Mar 022016
 

Liquorature #081 – “Fallen Angels” (Walter Dean Myers)Fallen Angels

Date:  February 26th, 2016

Host:  Jay

Whisky:  Johnnie Walker Green Label, Douglas Laing Premier Barrel Lochnagar 11 y.o., Douglas Laing Premier Barrel Laphroaig 8 y.o.

 

Quick!  While it’s still fresh!

Unbelievable.  These event write-ups are finally up to date.  This last one you’re reading is a recap of a gathering just five days back.  Can’t lie.  Feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I know it is a small contingent that actually reads these meanderings, but they’re captured for posterity nevertheless.  The collective can always look back in fondness on some of these old memories.  That’s the hope anyway.

‘Fallen Angels’.  Interesting pick, this.  We were sitting around at one of the past gatherings months back and Jay had yet to make his selection.  “Hold on,” he said.  He spent a couple minutes on his phone searching the net for ‘most controversial books’ or ‘most challenged books’ or something, and voila!  This was announced then and there.

I think we all came into this one blindly.  None of us knew the title, nor the author, let alone the subject matter.  War.  The Vietnam War, to be exact.  We’ve covered war before, of course, most recently with Boyden’s ‘Three Day Road’ and Conrad’s ‘Heart Of Darkness’, but this would be a very different take.  What went down in Vietnam a few decades back was a watershed moment for many things: media, patriotism, understanding of warfare, culture, politics, on and on and on.  Vietnam was huge.  And for those reasons, it makes absolutely fascinating subject matter.  It has, of course, also led to some incredible films, music and art.

Our discussion was interesting this time around.  No real dissent.  In fact everyone really quite liked the book (conceding a few small flaws or omissions), but where it got really engaging was in our collective understanding and response to what went down in Vietnam and the state of the world that both led to it and resulted from it.  Some truly insightful opinions and, much like the conflict itself, a lot of seeming uncertainty.  This was especially evident in discussions about whether the US should have been involved and how each of us would have handled ourselves as draft-eligible (or volunteers) young men if we had been around at this time in history.  The class and race aspect was given a lot of consideration.  As was an empathetic approach to understanding the Veitnamese side of the story.  Actually, quite an unforgettable night.

Johnnie Walker Green made its third appearance as a club selection, and was even better than most remembered.  It was two Douglas Laing ceramic decanter releases under the ‘Premier Barrel’ line that had us all sitting upright and taking notice.  The first was an 11 year old Lochnagar.  Beautiful nose.  THe second was a young and kicking Laphroaig 8 year old.  I think I preferred the former, but the masses leaned to the latter.  Both awesome though.  And a real treat from bygone years.

Great night, all in.  Jay’s choices of book, malts and great Vietnamese nibbles were inspired and probably earned him just the sort of rewards he’d hoped for.

Random notes:  No Jesse, Chris or Ginger … “The sharpest thing on the table…” … “Beat you with a dildo” … Do you guys surf?” … “You can always have more kids” … a couple other great Laphroaig bottles … some membership discussion

 

– Curt

Feb 102016
 

Liquorature #075 – “Three Day Road” (Joseph Boyden)three-day-road

Date:  August 21st, 2016

Host:  Chris

Whisky:  Ardbeg Perpetuum, Inchmurrin 18 y.o., Glenfarclas 2002 Family Casks Willow Park Exclusive

 

Is Canadiana (or Canadian fiction, for that matter) always so depressing?  From the dystopian leanings of Atwood, through the maritime poverty of Douglas Adams Richards…from the ravages of Edugyan’s World War II era Europe to Mistry’s teeming slums of India, our truly talented Canadian authorial elite have emotionally kicked our asses throughout these early years of Liquorature.

Add another sadistic scribe to the mix, in one Joseph Boyden, hailing from the center of the universe (aka Toronto).  Boyden’s narrative skill and deep understanding of complex character dynamics are matched only by his subject matter expertise and impressive research skills.  There are simply no two ways about it, this story was about as immersive a literary experience as one could imagine.  For those of us (the entire global population now) that were not around to experience the horrors of World War I’s trench warfare, it’s almost unthinkable to question Boyden’s portrayal, so utterly believable is it.  Watching Elijah and Xavier change and cope (or not?) throughout this story was one of the most brilliant examples of character development I have ever experienced in literature.  The descent of these two men, as the story unravels, is not only believable, but harrowing.  There’s a psychological game at play here that hearkens back to other war stories we’ve all seen and read.  It sorta makes us realize that we’ll simply never understand the mindset required to survive these hand-to-hand forays into the fray.

Having said all that…everyone loved the book.  The only real division was between those who preferred the parts that pulled us into the bleakness of the European frontlines of Vimy et al, and those who preferred the less claustrophobic narrative of Xavier’s three day canoe ride through the wilds.  This is a book that is more than the sum of its parts though.  It leaves behind an indelible mark that can only be assessed as a whole.

We revisited a malt better left unrevisited, if I’m to be dead honest: a 2002 Willow Park Exclusive Glenfarclas Family Cask.  I think Chris may have forgotten we’d tried this one, but man…not good.  Solventy and with hints of Mezcal.  Shudder.  To this day I have no idea why this was ever bottled as a single cask.  An Inchmurrin 18 was a merely ‘ok’ middle act, but the Ardbeg Perpetuum we closed with was a knockout.  Pretty sure that one was little more than fumes by the end of the eve.

Random notes:  The appearance of a big, surly Scot … a rather sordid Glenfarclas encounter … an extra bottle … “drop the mic” … “you need England watching over you” … “fuck you and the unicorn you rode in on” … “that’s what Jaeger bombs will do”

 

– Curt