Whiskies of the World, 2009 planning info!

Greetings 3DC,

Well plans are getting finalized for the Whiskies of the World Expo 2009 (Date:3-28-09). Heck, I’ve already bought my plane ticket. As to event tickets, if you plan on attending, please contact Fergus directly. He is our ticket coordinator for this event and is intending on negotiating with the event staff directly on our behalf. If you are intent on getting your own ticket you can do so on the event’s site. The official 3DC hotel this year is the Hotel 480 as recommended by our Local 3DC rep theJamez. Thanks for the leg work James.

We’d love to have as many of you attend as can make it. This is after all the end all be all of whisky events. It makes our wee little shin digs look like nap time at the preschool. Even Mathias thought he’d seen it all until last year and he was blown away at what he saw and learned. Ask him yourself if you like.

Event information:

VIP Ticket Price: $120.00 ($115.00 General Admission so just pay the extra $5)

Event ticket site:  http://celticmalts.com/shop/category.asp?catid=43

Hotel: Hotel 480, stumbling distance from the Irish bank. The hotel itself is under renovation but this should be done before the event. We can get the cheaper, pre-renovation, prices by booking now.

Hotel site: http://www.hotel480.com/

As an alternate places of lodging I’d suggest either that the Hotel Des Artes (http://www.sfhoteldesarts.com/index.php) or Hotel Triton (http://www.hoteltriton.com/). We have 3DC members who have stayed at both of these hotel on prior trips and they are also very close to the Irish Bank, our “bar away from our home bars” and each has something good to be said about it.

Raz-


Raz’ Great Wester War XI 3DC Tasting Event Review

GWW 2008 was a grand war for me. I was surrounded in camp by many of the best of the 3DC, my household just adjacent, and the Crimson Spade to another side. Aeten Royal was across the path and Fergus / Sean South some how managed to convince his Highness that having the tasting in his camp was a darned good idea. This worked out very well because we were a bit cramped for communal space in our camp. Unknown to me (because I didn’t ask more than anything), nearly everyone who camped 3DC brought period pavilions. While cool, they tend to take up more space than the alternative. We had 4 wedge tents (2 early and 2 late), 2 wall tents and a Viking a-frame. We ended up with 3 satellite tents, the Viking and 2 modern tents on the other side of White Star because the 3DC simply ran out of space. This was actually the only bitch I had (or heard of for that matter) about the camping situation. The 3 groups who planned on sharing land grab space got kind of muddled in the confusion of set up stranding the poor White Star with strangers in their midst and a lack of visible identity or notable presence. (Next time around, I don’t think the 3DC will go this route. We’ve enough people to get our own space and then we won’t have to rely on anyone else for set up direction.) The 3DC day shade has gone missing, though there would have been no room for it anyway as our allotment of land was a long thin rectangle with only space for a 9’ hallway between Donia Cat’s tent and mine. Just enough as it turns out to run the thin long day shade between them, giving a nice shaded entry to the camp just inside the camp doorway. The walls went up and we were complete and looked damn good too.

 

As to the tasting itself, let me preface this by saying I was sober throughout the entire event so my memories may be a bit hazy. That being said, this was one of the top tastings for me personally. Thanks to everyone who chipped in and to those who just came.  Everyone added to my enjoyment and I relish the memories still. As to those that didn’t make it, we missed you, but you missed more as we had over 50 different drams on the table to share.

 

Fergus wanted to roam about giving out glasses as invitations on Thursday night, ala the first tasting, but this never seemed to come to fruition so the glasses were set out on the tables and people were invited to keep them if they wanted to.

 

The glasses are the same wee tulip shaped glasses I use for my personal tasting set and people seemed to appreciate the use of a proper shaped glass for the event. There were a sizable number left over so Fergus now has a tasting set of his own, likely larger than mine too.

 

I had every intention of working up a proper whisky talk to give to the assembled masses prior to the actual grand tasting, but even though I never even put on armor or even really left our camp for any extended period, the time to do the prep never materialized. The other issue with having a pre-event talk was that since we never really communicated a start time to our attendees, people didn’t show up at one time making a mass oration impractical. For future events like this I suggest setting a start time and perhaps handing out flyers for the event as well would be in order.

 

Instead, I set up on stage left of the pavilion by the cheese plate with my show and tell kit, figuring on some Q&A type encounters. My kit consists of a couple books, a head of a bourbon barrel, a bowl of malted barley and one of water, a lump of Irish peat and a candle representing fire, these along with air, being the primary materials that go into making whisky. I figured that I could take anyone interested aside and teach them about just about anything they wanted; how it’s made, regions, history or what ever. I think I gave about 10 in depth talks to 2 to 6 people on varying topics throughout the night, burning bits of the peat as needed with the candle. Eoin McKinney stepped in giving a few more when I was busy with other concerns (by the way, we did this long enough that the candle actually ran out and they usually outlast my drinking on a regular night.) My basic talk format was that I’d go over basics based upon what they wanted to know and then send them down the table to get a dram but not drink it. I’d then show them, if they came back, how to bloom the dram and unlock the flavors.

 

Each session was tailored by the questions and reactions of the participants. This format was ideal for me. Countess Albra even sat down at one point with Master Otuell (standing to the side) as I gave a talk and we went over the differences in modern whisky and that of the pre-Victorian world. I even confessed that (I also confessed at the same time that I don’t actually want a peerage in the society) if I ever got a peerage I would want it to be for whiskey knowledge and research. After this, to my surprise (read: horror), she got real serious and started watching my talks with some intensity and asking her own probing questions as they went along. I’m pretty sure I had the correct answer to every question that was posed to me that night. (Perhaps I made a mistake with my big mouth again about that peerage crack. Oh well, too late to worry about it now.) This was so much fun and to see so many people go away with a new or in some cases renewed appreciation for what whisky is and what goes into it was hugely gratifying to me. I had no end of fun doing it.

 

Sean South primarily ran the other end of the tables fielding questions like a pro and keeping the drams flowing even if it seemed like every time I turned around he was pouring from the fifth of Tully again. Seriously, that guy needs to be rewarded by Tully directly as I doubt that they could find a more ardent supporter of their product.

 

Quite a few other 3DC pitched in to pour and answer questions as the night went on. Fergus jumped into the role right at the beginning as the “host with the most”. Flitting about like a drunken social butterfly, keeping everyone interested and entertained and directing them to wherever they would best be served; the neophytes to the show and tell display and those who knew what they were doing or just didn’t care to Sean and the drams. Our security volunteer, unfortunately, came up ill at the last moment so we carried on without any. This did not seem to be a problem as everyone was reverent and well mannered. Perhaps this was because we were in a royal encampment, but either way, even those who were too drunk to stand without swaying were quite well behaved. I’m not aware of even one stubborn drunkard incident to comment on and that’s a first.

 

Some several hours later, His Highness Aetenvelt went to bed giving me charge of the camp (ah the power) as Fergus was nowhere to be found by this point. A half hour or so after this things were quieting down so I made last call and set about clean up. Eoin, Jerric, Dillan, a few others (who’s names escape me as I was completely sober by this point) and I did the clean up and carted the coffin of left over drams and glasses back to camp, turning off the Aeten lamp as we left.

 

Two highlights of the night that come to mind: The first was when the local Fire Chief and his family, checking out the general SCA on goings, wandered into our tasting, met up with Fergus and were blown away by our hospitality and the quality of what we had to offer. He was only able to sample a few, but he was truly intrigued and grateful for the experience. The other was a group of 4 guys who stumbled (literally) over to me and asked how much it costs to participate. (I thought for a moment of Rosencrans and Gyldenstern are Dead’s line about “costing little more to get caught up in the action… and making some reference to Alfred.” but then decided better of it.) They were set aghast that we did this gratis, and so I suggested that if they wanted to pay something that they should come down to the Q&A table and listen to me for a few minutes so they could better appreciate what was on offer, as by their own admission they were not really into whiskey. They did so. The head of this little band seemed so truly impressed (and really ate up the information) that he confessed to being a whisky guy now. I told him that if he liked what he had experienced, next year he should bring a bottle to contribute to the table. He said he would.

 

Thanks again to all those selfless individuals (and the rest of you too) who contributed time, efforts and drams to making this another glorious tasting for the 3DC.


An Open Letter from John Glaser

Greetings to our Friends,

So I don’t normally get all political, and I never forward on chain letter shite and the like, especially as 3DC. You know the rule; “leave your politics at the door”, but even I have my limits.

The “right honorable” British politicians are attempting to enact legislation creating the term “Blended Malt Scotch Whisky”. Now, the dram they intent to use this term on is currently called a “Vatted Malt”. There is simply no reason to muddy the terminology by tossing “Blended” into something that is not actually a “Blend” under the current terminology. OK, so I’m not going to belabor this.

Long story short, John Glaser of Compass Box has asked us all to sign his petition requesting that they go stuff the new term someplace where the sun does not shine. John is a wise and great whiskey man who we, the founders of the 3DC, respect as a whiskey sage; so I am in turn asking the whiskey lovers I know to sign as well.

If you feel inclined to do so, here is the link to learn more: http://www.thescotchblog.com/2008/03/an-open-letter.html
(John’s original letter can be seen by clicking “Continue Reading” below…)
Yours in Scotch,
Raz

Continue reading


Prop 317, who’s in?

As we continue to modernize our lifestyles — riding instead of walking, working in a cubicle instead of in a field, playing iPods instead of sports — more people are becoming overweight and, worse, obese. In fact, there are so many overweight and obese people that some public health officials now call it an epidemic, particularly because of the many resulting health problems.

Obesity: A Worldwide Problem

Around the world, more than one billion adults are overweight and about 300 million of them are obese. In the United States, 66 percent of all adults are overweight and, of those, 32 percent are obese, for a healthy lifestyle take a look to these gluconite reviews.

Obesity levels in Japan and some African nations are below 5 percent, but they’re rising. Obesity rates in China overall are not high, but in some of that country’s larger cities, rates are up 20 percent.

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, too. The number of overweight children in the United States has doubled since 1980, and for teens, it’s tripled. And the problem with children is now a global issue as well.

Obesity: Why It’s Happening

Although your genes play a role in your body weight, there are other factors involved. In many places around the world, particularly the United States, we have plenty of nutrient-rich food to eat and easy access to fattening fast foods and sweets. Also, because of our modern lifestyles, we are not as active as we once were. The end result: We’re eating more calories than we can burn. Try out Carbofix as an obesity prevention treatment.

Being overweight or obese can cause a whole cascade of health problems, from heart disease and diabetes to stroke and even some types of cancer. These diseases can seriously impact a person’s quality of life and lead to premature death.

Obesity: How It Differs From Being Overweight

Obesity and overweight are terms used to describe a level of excess weight that’s considered unhealthy for your body size. One way to determine if you are overweight or obese is to figure out your body mass index (BMI), a calculation you make by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters (kg/m2). Don’t worry — you don’t have to do the math; you can find BMI calculators online.


In response to Seamus’ post on whiskey gift buying… Raz’ Non Whiskey – Whiskey gift list

So you need a gift for that picky whisky lover in your life but don’t know enough about their tastes to buy them an actual bottle eh? Well we (3DC) have got you covered. The following is Raz’ top 10 non whisky-whisky gifts to give for the holidays.

Please note that, excepting the #1 pick, there is no particular order to them, nor are the links necessarily to the only and or best value sites to get these gifts from. Buyer beware is the rule of the day. These are just ideas for you to use as your own (with our blessings) and to get the job done.

  1. Give the gift of knowledge – Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2008: $18.12 http://www.alibris.com/booksearch.detail?invid=9267045883&qwork=-184442991&title=whisky+bible&qsort=&page=1
  2. More Whisky smarts can be given in the form of a Subscription to Whisky Magazine: $44.95 http://www.whiskymag.com/subscribe/
  3. If fine stemware is your preference then the Reidel Vinum Whiskey Glass would suit your needs: $17.00 http://www.hitimewine.net/istar.asp?a=6&id=703770!1107
  4. OK, so there is SOME whisky in this “no-whiskey” gift list but as Seamus says, you can’t go wrong with the Balvenie, he’s wrong-but he says it anyway, so with that in mind; the Balvenie Gift Basket from Hi Time Wine Cellars would make someone very happy: $114.95 http://www.hitimewine.net/istar.asp?a=6&id=810534!0
  5. An outstanding fallback gift for any whisky lover is simply a good Flask: $12-$85 http://www.hitimewine.net/istar.asp?a=3&dept=06&class=13
  6. For the more eclectic and interior decorationally minded, an obscure Whisky Distillery Sign from ages long past: $37.01 http://beerinnprint.co.uk/category_list.php?list=67
  7. Got someone that is so into whiskey that they’ve been considering making their own? Give them a Whiskey Barrel: $40-$272 http://thebarrelsource.com/combos.html
  8. If you are a cheap bastard, I mean “Scottish Frugal” a Whiskey Bar Towel is a cool gift to get: under $10 http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?from=R40&_trksid=m37&satitle=whiskey+bar+towel&category0
  9. For those living on the West Coast, where prohibition has been reinstated at all the beaches, a pair of Reef Dram sandals would be of great use: $29-$50 http://www.reef.com/guys/productdetail/guys/footwear/sandals/2597
  10. Because you really can’t do much better than giving knowledge as a gift, Tickets to WOW 2008 in San Francisco would be great. Remember, we’re staying at the Hotel Des Arts in case you want to send them by to say hello as well: $110.00 and up http://www.whiskiesoftheworld.com

Happy shopping and if you are reading this, I wouldn’t mind being on your list…


Pimpin the WOW 2008 trip early…

Greetings all,

Well I know it’s many months away, but Jason, Adrian, and I would like to extend an early invitation to you all. We would like to have some of your company for our now yearly San Francisco trip to Whiskies of the World Expo (http://www.celticmalts.com/events.asp?page=2) this upcoming year. It will be held March 28th -29th with the grand tasting again being held Saturday on the San Francisco Belle docked at pier 3. There will be seminars and “Whisky University” on Friday. We’ll be painting the town all shades of Plaid when ever we get the chance to do so, so make sure you sleep well before you come. We will, I’m sure, also make our yearly pilgrimage down to the wharf to visit Lark In the Morning (http://larkinthemorning.com/) for all our period music needs and to get our annual early morning Irish Coffee at The Mermaid pub near by. You’ll likely also get the chance to make fun of Seamus as that seems to happen a lot in SF, just ask any cabby or bar tender in the town.

Now it is too early to book rooms (wait till November) but so you can plan well in advance, our hotel of choice once again is going to be the Hotel Des Arts (http://www.sfhoteldesarts.com/index.php). This is an awesome little boutique hotel right at the intersection of China Town (weird shopping), the Mission District (Shopping) and the financial district (ATMs). Most of the rooms have been done up by local pop artists (Not Lichtenstein though) and each is very different. The rooms are a steal for the area as well with suites currently only going for around $160, Queen rooms for around $90 and for the more economically minded they even have European style wee rooms with out en-suite facilities that go for around $50 at night if memory serves. The shared bathrooms were actually pretty nice (I checked them out last year just out of curiosity.) The prices for next year have not been set yet so there will likely be some increase but you should be able to get the idea from current pricing. The three of us, depending on whether or not Jean and or Maggs come along, were anticipating sharing a suite this time around. The Hotel itself is great, but the most important part is this it is literally across the alley from the Irish Bank, our favorite and official pub while we are in SF. They love us there and we them (It’s kind of scary to think that I’m considered a regular in a pub hundreds of miles from my home.) There is a trade off for the real cheap prices and that is that the rooms tend to be a bit wee, but that is well offset by the Irish Bank so no worries there. The hotel is also only 1.1 miles from Pier 3 so that’ll be well withing stumbling distance if need be, and times being what they are.

Well that’s about it for now. I’ll be prompting you all again in November when the room bookings are available and the like but if you can, please plan ahead. This is bound to be a great trip and not one to miss if you at all like Whiskies.

YiS,
Raz


The state of the event… GWW

Dead, mostly…

Here’s the skinny. Due to Great Western War 2006 being canceled and 2007 being moved to Bakersfield (something we are none to pleased with ) we are not offering an official tasting at GWW, preferring moving the event to Estrella this year to serve the greater population. We don’t expect a large turn out at the upcoming GWW for the above reasons and preliminary 3DC head counts are quite low as well. Fergus and I expect to be making a Fri-Sun run at it to give the site a chance, likely staying with our 3DC friends of the White Star Crew. A small tasting of some sort will likely happen at GWW but nothing as grand as usual.

Fergus has big plans for Estrella. Something about a paired whiskies/cheese event. He’ll have to fill you in on that though.

-Raz


Gospel according to Raz – WOW 2007

Well, another fine 3DC trip. It’s a shame no other 3DC could join us but I under stand. Here is my hazy recollection as since I was burdened with an abundance of sobriety (for one of our trips anyway) thus my memory is a bit suspect this time around.Day one;
Seamus and I wake at the virtual butt crack of dawn to get to the airport for the cheapest flight out of John Wayne Airport. We get there around the recommended 2 hours before our flight so that’d be… 5:15am or so. Again, I was sober at this point so I’m not entirely sure on this detail. A nice, though full, fight on Alaska dropped us in Oakland ahead of schedule around 8:05am. A short jaunt via BART into SF downtown on a standing room only train put us at the hotel around 10:00am. We dumped the luggage and proceeded to try to find an open bar despite a sinus headache worthy of note for yours truly. We walked China Town, the Guido District and back over to the museum complex. NO BARS OPEN! What kind of third rate town is San Francisco anyway? We ended up settling on “walk up” sushi and iced tea from in a can at some semi subterranean lunch spot just outside the BART station we started at. During this time Fergie called saying he’d had enough of work and that he’d be at the station in 40 minutes. 40 minutes later he called to say he’d not left work yet and that he’d see us in 40 minutes. We told him to take a hike and we’d be drinking at the Irish Bank by the time he got his sorry ass in to town, and so we were.

We started the trip on a whiskey liqueur from Macallan, Amber I think it was called with a Smithwick’s chaser. When we thought it to be about time for Fergie to show up we ordered him a “Hot Toddy” or as he likes to call it, a “Hot Irish Whiskey”. Potato – Potauto. After a Guinnie we headed back into China Town ending up having an especially strong Kamikaze or some other concoction with some Chinese distilled shot added for the extra kick. We never did find out what was in it. Long story short, we got our room at the Hotel Des Arts, and went back to drinking. The Hotel Des arts by the way is indeed every bit as eccentric and cool as I thought it would be. The rooms are small and the plumbing occasionally questionable but clean and it’s defiantly awesome to be around all the art. Kind of like sleeping in the SFMONA without all the Picasso crap. Oh, and less child ass crack in your face. I’m sure Seamus will go into that one deeper in his write up… (Did I just write that?) We changed and headed to the Pared Tasting event John Glassier was putting on and we’d managed to get last minute tickets for.

This was a dignified event. John gave direction as we made our way through each of the many courses. I’m sure Seamus will do a better job than I at this bit so I’ll leave him to it, but I did have a grand time. Some how we managed to get seated with the only other people from Orange County. I never quite got the details of what business they were in, but the eldest seemed to be treating the other two who were clients of his. The youngest I heard was in law. They were each good company though a little more conservative that we are used to and the conversations were quite enjoyable. The Palace hotel is an architectural beauty. The main dining room, not where we were having our event mind you, was a glorious multi story ordeal with vaulted glass ceilings like you’d find at a fine European arboretum with huge crystal chandeliers and the like hanging from it. I was quite impressed. We had a little conference room up stairs that was nicely appointed and just the right sort of intimate size for an event such as this. Fergus grabbed a full bottle of wine from the table (we asked, honest,) and we stumbled our way back up to the Bank. We met up with our favorite bar tender and ended up giving him the unused portions for the wine. (It should be noted that this was a wine not yet on the market and was quite a privilege for us to have gotten to try. Not that I like wine mind you. Grapes bad, Barley good!) I crashed about 10:30 or so.

Some time later that night Seamus and Fergie made it back to the room with a serious case of the giggles. Kind of like sleeping in the same room 12 year olds girls holding a pajama party, you know you’re not getting any, it’s not funny to you, and you just wish you could club them in the head just to make them shut up, especially when your sinuses still hurt. I decided to make it up to them in the morning.

Day 2, woke up bright and early (approx 8:00am) with no head ache and a mind to get going. I went down to Starbucks and brought back Americanos for all of us and proceeded to wake them up, much as I’d been awakened the night prior. “Boy are they grumpy when you wake them up after a late night of drinking.” Hell, I brought them coffee. It’s not like I wasn’t considerate. I gave up after about an hour and went for a walk to see what else was alive early in the morning in SF. I came back about a half hour later due. I guess I did a better job than I thought. We committed to our yearly tradition of Irish Coffees down at the Blue Mermaid Bar down on the Warf and had the desk call us a cab. We three argued over the artistic completion of the room for a bit and decided that Seamus didn’t have an artistic bone in his body and that we should disregard his opinion all together, thus ending the debate. Good call on Fergus’s part that last bit. (You should remember this bit later in the story.) By the time my compatriots caught up with me and we made it down to the curb, the cab bolted just as I grabbed for the handle. This, as it turns, out would be a good thing for the funny. Another cab was not too hard to find. I jumped in the back seat followed by Fergus. When Seamus tried to get in Fergus said “Where do you think you’re going Bitch?” while motioning to the front seat. Seamus hopped in the front and soon made a call to James just in case he was awake and wanted to meet up with us down on the Warf. An odd thing happened at the end of the call as the cabby said to Seamus; “You a liar.” “Your name not “Jason”, your name “Bitch.”” This must have been about the funniest thing a cabby has said to anyone ever. Hired help 1, Seamus 0.

First stop was Lark in the Morning. Not to be missed if you like bizarre musical instruments from other places and times. I gots me a Honer in the key of A just for kicks. By around 10:30am we made it to the Mermaid to find out they didn’t serve food till 11:00am so we had Irish Coffees at the bar and waited. Discussions once again turned to things artistic (and I don’t remember specifically what about but…) Fergus and I pretty much shut Seamus down as he was still really from the cabby. Now this is when you really get and idea for how this trip was going to go for Seamus. The bar tender who’d been listening with passing interest leans into our conversation and says (indicating Seamus) “He’s not particularly artistic is he?” Fergus and I about fell off our stools laughing at this. Hired help 2, Seamus 0. Seamus was feeling pretty poorly, and probably picked on as well, and so he hopped a cab back to the hotel. Fergus and I did the touristy area of the wharf just for kicks. About the fourth discount camera shop from the Mermaid, I got the bright idea that we should get Seamus a shirt that says “Bitch” on it to commemorate the day. This just as we were passing a t-shirt place that by pure chance had a pair of pink short shorts with “bitch” across the butt. We were kind of afraid he might model them for us so we went back to the t-shirt idea. Just then, as it always does with 3dc luck, the crack head working there says; “All our stuff is blank and you can pick what ever you want on it.” So we asked “Can we get a t-shirt that says “Bitch” on it?” After perusing the not inconsiderable selection of men’s t-shirts and considering a baby-doll T, we spotted an Alcatraz type with white and black stripes and had a bright read “Bitch” put on square in the chest of it. Hey, what are friends for? We then got rained on and checked out Pier 33 and caught a cab back to the hotel for naps. By the way, just because it’s $6.50 to get from your hotel doesn’t mean it won’t be $9.85 to get back. Not quite sure how the math works there, but both we two and Seamus ended up with the same return rate. Go figure. We of course woke Seamus up to give him his present and proceeded to try to take a nap around the three of us getting a case of the giggles.

We awoke with just enough time to get a quick dinner at the Bank and head over to the Speak Easy party Fergus wanted us to crash. We walked up a large hill and down the side of the same hill to the crank hoe section of town. (It must have been because I swear I’ve never seen so many cheap drugged out looking ladies of the late afternoon anywhere.) The Speak Easy was conspicuously inconspicuous. Seriously… It was a windowless plain gray short building trimmed in black, with a sign on the corner declaring it to be the San Francisco Sobriety Society or some such nonsense and a plain black door with a push button intercom next to it. You push the button and say the password; “rain-pitchforks” I think it was. Well, it wasn’t quite ready for us so we were determined to get a drink someplace and so we kept walking down the hill. We ended up at a “dive” bar, in the most cliché’ sense of the term, down the hill another block. Mind you this was after deftly avoiding the comedy performance put on by the Crack Worlds version of Laurel and Hardy. These poor fellows were fumbling with and then trying to recover something they dropped out of a plastic bag and were very concerned about getting every last little bit back into said bag as well as politely telling the aged prostitute in the shockingly short mini-skirt and fake fur bolero coat to piss off. This was not a “good” part of town to be sure. We considered leaving the area all together and just meeting up with James rather than rerunning the crack hoe gauntlet again, but Fergus would have none of it and so after a drink or three, we walked back up the hill to the party. On the way up the hill we ran into another strung out woman. This one in her best Chiquita Banana outfit who said to us, and I quote; “Farmers don’t play.” and staggered further down the hill. “Farmers don’t play.” There is something existentially metaphysical about that sentence. We could hardly stop laughing about it as we gave up the password and were shuttled into the bar, passed the main dining area and then through a secret bookcase into the back room. It was neat enough, a bit crowded and also I finally got to try a “Blood and Sand”. Search SingleMalt.TV for the recipe if you’d like. It was pretty good as cocktails go. We finished our drinks and got the hell out of Dodge heading the rest of the way down the hill out of the crank section of town to the Palace Hotel so we could meet up with James who knew a good bar just across the street as the hotel bar was packed. The bar across the street was packed, as was the “House of Shields” and every other bar we walked to. We ended up in a really neat bar with vintage motorcycles hanging all over the ceiling and western guns in cases along the back wall. What six shooters and 1940s Triumphs have in common, other than being in this one bar, I don’t think I’ll ever know. More drinks were had, good conversation as well, and time passed all too quickly as we then needed to get back to the Palace for the Grand Tasting.

This event was the usual chaos getting in with Fergus being a dram club member getting in about ½ an hour before we did. Fist dram of the night was the Tomintoul 16, followed by the dram of the event, for me anyway, the 27. All the apricoty goodness you’d expect from a Speyside and with a long story to boot. A little on the thin side, but it had the best taste of the night. We were a little short on time, given the block long line to get in, so we headed right up to the classes to find Ian Millar’s class. (http://www.blog.glenfiddich.com/ian-millar.html)

The concept of this class was to let us sample all the single barrel drams that were blended together to make the single malt Solera 15. Also we had the unusual opportunity in this class to sample pure spirit or “new mix spirit” straight from Glenfidich’s copper still. Not something I’d drink regularly though it was much smoother than I’d expected at 63.5% alcohol by volume. Kind of spicy (nutmeg, vanilla and the like) mostly with a curt finish and simple story. Next came the 15 year American oak with lots of sweet vanilla tastes but smelling a little heavy on the iodine. Our third course was another 15 American oak, this time finished for 4 months in new American oak for that extra honey and vanilla with a bit of a burn to it. Forth was a 15 in Sherry oak which was dry and full of strong sherry. Lastly we had the fully blended product of the last three, the Solara. Mind you, after being forced to sing the Solara song, which if you know me wasn’t much of a chore. Seamus whimped out claiming he didn’t know the tune. Must have been an artistic ditty or something. The Solara 15 was sweet on the nose with notes of sherry and vanilla, very oakey on the tongue with a leisurely finish again with the Sherry. It’s amazing how potent the sherry is in overwhelming the other two casks to become the dominant theme of the finished malt.

I hit most of the rest of the grand tasting. Highlights being the Glenfidich 21, which Ian seemed more proud of than the Balvenie 21. Kind of figures if you think on it rationally. Seamus would be too prejudiced to make the true artistic call here so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Another highlight was the Bulleit Bourbon – Frontier Whiskey which really drank more like a rye than traditional Bourbon. Even Seamus and Fergus had to admit they liked it. Yea you heard it, these two “No, never a Bourbon” Neanderthals finally found an American whiskey they liked. It didn’t hurt that Dirt had us try it and that the creator, Tom I think was his name, was right there and just our kind of people. Despite Tom and Dirt insisting on us trying ice in the dram, we decided to like them anyway. By the way, like it or not, the whiskey was better and more refined without the ice. Tom may have made the dram, but that doesn’t mean he gets to dictate how I enjoy it. He was definitely in concurrence with that sentiment. We had a few last drams including some Apple based distillation that you could tell came from Washington State buy the taste of it and stumbled, drunk, back up the hill to the Bank. (Noticing a theme here regarding the Irish Bank?) The best of the night still ended up being the second dram I had.

Arriving at the Bank we laid out for our favorite bar staff in the world, 6 of the best the show had to offer in 6 wee little 1.5 oz flasks Fergus and I had the foresight to bring along to sneak tastes out in. Needless to say, this went over well at the bank. For the first time this trip, I was well and truly lit. So much so that at one point I was taking confessions in the little confessional booth at the side of the bar. Hell, I’m not even Catholic but I’ve seen Boondock Saints enough times to know the routine. I gave up the ghost before the boys, and promising not to wake them up in the morning this time, stumbled across the alley and up the steep ass stairs to our artsy, if unfinished, room to slumber away on my surprisingly comfy roll-a-way bed. Seamus and Fergus followed shortly after.

Our last day was not particularly whiskey related. We woke late, had breakfast at Lori’s Diner, met up with James at SFMOMA and saw some art. Had another spectacular Indian meal at Kennedy’s Irish Pub (No kidding, you got to try this place out.) We ended out the trip by taking the 5:00pm Dublin BART back to the Airport with Fergus and flew on home. Seamus and I had a few drinks while we waited for our flight and reminisced on the trip. A good, solid, way to end a the weekend I’d say.

Thanks guys for doing the trip with me again this year. I hope it’s not our last.