Feb 012016
 

Liquorature Gathering #056 – “Half Blood Blues” (Esi Edugyan)half-blood-blues

Date:  September, 2013

Host:  Stuart

Whisky:  ?

 

This pick – and the story itself – really took me by surprise.  First, because it was a refreshingly unique vantage of WWII era Europe and second, because it was completely off the radar and something I likely never would have found on my own.  I’d heard of neither the author nor title before Stuart made his announcement.

Before going any further let me state that Esi Edugyan is a national treasure.  Not only that, she is a Calgarian by birth.  Helps to make for an easy emotional connection to the book.  It also doesn’t hurt that the writing is top notch.  Can’t wait to read more of her work.

This is the one event where I am at a complete loss to tell you what we drank in terms of malts.  Stuart brought a couple…I think there may have been either Glenrothes or Bruichladdich, but I could simply be confusing this with the previous gathering where Lorenzo brought releases from said distilleries.  Guess we’ll never know.  That being said…Stu also brought along a bottle of absinthe.  Yep.  It was tasted, discussed…and summarily dismissed.  Blech.  If I wanted mouthwash I could have found some under the sink upstairs.

I’m not sure the boys felt quite the emotional resonance here that Stuart hoped for (or that I felt, for that matter), but there was a sense of appreciation.  This one has the power to make you reflect on the concept of forgiveness.  And, of course, judgment.  It transcends time, borders, sex and race.  Not often you can say that about a book.

 

– Curt

Jan 292016
 

Liquorature Gathering #055 – “The Outsider” (Albert Camus)TheOutsider_Albert_Camus

Date:  August, 2013

Host:  Lorenzo

Whisky:  Glenrothes 1994, Glenrothes 1988, Bruichladdich 1992 Chateau Climens

Rum:  n/a

 

It’s hard to do Camus justice in any real sense.  Such is the nature of existential and psychologically-driven works such as this (or Kafka, etc).  I hadn’t read Camus since high school, at a time when I was voraciously devouring anything I could get my hands on, so Lorenzo’s pick of ‘The Outsider’ (or ‘The Stranger’, depending on which edition you have) arrived with a bit of nostalgic reflection.  This is a touchstone novel for sure, but in terms of proper appreciation I think I honestly prefer ‘The Plague’ a little more than this one.

‘The Outsider’ made me reflect a little on the idea of reality versus expectation.  My wife and I have had debates about this very topic (often coinciding with a remark about the definition of insanity…you know the one), but Camus himself summed it up perfectly: “I summarized The Stranger a long time ago, with a remark I admit was highly paradoxical: ‘In our society any man who does not weep at his mother’s funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.’ I only meant that the hero of my book is condemned because he does not play the game.

Those of us that take exception to the status quo often find we have to tread lightly in order to avoid the consequences that even the fiercest of assholes seem to somehow elude.  Such is life in this age of internet warriors, armchair experts, instant access to short form information and a cultural polarity that is unprecedented in our time.  So be it.  We get through it.  Let’s use another quote to sum up, this time Lebowski: “The dude abides”.  Yep.  We abide.

Anyway…Camus is never a particularly ‘enjoyable’ read, but that isn’t necessarily the point.  Some authors are more about the message than the tale.  Or maybe a better way to put it would be ‘the destination is more important than the journey’.  I think the Liquorature collective would agree.  They read, discussed and have moved on.  I honestly don’t think this book has been mentioned again since this night.

Having said that, deep subject matter requires deep drinks for intellectual lubrication.  A couple of vintage Glenrothes and an older Bruichladdich were solid accompaniment.  I’m not normally a fan of post ’70s ‘Rothes, but rather enjoyed these two.  And Bruichladdich is usually in my wheelhouse.  This one I was definitely keen on.

Oh yeah, and finally…it’s never bad having an Italian cook dinner for you.  Just saying.  Helluva good gnocchi, Lo.  Well done, mate.

Randoms:  Gnocchi and caperberries … “can we go smoke the skunk?”… the minivan.

 

 – 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 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 #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 #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 #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
D7K_2814D7K_2825D7K_2828D7K_2866
 
D7K_2867D7K_2901Maltese
 
– 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

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

 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature #010 – “The Namesake” (Jhumpa Lahiri)

Date:  November, 2009

Host:  Lance

Whisky:  n/a

Rum:  Bruichladdich Renegade, Cadenheads Classic Green Label

 

Rum night #2.  A very personal night.  Discussion that hit home with a lot of us regarding both family and immigration.  Yep…we got all emotional.  Not a book that required a lot of follow-up, or that led to many story-specific conversations.  Relatively short evening that managed to pack a lot of decent conversation into it.  Fairly well received book.  A rum night.  Neither received quite the reception Zaya did last time.  Topic conversation likely only an hour (if that), however much conversation was related to instances and experiences from the book.

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #008 – “Ender’s Game” (Orson Scott Card)

Date:  September, 2009

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  Glenrothes Select Reserve, Bruichladdich Manzanilla Sherry Edition, Strathisla 12 y.o.

Rum:  Bundaberg

 

In terms of content, this book was arguably the biggest and most pleasant surprise.  Much due, of course, to the ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ idiom.  Our copies all look like something from the teen fiction section.  Very enjoyable read though, and warmly received.  Conversation had some political overtones, but never got too deep.  A little heated perhaps, regarding the right to opinion, but never too deep.  Three whiskies.  All decent, none that really resonated with me.  Topic conversation was likely about an hour and half.

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #001 – “The Lion’s Game” (Nelson Demille)

Date:  Feb 2009

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  Bruichladdich 15 y.o.

Rum:  n/a

 

This was a helluva kickoff for Liquorature.  Bauer was tasked with hosting duties for the inaugural meeting of our club, as a few of us (Pat, Clint and I) were sort of…displaced and homeless as we awaited completion of our respective new homes.  Pat was unable to make it as the poor soul was suffering in the Mayan Riviera, but the rest of us forged ahead to blaze the trail.  This was before the Ginger Buddha (Scott) became a member of Liquorature.

Bauer’s book selection, though a bruiser at ~950 pages, was relatively easy reading for all.  The pressures of picking a book for the group that would incite discussion, yet still entertain, was substantial.  More so considering we had no precedent against which to build.  The choice was a good’er, as it was a book none too daunting, challenging or serious.  We were able to enjoy a well-paced story and not engage in too much homework.  Topic conversation was about an hour and a half.  Well done, Bauer.

Robert’s initial hesitation about joining the club (the infamous tale of his O level English had yet to surface) was quickly proven unfounded, as the group gelled instantly and the foundations were laid for a fraternity of drunken literary aspirants.  Many of the Liquorature standards were set and defined here.  Only wish we had been bringing a camera along from the inception.  Sigh.

As Lance was driving, and Pat was absent, four of us felt obligated to put down a couple bottles of Bruichladdich.  Well done, gents.  Setting another precedent perhaps?

 

– Curt