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 #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.

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– Curt

 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #014 – “Geonesis” (David John Watson)

Date:  March, 2010

Geonesis – David John Watson

Host:  Robert

Whisky:  The English Whisky Company (Not Yet Whisky), Connemara Peated Irish, Monkey Shoulder

Rum:  Zaya

 

Another outing to Robert’s home-away-from-home in the countryside.  Liquorature gatherings at the acreage are fast becoming things of legend.  This was another fine evening.

First things first…our resident “Jamie-Oliver-in-training’, Clint, outdid himself once again with his culinary prowess.  He paraded out Liquorature favorite ‘bacon wrapped bacon’ (ya gotta try it to believe it), beer can chicken, roasted peppers and cabbage, baked potatoes and fresh salsa.  Careful, Ostby…soon we’ll all be contracting you.

Robert’s whisky selection was quite a tour.  England, Ireland and Scotland this time.  That’s right…England.  The English Whisky Company (St. George’s Distillery) has been busy bottling the first run of English whisky in over a century.  The bottle we had this night was ‘Not Yet Whisky’ bottled just before the mandatory 3 year mark (in order to be labeled as ‘whisky’ that is).  Surpringly tasty for a new make.  I will have to have another go at this one (if Robert allows).  Off to Scotland for the Monkey Shoulder next.  Read the bottle or visit their site for an interesting little anecdote as to the origins of the name.  This is a blended malt whisky (not be confused with a blended whisky).  First impression…meh.  Tried again a little later and liked it much more, though whether that was due to whisky tongue or the liquor opening up…I’ll have to re-evaluate.  Last stop…Ireland for the Connemara.  I have been waiting to try this one for a while now.  A peated Irish malt.  Quite nice.  Big fruity sour green apple and peat flavor.  Nifty.

And for the rummies…a return to Zaya.  A unanimous adoration for this cane nectar led to an encore, much to the delight of all.  The bottle was done early.

Cozied around the fire we devolved into a lengthy discussion on all the taboo subjects we could indulge in without reproachful wives, before settling into the strengths and weaknesses of the book of the month.

A little history…

This book was selected by Robert.  Why’d he pick it?  It was written by his brother, David John Watson.  And how did it fare?  Well…it was pretty much unanimous, I think.  Mr. Watson…if reading here (and I hope you do)…take note.  ALL of us thought that this book deserved more than self-publication.  A couple of hours with a proof-reader and editor, and…voila!  The concensus was that this work unequivocably stands on its own merit as a fairly well-written techno-thriller, strong in science and with a fascinating take on…well…anymore details would spoil things.  This book should be shopped around.  Someone will kick themselves for not picking this up.  The guys anxiously await a second novel.  Consider this your first pre-sale.

I should mention this gathering was held on a chilly March eve around the fire.  When the flame finally burnt down to coals we meandered inside to sip and strum.  Four acoustics, a lot of pitch problems, and some fun tunes.

Meaningful moments?  Pork draped in pork…Bauer following Clint’s cue from the previous acreage outing…a whisky tour of the UK (lazy Welsh…get it together!!  ;)   )…cigars by the fire…Clint’s liquid rubber shoes…a ton of laughs…far too much Steven Seagal…Star Wars gangsta rap…and who f*ck could forget Tito Baldwin?!

Another one in the books…

Slainte!

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– Curt