Mar 022016
 

Liquorature #078 – “Gulliver’s Travels” (Jonathan Swift)Gulliver

Date:  November 27th, 2015

Host:  Scott (aka Ginger Buddha)

Whisky:  A.D. Rattray Strathmill 22 y.o. Cask #10310, Edradour SFTC Chateauneuf du Pape 13 y.o., Signatory Bowmore 1985 25 y.o. Cask #32211, Compass Box Peat Monster Cask Strength

 

Every one of us wanted to kick Ginger in the balls for this pick when he sprung it on us so many months back.  Most of the guys out of sheer uninformed (but speculative) dread.  Me, at least, out of a grounded and informed dread, as it was one I’d read in lit classes years back.  Alas, selections like this are the very reason this club exists.  Not a lot of ‘average joes’ out there will ever casually pick up a copy of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and thumb their way from page one through to the last written word.  It would be interesting to check suicide rates among those that have read it.  With the club, though, we are here to push one another.  Perhaps down a flight of stairs, in this case.

We started the evening’s discussion, sipping a 22 year old Strathmill, I might add, with a consensus to tar and feather our host before we called it a night.  Without exception, everyone in the collective found this book a tiresome, tedious, over-fucked and ridiculously dated piece of satirical meandering.  What happened as we discussed, however, was one of the most interesting Liquorature developments to date.  I had done a load of research before coming into this evening’s gathering, figuring that a bit of historical context might help the gang see this for what it was.  Or what it was meant to be anyway.

From 2016’s far-removed vantage, much of what made ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ a contentious and dangerous piece of work at the time is lost on us.  Let’s not forget, ‘Gulliver’ was originally published anonymously.  Trying to suspend our preconceptions and placing ourselves in the political, religious, educational and socio-economic clime, however, takes this novel into entirely new realms.  I think by the time we were done our discussion on topical subject matter everyone’s appreciation for Swift’s cynical and rapier-sharp societal gutting was multiplied twofold.  Granted, they all still hated the experience of having to masochistically plow through it.  In short…”Ahhh…I get it now.  Still hate you for making me read it.”

By way of peace offering, Scotty, our ginger-headed host, offered up the afore-mentioned single cask Strathmill, a unique wine-finished Edradour that was a throwback to Liquorature’s younger years, a stunning 1985 Bowmore at the quarter century mark and finally a magnum of Compass Box’s Peat Monster Cask Strength.  All right, Ginger…you’re off the hook.  For now.

All in all, it turned out to be a great night of chatter and beverages.  I think we all learned a little bit about preconceptions and as clichéd as it may sound ‘judging a book by it’s cover’.

Thanks for a great night, Buddha.  Fun one.

Random notes:  A new addition (Eric joining us) … “literary waterboarding” … “Holy fuck!” (Bauer) … Brobdignagian dildo … “Didn’t even get a chance to catch her at the back door” (Steve)

 

– 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

Jun 032015
 

Liquorature #069 – “Of Mice And Men” (John Steinbeck)Of Mice

Date:  March 6th, 2015

Host:  Chris

Whisky:  Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 49), Glenfarclas 1993 (WP Exclusive), Glen Garioch 1999 (WP Exclusive), Compass Box Oak Cross

 

Vikings and bottles and knives, oh my!  (Don’t ask)

Steinbeck.  Finally.  You had to know this was coming.  It was only a matter of when.  I’ve said before, I’m blown away it took us years to reach this touchstone of modern lit.  Not only Steinbeck, but this particular tale.  I debated it a few times as my own selection, but kept assuming someone else would eventually do it.  More than six years on someone finally did.

Not much you can say about a book like this.  Its timeless morality play is simply heartwrenching, even for those who already know the outcome of the tale.  It’s one of the few novels that can still bring me to the edge of tears (ok…maybe just over the edge).  The characters are just downhome, relatable types even if our shared life experiences don’t necessarily give us much of a common ground with these nomadic bindlestiffs.  Steinbeck’s rather sparse approach to writing is somehow still unbelievably evocative.  He paints a scene with delicious richness and immediacy.  The simple fact of the matter is that everyone in the club (and a couple extras in attendance for this meet) found this to be almost beyond criticism, much like the way we butted up against the cold beauty of Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’.  Well picked, Chris.

Some discussion came back ’round to the Gary Sinise cinematic interpretation as well.  One of the all time great book to film adaptations I’ve ever seen, and certainly the best casting I could possibly imagine.  If you’ve not seen this one, do so.  Malkovitch will give you shivers, Siemaszko will make you wish it was you that put him down for the count and Sinise will show you how a real actor can walk in with understated adeptness and simply ‘become’ that character.  Amazing.  The guys were blown away by a couple scenes we checked out in brief.

This gathering turned out to be an unforgettable occasion, and one of the best club nights in recent memory.  One for the ages and sure to go down in Liquorature lore.  A couple of guests sat in that brought new angles to the discussion and many a laugh.  Chris’s kid brother, Jesse – now a full fledged member – is a student of the literary arts (literally), so has a great grasp of the analytical side in approaching books.  Danny – a mate of many of us – brought laughs by the score (and just a bit of naughtiness to boot).  Didn’t hurt matters that our kind and generous host poured out three big and bold cask strength monsters as well as a solid 46%er.  Sobriety was in short supply by the end of the whole affair.

The end ended in a rather…ummmm…dubious manner, but that is for the ins to know and the outs to speculate over.  Sorry.  What happens in book club…well…

Randoms:  Danny and Jesse sitting in … “what kind of ranch is this” … “I already know the back of your neck ain’t ticklish” … “everybody in the barn would be up for a little necrophilia” … “the purple heart” …things going waaaaay off the rails

Until next…

– Curt

Aug 262013
 

american godsLiquorature Gathering #044 – “American Gods” (Neil Gaiman)

Date:  September, 2012

Host:  Clint

Whisky:  Great King Street, Glenfiddich 15, GlenDronach 15

Rum:  Mount Gay XO Eclipse

 

Sadly, a night when I was fighting a wicked cold.  A couple of us (Pat, Scott and I) had just returned from a jaunt over to the promised land (Scotland) touring distilleries and drowning our livers in that greatest of libations, Scotch single malt whisky.  On my second-to-last day there I managed to contract a case of what was either the Plague or gonoherpasyphylaids.  Man…this f*cking cold knocked me on my *ss!  Contrary to initial thoughts (that all of that alcohol still running rampant in my veins would kill off any possible infection), this heavy drinking binge must have beaten the hell out of my immune system.  ‘Laid low’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Clint likely could have thrown out Johnny Walker Red and any of the McClellands line-up and I wouldn’t have known the difference.  Ok, ok…let’s not get silly.  Compromised tastebuds?  Yes.  But let’s be clear…it would take a full-on lobotomy to make me think either of the afore-mentioned constituted real whisky.  Settle down, I jest.  Ish.

As it was, Clint was playing to his themes.  He’d been writing a wee series for my other site, All Things Whisky, and his latest subject matter had been Speysiders at or around 15 years, if memory serves.  Ergo…we at Liquorature got to revisit a couple of old friends (the ‘Fiddich…s’ok, but the ‘Dronach…now that’s a special one).  On top of these two, Ostby broke out a bottle of Compass Box Great King Street, John Glaser’s latest concoction.  Great blend, this.  I know some of you more snobby buggers are reading that last sentence and thinking ‘oxymoron’.  Well…shaddap.  😉  And for the Rum Sage…a bottle of Mount Gay XO Eclipse.

Good sipping, this, and well paired with an interesting pressed steak sandwich (hard to describe…easy to eat).  And with that, we were rolling.

‘American Gods’, by Neil Gaiman, is a book that had me hooked from the get-go.  It was dark, it was eerie, it was twisted and it bordered on brilliant.  I was picking up a bit of Clive Barker here…a bit of Salman Rushdie there…maybe a little Stephen King and a bit of…hmmmm…not sure…maybe some comic book flare throughout?  Not quite right, but neither is this an easy one to pinpoint.

The sad fact of the matter is, though, that we as a crew were simply not all that ‘on’ this night.  While the companionship was, as always, top-notch, the discussion itself was lacklustre.  Not our best.  We sorta seemed to be struggling for topics and lacked the enthusiasm a work like this deserves.  And trust me…it does deserve your attention.  There are some hella cool rollercoaster twists of absolute excellence as this book unfolds.  Summed up in two words:  Read it.

One note though, for those about to undertake this journey…if I had a do-over…I’da paired this bad muthaf*kka with some Highland Park.  Now THAT would have been epic.

Wish I’d felt better personally (and that the three of us weren’t still recovering from a liver-beating in Scotland), but still a memorable night.

Randoms:  Jesus says “f*cking dough head” … “gee…that guy got it rough, huh?” … “Irfit j*zz”

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #019 – “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” (Douglas Adams)

Date:  August, 2010

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Host:  Clint

Whisky:  Glenmorangie Original, Glenmorangie LaSanta, Compass Box Peat Monster, Buffalo Trace

Rum:  Captain Morgan’s Special Reserve

 

Well…another one in the annals of Liquorature history.  I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed in this one.  The gathering that was, not speaking to the novel here.  Though it is always a blast to get together with my comrades, it is slightly…unworthy…when we have a night like this.  Hey…gotta be honest.  That is the backbone of Liquorature…the right to free expression.  Though there were several attempts to keep the conversation on track, it just seemed like derailment after derailment until finally the white flag.  Oh well.  Nearly all of our meetings are brilliant (all modesty aside), so I suppose the occasional fluff meet is okay.

As I said, we always have a great time when assembled.  This was no exception.  Barbs and jeers flowed freely through the evening, and I believe the highlights all came towards the end when we simply settled into converstaions about photography, drink, friends and…uh…Harry Potter.

Clint’s foray into bourbon was a nifty little odyssey that included mint juleps to kick off the festivities.  The sweetness of said bevvies was an instant antagonist for the usual flurry of rum vs whisky digs volleyed between myself, who was right, and Senor Surujbally who swills that vile pirate sweat.  ;)   After this, we nipped at the Buffalo Trace (stunning nose led into a surprisingly abrasive palate) in a Liquorature first.  The rum, as has become custom took a sh*tkicking.  Not necessarily cause it was liked by all, but seven people will seriously dent a single bottle.  That being said…it was a well-received cane.

As for the nectar of Scotland?  A Glenmorangie double-header, with the LaSanta winning over many, and a visit by an old flame of mine…Glenmorangie Original.  Tasty.  Ostby pulled no punches and trotted out a fourth whisky as well.  Compass Box’s Peat Monster.  Though we had tried (and enjoyed) this many, many months ago, this revisit surprised many of us.  Those that had tried it previously were a little taken aback at how bold and beautiful the peat was here.  Glad to try this again.

The book itself was well-received, I think.  I was called out briefly for a family emergency (thus missing some of the action), but even so I don’t believe there was too much in-depth chatter about this one.  Whether or not that is even possible was actually a topic of discussion.  Regardless, the lighthearted humor was a welcome relief after the burden of Dostoevsky.

Though a little off the rails, much like the book itself it was noted, still a fun night.

Highlights…Bauer in a sombrero…mint juleps…Two And A Half Men camp…Slartibartfast, the fjordmaster…drinking outside the box…’Mt. Gay…Which way are you going?’…godforsook to Kandi…some great pics by Pat (have yet to see Lance’s)…and finally…

“If I stop thinking about it, it will come to me.”

“I stopped thinking about sex and it never came to me.” – Bauer.

Until next…

Slainte!!

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The Liquorature Full Quorum, including the back of Clint's head
– Curt