Aug 262013
 

american godsLiquorature Gathering #044 – “American Gods” (Neil Gaiman)

Date:  September, 2012

Host:  Clint

Whisky:  Great King Street, Glenfiddich 15, GlenDronach 15

Rum:  Mount Gay XO Eclipse

 

Sadly, a night when I was fighting a wicked cold.  A couple of us (Pat, Scott and I) had just returned from a jaunt over to the promised land (Scotland) touring distilleries and drowning our livers in that greatest of libations, Scotch single malt whisky.  On my second-to-last day there I managed to contract a case of what was either the Plague or gonoherpasyphylaids.  Man…this f*cking cold knocked me on my *ss!  Contrary to initial thoughts (that all of that alcohol still running rampant in my veins would kill off any possible infection), this heavy drinking binge must have beaten the hell out of my immune system.  ‘Laid low’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Clint likely could have thrown out Johnny Walker Red and any of the McClellands line-up and I wouldn’t have known the difference.  Ok, ok…let’s not get silly.  Compromised tastebuds?  Yes.  But let’s be clear…it would take a full-on lobotomy to make me think either of the afore-mentioned constituted real whisky.  Settle down, I jest.  Ish.

As it was, Clint was playing to his themes.  He’d been writing a wee series for my other site, All Things Whisky, and his latest subject matter had been Speysiders at or around 15 years, if memory serves.  Ergo…we at Liquorature got to revisit a couple of old friends (the ‘Fiddich…s’ok, but the ‘Dronach…now that’s a special one).  On top of these two, Ostby broke out a bottle of Compass Box Great King Street, John Glaser’s latest concoction.  Great blend, this.  I know some of you more snobby buggers are reading that last sentence and thinking ‘oxymoron’.  Well…shaddap.  😉  And for the Rum Sage…a bottle of Mount Gay XO Eclipse.

Good sipping, this, and well paired with an interesting pressed steak sandwich (hard to describe…easy to eat).  And with that, we were rolling.

‘American Gods’, by Neil Gaiman, is a book that had me hooked from the get-go.  It was dark, it was eerie, it was twisted and it bordered on brilliant.  I was picking up a bit of Clive Barker here…a bit of Salman Rushdie there…maybe a little Stephen King and a bit of…hmmmm…not sure…maybe some comic book flare throughout?  Not quite right, but neither is this an easy one to pinpoint.

The sad fact of the matter is, though, that we as a crew were simply not all that ‘on’ this night.  While the companionship was, as always, top-notch, the discussion itself was lacklustre.  Not our best.  We sorta seemed to be struggling for topics and lacked the enthusiasm a work like this deserves.  And trust me…it does deserve your attention.  There are some hella cool rollercoaster twists of absolute excellence as this book unfolds.  Summed up in two words:  Read it.

One note though, for those about to undertake this journey…if I had a do-over…I’da paired this bad muthaf*kka with some Highland Park.  Now THAT would have been epic.

Wish I’d felt better personally (and that the three of us weren’t still recovering from a liver-beating in Scotland), but still a memorable night.

Randoms:  Jesus says “f*cking dough head” … “gee…that guy got it rough, huh?” … “Irfit j*zz”

 

– Curt

Aug 262013
 

Liquorature Gathering #043 – “Ways Of Sunlight” (Samuel Selvon)ways of sunlight

Date:  August, 2012

Host:  Lance

Whisky:  Crown Royal Black

Rum:  Havana Club, a couple of aged Rum Nation releases and a schwackload more

 

Ok…don’t tell anyone.  I sipped rum this night.  And only rum.  And I actually sort of almost kinda maybe possibly didn’t mind one of ’em.  Repeat that and I can’t be responsible for what happens.  Seriously.  You’ll tarnish my reputation.

This was a rather frustrating eve in which only four of the gang of eight made it out to participate.  Life gets in the way, I get it, but a rather poor showing can be quite heartbreaking, especially when hosting.  Nevertheless, we could have cried into our beers (errr…rum), or we could have turned it into a night to remember.  Obviously, we went with the latter.  Much like the case of the infamous ‘Blood Meridian’ night, this wee crew brought it all to the table and had a heck of a night full of Caribbean dialect, tooth-rottingly sweet libations, and holy-fires-o’-hell cuisine.  In short…our host took things to the authentic nth degree.

Lance, very much in Lance fashion, put together a feisty and fiery little feast for us.  Frivolous alliteration aside, these forays into full-blown fiery ring delight are always a source of anticipation leading up to the big event.  Once we’d all gathered, we dug in ’round the kitchen table for a helluva good meal before retiring to the great outdoors (aka the back deck) for the session itself.

Lance took us on a whirlwind tour of cane juice, putting our tastebuds through the paces, and actually managed to find one that I quite liked.  One I would have actually maybe considered buying, to be honest.  Think it was the Rum Nation Jamaica 25 year old.  Apparently it only takes rum about 25 years or so in the barrel to reach a point where I find it quaffable.  Hey…whatever works.  So long’s we get there in the end, right?

This month we didn’t have a tale to speak of.  We had about a dozen and a half.  Lance’s pick, ‘Ways Of Sunlight’, by Samuel Selvon (at one time a UofC writer-in-residence, interestingly enough), was a neat little collection of tales that took us into a completely new cultural vantage.  Very cool stuff.  While not exactly intellectually groundbreaking or anything, this quirky depiction of Caribbean life was broken into two sections, the first, entitled ‘Trinidad’, provided a peek into days gone by in this poor Southern nation.  The second section, ‘London’, provided a neat counterpoint in transposing character types (and possibly some of the same characters?) from part one into the urban sprawl of London, England.

Quite an enjoyable read, really.  Think Hemingway in the tropics and you’ll be close.

Good pick, Lance.  Thanks for taking us on another journey.  Insightful.  I mean that on more levels than one.

Randoms:  Curt liked a rum (RN 25 Jamaica) … and drank no whisky … wingman duties … what’s your house number? … “oh baby…you gonna have such good mangoes” … Lance brings the spice … four man crew

 

– Curt

 

Aug 252013
 

Liquorature Gathering #042 – “A Confederacy Of Dunces” (John Kennedy Toole)Dunces

Date:  July, 2012

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  BenRomach Peat Smoke, Glen Elgin 16 y.o. Cask Strength, Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition, Glenglassaugh ‘The Spirit Drink That Dare Not Speak It’s Name’

Rum:  Gosling’s Black Seal

 

Oh boy.  Another one of those ultimately polarizing tales.  The guys either hated it or outright detested it.  No, I kid.  Sort of.

A couple of the crew (Clint and Chris, in particular) have a bit of a softspot for the more ridiculous stylings of this type of absurdist humor (hearken back to ‘Catch 22’, if you will), and as could have been foreseen, quite enjoyed this odd little romp through the opium fields.  Those of us with a more serious bent (read: better taste) found this barely palatable.  About as appealing as street vendor dogs when one is craving a nice filet, might be an apropos analogy.

As we pulled up to the digs for the evenings festivities, we were greeted by the great hotdog slinger himself, Bauer.  More Ignatious than John Paul Ziller, this guy.  Banner flying, literally, and hotdogs a’steaming (boiling? grilling?…can’t quite recall), we were led into the den of the absurd.

With a somewhat smaller crew than usual, we were able to crowd around a few seats in the cooler basement, and oh, darn…unfortunately had extra portions of barley juice to consume.  I know there was a rum on offer this eve, but for the life of me I can’t recall why.  Sage Surujbally was one of the absentees for this ‘Confederacy’ meet, so the rum may have taken a little knock or two, but not much more than that.  Proper respec’ to da whisky, as it should be.  (Sorry, Lance.  😉  )

So, the book.  Wow.  What a trial in suffering.  I kinda think I’d opt for a coin toss between crucifixion and a re-read of the sour unpleasant life of Ignatius J. Reilly.  Truly an insufferable c*** if ever there was one.  I won’t expound on the virtues of the author’s capturing of dialect or time and place.  It becomes irrelevant in the face of such an insurmountable obstacle as tolerating the protagonist (can he actually be considered a protagonist?).  Instead, suffice it to say that this is one of the top three most-want-to-punch-in-the-face characters ever written, and for that alone the novel was an exercise in enduring revulsion.  Tough read.  (In case you’re curious…the other two in the top three are Holden Caulfield and Doctor Leet).

Even with an abbreviated crew…great night.  Clint and Chris in fine form.  Lotsa laughs.

Cheers, Bauer.  For the soiree, if not the book choice.  😉

The randoms:  The Doors … “OG God” … “I wanna party on your p*ssy” … some Clutch … small crew … a few good laughs … acoustics … Ani DiFranco.

 

– Curt

 

Aug 252013
 

Liquorature Gathering #041 – “Cell” (Stephen King)Cell

Date:  June, 2012

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Macallan Cask Strength, Laphroaig 18 y.o., ADR Bowmore 15 y.o., Sheep Dip 1990 Old Hebridean, Octomore Orpheus, SMWS 33.114 ‘Sweet Versus Savoury’, Auchentoshan Valinch 2011

Rum:  Ron de Jeremy

 

Aww, man.  Theme nights.  So much win and so much fail.  The best laid plans of mice and men, and all that…

So…after a helluva night for ‘The Wicker Man’, I was hoping to ratchet it up again here for this one.  What subject could possibly allow more thematic fun than zombies?  Nothing!  And trust me…there was play a’plenty.  And therein lies the problem.  Too many distractions.

Two little bits of contest fun were set up to get the night rolling.  First up…a ‘Cell’ quiz.  Come on, lads…do you actually pay attention when you read these books or just gloss over and pray for the end?  The way it went down:  all the guys settled in with pen and paper and had to answer 20 questions related to the book.  Jay was running a bit late and showed up about halfway through quiz time.  He picked up his ‘homework’…scribbled for a few seconds…and got more right than any of the others.  WTF?!  Winner number 1.

Contest two…Ahhh…the fun stuff.  How do you take down a zombie?  Why, a head shot of course!  The walls were liberally plastered in decaying zombie heads (one from Zombi, one from NotLD, one from TWD, a wrestling zombie and a Spock zombie).  Each of the guys had to take a turn with dart guns (pistol and rifle) taking out the brain.  Tense, tense sh*t, I tells ya.  In the end, though…Chris took top honors as marksman.  I’ll be calling him when the inevitable zombie apocalypse gets rolling.

Now…the winners were brought out back to find two graves laid out under the deck, and told to pick one each.  Beneath each headstone was a bloody sheet-wrapped ‘corpse’ containing something cool.  The details…hmm…for club members only.

Maltmonster joined us again this eve as a guest, in what is becoming sort of an honorary Liquorature membership for nights I host.  Always fun…always one to contribute to the inebriation and to the evening’s humor…and a guy who freaking loves the thematic theatrics.  Couldn’t ask for a better contributor.

For edibles I tossed some carcass on the grill.  Couldn’t have a zombie night without gnawing the meat off the bone, could we now?

Whiskies on offer this eve?  Well…there were a lot of ‘em.  See the notes above for the full outlay.  Variety is the spice of life.

And the rum?  Well…depending on your take, we either took it up a notch this eve or sunk to rock bottom.  Ron de Jeremy.  That’s right.  A rum named for the king o’ swing, The Hedgehog, himself!

Randoms:  Barry sitting in … Lester or the atheist … Shooting contest … quiz … “The premise was pretty cute” – Barry … “Of course you did, you f*cking idiot, you’re in a Stephen King book!” – Clint … Pick your apocalypse … Buckteeth … “Actually have a part…in nine parts”.

 

– Curt

Aug 252013
 

Liquorature #040 – “Lord Of The Rings” (J.R.R. Tolkien)LOTR

Date:  May, 2012

Host:  Jay

Whisky:  Amrut Fusion, Amrut Intermediate Sherry, Amrut Two Continents, Amrut Portonova

Rum:  Old Port Deluxe

 

Thank f*ck I’ve finally knocked this big b*tch off my list.  After years of getting riled from a few of my more literate amigos for not having delved into Tolkien’s masterwork I finally did the deed.  Let’s be clear…I did not come to this one willingly.  It was foisted on us by Jay.  Just the motivation required to finally do it up.  I should note here that this one stretched all rules of acceptability for Liquorature selections.  Books are to be single volume novels that stand alone.  So how does this three-parter qualify?  Well…it was argued that the intent was to have this published as a single volume and that it was actually the publishers who split it into pieces.

Cynicism and skepticism abounded, but in the end we took a majority rules vote and it was allowed to stand as Jay’s choice.

So, the concern I had always had about this one (yes…I knew the story ahead of time from having seen the films) was that it was just another fantasy tale (irrespective as to whether or not is was the granddaddy of ‘em all) and simply did not warrant being chosen due to lack of discussable subject matter.  When this happens, we tend to end up with some natter about the writing style, some favorite scenes discussions and a debate on the merits of the genre.

Indeed, we did discuss the genre, compared it to other fantasy we’ve covered to date, compared to the films, etc.  Much as foreseen though, there weren’t many ‘true’ discussion points.  Maybe this one suffered the same fate as did ‘Atlas Shrugged’.  We came in expecting a mind-meltingly deep philosophical discourse and ended up with anything but.  Oh well.  A lesson to be learned about expectations, I suppose.

For the devourables this eve…Jay threw out a blast from the past for this guy.  Pizzas ordered from Gondola.  I didn’t even know this chain still existed.  I remember going to Gondola when I was a wee lad in Manitoba.  Gotta say…bloody delish!  Thin crust…crispy as hell…tastier than tasty.

Malts on offer this eve?  Also from the far off lands (not quite Mordor, but not far off either).  India, this time.  A revisit to a couple of favorites, and a couple that were new to some members of the club.  All from the Amrut distillery in Bangalore.  Fusion, Portonova, Intermediate Sherry and Two Continents.  Even the rum, Old Port Deluxe, was an Amrut product.  Nice little flight of bevies from one of the most exciting and dynamic distilleries in the world.  And yes…these drams were appreciated by all.

So…the libations certainly helped grease the wheels of verbosity.  Lance’s juggling of the dwarfs’ names form the Hobbit and the nearly canonical reference to the lesser Jackson, Tito, were cause for great laughter.  A line-up of bottles boasting ABV’s of ~50-62% does not fall without a fight, but this little brotherhood of over-the-hill warriors, chubby dwarfs, effeminate elves and other lesser heroes did our best.  In the end…we went down swinging.

The Randoms:  “It’s gonna happen if you drink that” … Tito Tolkien … Counting dwarfs … “The Tony Robbins of Middle Earth” … “Gargamel” … “You lived in Fionavar?!” … The Mordor gay sign … debate over value of the appendices … sadly, no Robert or Bauer.

 

 

 

 

– Curt

Aug 252013
 

Liquorature Gathering #039 – “1Q84” (Haruki Murakami)1Q84

Date:  April, 2012

Host:  Chris

Whisky:  Amrut Portonova, Tomintoul 12 Oloroso, Bowmore Tempest Batch 3

Rum:  Mekong

 

Oh, man, am I behind in these things.  Worse still…I’m about to start knocking them off out of order.  As inspiration strikes…not as desperation demands.  Apologies to those faithful readers (all two of you) who have been anxiously awaiting word on what the Literate Gang has been up to.

This evening, under the guiding hand of our host, Chris, turned into quite a ‘do’.  For starters, Chris’s mate Lorenzo joined us this eve as one of our Occasional Travelers.  Always fun to have the injection of a new perspective and the associated pressure to perform.  Come on…of course we wanna show off our little enterprise as something rather more than the pedestrian tripe that most of the populace find themselves surrounded by.  Check the egos?  Bah!

Days earlier Chris got hold of me looking for a bit of help picking a few malts to offer up.  Our little man-date took us to Willow Park Wines & Spirits, where we spent the better part of half an hour shuffling up and down the looooooong wall of whisky and weighing this against that.  Credit all to Chris, I was only there providing some background on some of the malts he was less familiar with.  In the end he went with a Tomintoul 12 Oloroso, a Bowmore Tempest (for those dirty peaters in our midst) and the absolutely stunning Amrut Portonova.  This last was a showstopper.  Everyone in attendance was bowled over by this one.  An absolutely mind-melting bucket of rich and luscious fruit notes and exotic spices.  Needless to say, even at ~60% abv, this was the first to go.  The others…well…not long behind.

And for those who needed still a little more sweetness than that offered up by the Portonova and Tom12?  A rum by the handle of Mekong.  I’ll let Lance speak to this one, as to be fair…I steered clear.  (Why reach for rum with an Amrut this great at the ready?)

Though I don’t remember being too uncomfortable, the heat in Chris’s place must have been stifling.  The rate of evaporation on the whiskies was simply astounding.  In fact, I think we were desert dry by the evening’s end.  Always the magnanimous host, Chris pulled out a couple from his personal stores.  A 21 year old Glenfarclas ended up being a brilliant nightcap.

And as to the book?

A whole helluva pile of fun really.  Though maybe not in the conventional sense.  Damn!  What a cheeky little tale this was.  I simply refuse to try to dumb it down for you here in a few words or less.  Personally, I’ll go on a limb here and highly recommend this one.  I can promise that even if you don’t like it, per se, you’ll certainly not have read anything even remotely similar to this one.  1Q84 was our first go at a Japanese author, though hopefully not our last.  It certainly took us into an immersive new world that seemed completely at odds with our own, and the surreal aspect kept a few of us tottering between adoration and utter what-the-f*ck?

Interestingly enough, Lorenzo is a huge Murakami fan.  If Chris was at all fence-sitting as to whether or not to invite his mate to join us, this must have been the icing on the cake.  Lorenzo’s insight and input this eve were invaluable and absolutely welcome.  And what does one do when the night wears on into the small hours?  Why, get a little shut eye, of course.  Lorenzo’s Houdini act and subsequent catnap-atop-the-washing machine will go down in the annals as one of Liquorature’s all time funniest happenings.

All in all…one of my favorite gatherings to date.

The randoms:

“I clearly thought she wanted me” … “I’d like to shake your head” … intel-lush-uals … “I want to sleep with her actually” … napping on the washer and dryer … “and suddenly…a dog explodes!” … “yep!  I’m here”…Lorenzo sitting in.

 

 

 

– Curt

Aug 252013
 

Liquorature Gathering #038 – “The Lost Symbol” (Dan Brown)

Date:  March, 2012

Host:  Scott

Whisky:  Bruichladdich Black Art 2.2, Jura Superstition, Whyte & Mackay 21

Rum:  ?

 

Ahhh…Dan Brown.  The ultimate fodder for the pseudo-intellects and armchair conspiracy theorists (those that are too lazy to do their own research, but want to spout about how the Masons or Templars are secretly running the world when they sit around with their bridge partners).  It’s easy to scoff at the lit-lite Eco-for-Dummies approach of Dan Brown, but maybe that’s just why it should be tackled in a club of this nature.  Hopefully discerning minds can both find some sort of take-away and appreciate a nice taut suspenseful bit of thriller fluff for what it is.  A monopolization of a few hours and a reason to gather with mates and discuss.

Is it just me or did it really feel like DB was reaching on this one.  Angels & Demons had a dark esoteric edge to it that was fresh and invigorating.  The Da Vinci Code, while not necessarily as original as initially believed, was a helluva whirlwind ride in soundbite chapters and breathless page-turning.  This one felt a little…forced.

Still some cool scenes, which I’ll nae cover here for fear of spoiler accusations, but the overall plot felt a little silly, contrived and overly weighty in contrast to the relatively fragile storyline.  Meh…maybe that’s just me.  Either way…a book like this is generally a rather fast and enjoyable read, and Dan Brown’s subject matter leaves much wiggle room in terms of discussion.  One should be able to run with countless topics that fall out from his novels.

In playing to the thematic, Scott tracked down a couple of nifties for this one.  None more surprising (for this guy anyway) than a 21 year old blend from Whyte and Mackay.  This one he nabbed for the rather arcane looking gold medallion emblazoned on the face of the bottle.  Fortunately, the juice inside this squat little bit of glass was rather delightful.  Much more in line with a single malt than a blend.  Apres ca…Bruichladdich Black Arts 2.2 21 y.o.  A dark bit of packaging covered in symbology and cloaked in mystery.  Bruichladdich’s master distiller, Jim McEwan, closely guards the secrets as to how this one was put together.  Methinks a marriage of a couple different wine casks.  Nifty, but not a showstopper irrespective of what some others may tout.  And finally…Isle of Jura Superstition.  For obvious reasons.

A lot of laughs, a lot of scoffs, a lot of good times.  Exactly as it should be.  Must concede though, the book didn’t stir up nearly the amount of sh*t that something like the Da Vinci Code would have if tackled around it’s release date.  Oh well.  Fortunately Brown stepped it up again with Inferno.

Randoms:

“One can’t simply walk into Mordor” … silence at the dome … “c’mon, Hammer…we need another ‘U Can’t Touch This!” … evoluting … “I think that’s called ‘small town homosexual’” … doowoop Clint … “This cat’s gotta burn his rolodex”

 

– Curt

 

Aug 242013
 

Liquorature Gathering #037 – “Cleyshot Cliffs” (David John Watson)

Date:  February, 2012

Host:  Robert

Whisky:  Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Bruichladdich Manzanilla 12 y.o. WP Exclusive & ?

Rum:  ?

 

For the second time in two years we were afforded the opportunity to tackle a work by David John Watson, none other than the brother of Liquorature member, Robert.  You may recall our previous ‘go’ at David’s ‘Geonesis’, a book rich in originality and Crichton-esque scientific plausibility, but a little thin on technical writing chops.  While noted as not perfect, the Liquorature crew was so suitably impressed as to recommend the novel on further (indeed all our spouses read it) and to anxiously embrace the opportunity to read David’s follow-up novel.  No doubt about it, the guy has a voice and some damn cool ideas.

So….here’s the deal.  David is a gent in the UK who has wide-ranging interests (music, writing, golf, etc).  From what I understand, when he puts his mind to something…he follows through.  Tackling a second book shows not only a passion, but a love of the craft.  This time ’round David offered us a ‘sneak peek’ on the condition we provided constructive criticism back to him for use in the editing stages of the process.  We agreed and were presently sent on PDFs of David’s new novel, ‘Cleyshot Cliffs’.

While I went in with pen to hand, I quickly got lost in the tale and had to go back through to properly together my thoughts regarding edits and such.  Here we have a novel that unfolds in a manner quite similar to Scott Smith’s The Ruins.  The emotional unraveling taking place in an isolated locale may be the only similarity, however, as Watson injects some interesting science and, well…let’s just say you should read this one.  Keep checking Spinney Books for an official release.  To date, I still only have a printoff in duotangs, but anxiously look forward to the end product and a good re-read with a dram in hand.

If you’re curious as to style, think along the lines of a dash of Crichton, a splash of King, a pinch of Scott Smith and maybe even some of the isolation captured by Dafoe, Golding and others in their beach/shipwreck/island tales.

Not everything in the book works flawlessly, but it does more often than not.  I could certainly see this as a decent seller at any airport bookshop.

Anyway…this is not a book review.  That has already been done on the downlow (with all criticisms sent on to the author himself).  This is merely a sharing of impressions.  Put simply…I was suitably impressed enough to re-read.  I like the way this tale unfolds.  While maybe not as original as ‘Geonesis’ was, in terms of pure innovative ideas, this one is much more smoothly executed.  A quick and enjoyable read with a solid ending that pleased immensely.

Most of the evening’s conversation revolved around the actual technical writing aspects of the book, but we definitely found enough subject matter to have some poignant and topical conversations too.  Sex, youth, scares, family, etc.

Well done, David.  Look forward to a proper print copy of this one.  And more importantly…sincerely look forward to the next one you write.

Alright.  The event itself…

As always when Robert hosts, we found ourselves at the acreage in Millarville, bout 20 minutes outside the city of Calgary.  This is a great little piece of land, nicely hemmed in by trees, with a climbing driveway and a great sprawling back area complete with firepit and all.  These club gatherings always turn out to be over-nighters for at least some of us.  This is partially because it is the responsible thing to do (zero tolerance for drinking and driving), but also because it is a chance to forget about all responsibilities for the night.  A chance to pour that extra drink, eat that extra burger, stay up that extra hour, whatever.  As is usual out here in ‘neverland’, this was another great evening, under the watchful eye of the moon, doing our best top fight off sobriety.  I like to think we won.

Finally…apologies (and no offense intended to any), but  I can find neither my original notes nor photos from this night.  No idea what the others bevies were that were on offer.  Or even the food, for that matter.

Oh well.  Let it remain a pleasantly faded memory, meant only for those that were there.

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #036 – “The Pillars Of The Earth” (Ken Follett)

Date:  January, 2012

Host:  Pat

Whisky:  BenRiach Horizons 12 y.o., BenRiach Madeira 15 y.o., BenRiach Birnie Moss

Rum: Flor de Cana 5 y.o.

 

This is what it’s all about.  No fuss, no muss.  Just a night of the guys being guys.  Draining bottles, kicking ass and taking names.  Ummmm…right.

This was a simple back-to-basics club night.  The gang all crowded around a coffee table in the middle of the room with a few snacks and some great drinks.  The book was awesome (one of my all time favorites), the drinks great and the mood was one of relaxed candor.  Sometimes it all just aligns and you can see that everyone present is right into it and just glad to be together.

‘Pillars’ is one I had debated picking for some time.  Lance initially recommended this one to me a few years back, and while I was skeptical at first, by page 15 or so I’m not certain the jaws of life could have pulled this one from my grip.  I’ve since passed on copied to others, and seen the same reaction over and over again.  Much like a few other well-known tales, this one was destined to be a club choice at some point.  The only question was who would be the one to pick it.  Enter Pat.

This is the sort of story that has roots leading to countless potential topics of conversation.  I think we jumped all over with this one.  Not in a bad way, but in a sort of ‘holy sh*t…what an achievement’ kinda way.  The epic scope of the story, played out against a historical backdrop, is just the sort of fodder that sets a few of us historical fiction junkies to drooling.  Chris and I in particular, are suckers for this style or genre.  To date, ‘Pillars’, ‘Shogun’ and ‘Atlas’ have been three of the most revered Liquorature selections.  I can’t see this changing anytime soon either.  Hard to depose these grand tales.

Pat tracked down a couple of nifty young malts from one of my favorite distilleries, BenRiach.  The Horizons release is the sister expression to the Solstice Scott brought to the club at one point.  The Birnie Moss…a fiery young peat monster.  The Madeira just smooth and sassy.  As to the rum…while I didn’t partake, I do know there are several fans of this one in our midst.

Like I said…a simple night, built on a great yarn.  No need for theatrics or thematics.  Good call, Pat.

Randoms:  “Low cunning to put a horn up your *ss” … a cross-face chicken wing … “I’m a 70’s guy…1170’s” … forest poon … “I pick Johnny Eightpence” reply: “you can’t go full r*tard” … right in the cunny … “she’s got nice boobs” … “…as a financial planner”

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #035 – “The Gargoyle” (Andrew Davidson)

Date:  December, 2011

Host:  Jay & Leanne (Mixed Club)

Whisky:  n/a

Rum:  n/a

 

Due to some rather…ummmm…extenuating circumstances, a couple of us opted not to attend this one.  These mixed guys/gals club nights* are sort of an optional thing anyway.  This was the last one that went down.  No need to get into further detail, suffice it to say…never again.

As for event details?  No…f*cking…clue.

*The past couple of Decembers, the Liquorature crew has tagged up with our spouses’ book club for a one-off event.  They picked the best book they’d read during the year….we picked the best one we’d read…we swapped books…then met to argue over whose tastes were better.

 

– Curt

 

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #034 – “The Godfather” (Mario Puzo)

Date:  November, 2011

Host:  Clint

Whisky:  Caol Ila 12 y.o., Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition, Ila 10 y.o. Unpeated

Rum:  ?

 

About time we got a little gangster on.  A few of us are absolute junkies for the genre, so this choice was bound to come about at some point.  To be honest, however, I assumed it would be Robert who eventually Puzo’d us.  Not so.  I do believe Robert mentioned that he was indeed planning to pick it for us sooner than later.

We arrived to the smells of gloriously rich gourmet pizzas cooking and a counter laid out with a few bottles of Caol Ila, one of my favorite distilleries.  Ummm…ok.  The night was already a win at this point.  For the life of me, though, I can’t recall what the rum was on offer for this one.  When I asked the other lads, they seemed to have the same bit of selective amnesia.  Perhaps we’re all subconsciously blocking out anything to do with the Cane Juice (c’mon, Lance…had to get a dig in, right?).

The pies, as they were pulled from the oven, were scorching hot and utterly delicious.  A roomful of hungry lads, about to dive deep into a few bottles of whisky….hmmm…I wonder why the food didn’t last long.  All joking aside…these were f*cking fantastic pizzas.  Clint never does anything half-assed when it comes to food though, so this should be no surprise to any of us by this point.

Now…forgive my lack of detail here, but the sands have time have not stood still since this eve.  Clint mentioned something along the lines of an ‘Easter Egg’ hidden in the house.  As a few of the more cerebral members of the crew meditated on what this could be, others immediately began circling and searching the place.  It was Scott, moments later, who strode out of the washroom firing a cap gun that had been taped to the rear of the toilet, re-enacting one of the more famous scenes from this Sicilian saga.  Well played, Clint.  And well played, Scott, for having the wherewithal to figure it all out.  Not just a hat rack atop those shoulders, huh?

As to the book itself?  While not a favorite of any of ours at this point (I don’t believe so, anyway), I don’t recall much negativity in regards to anything about this one.  We all loved the story, of course…the writing was decent (if a little mundane, maybe)…the characters, iconic…and it was simply an enjoyable book to pick up.  Pretty much a ‘can’t lose’ sort of book choice.  The discussion on the novel itself was maybe an hour and a half or so, with a few related conversational tentacles taking us out over two hours, I believe.  from there it was simply a night full of good friends, good drinks and good laughs.

All in all, this evening was a home rum.  Well done, Clint.

 

Randoms:  “The Mangina Monologues” … “Punch in the c*nt” … bacon whisky … Some o’ the best pizza pies in Calgary … Clint’s little Easter egg … “Omerta, b*tches!” … “The bad news is…get the f*ck out!” … Tito Corleone … “Going to the mattresses”

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #033 – “Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban”

Date:  October, 2011

Host – Lance

Whisky:  Smokehead

Rum:  Abuelo 12 Anos, Barbancourt 15 y.o., Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof

 

Welcome back, Bauer.  He of the hokey hat made a triumphant return to Liquorature after a much maligned absence, and the lads in the collective were glad to have the circle come back together.  The G8 becomes the G9 from here on out.  This is the largest iteration the club has ever boasted and I’d be lyin’ if I didn’t say I had reservations.  Not about kid brother (well…not really a brother, but…) coming back, but simply about the number of voices in the room.  All turned out well however.  Just means a little policin’ every now and then if things get too…errr…rowdy.

As e’er, Lance’s meets are rum nights.  Since we stoop to accommodate his sweet tooth on other club nights with a bottle of rum, so he deigns to condescend to the vices of the more snootily-inclined among us who stick to the malts (ahem…your faithful servant, moi).  Hey…fair for the goose is fair for the gander, no?  ‘Sides…we all know rum makes the mind soft and the *** shrink, right?  (Or is that the other way around?)

On offer this eve?  Abuelo 12 Anos, Barbancourt 15 y.o. and Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof.  A couple of these juices actually had some of the boys singing praises.  A few of us were still not won over to the Cane Side however.  So…we stuck to the Smokehead.  This single malt, for those not in the know, is an Islay whisky which is marketed so as to obscure its pedigree.  Which distillery produces this?  I have ideas, but mum’s the word.  Actually… ‘yum’s the word.  This stuff ain’t bad at all.

Alas…we like to deceive ourselves into thinking this is a book club and not a drinking club, so…on to the tale…

Lance took a flyer on this one.  The gamble was that this novel (book three of seven in the canon) could and would stand alone.  Risky little endeavor really.  I was a wee bit skeptical, but ‘hm’, said I… ‘we’ll see’.  My cynicism proved unfounded; the truth won out and Sage Surujbally was vindicated.

The story…well…it was ok.  Little better than ok, actually, but it’s a tough thing to disassociate this one work from the whole.  J.K. Rowling’s influence and over-arching literary contributions tend to skew one’s perspective on the actual story at hand.  This in itself made for interesting talking points, I should add.  At the end of the day though, this was no more or less than a fun read and a touchstone that should be considered a point of reference for generations to come.  From the gang…quite a warm reception.

Honored guest this eve, Anatoly, was a welcome addition.

 

Randoms: 1st question…’why do I drink rum?’ … “F*ck War and Peace” … “Going on a hike with Sam Gamgie” … “Mandingo of Borg” … LOTR argument” … Bauer’s return … “Tito Hood” … Goodkind … “Comic Book Guy on Slimfast” … “Quick Quote Quill – with alliteration to spare” … Robert’s book choice announcement: ‘Cleyshot Cliffs’ … “Before you say anything…prepare to shut the f*ck up” … Anatoly sitting in.

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #032 – “The Wicker Man” (Robin Hardy & Anthony Shaffer)

Date:  September, 2011

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Bruichladdich Organic, Bruichladdich Rocks, Bruichladdich Waves, Bruichladdich Resurrection 2001, Bruichladdich 1998 Manzanilla, Bruichladdich 1998 Oloroso, Bruichladdich Black Arts 2

Rum:  Bruichladdich Renegade

 

The return of the beast.  I managed to lure the elusive Maltmonster from his secluded lair with the promise of an evening filled with Pagan idolatry and fire play.  Knowing the MM…how could he resist?

Never one to arrive empty-handed, no matter how much I insist he try it from time to time, Mr. Monster arrived with a box of Cohibas and a couple delectable bottles from the 70s.  Of particular note…a 1973 Tullibardine…the same year of the film’s release.  The other was a 1976 BenRiach.  Both astounding, of course, as I don’t the man (nor beast) drinks anything but brilliant drams.

As to the other whiskies…where the hell was Bauer (aka Mr. Laddie) on this one?  I guess one of the early titles to this tale’s sequel was ‘Mayday Riding the Laddie’.  With a title like that (and The Wicker Man being set in the Hebrides) a suite of Bruichladdich was the only logical choice.  The list is above, but of course there was a reason for each of the selections and yes…all were tied to the novel/film.

Notice I say novel and film.  One of the reasons I chose this one (aside from my penchant for looking for somewhat out there and controversial subject matter for my selections) was because it was a novel penned after the film.  I actually suggested to the gang that they watch the movie (the 1973 original) before reading the book.  Even I had never cracked the spine on this tale before so this one could have gone over like a lead zeppelin (to cop a phrase).

Thankfully, to my relief, the novel was quite rich in its own right and did serve to add a little more depth and a few interesting scenes.  In my wee l’il mind, these two have now become companion pieces.  The guys did this one justice too.  A great chat…some spirited (pun intended) discussion…many laughs…and an overall enjoyment.  Big relief for me, as I was uncertain as to how this would go over.

A third reason for picking The Wicker Man was simply that I absolutely adore this film.  Top three for me.  It was a neat opportunity to host a night filled with interesting subject matter and fascinating chitchat.

Interestingly enough, to emphasize the Pagan themes, this gathering just so happened (wink wink) to fall on the Autumnal Equinox.

These nights should be the things of memories to come, so…a few other bits and pieces I managed to work into the agenda.  With the score to the film, and some acoustic Agalloch based on the movie playing in the background, it was time to break out the haggis.  Yep…the haggis.  A book set in Scotland needed the full treatment.  I think all of the gang had a bite or two, but I gotta be honest…this was…not good.  I’ll be happy to try it again, and just hope this was a bad one, but my first go at a haggis was less than successful.

Chris was kind enough to lend us his little keg from the whisky he and his dad purchased, so the Liquorature crew were tasked with bringing a malt to contribute.  We set to work vatting our own blended malt, aptly named after the whisky mentioned in The Wicker Man, ‘Summerisle Inheritance’.  This vatting consists of no less than 17 malts (I’ll never tell!), running the gambit from young and spritely through mature and sexy…sweet and sherried to peaty and smoky.  Will be fun to see what comes of this one.  Months down the line, when we finally try it, I’ll post our reviews.

To cleanse the haggis from our palates, we dug into a pot of man-chili, before finishing the night with a freshly baked apple pie…another tie-in to the tale, of course.  I gotta add…my wife was brilliant in support of this whole Wicker Man gathering.  Not only was she my sounding board for ideas (and infinitely patient with all of my idiocy), but she also baked the aforementioned apple pie (Summerisle apples?).  To go this all one better though, she delivered a pretty frickin’ amazing gift to me.  A full size empty cask from ADL that had housed the new Alberta Premium 30 year old…from 1978 (my birth year).  Epic.  Truly epic.

And then came the time of night for our dreadful sacrifice.  It was time to bid farewell to Seamus.  For those not in the know…I built a wee wicker man from grapevine.  This little fellow, a couple feet tall, was dubbed Seamus, and had his fate sealed before the night even began.  As it was now full dark, we took our Wicker Man outside…doused him in cask strength…and set him to burn.  Any reservations I had about whether or not grapevine would burn well were quickly put to bed.  Maltmonster generously offerred up some gorgeous Cohibas, and we all stood back to watch the flames of Seamus lick the stars (well…not quite).  Lots of fun.

Gents, this was one I was nervous about and looking forward to.  Thanks for making it memorable.

Randoms:  “Britt Eklund brought it up a bit”…”Well done…Howie”…The 13 Minute Movie…”Did God create the universe?  No…Chuck Norris did”…Haggis…Whisky Making…Maltmonster sitting in…Cask gift…Burning man…on and on…

wicker manlineupHDRorganicYummmmm...not really
preppingtheblendmasterblender?!?!?!?!startitup
 
Rebel Yell always gets things going!Chris showing off the pipesowwwFire marshall and Maltmonster
 
curtwickermanChris enjoying a stoggiegreatnight
 
 
– Curt
 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #031 – “The Gods Themselves” (Isaac Asimov)

Date:  August, 2011

Host:  Jay

Whisky:  Bruichladdich 16s – Pomerol, Amrut Intermediate Sherry, Balblair 2000

Rum:  n/a …absent rummie, so…just a few random partial bottles of cane juice

 

Jay’s first go-round as host saw the core of the club sadly reduced in numbers, as three of eight had to take a miss for various reasons.  Fortunately Bauer was through town and, in typical Bauer fashion, managed to plow through the book in a day and a bit and join us for an eve of laughter and bad wordplay.  Without spilling too many details, there is a glimmer of hope that the mad-hatter may be wending his way back to Cowtown in a more permanent form in the coming days.  We’ll cross fingers and wait for word.

Jay’s initial idea for beverage layout fell though, though I won’t spill the beans here in case it comes to fruition later, so instead he ventured down to Willow Park for a tete-a-tete with Resident whisky guy, David Michiels.  In the end he came away with a good selection to please the varying palate.  Though the Balblair didn’t sit well with yours truly, a couple others enjoyed it.  Having said that…the ‘Laddie was tasty and the Amrut an overwhelming knockout.  Damn…I love this distillery.

Sadly, Lance was one of the gang unable to attend this eve, so…with no true need for a new rum, Jay hauled out a couple misc rums for anyone needing a dose of sugar, but elected to blow the budget on malts instead.  Aw shucks, right?

On to the tale, cause let’s face it (no matter what the doubters believe), that is the reason we gather each month…

Jay went old school sci-fi on us this time ’round:  Isaac Asimov’s ‘The Gods Themselves’, a book subdivided into three distinct sections that sort of tie together an overarcing tale of triumph (how we get there was lauded by some and scoffed at by others).

This was a hard one for a couple of us to really get behind.  There was an appreciation, but also a tough time actually embracing it.  Sort of a similar situation to that we had with Bellamy’s ‘Looking Backward’ (rotten piece of dogsh*t that it was…grrrrrrrr), where it elicited some good conversation, but the reading for the month was much less than enjoyable.  Interesting to note that different members of the collective found different sections of the book appealing while often holding a hefty disdain for other parts.  One person’s favorite was another’s least favorite.  These kind of discussions are what really make it worth while, as you really see the character of each other.

Many of our (much) better halves have their own book club.  Each December we gather as a mixed crew and each sex gets to assign one of their past selections to the other group.  Tonight we decided that our pick for the ladies this year would be Tom Robbins’ ‘Another Roadside Attraction”.  Not sure if the proponents of this selection (primarily Jay and Clint) simply can’t get enough Tom Robbins, or they just want to knock the socks off the gals with one waaaaaay outside the realm of what they normally tackle.  We’ll see, I suppose.

As the night rolled on and the heat in the room finally won out over the A/C, we ventured out to Jay’s deck to enjoy an amazing evening, all the while proceeding to bang the hell out of the whisky.

Another night of good friends and good chat.  Cheers, all.

 

The randoms:  “The YMCA…not everyone wants to stay there”…moon poon…sacrilicious!…Splooge-proof the caves… “these were some cold aliens”…”How are you gonna one-up the guy saved reality?” “I’ma get my own band”…Moondingo…The Incredibles: ‘an Objectivist handbook for kids’…It’s not gay if it’s in a three way…Bauer being back for another one…

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #030 – “The Power Of One” (Bryce Courtenay)

Date:  July, 2011

Host:  Chris

Whisky:  Glenlivet 12, Strathisla 12, Glacier Distilling – North Fork Flood Stage Whisky, Mystery rye

Rum:  Goslings Black Seal, Redrum, Iceberg

 

First things first…

A huge Liquorature congrats to Ostby.  He is a dad again.  Number two is a beautiful little heartbreaker named Maeli.  Don’t worry, buddy.  All of us Karmically challenged dads with stables full of daughters will help show the ropes (where to get weapons, intimidation techniques, etc).

So…it was finally time to break in the noobs.  This month, Chris.  Next…Jay.  Not their first sessions as part of Liquorature, of course, but first time hosting the collective in their own homes.  Such pressure.

Chris hit upon a couple of unique sippers this time.  One from a distillery down in Montana.  Great little tale as to how he came upon it, but that will be up to him to share if he likes.  And their hooch?  Well…not so good.  To be fair though, we were sipping it out of the little table keg.  Not sure how long the whisky has been in there, but the oak and waxiness are a little too aggressive.  Perhaps the spirit in bottle is a little less woody.  I’ll go on record with a shudder of revulsion at the moment however.

Another bevy choice was an inherited decanter full of an unknown spirit.  Fun!  Turns out it was a Canadian whisky of some sort (based on what m’nose tells me anyway).  Slightly more biting than the Alberta’s or Forty Creek’s.  Perhaps a Black Velvet or something.  Either way…meh.  Anything sipped blindly is always fun.  Sadly, in this case, we’ll never know what it was.

From there…a couple Speysiders at the dozen years mark.  Strathisla 12 and Glenlivet 12.  Big, young and full of spritely red fruit.

And finally…for the dentists’ best friends…three bottles of cane juice on offer aussi.  First up…Goslings Black Seal.  Came highly recommended ages ago by a mate, and one which Sage Surujbally has written up here on Liquorature.  The lads show a heavy tendency towards these dark ‘uns.  Is this a flavor thing or the influence of mind over matter?  Hmmmm…  The others were Redrum and Iceberg.  I’ll let the globetrottin’ cane-swiller share the details, as my rum knowledge (and appreciation) is next to nil.

With glass in hand (and following a formal cheers to Papa Ostby), we settled in to chit-chattin’ up this month’s tale.

Interestingly enough, a book I thought would elicit a ton of conversation actually had us struggling to stay on point.  We’ve had this happen before where a book was enjoyed by all, but simply had nothing really worthy of discussion.  This novel however, had plenty to discuss.  Think we were just perhaps all slightly off and distracted.  A wee bit of drama had prefaced the eve, but the lads still managed to turn in an eve of spirited camaraderie and laughter (usually at someone’s expense).

The book, “The Power of One” (Bryce Courtenay) was well-received by all.  As always, some of the more demanding of us (myself included this time), found a few niggly little things to be irksome, but overall the gang voiced a fairly cohesive opinion on this one.  Conversation sorta dried up rather quickly however, as there simply didn’t seem to be a lot of topics that warranted discussion.  “Ummm…apartheid is bad.”  Where do you go from there?

Anyway…as Chris’s first choice, he managed to pick a book all enjoyed and did have topics to chatter about, even if we let ourselves down a bit (in my not-so-humble opinion anyway).

Great to see this little collective growing tighter and forming deeper bonds.  The two newest members have been integrated and it seems to be a relatively seamless fit.  Chris, in particular, was in fine form this eve, having several of us busting a gut at some hilarious stories of youthful…errr…exuberance.  As the drinks flow towards the latter half of these nights, the conversation always livens right up.  In vino veritas, lads.  I would highly recommend that all consider this their big night out once a month.  Look forward to it and live it up when it finally comes.  Our best nights always seem to be those that allow us to have a few drinks…open up…and not worry about leaving early or driving.

Randoms:  Lance finally collecting on his bet with Robert…no mention of wrestling (or even Mandingo, I think!)…Chris having Jay in tears laughing…(more to come when I find my notebook)

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #029 – “The Stand” (Stephen King)

Date:  June, 2011

Host:  Scott

Whisky:  BenRiach Solstice,  Isle of Jura Prophecy,  Duthies’ Hazelburn 8 y.o.

Rum:  Iceberg, Gosling’s Black Seal

 

The rum-guzzlah had to take a pass on this one due to other obligations, and is kicking himself once again for missing out on arguably one of our best conversations to date.  We spent about three hours on this book, before circling references back to it several times throughout the course of a long and enjoyable evening.  Poor guy.  Missed another one of our best in the ‘Blood Meridian’ night, then left early on ‘Atlas Shrugged’ night just before things ramped up for some heat and polarity.  Perhaps it’s the black humorist in me that finds a funny irony in the fact that the guy who would likely most enjoy good sporting conversation missed some of our shining moments.  Sorry, buddy.  If it is any cold comfort to you, we held down the fort admirably.

This little soiree, hosted by Scotty, aka The Ginger Buddha, initially promised a low key event, but delivered in spades.  Brilliant drinks, a great read and hours of engaging conversation.  Love it when I have no expectations and end up floored.  Walking away from this one with many pleasant memories.

The Buddha knocked one outta the park with his Scotch selections this month.  First up, an indie bottling of an 8 year old Hazelburn from Duthies.  Charming and unique.  More peat than I’d expect.  Next, the first Isle of Jura I’ve ever really been able to sink my teeth into, the Prophecy.  Large, smoky and as it says on the bottle, ‘profoundly peated’.  Finally, my personal highlight for the night, BenRiach Solstice.  A port finished peat monster.  VERY different and utterly winning.

The rums, uncertain though he was as to Ruminsky’s attendance, were Iceberg and Gosling’s.  I can’t speak to either here, as I neither tried them, nor had any inclination, but I have a mate who swears by the Gosling’s.  These bottles were hardly dented.  Mild fender-bender perhaps.  Gotta say it…the stunning whiskies stole the show.

But wait!  There was one more whiskey this eve.  I managed to track down a bottle of The Kid’s ‘happy crappy’ (You believe that?  Don’t tell me, I’ll tell you.), Rebel Yell.  C’mon…I had to.  Soon as I found it I know it would be good for a laugh.  Though expectations were justifiably low as we popped the top, it actually turned out to be a fairly palatable bourbon.  No stunner, to be sure, but not bad at all.

With the G7 gathered and quenching thirsts over their redneck juice, we kicked into ‘serious mode’ (as serious as it ever gets anyway).

First things first, the gang wanted to know whether or not $80 worth of motivation was enough to coax Bob (he of the compromised schedule and busier-than-hell lifestyle) to the end of the tale in time for our gathering.  He and Lance had laid down a $40 wager last month on whether or not he’d finish.  Though unable to attend this one, looks like Lance has a payday waiting for him come next meeting.  Good times.  Lots of laughs about this.

The book, Stephen King’s opus, “The Stand”, was either loved or appreciated by all, I believe.  A couple members of the collective are King junkies and have worked their way through this one multiple times.  It simply doesn’t get old.

The greatest criticism was reserved for slow development and meandering passages.  The point was countered by saying this was a somewhat sociological tale that was meant to depict the rebuilding of civilization, and not simply blow sh*t up.  This ended up as a polite ‘agree-to-disagree’ type scenario.  Fair ‘nough.

The characters were liked (some loved), the dialogue and setting praised and many, many favorite scenes pointed out.  The attention to detail and speculative nature were also lauded.

Thematically, we delved into religion (the primary contention centering on where the other demographics were?  Did god wipe out all the Muslims?  Hindus?), politics, crime and punishment, sociology, inherent nature, metaphysics, economy and survivalism.  Though I could share details, I prefer to let the imaginations run and keep these conversations private as the ‘intellectual property’ of Liquorature.  Let’s face it…we’re frickin’ brilliant lads!

We spoke to the reasons for King’s success and post-apocalyptic fiction as genre.  We touched on all of the ‘what would you do’s?’ and what each of our personal roles would be in a similar ‘rebuilding of society’ situation.  Of course, we also briefly touched on the Dark Tower.  Finally, I should note…for sh*ts and giggles…it was ME who gave the guys their obligatory mentions of the ‘Taboo 3’.  Yep…all three were courtesy of yours truly.

As this book is about to see its second screen adaptation realized, some fun was had playing the casting call game.  A few of us who have seen the old made-for-TV version agreed a few of the actors from the original series should reprise their roles, but several new suggestions were bandied about.  Fun exercise for a book like this, and relatively easy as the characters are so well-defined.

All in all…a bloody great night.  One of my top 5 now for sure.

Well done, Buddha.  Drinks, book and all.  Good picks.

The randoms:  Rebel Yell…”Sold!” Auction Bob…the throbbin’ 8…Clint’s ten minute two minute summary…Rob Lowe: “You actually know he’s a handsome man”…”What’s the point of Flagg, other than to be a d*ck?”…saddle up a cow…”saved by the grace of god, a dog and a ******”…”if you’ve had one pistol in the butt, you’ve had ‘em all”…The Hoff ‘Ooga Chaka’ing…”Wake up!  Wake up!”…”Rebel Yell ranks right up there with the abolition of slavery”…”you didn’t write down ******, didja?”

 

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #028 – “Timeline” (Michael Crichton)

Date:  May, 2011

Host – Robert

Whisky:  Alberta Premium 25 y.o., Alberta Premium 30 y.o., Woodford Reserve, Bruichladdich 12 y.o. Manzanilla WP Exclusive

Rum:  El Dorado 15 y.o.

 

Each outing to the acreage is a tale unto itself.  If ever there was a time and place to enforce the first (and second) rule of book club (“You do *not* talk about book club”), this would be it.  Without spilling too much, this is a place where the guys get to be guys.  Drinks, cigars, fire, man-food, volume and shameless red-light conversation.  To cop a phrase from Gordie Johnson, ‘a heaven in Alberta’.

Generally we’d sit around the firepit outside, but sadly we were rained (not reined) in this time.  Oh well.

Typically these nights start off with a feast before we settle in to our glasses and pretentions, and this eve was no exception.  Phenomenal French Onion soup, followed by Caesar salad and flame-grilled burgers.  This was only the first grill session of the night, I should add.  The second was…hm…a wee bit later and much less sober.

For the second time, Mike joined us as Bob’s guest, adding another cane-swiller to the collective.  I’m starting to look at these guys as heroes and martyrs.  Drinking the rum so the rest of us can enjoy the whisky being somewhat akin to jumping on a grenade for your friends.  Well done, lads…well done.  Your selfless gesture has not gone unnoticed.

Speaking of bevies…Robert trotted out a couple of rare old 100% rye whiskies from Alberta Premium, the 25 and 30 year, both stunning and undervalued (by those setting the price point anyway…not by the hordes of consumers snapping it up at great deals).  These Canadian whiskies were complimented by a Woodford Reserve bourbon, muled back from Bob’s trip to the Master’s a few months back (much to his chagrin, as he found it readily available upon his return), and an old friend in the Willow Park Exclusive 12 year old Manzanilla Bruichladdich.  Neat change to have a night dominated primarily by North American fare.

Though I am not certain all of the gang weighed in, I believe the general consensus was that the AP25 was just a shade better than the AP30.  Sadly…the 25 is long gone now and the 30 is going the way of the dodo as we speak.  Hope all who wanted it stocked up while they could.  I know I did.  The years are long, and the friends are many.

Back to the cane juice.  Bob, in deference to Lance’s having missed it last time ‘round, re-introduced the El Dorado 15 year old.  Think this one is a favorite of a few.  A few vintages from this distillery have been presented for Liquorature gatherings.  More still gather dust on the shelves of Sage Surujbally.  Fear not, casual readers, one day we’ll woo him from the Dark Side and have him groveling before the mighty Islay malt.  One day…

On to the book.  “Timeline”, by the sadly deceased Michael Crichton.  While generally well-received, a few were of the opinion that it was not Crichton’s strongest work.  The book was a recommendation to Bob from a staffer down at Chapters, based on Bob knowing the author he wanted, but not which novel to choose.  Regardless…fun read.  I’ve read this one a couple of times now and enjoyed it each time.  A wee bit less this go ‘round, but it was still yards better than much out there.

Some criticism was reserved for the obligatory happy ending, wafer-thin (Monty Python, anyone?) characters and ‘convenience of character’ (as I have dubbed it).  Props for good adventure and a foray into historical fiction, a favorite genre of a few of us.

Conversation circled (inevitably) back to Schrödinger’s Cat, with some “how can you believe…?” ribbing from Ruminsky to Bob, aka Mr. “A is A”, as Lance refers to him.  Personally, I was surprised at such a widespread acceptance of the multiverse idea.  Not saying anything other than it was somewhat of a shock to see how readily most embraced this concept.

The whole ‘if you could go back in time, where/when would you go?’ question arose.  As did the ‘would you do it?’ one.  These ‘what if?’ scenarios are often my favorite parts of our discussion, as you are afforded glimpses into all of our personal make-ups.  Neato.

Aside from that…not a lot to discuss with this one.  A few times now we have run across a selection that, while an enjoyable read, elicited little conversation.  Occasionally the opposite is also true (“The Idiot”, anyone?).  Meh…can’t win ‘em all.

Finally, for those that watched, or watched a few minutes and turned off, the film…there was a near-unanimous disgust with this botched abortion.  We were all somewhat perplexed as to how anyone could f*ck up something so inherently visual and filmable.

After exhausting all worthy topics of discourse, we retired to the deck for a treat courtesy of our host extraordinaire.  Bob passed out some sexy-as-hell Romeo y Julietas for those of us who like a fine cigar.  Beautiful little distraction that was nicely complimented by that cask strength ‘Laddich.

From here the night belongs to the boys.  No more details for the masses.

As always…thanks for another great night, Bob…and thanks to all for making this what it is.  Time and again I sit back in awe of what we have forged.  For all you contribute to this…

Slainte!

 

The randoms:  “Suck it when I tell ya” (.com)…”Leonard and Sheldon?  No.  Wolowitz”…the smartest ******…a pair of old slippers…Mike’s reference to cougars as jailbait…a friendly wager on “The Stand”…midnight grilling…chatter of the group purchasing a cask…Romeo y Julietas…Mike’s sit-in.

 

AP30yrfirehdrAP30yrchckhdrAP25yrwdhdrbobhdr
bookandboozehdrcurtscotchhdrIMG_6634IMG_6638
 
IMG_6641IMG_6647IMG_6648IMG_6658
IMG_6682IMG_6689IMG_6695IMG_6705
 
IMG_6726"suck it when I tell you"see we eat vegetables!!IMG_6738
IMG_6743IMG_6747IMG_6748midnight burgers!
 
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– Curt
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #027 – “The Maltese Falcon” (Dashiell Hammett)

Date:  April, 2011

Host – Pat

Whisky:  Bruichladdich Sherry Classic, Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX, Finlaggan

Rum:  Diplomatico Exclusiva

 

I was afear’d of this one.  Easy read…little bit of history perhaps, in terms of genre impact…but how much was there really to discuss about this novel featuring the debut of Hammett’s uber-dick, Sam Spade?  Well…lots actually.  Quite a pleasant surprise to realize, part way through this gathering, that we had been on topic for nearly 2 hours.

Alas…I put the cart before the horse.  Let’s start from the beginning.

Laughs came early.  Primarily at the expense of Ostby, who somehow managed to be 45 minutes late, while living literally across the street from Pat’s place.  The jokes ensued about traffic issues and problems getting a cab.  Witty bunch, ain’t we?

The worst part about this delay was the tantalizing seafood chowder and unopened bottles sitting on the counter, which had us salivating like a teen’er over Megan Fox.  We held off as long as we could, Clint…I swear.

This little fest took place on the RROC block.  Pat’s pad, to be precise.  A couple of us scallywags and scoundrels were in cahoots behind the backs of the rest of the collective and smuggled in an old mate for the festivities.  Bauer!  Our fallen comrade, who chose Saskabush over the excesses Cowtown had to offer, was through town for a couple of days.  I primed him on the monthly pick so he’d be able to read up and join in.  We became the G9 for this night.  The boys were tickled pink to have our gone-but-ne’er-forgotten-br’er back in the midst.  Good times.  Interestingly…even with 9 we were able to control it, though there were a few tottery moments when I feared things would go off the rails.

Pat paid a visit to our mate, Andrew Ferguson, down at the Kensington Wine Market for some insight into picking and purchasing a few drams we may not have tried to date.  Indeed all three were new to the whole gang.  A Bruichladdich ‘classic’ (Uh…not sure ’bout that.  Watch for review to come) that just didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders…a Finlaggen (The eve’s mystery malt.  Where the hell is this from?  …And don’t say Islay)…and a Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX that is getting raves out there (Jury’s out here though).  Oh yeah…and a rum (a Diplomatico) for the traitorous swine among us.  ;)

The book?  Overwhelmingly well received.  Seems the genre is quite appreciated, and the tale itself exceedingly so. It is sorta becoming a theme as we knock off some of these literary cornerstones, that the central tenet of conversation revolves around the book’s sphere of influence.  In this case, of course, The Maltese Falcon helped define a sub-genre of crime fiction.  Y’know…fedora…trenchcoat…dame…fisticuffs…cigarette after cigarette and drink after drink…and buckloads of machismo.  Dark and defining.  Lovely stuff really.  We all felt a little emasculated by comparison to the tough-as-nails Spade.

Should note here…

We seem to be on a fine run of books right now and a helluva good spree of get-togethers.  Speaks volumes for the company we keep, methinks.  Should also mention…though we dented (quite heavily) the bevy selections on offer, all were on best behavior.  The…uh…aftermath from our last soiree sat none too well with spouses nor stomachs.  There’s a price to be paid for our gallant attempts at Spade-esque machismo.  Not sure any of us are man enough to pay those prices though.

Anyway…cheers, Pat!  Another good pick and fine eve.  Well done.

 

The randoms:  Jessica Rabbit…Bauer being back for a session…Silverback wolves with unicorn heads…Galt’s Gulch on Google Map…The Power Of Two…Regarding rum: “I don’t like it”…the deforestation movement…two 7s beats a frush.

 

Bauer, as usual, brings his full concentration to bear on the conversation...D7K_2807D7K_2813D7K_2811
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D7K_2867D7K_2901Maltese
 
– Curt
 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #026 – “Neuromancer” (William Gibson)

Date:  March, 2011

Host – Clint

Whisky:  Bunnahabhain 18, Macallan Cask Strength, Isle of Arran Machrie Moor, Port Ellen 9th Release*, Signatory Springbank 1969*, Brora 30 y.o.*, ADR Bowmore 15 y.o.*, Jamesons Rarest Vintage*, Laphroaig 25 y.o. Cask Strength*, Tullibardine 1966*

Rum:  Flor de Cana 12

 

Poor Ostby.  The lad gets taken to task for his book choices far more than the rest of the crew.  For some reason his selections either incite vigorous polarization or overwhelming disgust.  Thankfully his ‘awww, shucks, fellas’ and ‘I’d never read it before either’ approach allows him to escape the proverbial cross a couple members have debated nailing him to (after ‘Blood Meridian’ and ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ in particular).  All kidding aside though, Clint has brought some great fodder for discussion to the table through his selections.

‘Neuromancer’ came a little out of left field really.  Or so it seemed.  My ignorance blindsided even me, as the more I looked into this seminal work and influential author the more I realized I’d been living in a cave (hopefully not that of Plato’s farcical idiocy).  Let’s face it…Gibson created a monstrously insightful and enigmatic work that set the stage for a legion of followers.  The Liquorature take?  Well…credit where credit is due…the sphere of influence is easily seen in everyday cinematic and literary trappings.  We acknowledged this, but the first comment made on the night was “I want my money back”.

This eloquent turn of phrase can be attributed to none other than the legendary Maltmonster.  For those into cryptozoology, rest easy.  Even Lance must now readily attest that the beast does exist.  Much like seeing the elusive Keenan-Bear, the proof was far too long in the making for some members of Liquorature (Sage Surujbally, in particular).  Long and short, Maltmonster joined us as an Occasional Traveler for the evening’s festivities.  Clint and I approached him several weeks back about sitting in for a night of inebriation and elucidation.  MM was more than receptive to the idea.

For those not so in-the-know, MM is a frequent contributor and resident wit both here on Liquorature and also on ATW (www.allthingswhisky.com).  His caustic humor and appreciation for the finer things in life (not to mention a healthy disdain for cane-based beverages) made him an ideal candidate to be subjected to our lowbrow humor and pseudo-intellect.  We dragged him down to our level with minimal effort, I should add.  No offense, MM.

Ostby laid out the table with a flair for variety.  A rich and delicious Bunnahabhain 18 year old (yep…the re-vamp at 46.3%) first and foremost.  Balanced, deep and gentle.  A deeply-sherried Macallan cask strength next.  Macallan being a favorite of the Maltmonster, incidentally.  Finally, new to our shores, Isle of Arran Machrie Moor, a peated surprise that sadly does not quite have the balls to back its bravado.  Decent…though slightly underwhelming.  For the rumchum…Flor de Cana 12.  Though I desperately wanted to try this one, I simply ran out of time.  No, wait…that’s not right.  Plenty of time.  Simply have better taste than that.  ;)

A pot of seafood gumbo simmered away in a big ‘ol gumbo pot as well.  Hella good, but one can expect no less from Iron Chef Ostby (heretofore known as ‘Bubba Gump’).  The guy is a helluva cook.  If you get an invite to dinner, you’d be sadly remiss to pass on the opportunity.

The consumables didn’t end there however.  MM, in his uber-humble, yet unflinching generosity, brought a sack o’ heels with him.  Heels does not do justice.  These were hefty bottles.  Port Ellen 9 (“all bow,” he said reverentially when presenting to the gang), Brora 30 yo 2005, Laphroaig 25 yo CS, Signatory Springbank 1969, AD Rattray Bowmore 15 yo, Tullibardine 1966, Jameson Special Reserve.  I can attest, as can the rest, not a dud in the lot.  These are damn sexy drams.

Needless to say, while the novel itself was met with a lukewarm reception for the most part, the whisky certainly was not.

Back to the book.  A precursor to the whole cyberpunk movement, Neuromancer’s dark and cold shadow can be seen across many facets of contemporary pop culture.  I dare not draw the comparisons and parallels here that we did as a group, as I sort of think each reader should do that for him/herself.  An overwhelmingly united opinion spoke to the mired tangle of Gibson’s writing (eloquent and sparse, but somehow dense as f*ck to get one’s head around), yet tended towards a solid appreciation of the tale itself.  While not likely to be anyone’s favorite, nor will it become toilet paper for some (as one or two previous selections may have been).  The characters were unique enough to allow a variety of sympathetic to apathetic opinions by the gang.  Come on…who didn’t find Molly sexy?  You’re lying.

What night at Liquorature is complete without the obligatory dropping of the sacred terms?  Wrestling, Mandingo and sigh…Star Trek.  Gad…why this filth permeates such minds is simply beyond me.  The only life forms lower than a Trekkie are George W Bush and Stephen Harper.

Finally…there was the morning after.  Let’s leave that one alone.  What happens at Liquorature…stays at Liquorature.

 

The randoms:  Mel Gibson … the German Shyster … “You sure do got a purty mouth” … “give you the Jimbo” … “Clint…are your plants live?” … “If anyone is gonna insult you, it’s gonna be me” … a flaccid 8 … “drove cabs, smoked pot and lived with a monkey” … the addition of the thumbs up/thumbs down prediction … MM’s ante to the bevy cause*.

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #025 – “The Fionavar Tapestry” (Guy Gavriel Kay)

Date:  February, 2011

Host – Lance

Whisky:  Bruichladdich Manzanilla 12 Willow Park Exclusive

Rum:  Bruichladdich Renegade Grenada 11 Year Old, Angostura Dark 5 yr old, Favell’s London Dock Navy rum

 

The fantasy flag is waved in the Liquorature camp with more fervent fanboy-ism than even I (Surujbally’s appointed ‘Hippie’) can muster for all things Ardbeg.  And that is saying something.  Mention Lord of the Rings, Goodkind, Jordan or Fionavar and you’re nearly guaranteed to have someone spurting in their pants and someone else ready to launch into ‘the Great Debate’ (whether or not LotR can be considered for Liquorature selection…BTW, I weigh in with a resounding NO!).

While five out of eight of us are big fans of the genre, the remaining three are lukewarm (at best) in terms of reception.  Interestingly, all three of us that seem to have an allergy to fantasy have either a predisposition towards Ayn Rand, or an outright rejection of illogical leaps of faith (ahem… ‘Mr. A-is-A).  To us non-converts, the prevalence of dues ex machina and resolution through means beyond physics is simply…too foreign.

To be fair, however, we have tackled a couple of fantasy works now, and I take away positives from both.

Let’s chat about the edible and quaffable now.

Lance’s curry (‘fess up, boy!  ‘Twas the wife who dunnit, wudnit?!) dishes were spectacular.  A certain someone visited the spread three times, finally moving on to filling a mug with this spicy goodness, as we’d dirtied all of the dishes.  Must confess, though it wounds me and burns like an untreated STD (uh…or so I hear), rum actually works just right with curry.  The sweet and spice harmonize well.

Methinks Lance should share his recipes, as did Pat with his man-chili.  I’d love to have these dishes more frequently.  Perhaps I simply need to sit in for dinner more often, huh?  The only downside is the cavity-inducing grog he serves up to guests.  Coruba, anyone?

After we finished stuffing ourselves on this Indian bounty, I quickly shifted back to a man’s drink and popped the cork on Lance’s whisky sacrifice for the event, Willow Park’s exclusive Bruichladdich Manzanilla.  Bauer would have liked this one.  Thankfully a few of us have bottles we can share with him when next he makes it out (Miss ya, buddy).

This was a night full of bloody great conversation.  The laughs were non-stop.  Sweet medicine after a hard week at work.  At one point with tears flowing down our cheeks, Lance mentioned how needed this was and referred to it like a refreshing rain (or some such poetic gibberish).  All kidding aside, the point was taken.  Think we all let our shoulders sag a bit this night.  You could almost hear the knots in people’s backs releasing.

Confession.  Lance picked me up a copy of ‘The Fionavar Tapestry’ about a year and a half ago now.  On two separate occasions I picked it up, but quickly set it down again.  Just not in the right frame of mind for it.  His selecting it for our February pick was actually somewhat of a relief for me (though a few others groaned under the weight of such a massive undertaking), as I finally had forced motivation to read it, and could no longer insult Lance by not reading the gift he’d given me.

So, let’s see…A few freakin’ loved it.  At least one said, ‘no, nae, never’.  The rest sat in a camp that weighed flaw against appreciation for scope, visuals, story-telling and originality (which was also a sticking point for some others).  Overall…quite a positive reception really.  I concede to appreciating it much more than when I started, and can say I am glad for having read it.  All true analysis stays within the group.  Read it yourself if you care to speculate as to what we may or may not have liked.  Anyone who has read it…drop a line here on Liquorature.  Love to engage on this one.

In the end, I think everyone was simply in the right mental space to have a great night.  It turned out to be just that.

 

The randoms:  Obama, the mage…Newman, the wizard…Rum and the special olympics… “Dammit, I got a svart in my bowl” …score many baskets…like a liger…the Hoff…Mandingo’s baseball bat… “Mandingo…whatta guy” …”The was f*ckin’ rad, let’s eat pizza”.

 

– Curt