Jan 272016
 

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

Date:  May 29th, 2015

Host:  Scott (aka Buddha)

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

 

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

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

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

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

Memorable night in all.  Maybe some Chandler next?

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

 

– Curt

Jan 262015
 

Liquorature #066 – “The Old Man And The Sea” (Ernest Hemingway)the-old-man-and-the-sea

Date:  November 21st, 2014

Host:  Steve

Whisky:  Glenmorangie Companta, Glenmorangie 18, Black Bull 12, Balvenie 14 Caribbean Cask

 

Steve’s turn to take us on a bit of a journey.  This time way out beyond where the land still exerts pull.  We found ourselves rocked on the waves with old Santiago as he puts his will up against that of the majestic marlin.  The isolation and calm test of man against nature (and himself) set a tone here that hints at the sort of deep Americana we’re bound to encounter in an upcoming tale or two for the Liquorature few.

This was Steve’s first run at hosting, meaning his first go at all the stress that goes into good book, drink and food selection.  That’s not to belittle the importance of being prepared to steer a solid conversation on topical subject matter related to the book at play.  As it turns out, this one was a knockout evening.  Steve had had a long, long while to prepare for this one.  He initially announced this selection before the Liquorature Dark Ages.  When all collapsed, it seemed as though the club would go to its grave without tackling one of the literary greats of our age.  Steve was more disappointed than you can imagine.  When we pulled the Lazarus act, it was a no brainer that this would be his selection.  Et voila!  Marlin was back on the menu.

I’ve made mention before of not knowing how we’d made it so far into our journey without tackling Hemingway.  I know a few of us are Hemingway junkies, while several others have mentioned mulling over selecting one of his works.  Until now, however, this was nothing more than lip service.

You always wonder with a name as iconic as Hemingway’s whether or not people will be overly critical going into it and come out the other side going “hmmmm…really?  Is that it?”  I’m happy to say that Hemingway did not disappoint in the least.  I’m pretty certain there was universal acclaim for this one.  The simple tale and Hemingway’s signature spartan prose made this one a tale of pure and austere classic beauty for all.  Symbolic and parabolic at once.  The criticisms – which I no longer recall – were so slight as to be negligible.  A couple of the fellas even mentioned recommending it on to their significant others.  Impressive, for a very phallocentric author, often accused of misogyny.  Sometimes a story is simply transcendent.

“The Old Man And The Sea” is a must read.  Honestly.  There is more packed into these 100 or so pages than in most epics you’re liable to plow through.  Hemingway really was a master.

And playing to thematics – as we’re wont to do with this quirky crew – Steve kicked things off with a Black Bull blended whisky (remember: Hemingway was a bullfighting junkie).  From there we hit a Balvenie Caribbean Cask (to bring a little tropical influence to a topical tale), then on into the new Glenmorangie Companta.  This latter I can no longer recall the rationale for selection, but it was a fun, tasty one to sweeten things up.  Big fruits and infinite gooey dessert-ness.  We snacked the night away and Hemingway’d the bottles as best we could.  Discussion was lively…service was paid.

Great night all in all.

Random notes:  “Ahh…you poor bastard.  Just cut the rope.” … “not so Santiago” … “Orphanage: an Indian word for ‘sweatshop'” … “Before you say anything…”

 

– Curt