’s ‘Hot For Teacher’ comment will go down in the annals.

Highlights…

Chris’s inclusion and subsequent natural fit…Clint’s whisky shower…someone finally mentioning Salman Rushdie without Lance bursting into flames…Bauer’s new ridiculous hat…discussions of how sexy Mr. Goodkind is…listening to the frogs in the pond (I used to live in Scott’s place…and miss those sounds at night)…and a great conversation.

Thanks, Scotty.

One last thing…

I see the dynamic of the group changing slightly.  For the better.  Those that were a little reserved initially, now speak up much more.  We’re also building up a decent ‘back-library’ of reference points for our discussions.  I like how this is developing.

Until next time…slainte!

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Ginger BuddhaThe Group minus Ruminsky, who was too busy taking the shot to pose :-(
 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #014 – “Geonesis” (David John Watson)

Date:  March, 2010

Geonesis – David John Watson

Host:  Robert

Whisky:  The English Whisky Company (Not Yet Whisky), Connemara Peated Irish, Monkey Shoulder

Rum:  Zaya

 

Another outing to Robert’s home-away-from-home in the countryside.  Liquorature gatherings at the acreage are fast becoming things of legend.  This was another fine evening.

First things first…our resident “Jamie-Oliver-in-training’, Clint, outdid himself once again with his culinary prowess.  He paraded out Liquorature favorite ‘bacon wrapped bacon’ (ya gotta try it to believe it), beer can chicken, roasted peppers and cabbage, baked potatoes and fresh salsa.  Careful, Ostby…soon we’ll all be contracting you.

Robert’s whisky selection was quite a tour.  England, Ireland and Scotland this time.  That’s right…England.  The English Whisky Company (St. George’s Distillery) has been busy bottling the first run of English whisky in over a century.  The bottle we had this night was ‘Not Yet Whisky’ bottled just before the mandatory 3 year mark (in order to be labeled as ‘whisky’ that is).  Surpringly tasty for a new make.  I will have to have another go at this one (if Robert allows).  Off to Scotland for the Monkey Shoulder next.  Read the bottle or visit their site for an interesting little anecdote as to the origins of the name.  This is a blended malt whisky (not be confused with a blended whisky).  First impression…meh.  Tried again a little later and liked it much more, though whether that was due to whisky tongue or the liquor opening up…I’ll have to re-evaluate.  Last stop…Ireland for the Connemara.  I have been waiting to try this one for a while now.  A peated Irish malt.  Quite nice.  Big fruity sour green apple and peat flavor.  Nifty.

And for the rummies…a return to Zaya.  A unanimous adoration for this cane nectar led to an encore, much to the delight of all.  The bottle was done early.

Cozied around the fire we devolved into a lengthy discussion on all the taboo subjects we could indulge in without reproachful wives, before settling into the strengths and weaknesses of the book of the month.

A little history…

This book was selected by Robert.  Why’d he pick it?  It was written by his brother, David John Watson.  And how did it fare?  Well…it was pretty much unanimous, I think.  Mr. Watson…if reading here (and I hope you do)…take note.  ALL of us thought that this book deserved more than self-publication.  A couple of hours with a proof-reader and editor, and…voila!  The concensus was that this work unequivocably stands on its own merit as a fairly well-written techno-thriller, strong in science and with a fascinating take on…well…anymore details would spoil things.  This book should be shopped around.  Someone will kick themselves for not picking this up.  The guys anxiously await a second novel.  Consider this your first pre-sale.

I should mention this gathering was held on a chilly March eve around the fire.  When the flame finally burnt down to coals we meandered inside to sip and strum.  Four acoustics, a lot of pitch problems, and some fun tunes.

Meaningful moments?  Pork draped in pork…Bauer following Clint’s cue from the previous acreage outing…a whisky tour of the UK (lazy Welsh…get it together!!  ;)   )…cigars by the fire…Clint’s liquid rubber shoes…a ton of laughs…far too much Steven Seagal…Star Wars gangsta rap…and who f*ck could forget Tito Baldwin?!

Another one in the books…

Slainte!

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– Curt
 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #013 – “Survivor” (Chuck Palahniuk)

Date:  February, 2010

Host:  Pat

Whisky:  Ardbeg 10 y.o., Aberlour 10 y.o., Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban

Rum:  Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva

 

Senor Ostby has some competition.  Man…the chili Pat broke out for this evening was a work of art.  I would venture it was discussed more than either the book or bevvies.  Everything you’ve ever thought about chili…throw it out the window.  Spectacular.

Pat pulled no punches for this get-together.  Nice layout, great food, nice drink selection.  We invaded sometime around 8:30 (give or take) on Saturday.  Generally meetings fall on Fridays, but some scheduling conflicts led to us shaking it up a bit.  Even so, we were missing Scott, and Bauer flew in from cactus wrasslin’ in Cali halfway through… donning a new chapeau and tequila in tow.  In his words…”Clint can’t be the only crazy hat guy”.

The rest of us neatherthals circled the chili like predators over a kill, and did our best to dent the whisky and rum before Bauer’s fashionably late arrival.  We had managed to kill off most book conversation within an hour or so, but came back to it a few times.  When the Californian contingent arrived we re-visited the tale for one more quick recap.

So…’Survivor’.  Something I’ve been waiting to see brought in to Liquorature.  Well…not specifically a Chuck Palahniuk novel, but something in the way of contemporary literature.  Though we’ve made our forays into contemporary writing (‘Atlantis’, ‘The Lion’s Game’), I wouldn’t exactly refer to those novels as literature.  No disrespect intended to either author or person who picked it.  Both were highly enjoyable in their own right.  I refer to something that stylistically stands on its own, not simply due to story or plotline originality .

‘Survivor’ had an immediate impact, polarizing a couple of us in terms of writing quality and appreciation for the story itself.  85.7% of us enjoyed it (for various reasons).  One or two loved it…one despised it (yes…this would be the other 14.3%, for whom I believe it was considered on par with Bob’s opinion of Blood Meridian)…and a couple were a little more moderate, but found something in it that was appealing.  There was a general agreement however, that it was definitely something new on our meandering trail towards literary enlightenment.

There wasn’t a lot to discuss with this one, and though we exhausted most topics quickly, it was a relatively enjoyable conversation.  The dark satire and anti-establishment/commercialism were lost on noone, so the need for deep examination was for the most part unnecessary.  I know I, at least, will take a run at a couple more of Palahniuk’s books (‘Haunted’ and ‘Choke’).

Pat’s rum and whisky selections for the evening were brilliant.  A big beautiful Ardbeg 10 for those of us who like the smoke.  The Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban for a bit sweeter port-finished dram.  Aberlour 10 was arguably the most pleasant surprise of the night, and kudos to Pat for another rum selection that was warmly embraced by all.  Lance, it would appear, is winning a few over to the dark side.  Should note here, being the gentleman and scholar that he is, Lance was kind enough to bring along one of his own syrupy 21 year old rums to allow us peons a taste.

Key moments tonight?  Bauer’s helicopter and amusing spending habits…the most ridiculously divergent debate (and even using the word ‘debate’ is lending it a credence of respectability it doesn’t deserve) two relatively bright individuals could have about the orthodoxy of Shakespeare…Pat’s venture into expansive tasting notes…a ton of (hopefully great) photos taken…and a selection of great drinks.

Gents…look forward to seeing you all in a few weeks.

Slainte!

Pat pleads with Clint and Robert not to ditch the whiskey

That chili was too awesome for words. Nothing but the sound of silent mastication for a full ten minutes

Dissing the new hat.  Bauer’s almost in tears: “You plebians have no fashion sense, dammit!”

The Last Hippie goes Zen and tunes out as Clint makes a forceful (if obscure) point

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature #012 – “The Catcher In The Rye” (J.D. Salinger)

Date:  January, 2010

Host:  Clint

Whisky:  Caol Ila 12 y.o., Highland Park 12 y.o.

Rum:  English Harbour 5 y.o.

 

There is something deeply and darkly humorous about both of the evenings Clint hosted being among the best, while his book selections generally considered among the worst.  I say ‘generally’.  We all know the hazing he received after ‘Blood Meridian’ (though some of us loved it).  I would venture to say that he has not redeemed himself in the eyes of a few with ‘The Catcher In The Rye’.  Clint…you’re still aces in my book, buddy.

A brilliant night really.  Cozy setting around the living room…fireplace on…nice and dim (lighting, not the participants).  Clint’s culinary skills are still unparalleled.  Bacon wrapped bacon, anyone?  Phenomenal selection of beverages.  Interesting to note, the rum was the first bottle finished.  I wish I could attest to its quality, however before I could sample…poof!  Gone.  Alas…no tears, as I was cuddled up with the Caol Ila 12.  Stunning dram.

And the book?  Well…a general animosity.  Think the highest opinion was perhaps a 7 out of 10, and even that was generous.  We struggled to justify the profound impact this book has had on so many people, but truly only came up with theories.  A moment of insight regarding the negative impact (think Chapman – Lennon) that ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ has had was rather nifty though.  Topic conversation about two hours, and a few follow-up bits.

Few other notes…cameras in full force this eve…discussed the site (as this was our first meet since it came online)…Robert’s next selection revealed (hang tight for details)…raised a glass to the late Howard Zinn and J.D. Salinger who both passed this week.

Another very enjoyable evening in the books (pun fully intended).

A photo below from Lance: he was testing out his new wide angle lens.  From left to right: Ruminsky, Pat, Clint, Bob, Bauer, the Last Hippie and Scott

– Curt