Mar 022016
 

heart-of-darkness-by-joseph-conradLiquorature #080 – “Heart Of Darkness” (Joseph Conrad)

Date:  January 22nd, 2016

Host:  Steve

Whisky:  BB&R Bunnahabhain 1987 Cask #2447 26 y.o., Arran Single Cask 1997: Sherry Cask #712, Cooper’s Choice Port Charlotte 2001Cask #1015 11 y.o.

 

Well…we kicked off 2016 – year seven for the club – in fine fashion.  While our two newest acolytes were conspicuously MIA, we old vanguard kept ranks, did this one some justice and knocked the piss out of some sexy bottles of single malt.

Our host for the evening, Steve, was kind enough to offer up a ‘warm-up’ dram as we trickled in for the eve and waiting for the others to arrive.  This early palate workout was a sexy little number from the Roughstock distillery in Montana; the very same Black Label Jay had poured us on ‘Deliverance’ night (hear them banjos, boys?).  I said it then and say it now: a two year old malt whisky out of the northern US has no business being this good.  64+% of easy drinking goodness.

Though initially I thought this book would be met with some consternation from those in our ranks who tend to shy away from the early centuries’ offerings, there seemed to be a unanimity in terms of general appreciation and further, in regards to the criticisms levied.  Not often we all stand on the same side of the line.

Let’s talk about the malts for a minute or two.  Steve poured in a complete reverse order from the way I would have done it, but he nailed it.  While we started with richer, heavier flavours and worked our way into lighter, more complex elements, at the same time we kept climbing rungs in terms of quality, ultimately finishing with an outstanding 26 year old independent Bunnahabhain.  Great bottle find, Steve-o.  Hoping time and opportunity presents itself for me to impose myself for another dram of this one.  Additionally, the indie Port Charlotte we tried was the oldest I’ve yet met, at 11 years.  Neat.  I think I prefer it younger and with a little more sass.  Maybe that’s just me.  The others liked this one a lot.  And me?…yeah, of course I dug it too.

Great ambiance and atmosphere for this one.  Cozy little circle…lamplit…a brilliant background of old blues tunes…and exactly the sort of camaraderie we strive for.  Brilliant night, all told.

Random notes:  No Jesse or Eric … Roughstock warm-up … “salty dusty ****** nuts”

 

– Curt

Feb 102016
 

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

Date:  October 2nd, 2015

Host:  Bauer

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

– Curt

Jan 272016
 

Dune_cover_artLiquorature #071 – “Dune” (Frank Herbert)

Date:  May 1st, 2015

Host:  Curt

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

– Curt

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

Date:  November, 2010

Host:  Scott

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

Rum:  Cadenheads Green Label Laphroaig Cask Matured

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When it came to the bevvies…

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

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

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

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

A few random thoughts:

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

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