Feb 012016
 

Liquorature Gathering #057 – “Fahrenheit 451” (Ray Bradbury)fahrenheit-451

Date:  October, 2013

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  Highland Park Thor, Springbank Cask 450, Balvenie Single Barrel 12 y.o. Bourbon

 

Ah, Ray Bradbury.  The master.  Gotta credit Lance here for my own initiation into Bradbury’s worlds.  A few years back he introduced me to a collection of the man’s short stories by way of ‘The Illustrated Man’.  Of course I knew of Bradbury’s work, but in my naïve rejection of the genre I simply passed him over time and again.  When finally pressed to take book hand I was utterly blown away.  And frustrated with myself, I should add, for all the time wasted.

Bradbury’s shorter offerings are grounded (ironic word choice, I guess, considering a large proportion of his stories have deep space settings) more in speculative fiction with a simplistic – yet dark- bent, as opposed to any truly technical hard science fiction leanings.  In fact, the closest contemporary I can think of to Bradbury’s modus operandi is that of Stephen King’s own short stories.  The ‘get in, slit the throat, get out’ kind of brevity that makes them resonant, affecting and lingering.

So what happens when you take that concept a little further and expand to a couple hundred pages?  Quite frankly, it works perfectly.  Or at least it does with ‘Fahrenheit 451’.  This is still just a simple story, in terms of execution and imagination being more important than fact and research, but the message is utterly transcendent.  Additionally, it speaks volumes (pun intended) to an audience of bibliophiles, such as a book club.

Bauer chose this one for us.  That means malt selections were also at his discretion of course.  He hooked up releases from two of Scotland’s great producers, in Highland Park and Springbank.  The latter was an indie and slightly out of character for the distillery (but still a great malt!), while the former was a knockout.  We beat the hell out this 16 year old cask strength Norse god.  And the evening’s third dram was a single cask from Balvenie.  Balvenie rarely excites me, but this was a gorgeous drink.  Truly.  Clean and beautiful.  Oh yeah…and did you notice the Springbank was Cask 450, while the book was ‘Fahrenheit 451’?  Cheeky.

As always, Bauer offered up anything else he had open as well.  Only fitting we should be quite ‘wet’ (read: somewhat slightly affected by beverage) by the end of a night discussing fire.

I’m still hoping to tackle a collection of Bradbury’s short works in the coming years.

 

– Curt

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 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 #012 – “The Catcher In The Rye” (J.D. Salinger)

Date:  January, 2010

Host:  Clint

Whisky:  Caol Ila 12 y.o., Highland Park 12 y.o.

Rum:  English Harbour 5 y.o.

 

There is something deeply and darkly humorous about both of the evenings Clint hosted being among the best, while his book selections generally considered among the worst.  I say ‘generally’.  We all know the hazing he received after ‘Blood Meridian’ (though some of us loved it).  I would venture to say that he has not redeemed himself in the eyes of a few with ‘The Catcher In The Rye’.  Clint…you’re still aces in my book, buddy.

A brilliant night really.  Cozy setting around the living room…fireplace on…nice and dim (lighting, not the participants).  Clint’s culinary skills are still unparalleled.  Bacon wrapped bacon, anyone?  Phenomenal selection of beverages.  Interesting to note, the rum was the first bottle finished.  I wish I could attest to its quality, however before I could sample…poof!  Gone.  Alas…no tears, as I was cuddled up with the Caol Ila 12.  Stunning dram.

And the book?  Well…a general animosity.  Think the highest opinion was perhaps a 7 out of 10, and even that was generous.  We struggled to justify the profound impact this book has had on so many people, but truly only came up with theories.  A moment of insight regarding the negative impact (think Chapman – Lennon) that ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ has had was rather nifty though.  Topic conversation about two hours, and a few follow-up bits.

Few other notes…cameras in full force this eve…discussed the site (as this was our first meet since it came online)…Robert’s next selection revealed (hang tight for details)…raised a glass to the late Howard Zinn and J.D. Salinger who both passed this week.

Another very enjoyable evening in the books (pun fully intended).

A photo below from Lance: he was testing out his new wide angle lens.  From left to right: Ruminsky, Pat, Clint, Bob, Bauer, the Last Hippie and Scott

– Curt