Feb 102016
 

Liquorature Gathering #063 – “The Dark Tower” (Stephen King)The_Dark_Tower

Date:  August 8th, 2014

Host:  Curt / Barry

Whisky:  BenRiach 1999 Cask #40043, SMWS 1.72 “Sophisticated, Delicate & Feminine” 19 y.o. (Glenfarclas), SMWS 77.28 “Tropical Nights” 25 y.o. (Glen Ord), Convalmore 28 y.o., Tullibardine 1964 42 y.o., Kavalan Peated Cask #02949 Distillery Exclusive

 

Some stories are just too big for Liquorature.  ‘The Dark Tower’ was one.  No book in the series, excepting possibly the first, was what could be (or should be) considered a standalone volume.  And, of course, asking the gang to read seven (plus) volumes, in addition to apocrypha and other works was simply not feasible or realistic.  A few years back I floated the idea of doing ‘The dark Tower’ as an offline opt-in Liquorature event for any who were willing to invest some extracurricular time to the multi-thousand page word count.  It never really gelled as an idea, though there were rumblings of interest.  We let it lie.

As you may well be aware by now, Liquorature fell into a period of slumber for a brief while; a cocoon-stage which we call The Dark Ages.  It was during this time that Maltmonster approached me, having started following the beams to the tower himself.  “This is a big story,” he said.  “We need to discuss”.  I’d read through the series a couple of times, and a few of the books several more times.  I was more than willing to crash read through all again to catch up.  MM suggested offering the former Liquorature members an opportunity to tag along on this epic journey, and make something of the night.  A meeting at the Bridlewood nexus, if you will (ahem…my house).  Sure enough, many were interested.  And so it came to happen.

At this time, understand, the club didn’t exist.  It had been nearly half a year since I Old-Yeller’d it in the back 40.  This monumental ‘Dark Tower’ event was a one-off.  A singular gathering with a central focal point.  I guess it had as a template prior Liqurature events to use as a Springboard, but event the simple fact that this was primarily Maltmonster’s event should be indicative enough of the extracurricular nature of this one.  Maltmonster was never a true Liquorature member.  As it came to be, he and I joint hosted this one.  My place, my food choices, etc…his malt selections, etc.

This was an undertaking, event and sprawling story of epic proportions.  Infinite proportions, even.  While most conceded 10/10 for scope, imagination and characters there were some criticisms for an occasionally meandering plot, some anachronistic placements of pop culture and an authorial interjection of the most intrusive sort imaginable (if you’ve read it you’ll understand).  But the greatest indignation was reserved for the ending.  Some were outright incensed; a couple reluctantly conceded its logic; and yours truly said it was perfect, beautiful and absolutely gutting.  I remember reading it for the first time and feeling like I’d been kicked in the stomach.  Remember, I’d been following these characters for probably 15 years by this point.  And even the most macho among us admitted shedding a tear and/or getting emotionally wracked at a couple of points throughout this journey.

The discussion was long.  It had to be.  We did this one justice, I’m proud to say.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that we were lubricating our tongues and minds with a stunning array of single malts.  Every bottle on the table had a reason behind its selection.  I won’t spill here (some things stay with Liquorature), but let’s just say they were as intrinsically linked to the story as the mythical numbers in ‘Lost’.  An SMWS Glen Ord and a stunning 28 y.o. Convalmore were unquestionably the highlights for me.  Both sit high in my all-time rankings now.

Taking further cues from the Ka-tet’s journey, I made my own version of ‘gunslinger burritos’.  Grilled, salted meat, wrapped in greens (with more goodies wrapped inside of course).  Quite amazing, if I do say so myself.  We’ve since made these a few times ’round my homestead.  Not bad for a concocted recipe.  Note: no bumblers were harmed in the making of this meal.

Finally…it was announced that Liquorature would be born again on the heels of this event, with this night leading the charge as the first occasion of our second run.  The faces may be different in some cases, but most of the workings would remain as they were.  We made something beautiful years back (before the world had moved on), now it was simply time to strengthen the beams.

I can’t lie…it felt good to be back in the saddle.  And hopefully this time we can keep it on the straight and narrow.

Until next…long days and pleasant nights.

 

– Curt

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 #026 – “Neuromancer” (William Gibson)

Date:  March, 2011

Host – Clint

Whisky:  Bunnahabhain 18, Macallan Cask Strength, Isle of Arran Machrie Moor, Port Ellen 9th Release*, Signatory Springbank 1969*, Brora 30 y.o.*, ADR Bowmore 15 y.o.*, Jamesons Rarest Vintage*, Laphroaig 25 y.o. Cask Strength*, Tullibardine 1966*

Rum:  Flor de Cana 12

 

Poor Ostby.  The lad gets taken to task for his book choices far more than the rest of the crew.  For some reason his selections either incite vigorous polarization or overwhelming disgust.  Thankfully his ‘awww, shucks, fellas’ and ‘I’d never read it before either’ approach allows him to escape the proverbial cross a couple members have debated nailing him to (after ‘Blood Meridian’ and ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ in particular).  All kidding aside though, Clint has brought some great fodder for discussion to the table through his selections.

‘Neuromancer’ came a little out of left field really.  Or so it seemed.  My ignorance blindsided even me, as the more I looked into this seminal work and influential author the more I realized I’d been living in a cave (hopefully not that of Plato’s farcical idiocy).  Let’s face it…Gibson created a monstrously insightful and enigmatic work that set the stage for a legion of followers.  The Liquorature take?  Well…credit where credit is due…the sphere of influence is easily seen in everyday cinematic and literary trappings.  We acknowledged this, but the first comment made on the night was “I want my money back”.

This eloquent turn of phrase can be attributed to none other than the legendary Maltmonster.  For those into cryptozoology, rest easy.  Even Lance must now readily attest that the beast does exist.  Much like seeing the elusive Keenan-Bear, the proof was far too long in the making for some members of Liquorature (Sage Surujbally, in particular).  Long and short, Maltmonster joined us as an Occasional Traveler for the evening’s festivities.  Clint and I approached him several weeks back about sitting in for a night of inebriation and elucidation.  MM was more than receptive to the idea.

For those not so in-the-know, MM is a frequent contributor and resident wit both here on Liquorature and also on ATW (www.allthingswhisky.com).  His caustic humor and appreciation for the finer things in life (not to mention a healthy disdain for cane-based beverages) made him an ideal candidate to be subjected to our lowbrow humor and pseudo-intellect.  We dragged him down to our level with minimal effort, I should add.  No offense, MM.

Ostby laid out the table with a flair for variety.  A rich and delicious Bunnahabhain 18 year old (yep…the re-vamp at 46.3%) first and foremost.  Balanced, deep and gentle.  A deeply-sherried Macallan cask strength next.  Macallan being a favorite of the Maltmonster, incidentally.  Finally, new to our shores, Isle of Arran Machrie Moor, a peated surprise that sadly does not quite have the balls to back its bravado.  Decent…though slightly underwhelming.  For the rumchum…Flor de Cana 12.  Though I desperately wanted to try this one, I simply ran out of time.  No, wait…that’s not right.  Plenty of time.  Simply have better taste than that.  ;)

A pot of seafood gumbo simmered away in a big ‘ol gumbo pot as well.  Hella good, but one can expect no less from Iron Chef Ostby (heretofore known as ‘Bubba Gump’).  The guy is a helluva cook.  If you get an invite to dinner, you’d be sadly remiss to pass on the opportunity.

The consumables didn’t end there however.  MM, in his uber-humble, yet unflinching generosity, brought a sack o’ heels with him.  Heels does not do justice.  These were hefty bottles.  Port Ellen 9 (“all bow,” he said reverentially when presenting to the gang), Brora 30 yo 2005, Laphroaig 25 yo CS, Signatory Springbank 1969, AD Rattray Bowmore 15 yo, Tullibardine 1966, Jameson Special Reserve.  I can attest, as can the rest, not a dud in the lot.  These are damn sexy drams.

Needless to say, while the novel itself was met with a lukewarm reception for the most part, the whisky certainly was not.

Back to the book.  A precursor to the whole cyberpunk movement, Neuromancer’s dark and cold shadow can be seen across many facets of contemporary pop culture.  I dare not draw the comparisons and parallels here that we did as a group, as I sort of think each reader should do that for him/herself.  An overwhelmingly united opinion spoke to the mired tangle of Gibson’s writing (eloquent and sparse, but somehow dense as f*ck to get one’s head around), yet tended towards a solid appreciation of the tale itself.  While not likely to be anyone’s favorite, nor will it become toilet paper for some (as one or two previous selections may have been).  The characters were unique enough to allow a variety of sympathetic to apathetic opinions by the gang.  Come on…who didn’t find Molly sexy?  You’re lying.

What night at Liquorature is complete without the obligatory dropping of the sacred terms?  Wrestling, Mandingo and sigh…Star Trek.  Gad…why this filth permeates such minds is simply beyond me.  The only life forms lower than a Trekkie are George W Bush and Stephen Harper.

Finally…there was the morning after.  Let’s leave that one alone.  What happens at Liquorature…stays at Liquorature.

 

The randoms:  Mel Gibson … the German Shyster … “You sure do got a purty mouth” … “give you the Jimbo” … “Clint…are your plants live?” … “If anyone is gonna insult you, it’s gonna be me” … a flaccid 8 … “drove cabs, smoked pot and lived with a monkey” … the addition of the thumbs up/thumbs down prediction … MM’s ante to the bevy cause*.

 

– Curt

Feb 242010
 

Keep your Wednesdays open for a while fellas.  Your calendars are about to fill up.  All details are direct from the Willow Park Events Program.

Wednesday, March 10th – The Rum Doctor with Michael Delevante  $20.00

“The magnificent Appleton Estate Jamaica rums are of a unique style, produced only in Jamaica and only at Appleton.  For over 250 years, generations of our rum experts have been handcrafting rums of exceptional quality, and at Appleton Estate the production of our rum is an art.  Like the brandies of Cognac or the single malts of Scotland, the process is controlled at every step;  from the selection of the varieties of sugar cane grown at the estate, the special nature culture of yeast used in fermentation, the unique distillation and blending methods, to the bottling of the rum.

Enjoy the finest rum in the world.  Cheers!”

Wednesday, March 17th – Jameson Irish Whiskey St. Paddy’s Celebration  $20.00

“John Molloy, Jameson Brand Ambassador for Canada, invites you to an evening of all things Irish.  Jameson Irish whiskey and March 17th go hand in hand, and on this evening we will explore what Jameson has to offer including Jameson 18 Year Old, Jameson Gold, and Jameson Vintage Reserve.”

Wednesday, March 24th – New Scotch Releases With Andy Dunn  $20.00

“The whisky market in Calgary is alive and vibrant in 2010!!  Join Andy Dunn from Gold Medal Marketing Inc. and taste the new offerings from Springbank, Benromach, and Tullibardine distilleries.”

Wednesday, April 28th – Rum Around The World  $20.00

“Join Michael Biggatini for an evening of rum tastes and folklore.  Discover stories behind some old favorites and learn what is new and exciting in the market place.  Find how to mix a great rum cocktail and when it is de rigueur to serve it straight up.  Michael will offer sage advice on great rum and food pairings and suggestions on what bottles are a must for your collection.”

Wednesday, May 5th – Highland Park  $20.00

“Highland Park, established in 1798, is one of two distilleries in the Orkney Islands, just North of mainland Scotland.  This technical tasting event will cover the broad strokes of the history and geography as well as the intricate details of the production process from birth to bottling.  Join J.  Wheelock, Brand Ambassador for Western Canada, for an informative session about what has been hailed as “The greatest all-rounder in the world of malt whisky”.