Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #036 – “The Pillars Of The Earth” (Ken Follett)

Date:  January, 2012

Host:  Pat

Whisky:  BenRiach Horizons 12 y.o., BenRiach Madeira 15 y.o., BenRiach Birnie Moss

Rum: Flor de Cana 5 y.o.

 

This is what it’s all about.  No fuss, no muss.  Just a night of the guys being guys.  Draining bottles, kicking ass and taking names.  Ummmm…right.

This was a simple back-to-basics club night.  The gang all crowded around a coffee table in the middle of the room with a few snacks and some great drinks.  The book was awesome (one of my all time favorites), the drinks great and the mood was one of relaxed candor.  Sometimes it all just aligns and you can see that everyone present is right into it and just glad to be together.

‘Pillars’ is one I had debated picking for some time.  Lance initially recommended this one to me a few years back, and while I was skeptical at first, by page 15 or so I’m not certain the jaws of life could have pulled this one from my grip.  I’ve since passed on copied to others, and seen the same reaction over and over again.  Much like a few other well-known tales, this one was destined to be a club choice at some point.  The only question was who would be the one to pick it.  Enter Pat.

This is the sort of story that has roots leading to countless potential topics of conversation.  I think we jumped all over with this one.  Not in a bad way, but in a sort of ‘holy sh*t…what an achievement’ kinda way.  The epic scope of the story, played out against a historical backdrop, is just the sort of fodder that sets a few of us historical fiction junkies to drooling.  Chris and I in particular, are suckers for this style or genre.  To date, ‘Pillars’, ‘Shogun’ and ‘Atlas’ have been three of the most revered Liquorature selections.  I can’t see this changing anytime soon either.  Hard to depose these grand tales.

Pat tracked down a couple of nifty young malts from one of my favorite distilleries, BenRiach.  The Horizons release is the sister expression to the Solstice Scott brought to the club at one point.  The Birnie Moss…a fiery young peat monster.  The Madeira just smooth and sassy.  As to the rum…while I didn’t partake, I do know there are several fans of this one in our midst.

Like I said…a simple night, built on a great yarn.  No need for theatrics or thematics.  Good call, Pat.

Randoms:  “Low cunning to put a horn up your *ss” … a cross-face chicken wing … “I’m a 70’s guy…1170’s” … forest poon … “I pick Johnny Eightpence” reply: “you can’t go full r*tard” … right in the cunny … “she’s got nice boobs” … “…as a financial planner”

 

– 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

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #009 – “Atlas Shrugged” (Ayn Rand)

Date:  October, 2009

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist, Amrut, Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Rum:  Flor de Cana 5 y.o.

Tequila:  El Jimador

 

Sigh.  This should have been our magnum opus discussion.  Instead it was a slightly disappointing night.  Not bad…just…disappointing.  With a book like ‘Atlas’, we went into it with so much hype and elevated expectations.  Perhaps expectations were set too high though, as we did all see the potential, just never quite reached the heights of conversational brilliance to which we’d all aspired.  Icarus and all, right?  Topics of conversation never really got deep enough into philosophy or aesthetics for my liking.  And to be honest, I expected a little more polarity, but it seemed to be fairly well-received and appreciated by most of the gang and all for the same qualities.  Oh well.

I had ordered a few Atlas pieces before this night, and awarded Bauer a “Who is John Galt” shirt for the ultimate achievement, and simply being the uber keener (in the three months between announcement of Atlas and our meeting, he read Atlas twice and The Fountainhead as well).  Can’t recall if I wore my Danneskjold Repossessions shirt or Reardon Steel one.  😉

Pat, Clint, Bauer and I had cigars and laid into a couple of true heavyweights in terms of peated whisky.  I should also note that this was the night we met and fell in love with the Beast.  Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist, that is.  Dear gawd, what a whisky.  Most of the gang, at this early stage in their tasting journeys were a little…err…unimpressed with the smoky peat monsters.  Oh well…the Ardbeg was beautiful, and the Quarter Cask a brilliant dram too.  I had managed to track down a single malt from India, following on the footsteps of Buddha, who had found a nifty Japanese whisky earlier on.  There was some rum and tequila open too.  The former took a beating.  The latter…not so much.  Food wise…just some snacks:  a table full of a wide array of munchies and sweets.

I’d guess our topic conversation topped out at about two and a half hours.  …And didn’t even scratch the surface.

Perhaps we’ll have to try ‘The Fountainhead’ at some point.

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #003 – “Red Mars” (Kim Stanley Robinson)

Date:  April, 2009

Host:  Lance

Whisky:  Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Glenlivet 21 y.o.

Rum:  Zaya, Flor de Cana 18 y.o., Appleton’s Master Blender’s 30 y.o.

 

This was the first of our “rum nights”.  Monsignor Surujbally, being a connoisseur of the cane, provided a couple of fine rums to sample.  One in particular, a spicy sipper called Zaya, struck a chord with all.  The first truly great rum I have tried.  Being the gracious host he is, Lance also broke out a couple of high end whiskies for those of us not so into the pirate juice.  One of these just happened to be the famous Johnnie Walker Blue Label.  A nice blended scotch whisky, but not what I would have expected for ~$200 a bottle.  Slightly…well…underwhelming.  Not that I would pass on a dram though.  Being as this was my first go at this one, I will have to sample it again with a clean palate.  The second was a Glenlivit 21 Archive.  Bold and beautiful.

Conversation was flowing and interesting.  This was quite a slog of a book.  Not necessarily a bad thing though, as it was a tome delightfully burdened with detail and well thought out pacing.  The science and engineering were where most of the conversation was centered.  Technical merits and genre comparisons were favored topics.  We were detail-oriented and heavily opinionated…though not in a polarity sense.

As I do every time I am at Lance’s place, I must note…love that big sectional sofa for reclining and conversing in.  Topic conversation was about two hours.  Tack on an additional hour worth of Zaya praise.

Another great night.

 

– Curt