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 #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 #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!
 
IMG_6710IMG_6713IMG_6721IMG_6723
 
 
– Curt
Aug 232013
 

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

Date:  September, 2010

Host:  Pat

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

Rum:  Angostura 1919, Bacardi 8 y.o.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slainte!

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

201_6323201_6329The Last Hippie Communes with the Universal All201_6336
 
201_6337201_6340I'm concentratin' here!201_6344
201_6351201_6359201_6364
 

– Curt