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 042016
 

Liquorature #061 – “The Count Of Monte Cristo” (Alexandre Dumas)count-of-monte-cristo

Date:  February, 2014

Host:  Jay

Whisky:  Whyte & MacKay 30 y.o., Adelphi Bunnahabhain 1979 31 y.o.

 

Again I have Jay to thank for picking what has become one of my all time favorite novels.  I had made it 35 years without ever tackling this monumental masterpiece.  Though I rue lost time, I think maybe I was in a better place to read it when I did.  let’s face it…this is a dense read.  It’s a story that demands undivided attention.  And deserves it.

When Jay picked this one he offered the guys the option of reading the abridged or unabridged edition, figuring that talking points about the discrepancies would make for interesting discussion in and of itself.  It did alright, but not in the way he’d hoped.  Those that read the abridged edition were utterly gutted when they realized how much of the story had been excised in the interest of brevity.  Devastating to have read so many pages, yet still to have missed out on so many more that seemed to hold some of the most poignant and interested (from our point of view anyway) bits.

One member struggled early on with this one, and gave up in a huff.  He sat there in stormy silence as we began unfolding this story, and as he realized what he’d missed out on by not persevering he tried to cut us short, asking we postpone this meeting so he could finish.  Ummm…no.  The thought was dismissed with prejudice.  Ludicrous.  This club was built on a will to betterment, not on pessimism and negativity.  anyway…

Dumas’s ‘Count’ was met with universal acclaim.  Those that read the unabridged, in particular, raved about it.  Layers of complexity, characters rich and engaging, shades of ambiguity to discuss, morality to be interpreted and debated.  So much more.  And the story…gads!  Amazing.  Simply writing this makes me want to revisit this story of justice, vengeance and redemption.  In fact, I will soon.

I have notes that we beat up on a 1979 Bunnahabhain, and I do know it was an independent release from Adelphi, but I don’t have further details.  Either way…it was universally adored.  As was a 30 year old blended whisky from Whyte & McKay.  There is a degree of malt snobbery in the club, but I like to think it is at least a well earned (and often justified) snobbery.  This W&M30, though, was a beautiful drink.  Were there others sipped this night?  Most likely, but you’ll have to forgive my foggy memory.

Yet again Jay keeps the bar held high.  Well done, mate.

 

– Curt

Jan 272016
 

Liquorature #073 – “Daemon” (Daniel Suarez)daemon

Date:  July 3rd, 2015

Host:  Steve

Whisky:  BB&R Glen Garioch 1994 Cask #19 Willow Park Exclusive, BenRiach 16 y.o. Sauternes Finish, Liddesdale 21 Batch #8, Bunnahabhain Ceobanach

 

Hmmmm…let me start by saying that Steve-o needs a kick in the nuts for this pick.  Not because it was a bad read, but because it fucking stopped halfway through the story.  There couldn’t have been a bigger cliffhanger ending unless Suarez had accidentally walked off a rocky ledge while writing the final pages and dropped the book behind mid-sentence.

I don’t think any of us realized going into this one that ‘Daemon’ was more the first half of a story (concluded in “Freedom™”) than a true standalone novel.  Well, shit.  Fortunately Scott was ahead of the gang and gave us an early heads up.  I managed to finish both books in time for our meet, as did Scott and maybe one other.

On a positive note, however, ‘Daemon’ is the stronger of the two works.  Airtight plotting and pacing, with enough of a malevolence and edge-of-the-seat ‘what comes next?’ to keep the pages flying by.  That in itself is great, but this book is so much more.  The incredible depth of understanding in relation to subject matter and the sheer volume of research behind this one is staggering.  I simply don’t want to reveal anything here, but the express with that more people check it out.  I expected – in my infinite snobbery – to be thoroughly underwhelmed by this one, and was anything but.

Only makes sense that a book that blew our hair back deserved some great malts, aye?  Steve laid out a range of surprising drams.  A few I’d not yet made acquaintances with.  Personal highlights were likely the two Bunnahabhains; one young, peated and feisty…the other mature, soft and sweet.  Together a nice yin and yang.

I believe we were missing at least on of the guys for this one.  Le sigh.  Unfortunately this seems to be more the norm than an anomaly.  C’est la vie.  Maybe our numbers need to creep a little ’til there is always a full contingent.  We’ll see.

Random notes:  The sunset on Steve’s back porch … some ‘extracurricular’ activity for one or two hippies … the “Freedom™” indignation.

 

– 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