Jan 292016
 

Liquorature #053 – “The Year Of The Flood” (Margaret Atwood)yearoftheflood

Date:  June, 2013

Host:  Chris

Whisky:  Glenfarclas 105, Glen Scotia 16, Highland Park 15

Rum:  El Dorado 12 y.o.

 

An odd choice, this.  Book two in the ‘Oryx And Crake’ trilogy by Canadian treasure Margaret Atwood.  Not that it’s odd to choose Atwood – or a book on this subject matter, for that matter – but to pick this volume instead of first.  It didn’t matter to me, however, as I’d read O&C, but I wonder if the others missed out a little for not having the same informed starting point.

What it boils down to, in any event, is that all Liquorature picks have to be standalone volumes.  We set that rule in place early on, in order to ensure no one made a selection that would then require members to go back and do a bunch of pre-reading (or dive into subsequent volumes) in order to get the big picture.  Incidental here, as ‘The Year Of The Flood’ does have a solid enough base to stand on its own.  Barely.

While a few members may have been scratching their hands a bit trying to wrap their thoughts around this one, the overall reception was good.  Essentially this is a dystopian science fiction novel.  You should know by now if you’ve been reading these brief dispatches that the majority of the gang ’round here digs these genres.  There isn’t typically a lot of headbutting over these sorts of picks.  Not like when we discuss anything related to, say, the middle east, colonialism, economics or the current political climate.

We gathered in Chris’s back yard on a brilliant June eve for this meeting.  A bottle of Glenfarclas 105 was well beaten up on…a Glen Scotia 16 was actively reviled…and the now obsolete Highland Park 15 was fun to revisit.  One or two did the gentlemanly thing and sampled the rum before switching back to drinks that wee actually palatable.  (I kid, I kid!)

Just writing this makes me reflect back.  Thinking I should reread these two tales and pick up ‘Maddaddam’, book three in the trilogy.  Hmmm.

 

– 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.

 

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IMG_6726"suck it when I tell you"see we eat vegetables!!IMG_6738
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– Curt
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #021 – “Honor Among Thieves” (Jeffrey Archer)

Date:  October, 2010

Host:  Bob

Whisky:  Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 21), Highwood Rye (Canadian), Springbank 10 y.o. 100 Proof

Rum:  Bacardi 8 y.o., El Dorado 15 y.o.

 

We have yet to have a night out at the acreage that is not a resounding success.  Until now.

Kidding.  This was an amazing outing.  Full of laughs, memories and mockery.  Most are, but this one will shine on long after the event itself fades a little.  There just seemed to be something magical about it.  I think the others would all say the same.  Thankfully the weather cooperated (this is late October, after all), though it wasn’t looking too promising earlier in the day.  At one point in the morning (nearing noon) I had ventured out for a Red Bull, and the frosted lawns intandem with my visible exhalations made me groan.  ‘Dear gawd…he doesn’t expect us to sit outside in this, does he?’  The temperature soared through the day though, and the evening turned out to be quite pleasant around the firepit.

Robert elected to do things a little differently with the bevvies this eve.  We arrived to 6 decanters on display, each labeled with a ‘W’ or an ‘R’ to denote whisky or rum, and a number to differentiate them.  Yep…Liquorature’s first blind tasting.  Robert’s concern about embarrassing anyone or making anyone uncomfortable was completely unfounded, as the whole gang thought it was a brilliant turn and had a blast with it.  The only challenge he made was to share which we liked the most.  Cockiness got the best of a couple of us though, and it soon became a contest to determine the drams themselves.

Here was the rundown:

  • W1:  Highwood Rye (from right here in Alberta)
  • W2:  Ardbeg Corryvreckan
  • W3:  Springbank 10 y.o. 100 Proof
  • W4:  Aberlour a’bunadh
  • R1:  Bacardi 8 y.o.
  • R2:  El Dorado 15 y.o.

I’ll leave the results a secret here, something only for those that attended.  Needless to say, it was a great time, and something I think we should do more often.  As the boys become more serious about their liquor and the palates evolve a little, this is a nifty little exercise.  Everyone is already seeing how much their appreciations and personal tastes have changed over the years.  Well done, Watson.

Though I initially gave our host credit for the wonderful chili (and the whole spread really), he finally conceded it was his better half who had put together our feast.  Hope you thanked her for us, though I’m sure some of the over-full groans and belches may have reached her ears over that 33km distance.

This was our last gathering of the old guard, as next month we welcome Chris and Jay to the newly conceived G8 (as christened by Surujbally).  So, though we were down Bauer tonight (and Lance couldn’t make it), Robert’s priviledge to invite a guest rewarded us all with an evening of socializing with Mike.  We all knew Mike from other circles, so it was a relaxed and easy fit.

We dove into the book after the rumblin’ tums were fed.  Everyone geared up and we headed outdoors to sit around the fire.  Robert shared why he picked this book, and Mike was able to relate.  Having spent time working in the Middle East, many of the travel experiences and stuff were easily-relatable.  Of course…he’s also a sucker for the political intrigue/action type story (as we know from his adoration of The Lion’s Game).  Robert…three books…three British authors.  Hmmmmm.

Consensus from all pretty much aligned with Surujbally’s review (http://www.liquorature.com/?page_id=648).  We enjoyed it for the story, but there wasn’t a lot of depth or chearacter development.  We all conceded however to enjoying and needing these books in our life.  We spoke about the Middle East, the portrayal of Hussein, the possibility of the implausible events (as Robert said…hey, why not…who would have believed 9/11 could have happened if told in advance?).

From there it became just a great guy’s night.  Funny as hell.  Extremely enjoyable.  One of my personal favorites to date.  A lot of bevvies consumed too.  Mike trotted out a bottle of Bacardi 1873, and I saw that by the end of the eve, Robert’s EH5 had made an appearance as well.  Damn rummies.

To close out the night we ventured in and settled around the basement to laugh our asses off to Napoleon Dynamite.  Good times.

Thanks, Robert.

The randoms:  Mike’s inclusion…the platypus is god playing lego…Clint Kool-aiding the glass door (unbelievable)…they rapin’ everybody…great Cuban cigars…the mediocre jock…Mike’s turn to grab firewood…Robert wretling with the deer…when the boss takes a sh*t next to you…’backin’ up, backin’ up, backin’ up, backin’ up…hacking up a lung to lose weight…condoms as PPE…the blind tasting and the bet not taken…Mike’s attempt at kindling a taste for Scotch…the aftermath of Mike’s attempt at kindling a taste for Scotch…great chili…so much more.

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #018 – “The Idiot” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

Date:  July, 2010

The Idiot – Fyodor Dostoevsky

Host:  Lance

Whisky:  Yamazaki 12 yr old (Japan)

Rum: Old Port DeLuxe (India), Mount Gay Extra Old (Barbados), El Dorado 5 yr old (Guyana).  (Also sampled: Appleton 30 yr old, Kraken Black and Clemente agricole)

 

Cane night at Chez Surujbally.  Our host extraordinaire not only trotted out a fine selection of new bottles, but also broke open a swath from own stash.  I think there were 10 rums altogether that got battered, as well as 3 whiskies.  Lance was kind enough to allow me nips at both the Johnnie Walker Blue and the Glenlivet 21 Archive, both of which will have reviews up in the coming days.

A gorgeous summer eve led us all out to Lance’s back deck to sit in the sun and watch the day end.  For only the second time we allowed a visitor to sit on for a session.  The famous, or infamous, Sir Bear (Keenan) joined us for this evening of carousing.  True to Lance’s word Keenan was not only a tangible being, but a gentleman and a scholar.  In a bold move, Lance’s enticement of the Bear involved an invitation to select the book for our gathering.  Hence…’The Idiot’.

Keenan is a brave man.  Not sure I would have wanted the responsibility of picking a book for a group of people I had never met.  Though I won’t say everyone enjoyed it…I will say that it was a good selection.  We had a whirlwind of conversation on this one.  I think we probably spent a solid couple hours on the book all told.  The consensus?  Uh…not so good.  Most took exception to the title character’s seeming lack of spine or sack.  The meandering Victorian language and frustrating lack of action…ANY action…were deal-breakers for most.  A few things stood out in positive relief however.  A few passages were existentialist Dostoyevsky at his best (mostly the end)…a couple of great humorous scenes…some ridiculous (though very broad stroke) characters…and the best thing of all for some of the gang?  To be able to say they have now read Dostoyevsky.

The everyman’s meal (chili) was a success as well.  The gents lauded Surujbally’s culinary prowess (notice I said ‘Surujbally’…and not ‘Lance’….this way if it was Kym who did the deed…I’m still covered).  I don’t believe there is such thing as a red n’ white blooded Canadian who doesn’t love chili.

The night’s sipping (and dear gawd…there was a lot of it)…started for this guy with two higher end whiskies that Lance has been nudging me to review for a while now.  The always disappointing Johnnie Walker Blue (Sorry, guys) and the rather delectable Glenlivet 21.  Aside from appreciation for the drams, I’ll say no more here.  Look under reviews in the near future.  After that it was on to the Yamazaki for me, and a whole schwackload of rum for the rest.  I sampled a couple, but find the stuff is just too…well…not for me.

The Bear and the gang seemed tickled pink with choice though.  As there were simply too many on offer to keep track of, I’ll let the boys’ comments below attest to quality of what was out.  There was more than a little stumbling after all was said and done.  Again…anyone who cares to confess their sins can do below.  Under the whole ‘what happens in Liquorature…stays in Liquorature’ clause it is verboten to rat out another…HOWEVER…if said individuals care to consider their (mis)deeds as a badge of honor…hey…confession is good for the soul (and a few laughs!).

A great night full of laughter and mockery.  Keenan was a welcome addition for the eve.  Nice guy,  open and involved…contributed more than just a book selection.  Glad we finally met, sir.  Hope to see more of you in the future.

The rewards of tackling Dostoyevsky are many, but for a few of the gang it is simply to round out the bell curve.  This was will be low ranked for most.  As always though…all conceded that it allows that frame of reference that you carry forward.  I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a sense of relief at moving into the next couple of selections.

Highlights:

…making mad rubles…the literary equivalent of Buckley’s…Archie became the new wrestling/Star Trek (but fear not…the boys still brought up this tripe as well)…the hedgehog and Milo Minderbinder…’the best scotch I ever had was rum’…mount gay marriage…an afterparty at the Bull…the Iron Sheik…

Until next we meet…Slainte!

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201_3694The Inimitable Keenan, aka "The Bear"201_3705201_3708

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– Curt

 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #015 – “Wizard’s First Rule” (Terry Goodkind)

Date:  April, 2010

Host:  Scott

Whisky:  Cragganmore 12 y.o., Scapa 16 y.o., Dalwhinnie 15 y.o.

Rum:  El Dorado Demerara Distillers Single Barrel 10 y.o., Santa Teresa 1796 (encore presentation)

 

So…our first foray into fantasy was a rousing success.  Both in terms of reception to the title in question, and for hatching a lively discussion.  Well picked, Scotty.  The evening was a blast.  Festivities were underway sometime around 8:00.  With a couple of stragglers a little later than our 7:30 curtain call, a few of us were chomping at the bit to crack open a bottle.  Scott’s selection of malts took us from Speyside, through the Highlands to the Islands.  A fine range, and much to Robert’s delight, I’m sure…no peat monsters lurking.  It was a gorgeous eve in which a few of us strolled the distance to/from Scott’s place, so some lighter bevvies were an ideal decision.  The rum?  Hey…what can I say…never made it that far.  Lance will sate your curiosity with a review in the near future, I imagine.

This month’s gathering saw our first guest.  An old friend of mine, Chris, joined us for the eve.  I ran into Chris a couple months back, after not having seen him in a while, and while catching up told him of our little collective.  He said he had been trying to form or find something like this, but that most of friends were…Neanderthals (I believe was his term).  I told him I would see what we could do about having him sit in for a session.

I am always impressed when someone can walk into a room filled mostly with strangers and fit in comfortably with no noticeable lags in conversation or awkwardness.  Such was the case this evening.  While he interjected thoughts and insight throughout the discussion, I also noticed Chris having many side-conversations with the Liquorature folk.  There’s a sort of pressure involved with being the guy to bring a guest, but the pressure was eased early, as Chris fit in well.  Thanks to the crew for making him welcome.  You are truly all gentlemen and scholars.  I should also note…a fear I’ve had (and shared with Robert at least) regarding having more than our seven-man crew appears unfounded.  My concern lay mainly in whether we’d all be able to speak with so many in the room.  Tonight proved otherwise, and I believe is a testament to the level of respect we all show one another.

Scott’s book was quite well received.  Though I am a newb to the world of fantasy, most of the others definitely are not.  It was enlightening to see their take.  High marks from most, and at the very least there was a healthy level of appreciation, if not outright favoring opinion.  The criticisms raised were poignant, and comparisons against some of the benchmarks in fantasy lit were informative.  The aspects of the book which garnered the most appreciation from us actually seemed to be the parts that most deviated furthest from tradition.  A few of us have since picked up, or continued reading on in the series.  Sigh…only eleven more books or something.

The night was rounded off with some chatter about other books, other beverages, travel, history of video games and…what Liquorature night would be complete without those torturous forays into discussions of Star Trek and old school Wrestling?  The boys love to rag on me for my absolute revulsion of all things related to either.

As always, a ridiculous dose of humor, mockery and sarcasm were prevalent.  Clint’s reaction to Bauer’s ‘Hot For Teacher’ comment will go down in the annals.

Highlights…

Chris’s inclusion and subsequent natural fit…Clint’s whisky shower…someone finally mentioning Salman Rushdie without Lance bursting into flames…Bauer’s new ridiculous hat…discussions of how sexy Mr. Goodkind is…listening to the frogs in the pond (I used to live in Scott’s place…and miss those sounds at night)…and a great conversation.

Thanks, Scotty.

One last thing…

I see the dynamic of the group changing slightly.  For the better.  Those that were a little reserved initially, now speak up much more.  We’re also building up a decent ‘back-library’ of reference points for our discussions.  I like how this is developing.

Until next time…slainte!

The classic "Bland Serial KIller" lookcomp 201_9505comp 201_9526comp 201_9535
 
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Ginger BuddhaThe Group minus Ruminsky, who was too busy taking the shot to pose :-(
 

– Curt