Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #032 – “The Wicker Man” (Robin Hardy & Anthony Shaffer)

Date:  September, 2011

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Bruichladdich Organic, Bruichladdich Rocks, Bruichladdich Waves, Bruichladdich Resurrection 2001, Bruichladdich 1998 Manzanilla, Bruichladdich 1998 Oloroso, Bruichladdich Black Arts 2

Rum:  Bruichladdich Renegade

 

The return of the beast.  I managed to lure the elusive Maltmonster from his secluded lair with the promise of an evening filled with Pagan idolatry and fire play.  Knowing the MM…how could he resist?

Never one to arrive empty-handed, no matter how much I insist he try it from time to time, Mr. Monster arrived with a box of Cohibas and a couple delectable bottles from the 70s.  Of particular note…a 1973 Tullibardine…the same year of the film’s release.  The other was a 1976 BenRiach.  Both astounding, of course, as I don’t the man (nor beast) drinks anything but brilliant drams.

As to the other whiskies…where the hell was Bauer (aka Mr. Laddie) on this one?  I guess one of the early titles to this tale’s sequel was ‘Mayday Riding the Laddie’.  With a title like that (and The Wicker Man being set in the Hebrides) a suite of Bruichladdich was the only logical choice.  The list is above, but of course there was a reason for each of the selections and yes…all were tied to the novel/film.

Notice I say novel and film.  One of the reasons I chose this one (aside from my penchant for looking for somewhat out there and controversial subject matter for my selections) was because it was a novel penned after the film.  I actually suggested to the gang that they watch the movie (the 1973 original) before reading the book.  Even I had never cracked the spine on this tale before so this one could have gone over like a lead zeppelin (to cop a phrase).

Thankfully, to my relief, the novel was quite rich in its own right and did serve to add a little more depth and a few interesting scenes.  In my wee l’il mind, these two have now become companion pieces.  The guys did this one justice too.  A great chat…some spirited (pun intended) discussion…many laughs…and an overall enjoyment.  Big relief for me, as I was uncertain as to how this would go over.

A third reason for picking The Wicker Man was simply that I absolutely adore this film.  Top three for me.  It was a neat opportunity to host a night filled with interesting subject matter and fascinating chitchat.

Interestingly enough, to emphasize the Pagan themes, this gathering just so happened (wink wink) to fall on the Autumnal Equinox.

These nights should be the things of memories to come, so…a few other bits and pieces I managed to work into the agenda.  With the score to the film, and some acoustic Agalloch based on the movie playing in the background, it was time to break out the haggis.  Yep…the haggis.  A book set in Scotland needed the full treatment.  I think all of the gang had a bite or two, but I gotta be honest…this was…not good.  I’ll be happy to try it again, and just hope this was a bad one, but my first go at a haggis was less than successful.

Chris was kind enough to lend us his little keg from the whisky he and his dad purchased, so the Liquorature crew were tasked with bringing a malt to contribute.  We set to work vatting our own blended malt, aptly named after the whisky mentioned in The Wicker Man, ‘Summerisle Inheritance’.  This vatting consists of no less than 17 malts (I’ll never tell!), running the gambit from young and spritely through mature and sexy…sweet and sherried to peaty and smoky.  Will be fun to see what comes of this one.  Months down the line, when we finally try it, I’ll post our reviews.

To cleanse the haggis from our palates, we dug into a pot of man-chili, before finishing the night with a freshly baked apple pie…another tie-in to the tale, of course.  I gotta add…my wife was brilliant in support of this whole Wicker Man gathering.  Not only was she my sounding board for ideas (and infinitely patient with all of my idiocy), but she also baked the aforementioned apple pie (Summerisle apples?).  To go this all one better though, she delivered a pretty frickin’ amazing gift to me.  A full size empty cask from ADL that had housed the new Alberta Premium 30 year old…from 1978 (my birth year).  Epic.  Truly epic.

And then came the time of night for our dreadful sacrifice.  It was time to bid farewell to Seamus.  For those not in the know…I built a wee wicker man from grapevine.  This little fellow, a couple feet tall, was dubbed Seamus, and had his fate sealed before the night even began.  As it was now full dark, we took our Wicker Man outside…doused him in cask strength…and set him to burn.  Any reservations I had about whether or not grapevine would burn well were quickly put to bed.  Maltmonster generously offerred up some gorgeous Cohibas, and we all stood back to watch the flames of Seamus lick the stars (well…not quite).  Lots of fun.

Gents, this was one I was nervous about and looking forward to.  Thanks for making it memorable.

Randoms:  “Britt Eklund brought it up a bit”…”Well done…Howie”…The 13 Minute Movie…”Did God create the universe?  No…Chuck Norris did”…Haggis…Whisky Making…Maltmonster sitting in…Cask gift…Burning man…on and on…

wicker manlineupHDRorganicYummmmm...not really
preppingtheblendmasterblender?!?!?!?!startitup
 
Rebel Yell always gets things going!Chris showing off the pipesowwwFire marshall and Maltmonster
 
curtwickermanChris enjoying a stoggiegreatnight
 
 
– Curt
 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #016 – “Looking Backward: 2000-1887” (Edward Bellamy)

Date:  May, 2010

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  Bruichladdich Rocks, Bruichladdich Peat, Bruichladdich Waves, Bruichladdich Links 16

Rum:  Newfoundland Screech, English Harbour 5, English Harbor 25 (courtesy of Sir Ruminsky)

 

Helluva night, lads.  This was a perfect example of how I had initially seen this club working out.  A fine mix of food, friends, drinks and books.  Dynamic and sprawling conversations that drew out both fact and opinion from us.

On arrival, we were met with a spread of bevvies like we had yet to see.  Bauer, in his attempts at wooing the bigwigs at Bruichladdich I believe, has been slowly running through these Islay malts each eve he hosts our motley collective.  This particular night he tabled four different ‘Laddichs, two rums and a to-kill-ya.  Senor Surujbally blew the dust off one of his unopened gems to allow the boys a sip of the infamous EH25.  I had to take a pass, myself, as I had tried it on a previous occasion.  In good conscious I could not rob the misguided West Indi boy of his grail.  I did however, finally sample the EH5.  Verdict…meh.  Hey…that’s just me.  Pass the malt, please.

So…Bauer knocked us all for a loop here with this book selection.  I am still unclear as to the exact path he took to find it, but I know he was looking into other books, and one thing led to another.  Regardless of the journey though, the destination delivered.

Let me veer off a little here.  We in Liquorature have a tough time defining our exact goal with this club.  Obviously the central tenet is enjoyment, but how do we define what constitutes that?  It could be that a) we have a book that we enjoy reading while we read it and therefore earn our just rewards;  b) we have a book that pays off in spades when it comes to gathering night, through great conversation and stimulated discussion;  or ideally c) we have a book that does both.

We have now had a few books (Blood Meridian, Atlantis, Looking Backward) that have left a couple of us…underwhelmed in terms of literary enjoyment, yet have led to brilliant nights of hanging out.  On the flipside, the one book which should have had us talking the sun up (Atlas Shrugged), didn’t create half the ripples I’d hoped for intellectually, but was met with overwhelming acclaim.   Being biased as to Ayn Rand’s school of thought, I like to think that the Liquorature guys are just so logical and bright that there was nothing to bother questioning about her uber-manifesto.  ;)

At the end of the day, each of these books pays off dividends to some of us more than others, but ultimately reward the club as a whole.

It was fairly unanimous that Looking Backward was a hellish read.  To quote Robert, this was my ‘godforsook book’.  A mix of dry literary stylings and Victorian language left us all slack-jawed and glazing.  More than a couple of us were 11th hour finishers here.  It was evident early however, that this book would net a fair amount of criticism, which of course, is good discussion.  I leave the rest to Lance (or whoever writes up the book’s review) to flesh out for you.  Trust me…I said my piece this evening.  The last thing I want to do is rehash THAT.

So…the rest of the evening…

Lots of laughs.  Great to see everyone speaking out.  As mentioned last time ’round, everyone seems to be opening up more and more each time.  Pat, suffering from back troubles, was a trooper just for coming out.  Hope you’re feeling a bit better, amigo.  The mood was light, even when into politics and world religions for a bit.  This was a great night.  Stayed on topic for about two hours all told.  Not bad for a novel no bigger than an Archie Double Digest

Thanks, Liquorature guys, for making this what it has become.

Bauer…well done.

Highlights…

Bruichladdich Links…Eh25…Bob “I just snorted Coke”…reconciling revolutionary communism and objectivism…mmmm…shrimp…devolution into a bit of Atlas chat…Pat’s painkiller cocktail (share next time, wouldja?)…John Wayne in leotards…laughs at my expense as the boys inevitably touched the two taboo subjects (I’ll never tell)…and Bauer’s attempts at unnerving me with a playlist chock full of his bad music.

Until Kerouac, boys…

Slainte!

1  ...And one for you!2 The Spread3  My precioussssssssss...DSCF4958
 
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– Curt

 

 
Feb 102010
 

Sigh.  Like so many things in life, the good stuff isn’t free.

The gents in the club know I have a soft spot for Ardbeg.  In fact, the “Uigeadail” is probably my personal favorite whisky right now (See review under “Beverages”).  I am slowly nearing the end of a great bottle of the “Airigh Nam Beist”, and the ten year old is brilliant as well.

Ardbeg have blitzed the market over the past couple of years (not to the extent that Bruichladdich has, but…) with a slew of bottlings including (but not limited to) “Blasda”, “Corryvrecken”, “Supernova”,  “Renaissance” and now…coming Feb 15th to select markets…”Rollercoaster”.  So, being a fan of Ardbeg’s (mostly) heavily-peated offerings, what exactly is the “Ardbeg Problem”?

Call me naive, but I always imagined the whisky industry to be one of refinement, sophistication and adhering to something of a moral compass.  Let’s face it, the SWA heavy-handedly enforces many of these whisky morals.  Where my naivete shows is in my hoping that somehow whisky prices would be governed by something a little more rigid than the law of supply and demand.

Does this go against my philosophical views on laissez-faire capitalism and uncontested freedom of production and distribution of one’s work?  Well, yeah.  Do I actually believe that pricing should be controlled?  Reluctantly…no.  Would I happily buy more if the costs were to drop?  Absolutely.

The thing is, there is a prestige that comes along with buying that $100 bottle of whisky.  When a dram is offered, we immediately get a sense of our personal value.  Would you share your great expensive whiskies with someone who wasn’t a good friend?  Of course not.  Unfortunately many times the high price tag becomes an advertisement for quality.  We all know however, that just because something has a great marketing campaign and snazzy adverts does not mean the product is all it’s cracked up to be.

Which brings us back to Ardbeg.  Is it that good?  Does the whisky live up to the hype?  Well…yes…it is and it does.  Is it worth the price tag?  Up to you, I suppose.  Cost becomes subjective as we assign value to something.  How badly we want something determines how much we would be willing to spend on it.  My advice…let your tastebuds decide…not the marketing.  Taste as much as you can before buying, and use independent reviews to make informed decisions.  Arbdeg, for example, can not keep up with production demands.  A tip I received…snatch up the ten year old and “Uigeadail” by the case.  Canada may soon find itself unable to procure one of Islay’s finest whiskies.

I remember reading a whisky forum a while back, where one of the bloggers, in complimenting a certain distillery, made a snide remark about how if the distillery were to see these positive reviews they would most certainly jack the price.  A valid concern?  Not sure.  Something for another day though.

I suppose in the meantime, boys, we should resign ourselves to ackowledging that we have an expensive vice.

Clint’s insightful little comment to me:  “Always remember, whisky is made by Scottish people for Scottish people, so there’s bound to be a way we can save a buck or two.”