Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #024 – “Another Roadside Attraction” (Tom Robbins)

Date:  January, 2011

Host – Curt

Whisky:  Ardbeg Blasda, Ardbeg Ten, Corryvreckan, Ardbeg Uigeadail, Ardbeg SN2010, Kilchoman Spring 2010, Kilchoman Summer 2010, Port Charlotte PC6, Port Charlotte PC7, Port Charlotte PC8

Rum:  Robert Watson’s Demerara Rum, The Kraken, English Harbour 5 y.o.

 

This had to be a big night.  It was the eve of our second anniversary.  Hard to believe this little collective has existed for two years already.  Though there have been a few changes since the inception, for most part things are cruising along as we put in place so many months back.

This gathering was at my place.  The pressure was double.  First…I’ve kinda felt like each time I’ve hosted, it hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations, and second…it had to be big and memorable to mark the milestone.  Months in the planning led to a hell of a soiree, I think.  Many facets came together to deliver a night that ranks up with my favorites, and I can finally rest a little easier knowing that it came off much as I had hoped.

First things first…I wanted a book that would wreak havoc on everyone’s preconceptions of what was possible in a novel.  A few authors came to mind (Vonnegut, Rushdie, Robbins, etc).  In the end, I elected to go with one I had actually considered as my first Liquorature selection last year:  Tom Robbins’ “Another Roadside Attraction”.  This one was bound to push some buttons.  Firstly, it would offend the purists (ahem…less artistically bent) in any ‘black and white’ take on narrative and structure or ‘A is A’ writing.  Secondly, it would finally target that hot button topic we’d barely scratched to date…religion.  And finally, it would divide the counter-culturalists among us from the more conservative.

Next consideration was beverages.  This had been something I had been working on since my trip to Islay at the end of September.  I found a rum there that simply shattered any ideas I had for presenting anything different.  More on this little gem momentarily.  With the whiskies I would choose to present, I wanted to do a more formal tasting.  I wavered between a couple of selections as I was buying bottles over the course of months.  This kind of bit me as I simply couldn’t decide between ideas so instead just went all in.  I made it an ‘Islay night’…enormous smoke and peat.  We worked our way through 5 expressions of Ardbeg, 3 Port Charlottes and 2 Kilchomans.  Yep…ten drams on offer.  Most at hefty 46% or higher.  Several in the 60% range.

Of course, all of this enormous peaty posturing was somewhat lost on the rummie, so for rums…a reappearance of the Kraken (which Surujbally mentioned needing to revisit) and one of the collective’s favorites…English Harbor 5 year old.

Finally…back to that first rum.  While wandering a shop on Islay last year I passed a bottle marked Watson’s Demerara Rum (cool, I thought…being as that is Robert’s last name).  Something made me stop however, and I simply couldn’t believe it when I took a closer look.  In smaller letters above the ‘Watson’s’ it actually said ‘Robert’.  This was a real ‘Robert Watson’s Demerara Rum’.  What are the odds of finding a rum with the name of one of our members on it?!  So blown away was I that I used valuable suitcase space and weight (which could have been another bottle of scotch) to mule this home from Islay.  It sat hidden for months until this event.

Needless to say, the gang was as utterly gobsmacked as I had been.  Tons of fun and lots of laughs.  And how was it?  Well…see Lance’s review.  The guys loved it.  Everyone tried it, but at the end of the night I sent it home with Robert.

With 13 bottles open, legs were a bit wobbly by the end of the night, but…it was damn good social lubricant.

In a throwback to everyone’s favorite Liquorature meal to date, I nabbed Pat’s recipe for ‘El Cid Chili’ and worked up a batch of this delicious man-meal.  Meat, jalapenos, spices and more meat.  That’s real eats.  Who needs vegetables?  Bah…filler.

On to the book…

There was some rather heated (in a good way) discussion on religion.  C’mon…about time we hit this one.  We’ve touched it briefly a couple of times (“Chrysalids”, “Atlas Shrugged”, etc), but never in a yay/nay type situation.  Rather predictably, I thought, lines were drawn in the group between the more/less conservative.  I think there was more appreciation than actual adoration from a few, but a couple loved it nevertheless.  Some…well…not so favorably opinioned.  Hey…Robbins is not for all.  We need these books that cause division among us.  Makes for a more enjoyable and lengthy discussion.  The few times all have been on board for a certain tale, we have been guilty of fellating the book for half an hour and then running out of things to say.

A final bit of fun…

I sent out a couple of pieces for the guys to give their input.  The first was a list of our books to date and a request that they rate them numerically (one to ten…in half mark increments).  Results were nifty.  It is quite eye-opening to see what resonates with some and what doesn’t.  I’ll put together a little post on the results in the coming days.  The second bit was a series of questions (‘what was your favorite character to date?’, ‘what was the best gathering to date?’, ‘biggest disappointment to date?’, etc).  Again, quite enlightening.  These results I believe I’ll keep to ourselves.  Hey…what happens at book club stays at book club.  The one detail I will share is that the biggest disappointment to date was overwhelmingly said to be the loss of Bauer.  No surprise.  (We miss you, buddy).

All in all…a good night.  I think we made some memories.

 

Randoms:

The reception to Robert Watson rum (and the fight over whether the rummie or Watson would take it home)…’hippy dippy’ book…Pat’s dad living this book…the Stoned Masons…Weasel Jesus…the thumb of Christ…Scottish karate…’with modern technology we finally got ‘er done’…spiritual Darwinism…”safe bet he pees his pants”…revealing all of the survey results…peyote-totin’ honey…the Schneider’s hot dog of rums…the department of redundancy department…the universal sadness over missing Bauer.

201_7566-1That's a lotta likker201_7591-1201_7593-1

201_7601-1201_7609-1DSC_0043-1DSC_0056-1

DSC_0064-1DSC_0065-1DSC_0073-1The three stooges
DSC_0091-1DSC_0092-1 copy41GiuM90NtL__SS500_Roadside
 
 
– Curt
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!

201_3686201_3689201_3692What was I drinkin' again?
 
201_3694The Inimitable Keenan, aka "The Bear"201_3705201_3708

201_3710201_3712201_3717
– Curt

 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #017 – “On The Road” (Jack Kerouac)

Date:  June, 2010

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Lagavulin 16 y.o., Aberlour a’bunadh (batch 27), Bushmills Single Cask (Rum Cask) release (Cask strength)

Rum:  The Kraken

 

Well…we were down a couple members (Pat and Scott), but the rest of us took one for the team and had an extra bevvie or two (Clint and I…an extra three).  Casual night of sipping and chatting.  I think we spoke more to the writing style itself than to the lasting cultural resonance, but…such is.  Lance has written up a fine review under ‘Books’.  Consider it a companion piece to this, in that I will not speak too much to the book here.

I conceded to the lads that I sort of regretted this choice after having made it.  Thinking I maybe should have taken the club in a different direction instead of opting for this.  Ahh well…we’ll have to see how I feel about it as the dust settles.  Good thing this setup we have is not finite.  In theory, I’ll be able to torment the fellows with many more inane choices before we call it quits at the ripe ol’ age of ‘who knows’.

There were quite a few laughs, some good-hearted mockery (mostly at my expense), and a touch of insight too.  I opened up on why I chose this book, and the fellas opened up on why it did/did not resonate.  Clint and I confessed to having an artistic bent and soft spot for books such as this.  Most telling, I think, was asking Robert (who did not enjoy this ‘godforesook book’) if he would have reacted to it differently if he had read it in his teens/20s (as I did initially).  Another great conversational tidbit centered around whether or not we saw in ourselves more of Dean or of Sal.  Interesting to see these moments of introspection.  These conversations are part of what makes this club so central to our lives now.

Drinks were varied and well received.

I brought out the Lagavulin 16 year old for the peat contingent.  Funnily enough, I think we’re starting to bring Robert around to the smoky side of Scotch whisky.  He has long been our anti-peat’er, but has recently shown appreciation for this Lagavulin, the Octomore (world’s heaviest peated whisky, I might add!), and PC6.   Another convert?  Lance…you’re next.  Lagavulin, incidentally is one of the distilleries I will be visiting when on Islay in September.

Next up was a single cask (selected for Canada) bottle of Bushmills.  Being a fan of Bushmills already (hey…it’s what I cut my teeth on), I was blown away to find this snazzy cask-strengther in a beatiful wooden box.  I though maybe we’d tempt Lance with a dram, as it was aged in rum casks.  Nifty.

Last up…Aberlour a’bunadh.  We in Liquorature have quite an affinity for Aberlour.  The 10 y.o. is a staple in many of our homes, and there have been a few bottles of a’bunadh now as well.  This particular bottle was from batch 27 and boasts a whopping 60.1% abv.  Big bold sherry goodness.  Mmmmmm.

The evening’s big surprise however, was The Kraken.  A black spiced rum from Trinidad & Tobago.  Brilliant packaging, and an absolutely unique flavor profile had me finally blown away with a rum.  Dear Lawd, was this stuff good.  Massive vanilla and molasses rounded out with some bold but smooth spice.  I – definitely not a rum drinker – kept a glass of this going all night alongside my whisky.  From now on, I will always have a bottle of this kicking around the house.  Highly recommended.  I anxiously await Lance’s review of this snarling beastie of a rum.

So, while tame in comparison to some of our other soirees, this was a good night.

Highlights:

Jalapeno fire crotch…Torchy Pedon (sp?)…Lance digging at Robert for the Eng/Ger game (which Germany won handily)…’pumped his own tires’…jon bovi…Bauer’s lid being normal for a change (were you feeling alright?)…the Kraken!…daffodils blowing in an Arctic mist (Thank you, John Glaser)…jolly rogering…Moriarty the primitive.

Until we gather to commiserate over how rough it was to make it through Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot”…Slainte!

comp1Bauer fiercely defending his sandwichThe wares on displaycomp4
 
comp5comp6comp7comp8
 
 
comp9comp10comp11
 

– Curt