Mar 022016
 

Liquorature #079 – “The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale Of Christmas Stupidest AngelTerror” (Christopher Moore)

Date:  December 21st, 2015

Host:  Curt (but not really)

Whisky:  Lots and lots of ’em

 

You had me at ‘zombies’.

In what we’ve dubbed a new Liquorature tradition, this was our second annual Christmas wrap-up.  We do things a bit different for this once-a-year shindig.  No hosts…no whisky purchases…none of the usual stuff.  Instead, we hold a heels party and a bit of a potluck noshing.  Everyone is responsible for bringing a bottle (or three or four) and some sort of food to contribute to the feast.  The book is shortlisted and agreed upon by majority.

In hunting through Christmas titles to follow last year’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ selection, I chances upon this little sliver of a novel by Christopher Moore.  You may recall we read ‘Lamb’ by Moore a couple years back.  His irreverent sense of…well…everything actually was quite a refreshing little break from the more serious nature of so many of our picks.  It was like plunging into a cold pool or having cask strength come out yer nostrils.  A bit of a wake-up.  And a hell of a way to engage again with the fun side of reading.

Moore is fucked up dude.  No two ways about it.  In the vein of Vonnegut, Robbins and other intellectual, yet humour-driven, authors extraordinaire.  But it’s this fucked-up-edness that makes him instantly appealing.  His stories are absurd to the point of almost becoming believable again.  Come on…we all know some pretty colorful characters in this life If we think about it.  Now just imagine a world entirely populated by those sorts.  Then add zombies and shit.  Awesome.

The b’ys loved this one.  Not an intellectual puzzler by any means; simply a great escape and an easy read for the holidays, a time in which we all struggle to make time for the little things in life (such as books).  These sorts of discussions are more along the lines of shared laughs and recollections of favorite parts than any sort of true literary dissection.  The consensus was, though, that while this was great, ‘Biff’ was better.

So…no malts to discuss.  Though we had about 25 on the table for sipping.  And the food?  A brilliant mishmash of delish.  In a way it’s like everyone is the host, as we all get to put our personal stamp on the night.  In fact, I’m already looking forward to Christmas 2016.

And with that we close out another great year.

 

– Curt

Mar 022016
 

Liquorature #078 – “Gulliver’s Travels” (Jonathan Swift)Gulliver

Date:  November 27th, 2015

Host:  Scott (aka Ginger Buddha)

Whisky:  A.D. Rattray Strathmill 22 y.o. Cask #10310, Edradour SFTC Chateauneuf du Pape 13 y.o., Signatory Bowmore 1985 25 y.o. Cask #32211, Compass Box Peat Monster Cask Strength

 

Every one of us wanted to kick Ginger in the balls for this pick when he sprung it on us so many months back.  Most of the guys out of sheer uninformed (but speculative) dread.  Me, at least, out of a grounded and informed dread, as it was one I’d read in lit classes years back.  Alas, selections like this are the very reason this club exists.  Not a lot of ‘average joes’ out there will ever casually pick up a copy of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and thumb their way from page one through to the last written word.  It would be interesting to check suicide rates among those that have read it.  With the club, though, we are here to push one another.  Perhaps down a flight of stairs, in this case.

We started the evening’s discussion, sipping a 22 year old Strathmill, I might add, with a consensus to tar and feather our host before we called it a night.  Without exception, everyone in the collective found this book a tiresome, tedious, over-fucked and ridiculously dated piece of satirical meandering.  What happened as we discussed, however, was one of the most interesting Liquorature developments to date.  I had done a load of research before coming into this evening’s gathering, figuring that a bit of historical context might help the gang see this for what it was.  Or what it was meant to be anyway.

From 2016’s far-removed vantage, much of what made ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ a contentious and dangerous piece of work at the time is lost on us.  Let’s not forget, ‘Gulliver’ was originally published anonymously.  Trying to suspend our preconceptions and placing ourselves in the political, religious, educational and socio-economic clime, however, takes this novel into entirely new realms.  I think by the time we were done our discussion on topical subject matter everyone’s appreciation for Swift’s cynical and rapier-sharp societal gutting was multiplied twofold.  Granted, they all still hated the experience of having to masochistically plow through it.  In short…”Ahhh…I get it now.  Still hate you for making me read it.”

By way of peace offering, Scotty, our ginger-headed host, offered up the afore-mentioned single cask Strathmill, a unique wine-finished Edradour that was a throwback to Liquorature’s younger years, a stunning 1985 Bowmore at the quarter century mark and finally a magnum of Compass Box’s Peat Monster Cask Strength.  All right, Ginger…you’re off the hook.  For now.

All in all, it turned out to be a great night of chatter and beverages.  I think we all learned a little bit about preconceptions and as clichéd as it may sound ‘judging a book by it’s cover’.

Thanks for a great night, Buddha.  Fun one.

Random notes:  A new addition (Eric joining us) … “literary waterboarding” … “Holy fuck!” (Bauer) … Brobdignagian dildo … “Didn’t even get a chance to catch her at the back door” (Steve)

 

– Curt

Mar 022016
 

Liquorature #077 – “Under Heaven” (Guy Gavriel Kay)guy-gavriel-kay-la-rinascita-di-shen-tai-L-85P79x[1]

Date:  October 30, 2015

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt, Nikka From The Barrel, Kavalan Solist Bourbon, Chichibu Port Pipe

 

A few years back Lance gifted me a copy of ‘The Fionavar Tapestry’.  The whys of this gift are a little elusive, even in reflection, as fantasy is/was far from my preferred genre of fiction.  Previous escapades being limited to mostly a dozen or so ‘Dragonlance’ books in my teens, earlier Liquorature selection ‘Wizard’s First Rule’ and one or two others (and no…not even ‘Lord Of The Rings’ at that time).  I’m not sure if he thought he could win me over or if there was an even grander design.  Either way, I came away from it after turning the last weighty pages with a great appreciation of the work, but an even more profound appreciation for the man himself.  Kay that is, not Lance.  I already loved that old chap.

I’ll not share details here, but several factors went into my choosing ‘Under Heaven’ for the Liquorature crew.  First off…a few scenes in ‘Fionavar’ simply blew me away.  Battle scenes in particular.  I wanted to revisit that magic.  A while later, and after many a word shared with GGK himself, another one of his works, ‘Ysabel’, knocked my socks off.  Kay’s mix of fantasy (very lightly and deftly applied in the case of ‘Under Heaven’ and ‘Ysabel’) and history is extremely appealing.  And in the case of the latter, Kay’s tossing in some brilliant weavings of Celtic mythology had me turning pages through the wee hours.  Finally…Mr. Kay is himself a malt lover.  The more he and I conversed on the subject, the more I came to see how sprawling his knowledge and interests really are.  Sports, literature, art, travel, politics, people, Canadiana, and much, much more.  In many instances, the points of intersection were key enough to make me aware how blessed we are to have someone like this share of their thoughts via the written – and timeless – word.

That becomes paramount when diving into a book like ‘Under Heaven’, where most of us readers will be largely unfamiliar with the time and place captured in its pages.  More importantly, the customs and beliefs of an empire (or dynasty?) as depicted herein, become a challenge for us in terms of relatability from our distant vantage.  It’s how Kay handles this and empathetically leads us into this unfamiliar terrain that is a gift from his pen to our minds.  His insights and talent for evoking vivid imagery make Tang Dynasty era China (‘Kitai’, in this fictionalized telling) not only relatable, but uniquely appealing.  And did I mention it is set against a backdrop of actual Chinese history?  I’ll say no more, lest I spoil the tale for anyone.

The lads in the club had a favorable, if mixed, reaction to it.  When I say ‘mixed’ I refer mostly to preferences for certain pieces and characters in the story.  The writing was unanimously lauded and appreciated.  The unfolding of the tale itself left some with conflicting opinions.  No one, however, contested the magnitude of the work, and a couple are, in fact, going to move on to Kay’s follow-up work ‘River Of Stars’.  Says something, aye?

In terms of playing into the theme and all that we do here in Liquorature, well…suffice it to say there really is no such thing as a Chinese whisky (locally anyway), and what I could source as a distilled Chinese beverage tasted like sweatsocks and ramen noodles.  Yep.  We had to try it, of course, and I simply have to say…not awesome.  Having said that, I branched out a bit for this one and went with a general ‘Asian’ theme.  Some Japanese and Taiwanese malts from a couple of consistently great distilleries.  The Kavalan was a favorite, but the Nikkas we sipped surprised a couple of the lads.  Seems the collective has a sweet spot for Asian malts.

Dinner was sweet Thai chili chicken over jasmine rice, bringing a mix of heat and sweet, followed by rich vanilla ice cream and lychee fruit.  All paired surprisingly well with big single malts.

There is more I could share here, but some has not fully played out yet (sorry, can’t tell), and some is simply reserved for those that were there at the time.  All in all, a special night made moreso by some help I received from the author.  Thanks for that, Guy.  Appreciate it.

Until next…

Random notes:  Lychee cocktails … Chu Yeh Ching Chiew … Danny sat in … tried the DI cask … a wee gift … sweet Thai chili chicken … ice cream with lychee …”The French of Asia” … “He yin’d her yang” … “I’m just gonna roll a a twenty-sider”

 

– Curt

Feb 102016
 

Liquorature #076 – “Where The Red Fern Grows” (Wilson Rawls)where-the-red-fern-grows-cover[1]

Date:  October 2nd, 2015

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  Oban Little Bay, Arran Single Cask 1999: Bourbon Cask #72, Ardbeg Auriverdes, Ardbeg Ardbog

 

Ok, Bauer.  ‘Fess up.  You only picked this sorry-ass piece of sub-literate kiddie fare to see if you could make grown men cry, didn’tcha?  Bah!

Happy to say there were no tears shed by this guy (except maybe in frustration at the corn pone, inbred, yokelspeak and absolute unrelatability of both the story and paper-thin characters).  Did that sound full of disdain and animosity?  Hope so.  I was laying it on pretty thick.

I think some of the other lads were a little more generous with their assessments of this one than I was, but this is no masterpiece to say the least.  I think all conceded that without much debate.  Two things:  1) Rawls was a writer by accident.  And he was a hack.  And 2) Time has not been kind to this story.  Let’s leave it there.  After all, this is an event recap, not a book review.

Suitably enough, two crazy ass bouncing hounds were our companions for the eve.  Alvin and Captain Awesome, Bauer’s faithful furry companions were snuggled up with us for most of the evening.  Fortunately for Chris, Awesome’s paws were kept out of ‘junking’ distance from his groin this time ’round.  At a previous Bauer-led shindig, his giggleberries had been on the receiving end of a hole pile of Doberman punching power.  Thankfully he is done having kids.

Back to back events wherein we beat up on bottles of Ardbeg couldn’t possibly be a bad thing either.  Last month was the Perpetuum, while for this gathering Bauer poured both the Auriverdes and Ardbog, two limited expressions from days gone by.  I’m an unfettered Ardbeg fanboy, of course, so I’ll refrain from gushing here, but all the lads were more than enamored with these two drams.  Additionally we sipped the newest NAS Oban release, Little Bay (meh…s’ok), and a pretty damn good Arran single cask.  Arran are exciting.  Their whiskies continue to surprise and excite.

And finally…it was a treat to check out Bauer’s new digs.  First club night at his new place.  Very nice, buddy.  Look forward to many more gatherings here.

Random notes:  The new house … the dogs … “When my dog died…I cried.  When my grandparents died…I didn’t.”

 

– Curt

Feb 102016
 

Liquorature #075 – “Three Day Road” (Joseph Boyden)three-day-road

Date:  August 21st, 2016

Host:  Chris

Whisky:  Ardbeg Perpetuum, Inchmurrin 18 y.o., Glenfarclas 2002 Family Casks Willow Park Exclusive

 

Is Canadiana (or Canadian fiction, for that matter) always so depressing?  From the dystopian leanings of Atwood, through the maritime poverty of Douglas Adams Richards…from the ravages of Edugyan’s World War II era Europe to Mistry’s teeming slums of India, our truly talented Canadian authorial elite have emotionally kicked our asses throughout these early years of Liquorature.

Add another sadistic scribe to the mix, in one Joseph Boyden, hailing from the center of the universe (aka Toronto).  Boyden’s narrative skill and deep understanding of complex character dynamics are matched only by his subject matter expertise and impressive research skills.  There are simply no two ways about it, this story was about as immersive a literary experience as one could imagine.  For those of us (the entire global population now) that were not around to experience the horrors of World War I’s trench warfare, it’s almost unthinkable to question Boyden’s portrayal, so utterly believable is it.  Watching Elijah and Xavier change and cope (or not?) throughout this story was one of the most brilliant examples of character development I have ever experienced in literature.  The descent of these two men, as the story unravels, is not only believable, but harrowing.  There’s a psychological game at play here that hearkens back to other war stories we’ve all seen and read.  It sorta makes us realize that we’ll simply never understand the mindset required to survive these hand-to-hand forays into the fray.

Having said all that…everyone loved the book.  The only real division was between those who preferred the parts that pulled us into the bleakness of the European frontlines of Vimy et al, and those who preferred the less claustrophobic narrative of Xavier’s three day canoe ride through the wilds.  This is a book that is more than the sum of its parts though.  It leaves behind an indelible mark that can only be assessed as a whole.

We revisited a malt better left unrevisited, if I’m to be dead honest: a 2002 Willow Park Exclusive Glenfarclas Family Cask.  I think Chris may have forgotten we’d tried this one, but man…not good.  Solventy and with hints of Mezcal.  Shudder.  To this day I have no idea why this was ever bottled as a single cask.  An Inchmurrin 18 was a merely ‘ok’ middle act, but the Ardbeg Perpetuum we closed with was a knockout.  Pretty sure that one was little more than fumes by the end of the eve.

Random notes:  The appearance of a big, surly Scot … a rather sordid Glenfarclas encounter … an extra bottle … “drop the mic” … “you need England watching over you” … “fuck you and the unicorn you rode in on” … “that’s what Jaeger bombs will do”

 

– Curt

Jan 272016
 

Liquorature #074 – “Hunger” (Knut Hamsun)Hunger

Date:  July 24th, 2015

Host:  Jay

Whisky:  Cadenhead Glen Keith-Glenlivet 21 y.o., Black Adder Raw Cask Auchentoshan 1991 23 y.o. Cask #3061, Signatory Glenlivet 1981 33 y.o. Cask #9452

 

Jesus suffering fuck.  No need for politically correct niceties here.  This is my site after all.  Where the hell do you come up with these picks, Jay?

This was a deep, dark, existential, Dostoevsky-meets-Camus, slit-your-wrists tale of ludicrous and unrestrained despair.  Mostly of the masochistic and illogical sort.  Starving artist motif be damned, this was an exercise in suspension of disbelief like no other, in which the reader is expected to empathize with decision-making of the most illogical leaps.  If that doesn’t sound like enough of a mindfuck, then wrap your head around this: ‘Hunger’ is a helluva good read, actually.  WTF?!  Exactly.

So what’s it boil down to?  An unhinged, frenetic narrator (albeit likeable for whatever reasons), some Huxley-esque devolutions into acid trip-like surreality (‘Door of Perception’), Strange leaps of logic, an incredible ability to capture the human ‘thought to thought’ mind-wandering transitions, and a truly singular literary experience.  I summed it up before going into this meeting as Huxley meets Salinger meets Kafka meets Dostoyevsky meets Camus meets Cervantes.  Yep.

Let’s not get hung up on the book here, as there really isn’t a way to prepare for this one, so let me just reassure you that while we like to play to themes at Liquorature gatherings, we had no intentions of engaging in any form of self-denial or restraint.  Jay filled our bellies with tasty order-in from Tom’s Pizza, then proceeded to pop the cork on three lovely old single cask independent bottlings.  A Lowlander and a couple of Speysiders.  Real gems, all.  In peering back through the months I cannae rightly recall if there was much left in any of the bottles, but I can only imagine we inflicted some heavy damage, as often happens when the drams are of this calibre.  The book created some division in the ranks; the whiskies certainly did not.

Jay’s streak of truly singular book and malt selection is arguably second to none in the club.  Keep it up, mate.  You’re killing it.

Until next…

Random notes:  Tom’s Pizza rocks … “two degrees of Kevin Bacon” … Seinfeld.

 

– Curt

Jan 272016
 

Liquorature #073 – “Daemon” (Daniel Suarez)daemon

Date:  July 3rd, 2015

Host:  Steve

Whisky:  BB&R Glen Garioch 1994 Cask #19 Willow Park Exclusive, BenRiach 16 y.o. Sauternes Finish, Liddesdale 21 Batch #8, Bunnahabhain Ceobanach

 

Hmmmm…let me start by saying that Steve-o needs a kick in the nuts for this pick.  Not because it was a bad read, but because it fucking stopped halfway through the story.  There couldn’t have been a bigger cliffhanger ending unless Suarez had accidentally walked off a rocky ledge while writing the final pages and dropped the book behind mid-sentence.

I don’t think any of us realized going into this one that ‘Daemon’ was more the first half of a story (concluded in “Freedom™”) than a true standalone novel.  Well, shit.  Fortunately Scott was ahead of the gang and gave us an early heads up.  I managed to finish both books in time for our meet, as did Scott and maybe one other.

On a positive note, however, ‘Daemon’ is the stronger of the two works.  Airtight plotting and pacing, with enough of a malevolence and edge-of-the-seat ‘what comes next?’ to keep the pages flying by.  That in itself is great, but this book is so much more.  The incredible depth of understanding in relation to subject matter and the sheer volume of research behind this one is staggering.  I simply don’t want to reveal anything here, but the express with that more people check it out.  I expected – in my infinite snobbery – to be thoroughly underwhelmed by this one, and was anything but.

Only makes sense that a book that blew our hair back deserved some great malts, aye?  Steve laid out a range of surprising drams.  A few I’d not yet made acquaintances with.  Personal highlights were likely the two Bunnahabhains; one young, peated and feisty…the other mature, soft and sweet.  Together a nice yin and yang.

I believe we were missing at least on of the guys for this one.  Le sigh.  Unfortunately this seems to be more the norm than an anomaly.  C’est la vie.  Maybe our numbers need to creep a little ’til there is always a full contingent.  We’ll see.

Random notes:  The sunset on Steve’s back porch … some ‘extracurricular’ activity for one or two hippies … the “Freedom™” indignation.

 

– Curt

Jan 272016
 

Liquorature #072 – “The Mask Of Dimitrios” (Eric Ambler)Dimitrios

Date:  May 29th, 2015

Host:  Scott (aka Buddha)

Whisky:  Black Bull 12 y.o., Johnnie Walker Green Label, Glen Scotia 1991 22 y.o. (First Editions), Smokehead

 

A bit of an old school potboiler, this ‘un.  Scott elected to play to the mystery angle a bit too, by having us try all the evening’s drams blind.  Fun.  Gotta keep mixing it up, right?  While even just the central premise of Liquorature – to gather a few decent guys over drinks and interesting discussion – is enough to keep us coming back, it’s the l’il extras that elevate this into the beautiful clandestine entity it has become.

I should note too that this was to be Scott’s last gathering at the old digs.  He and his missus have now moved on to a sprawling high end pad not far from my place.  We’ll miss this tight little apartment for its intimacy and closed-circle conversations.  It’s amazing just how much the setting can influence the tone of an evening’s development.  Either way, when I look back on ‘Dimitrios’ night it seems to have a noir and shadowy countenance.  I like that.  Very apropos for a book like this.

My two cents aside, I think the boys quite liked this one, if memory serves.  The pacing was a little tentative, but let’s time travel a bit and put ourselves in the age that this was written.  It was a forebear of a genre in many ways.  Like all first steps, they’re really without stumbles, but it’s the forward momentum that earns the distinction.  In short…mad respect from this crew and a general satisfaction to have tackled this touchstone.  In fact…I may now go back for a re-read after having reflected a bit.

Scott pulled out a rather lovely Glen Scotia 22 year old from one of the only working distilleries on Campbeltown.  That was the clear cut winner for the eve, in terms of libations.  Shame we missed a couple of the boys for this gathering, but alas, fellas…fear not.  We drank your share.

Memorable night in all.  Maybe some Chandler next?

Random Thoughts:  ‘the taming of the jew’ … English-y … No Jesse or Bauer this time … the blind tasting … some Agalloch as backdrop … great movie recaps … ‘Bea Arthur is pretty dead’

 

– Curt

Jan 272016
 

Dune_cover_artLiquorature #071 – “Dune” (Frank Herbert)

Date:  May 1st, 2015

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Compass Box Spice Tree, Arran 10 y.o., Bruichladdich 12 y.o. Second Edition, BenRomach Cask Strength 2002, BenRiach 1997 Madeira, anCnoc Flaughter, Octomore 4.2 Comus

 

Way out of date with these write-ups.  Been lacking motivation, to be honest.  Not sure if any members are reading ’em.  I guess we should get caught up for posterity, though.

Herbert’s ‘Dune’ is a book that has sat on my shelf for years.  Oft recommended; even started once or twice, though I never made it past the first couple pages.  Dunno.  This one just didn’t get its hooks into me in my earlier attempts.  The one thing Liquorature has been good for (well…let’s face it: there are countless things Liquorature has been good for) is motivation.  Once I finally said ‘yeah…lets’ do this one’, it was game on.  I don’t not finish our books, so I knew I’d finally get a chance to see this one through.  Interestingly enough, the announcement of this pick was met with a cacophony of cheers and mutinous snarls.  Hmmm….good pick for a book club, in other words.

Well…after cursing my name and teetering on the edge of issuing violent threats if he had to read this book again, even Chris found himself on board this time, his second go-round at tackling Frank Herbert’s lauded sci-fi epic, Dune.  His detestation melted away into appreciation this time ’round.  And just days ago – more than a year later, as I jot these notes – he even conceded to really liking this marriage of ‘Tremors’ and ‘Star Wars’ / ‘Star Trek’.  ‘Dune’ is a deep, epic tale that spans large themes as it traverses even larger galaxies.

The conversation was an interesting one, especially in light of a couple of friends sitting in as guests for the eve.  One was a mate of mine and long-lived ‘Dune’ fan.  The other was Chris’s brother.  Both helped to bring this night to an amplified state of non-sober enlightenment and provided the new perspectives we’re always looking for.  Love it.

We tucked into at least seven new malts for this one, but I believe there may have been a beer or two as well.  And at the end of it all…two golden tickets were issued to our guests to join the ranks of malt-swillin’, pseudo-intellectual elitists.  Both accepted.  More to come on these developments next time.

I thnk, in the end, I earned forgiveness from Chris for this one, but the boys are less likely to let me off the hook for bringing ’em along as we sounded the deep in search of the white whale a while back.  And to that I say…’suck it up, princesses.’

Random Notes:  Dan Clermont and Jesse Graham sitting in … Pretzels in sand … Chris liking it more this time around … Bauer’s purchase … the LGBT-friendly alternate ending…

 

– Curt

Jul 032015
 

Liquorature #070 – “‘Salem’s Lot” (Stephen King)Salem's Lot

Date:  April 3rd, 2015

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  Ardbeg Supernova 2014, Bowmore 15 y.o. Cask #800040 (Wilson & Morgan), Glen Moray 24 y.o. Cask #1350 (Duncan Taylor)

 

Atta boy, Bauer.  Bringing a little bit of grit back into the club with some ’70s styled horror.  Nasty verminous, dirty vampires.  The way vampires were intended to be.  I make no bones about the fact that this is one of my favorite books of all time.  That comes back to much more than just the story itself.  There are some beautiful examples of small town imagery here that resonate like harmonics played on an old dinged up Guild.  Images of creeping sunsets, autumnal eves in porch swings and sleepy, unsettling townie life.  I’ve experienced this.  Takes me back many, many years, but once you’ve lived this way it simply never leaves you.  Now tack on the dark and despairing sense of dread that hovers suffocatingly over this book and you have an absolute recipe for one of the all time great timeless chillers.  I came into this one absolutely certain that everyone would have similar feelings.  And if they didn’t…well…by the end of the night they would.

Errr…maybe not so much.  Seems this one was generally enjoyed by all, but only one or two felt even close to as taken in by this one as I did.  Not sure whether that speaks more to their tastes or mine.  Hmmm.  Irrespective, there was an appreciation for setting, dialogue and King’s mastery of the craft.  The impact of dread may not have hit everyone, but the writing itself was not the focus of critique.  Interestingly enough, there were a few in our crew who admitting to being more drawn to Anne Rice’s preternatural homoerotic gothic stylings than the vampire-as-vermin approach.  I don’t mind Anne Rice (in fact, I rather enjoy her writing), but my undead don’t wear velvet.  Just sayin’.

With some serious life changes on the way, Bauer shared some incredible news with the gang this eve.  Let’s just say it means more sleepless nights, someone new in the house to share his love of toys and rhymes with ‘maybe’.  Congrats, buddy.  You’ll be an amazing dad.  Can’t wait to be a part of this.  Additionally, this will have been our last Liquorature gathering at this pad, as a new home was just over the horizon.  Married in January…baby on the way…new home.  Big year.  Love to see my mates doing well.

All in all, a great night full of good whisky (especially that Supernova!) and even better company.  Now…back to the grave.

Random Notes:  “we needed a couple more ‘oy vey’s’ … ‘a sneeze in this proximity wins all the food’ … ‘atta boy, blue!’ … the announcement … Chris’s impromptu neutering courtesy of Captain Awesome.

Until next…

 – Curt

Jun 032015
 

Liquorature #069 – “Of Mice And Men” (John Steinbeck)Of Mice

Date:  March 6th, 2015

Host:  Chris

Whisky:  Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 49), Glenfarclas 1993 (WP Exclusive), Glen Garioch 1999 (WP Exclusive), Compass Box Oak Cross

 

Vikings and bottles and knives, oh my!  (Don’t ask)

Steinbeck.  Finally.  You had to know this was coming.  It was only a matter of when.  I’ve said before, I’m blown away it took us years to reach this touchstone of modern lit.  Not only Steinbeck, but this particular tale.  I debated it a few times as my own selection, but kept assuming someone else would eventually do it.  More than six years on someone finally did.

Not much you can say about a book like this.  Its timeless morality play is simply heartwrenching, even for those who already know the outcome of the tale.  It’s one of the few novels that can still bring me to the edge of tears (ok…maybe just over the edge).  The characters are just downhome, relatable types even if our shared life experiences don’t necessarily give us much of a common ground with these nomadic bindlestiffs.  Steinbeck’s rather sparse approach to writing is somehow still unbelievably evocative.  He paints a scene with delicious richness and immediacy.  The simple fact of the matter is that everyone in the club (and a couple extras in attendance for this meet) found this to be almost beyond criticism, much like the way we butted up against the cold beauty of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’.  Well picked, Chris.

Some discussion came back ’round to the Gary Sinise cinematic interpretation as well.  One of the all time great book to film adaptations I’ve ever seen, and certainly the best casting I could possibly imagine.  If you’ve not seen this one, do so.  Malkovitch will give you shivers, Siemaszko will make you wish it was you that put him down for the count and Sinise will show you how a real actor can walk in with understated adeptness and simply ‘become’ that character.  Amazing.  The guys were blown away by a couple scenes we checked out in brief.

This gathering turned out to be an unforgettable occasion, and one of the best club nights in recent memory.  One for the ages and sure to go down in Liquorature lore.  A couple of guests sat in that brought new angles to the discussion and many a laugh.  Chris’s kid brother, Jesse – now a full fledged member – is a student of the literary arts (literally), so has a great grasp of the analytical side in approaching books.  Danny – a mate of many of us – brought laughs by the score (and just a bit of naughtiness to boot).  Didn’t hurt matters that our kind and generous host poured out three big and bold cask strength monsters as well as a solid 46%er.  Sobriety was in short supply by the end of the whole affair.

The end ended in a rather…ummmm…dubious manner, but that is for the ins to know and the outs to speculate over.  Sorry.  What happens in book club…well…

Randoms:  Danny and Jesse sitting in … “what kind of ranch is this” … “I already know the back of your neck ain’t ticklish” … “everybody in the barn would be up for a little necrophilia” … “the purple heart” …things going waaaaay off the rails

Until next…

– Curt

Mar 232015
 

Liquorature #068 – “Deliverance” (James Dickey)deliverance

Date:  January 23rd, 2015

Host:  Jay

Whisky:  Roughstock Montana Whiskey Black Label Single Malt, Cadenhead Linkwood-Glenlivet 26 y.o., Signatory Laphroaig 17 y.o. Cask #8519

 

Even before we got together for this gathering members were referring to it as a BYOL event.  “Bring Your Own Log”.  If you’ve seen the film adaptation you’re probably experiencing an involuntary sphincter clenching imagining Ned Beatty’s character getting bent over a fallen tree and…well…

I was hoping that if I didn’t bring my log I could avoid joining in on the ‘festivities’, if you will, and am happy to report I left with my dignity (and other things) completely intact.  I did bow out a little earlier than some though, so won’t speak for the others.  (Anyone hear them banjos?)

In all honesty, before Jay announced this as his selection I’m not even sure more than one or two of the crew knew that this was a book.  The film has become such a touchstone of American culture that the original source material seems almost an afterthought.  While the book does show up in the Modern Library Top 100 novels list, it’s certainly no mainstay of contemporary Literature.  Even finding a copy was difficult for some.

If you’re anything like me, cynicism steps forth here and asks how much merit there can be in a book like this that seems so much a periphery chunk of writing in comparison to the film adaptation.  Is the novel merely the skeleton of a good tale, poorly written, but easily co-opted for other medium?  Is the film so good that it monolithically overshadows the merits of bound page?  These were questions I had percolating as I walked into this one, before even turning a page.

I’m happy to report that any concerns over lack of literary merit were completely unfounded.  Put simply: this is a great book.  Solidly written, evocative and engaging, rich in tone and timbre and with a momentum that continues to ramp up as the story unfolds.  It starts off a little slowly – in a very late ’60s or early ’70s ‘disillusioned with the worldhood of the world’ kinda vibe – before rolling out into the lush green wilds of the deep South.  Hillbilly style.

Jay hunted for the closest possible approximation of moonshine he could find, and while he did come up with a jug of high test juice from the US (actually a classy bottle; no mason jar here), it fell flat in one respect.  Moonshine is supposed to be rotgut poison nasty.  This stuff was incredibly well made whiskey from Montana’s Roughstock Distillery.  The Black Label Single Malt Cask Strength comes highly recommended from this crew.  Top that off with a beautifully pungent 17 year old indie Laphroaig and a sweet soft 26 year old Linkwood (also indie) and we had a night of drinks to remember.  Good selections, Jay.

This was another pick that received pretty much universal acclaim from the Liquorature guys.  A very phallicentric tale, to be sure, but with some broader appeal too.

Randoms:  “a civilized cornholing” … “that’s what Bobby said” … the Bobby suit.

Until next…

 

– Curt