As many of you know, we’ve been moderately active over on Google+ testing out their Hangouts, and most recently the Hangouts On Air features.
Well, last Friday (June 1st, 2012) five of us got together for an on-line interactive tasting to celebrate Friar John Cor Day, which we broadcast using the On Air feature. Since we didn’t promote this in order to protect ourselves from catastrophic failure, you likely missed it. Well have no fear, the On Air feature automatically saves the broadcast to our Youtube channel for posterity! While we don’t expect you’ll wish to sit through the full hour, we would ask that you take a gander for however long you are able and give us some feedback. If you enjoy it, we will likely hold more and open it up to more participants… suggestions to improve are also welcome! In either case we want to hear from you!
The 3DC go through a few bottles of tasting notes in honour of Friar John Cor’s Day (June 1st)
You can get…..
The 3DC Vegas Invasion of 2012…. February 18th & 19th to be more precise.
The 3DC had arranged two events coincided with an SCA event happening in Boulder City, NV just 30 or so miles from the strip. The first of these was a 6 dram paired tasting at the Ri’Ra’ (Mandalay Hotel/Casino), and the second night was to be a visit to the Freakin’ Frog’s Whisky Attic to take advantage of the 850+ drams Adam Carmer has sitting on the shelves just waiting for folks like us.
To that end, and having had a grand time swishing and a poking all day at the Practicum of the Sword event, Jeff and I (Raz) trundled back to the Hotel in Henderson to get cleaned up and grab a light snack to prep our tummies for the drams that were to follow. After doing so, and courtesy of Melissa’s kind offer of transport and Stephen’s equally generous offer to be the designated driver for the weekend, we set off from Henderson. With Saul at the wheel we charged down the 215 to the Ri’Ra’ and valeted our golden chariot, then strode into the hotel lobby and, via a misstep past one of the worst bar bands in living memory, we made it to the bar about 45 minutes early. Scott (Ri’Ra’s manager) met us at the front door and showed us right back into our own private side room. It was kind of like a toss back to the 1970s stylistically but had it’s own wee bar staffed by our own wee Irish bartender. A round of cider was ordered to whet the palate and we had great conversations with folks as they trickled in. In the end we numbered a scant 8 actually participating, but Scott was OK with it since they haven’t done more that a couple tastings before and were looking at our event as a way to gain more experience. 3DC luck plays out in out favor again it seems.
To the meat of the matter then, the pairings:
Dalwinnie 15 and the Irish Salmon. The dram was better than I’d remembered it. Personally I didn’t like the salmon at all, which is no surprise to me at least, but those who actually like salmon said it paired well and was quite tasty.
Macallan 12 and the (lamb) Sheppard’s pie. A wonderful smelling dram (ended up dabbing a bit on as a cologne) and paired quite well with the pie. The pie itself was spectacular. There was some extensive conversation around whether the dram helped the pie or if it was the other way around. The consensus around the table came out in favor of the influence of the dram this time.
Talisker Distiller’s Edition and the Irish Cheddar. The dram hit the table ahead of the cheese so we sipped on it. This was powerful and full of brine like an angry sea. The table seemed to agree that we wouldn’t likely be getting all the way through this one. It really was grabbing us by the balls after the Speyside in the last pairing. The cheese showed up and was very salty and very tasty too. That’s when the magic happened. This was the paring that most surprised everyone. The greatest impact one to the other of any of them on this evening. The conversation about which was the greater influence reared it’s ugly head again, this time falling in favor of the cheese. Far from not finishing the dram as it turned out, we ran dry before we’d finished the cheese. I’d give this one the award for most astonishing pairing of the evening.
Jameson’s Gold and Pork Belly / spinach. The fist pairing of the evening to fall a bit short. Partially, at least, in the execution. The dram itself was quite good, full of spice and vanilla as would be expected. The pig however was a bit cold and underdone. The fat did not pair well with the dram; contrarily the few burnt end pieces actually did pair quite well with it adding complexity not originally in the dram. The spinach was actually more complex than the dram so that kind of took away from it. All in all, it was kind of nice to have this pairing not work as it showed us both possibilities. A huge improvement in #3 to a degrading of the dram here. I think if the belly was end pieces or even proper Irish bacon it would have worked much better.
Tullamore Dew 12 and a creamy tomato soup. This also did not pair well though not because of the execution. The tomato soup may possibly have been the best I’ve ever had. A truly wonderful concoction. Paired with the dram though all kinds of acid and sharpness was present. An utter failure of a pairing. That being said the soup was far too good not to eat, so I shot the dram, had a sip of water and enjoyed the rest of the soup at my leisure.
Compass Box Hedonism and dark chocolate cake with a dollop of fresh cream and a thin shaving of strawberry. This was likely the best pairing of the night and I was so very glad to end the pairing menu on this instead of #5. This was a wonderful cake and a wonderful dram that when paired together was ecstasy. I can’t recommend this pairing highly enough, but it was a pretty safe bet.
We ended the event with more great conversations and another cider. Not sure how, but no one really was all that tipsy. This was a grand evening and we learned so much.
Special thanks to Melissa for taking notes as we went along so that I could reference back to them here. A huge thanks to Stephen for getting us home safe. Another huge thank you to Robin Robinson and Compass Box for the bottle hookup. It really saved our tasting.
Sunday, after another fun day of swinging swords about, we met the gang back out in front of our hotel and opted for dinner at Freakin’ Frog’s ahead of meeting up with Adam in the Whisky Attic. A moment to further endorse this little off strip dive bar, the food was really good. I would warn you against to the nuclear hot chilli fries unless you are looking for that kind of experience. The Dogfish Head Sah’tea beer I had with my dinner was amazing. Ask Saul if you don’t believe me. I’d ordered it blind from seeing just the top of the bottle not realizing it was a 750ml bottle so I needed the help. My new favorite beer EVAR!
Sometime just after 8PM we told Adam we were ready and we scaled the stairs passed the velvet rope up into the wonderland that is the Whisky Attic. By the time the evening was done we numbered a pleasant 13 or so in our group. Adam was a wonderful and quite funny host. Normally he runs structured seated tastings but given our reputation, he opened up the bar and let us wander around the shelves each picking drams willy-nilly. Jeff stumbled onto what was probably the best way to do a freestyling trip to the Attic. He picked a dram and then asked Adam where he should go next. Adam put together a 4 dram journey of flavors building in intensity and ending in an unexpected far off land. I however, arrogant as I am, knew what I wanted: drams to which I don’t normally have access.
I started with the best whisky in the world (to my palate) the Bunahabhain 25. It’s like the 18 but +100 points for, oh I don’t know, everything. An expensive dram to be sure but as someone who generally doesn’t necessarily appreciate the more pricey drams over munitions grade fare, I was blown away.
I chose as my second dram I picked the Sheep Dip 1990. A hefty dram to be sure. Not subtle at all but not harsh either.
For my last dram of the night I let Adam pick for me and he gave me Heart Brothers bottling of a Glen Turret Cask Strength 10 year. A surprisingly soft and smooth dram for a cask strength dram. Down the Speyside road for complexity.
A very nice way to end my visit with Adam and all in attendance seemed to have had a great time and we all learned a lot and had things we didn’t know existed.
Adam wrote me a note thanking us for the visit and saying how much he enjoyed our group and that he’d love to see us anytime. I’m thinking next year we let Adam set up a tasting for us and I’ll coordinate it with the SCA event. I’d be interested to see how Adam runs a structured tasting. I’m sure I could learn a lot.
Thanks to all the 3DC and friends there of who came out and played with us. The great conversations I had each night were what makes all this worthwhile for me.
I (Jason/Seamus) owe a huge thanks to Raz for working hard to guide us through the drams, and to Fergus for organizing such a stellar group meetup in the Bay area. All in all, I had the easy part: some basic marketing and logistic coordination to get it up and running, which was made nearly painless by Google.
From my perspective… all in all I consider our first virtual tasting to have been a mild success. While it was great to see so many people gathered for the tasting, I didn’t get the deeper interactions we’ve experienced at more official seated tastings. Our largest hurdle was some of the tech issues with sound, causing some feedback and echoing through much of the event. This helped to focus the 3 larger groups within themselves and treat the camera as merely another observer rather than using the camera to speak directly to the other participants.
So, what went well? Logistically, we were able to gather and get the hangout up and running easily. The kits were all shipped on time and contained the right products. We had enough connection slots for those who wanted to join thanks to organizing in groups to minimize the overall number of connections (hopefully something we won’t have to worry about in the future if Hangouts on Air are rolled out to us).
What didn’t work as well? As noted about, the sound issues prevented clear communication. Some groups rushed through the drams and some lagged behind, creating a disconnect in attempted discussions. I found that the discussions were so chaotic at times, that I was unable to take proper notes in my 3DC Tasting Notebook, leaving me without clear ideas about the whiskies we tasted, just general impressions. And, overall, we didn’t lead as well as we could have.
So… what, then, can we do differently to improve? Glad you asked 😉
First off, I believe any of our future virtual tastings need to be run like a proper conference call (I blogged about how to do this over on my work blog). Defining a specific speaker/host, ensuring everyone is muted unless speaking, and really focusing on guiding a collective tasting will take us far. A free for all is simply too chaotic.
Secondly, while the group environments helped to make the tasting fun for those in the groups, the dynamic unfortunately left our individual attendees faltering about for a bit while the groups talked amongst themselves. Again, this is where a driven leader, combined with controlled and focused groups would help us provide a much greater benefit to all attendees/participants.
I do believe that with a little more effort and a bit more focus we can run some really great and educational hangouts via GooglePlus. The tough part, as I see it, will be in retaining that 3DC personality to ride the line between fun and chaos.
OK Whiskies lovers, we can finally give out some more concrete details of our “3DC Invade Las Vegas” events on President’s day weekend 2012:
First excursion: Paired tasting at the Ri’Ra’ (Mandalay Bay)
When: Saturday, February the 18th, 8PM
Pairing 1. Dalwinnie with Burran’s Smoked Salmon from Ireland
Pairing 2. Macallan 15yr with Shepard’s pie (lamb)
Pairing 3. Talisker distillers with Kerry gold sharp Cheddar Cheese from Ireland
Pairing 4. Jameson Gold with Pork Belly
Pairing 5. Tullamore Dew 10yr with Tomato Basil Soup
Pairing 6. Combass Box (Hedonism*) with a Dark Chocolate Desert – details pending. *Confirmation outstanding
$60.00, “all in” (includes taxes and gratuity)
Dress: Something stylish would be appreciated.
**Note: Food portions are sample sized and the drams are 1oz ea. We are limited to 25 seats at this event (cause that how many 1 oz drams you get in a bottle) but we need have at least 12.
Second excursion: Field trip to the Whisky Attic at Freak’n Frogs
When: Sunday, February the 19th, 8PM
What: Field trip to the Whisky Attic at Freak’n Frogs and Adam’s 750+ expressions just waiting for you to choose from.
Open format. We can bring as just about as many people as we’d like so the more’s the merrier.
$?, pay as you go for the drams you order. The education you get from Adam is free. 😉 Dress: It’s a dive bar downstairs, your call…
Please email Raz at: firstname.lastname@example.org with your RSVP in the affirmative. No negative RSVPs are needed.
The official 3DC hotel is the Fiesta Hotel Casino, Henderson if you feel inclined to grab a room near us. (This as chosen as a convenient compromise location between another coincident event for the SCA that many of us are attending as well.)
***Note: This, as all 3DC events to date, is a not for profit venture. You pay for what you get and we don’t take a dime. Also note, to your advantage (should you attend) +Compass Box Whisky has been kind enough to comp their bottle for the tasting. Thank you very much to Robin Robinson of Compass Box for making that happen for us.
We are limited to 40 of the Amrut Single Malt, which will limit the number of kits available.
Google Hangout-on-Air is limited to 9 participants via web-cam, all others can watch via live feeds.
Some people are already planning “in person” type meet-ups to expand the number of live video participants. There is to be one in Orange County, CA and another up in Santa Barbara, CA. Anyone out East want to set up a meet up point?
If enough interest is shown for regional in-person meet-ups, full bottles could be substituted for the mini-kits to ensure everyone is able to taste. This would be the responsibility of each local organizer to handle.
Of course you don’t have to drink… with this setup you can just join and watch if you don’t want to order a kit or don’t even drink… in any case it should be an interesting night!
Once you order and receive your kit, hold tight, January 28th will be he before you know it!
In preparation for the tasting, you may want to join Google Plus and circle the 3 Drunken Celts page so you can see and join the Hangout. While there, you may also want to familiarize yourself with the hangout feature (who knows, we may host smaller unannounced test tastings leading up to the day) so you’ll be ready to go and join in on January 28th as we sample each dram and share our notes virtually, North to South, East to West, and across the globe!
In just over 5 weeks, Whiskies of the World, San Francisco will be underway. Like years past, the 3DC have made a commitment to attend, though a bit late on the draw this time around. Because of that, we expect our numbers to be a bit less than last year.
Adrian and Jason (Fergus and Seamus) are working behind the scenes now to figure out lodging for the weekend, so if you are interested, please contact us to join in on the fun. (Commenting here will be sufficient if you don’t have our contact info elsewhere.)
If you’ve never been to Whiskies of the World before, don’t miss this opportunity to attend. Only General Admission tickets are available, as VIP and DramClub have sold out. GA tickets are $110/ea, but rest assured you will get your money’s worth!
Saturday, March 26th, 2011 is the date of the Grand Tasting, but the 3DC tend to make a party weekend out of it. We begin arriving Friday morning and don’t leave until late Sunday/early Monday, playing around the city when not at the Grand tasting. It really IS a great time to reconnect with friends and let loose for a bit. We hope to see you there with us this year!
Our Tenth Anniversary Flaming Heart bottles from Compass box came in last week, were then hand labeled by Randy and Adrian… and they look Stellar! No, really, check em out:
Blank bottle, custom labels...
Labelled and ready for distribution.
One bottle, sitting proudly at a member's home.
If you ordered one, contact Adrian Trespando for payment details, then either Adrian or Randy Ullon for delivery logistics (Adrian for NorCal/Az., Randy for SoCal). Adrian has noted he is going through the list and will hit the yahoo group. He will let you know how to pick up bottles and who still needs to pay.
The godfather and his helpers have arranged a deal with Compass Box Whiskies to provide a few cases of unlabeled 10th anniversary Flaming Heart for the 3DC to use for our own 10th anniversary this year.
While all bottles are now spoken for (9 cases worth at last count), I thought this a good opportunity to highlight this momentous occasion as we can firmly say we are committed to the whole deal. And I can also say this is likely the single most exciting thing the 3DC have pulled off to date. Check out the preview with the original Compass Box labeling:
The only downside here is that we have to wait until November to take delivery of the bottles. But my, oh my, what a great way to celebrate the 3 Drunken Celts’ 10th anniversary but with a bottle especially made by Compass Box for their own 10th anniversary in the same year and month!
Of course, our bottles will come without the front label, where we will be applying our own custom 3DC labels to commemorate the combined anniversaries. We’ll be sure to post pictures of those in November once we have them in our hands. Until then, let this server to whet your appetite for a new and amazing bottle of some truly special whisky!
You’ve seen us using them at Whiskies of the World in San Francisco, and other tasting events we attend, now get your own so you won’t forget what you’ve tasted and more importantly, what you thought of the taste! Simply said, these are essentially blank notebooks designed to guide tasters through their own note-taking while tasting various whiskies. The notebooks include free-text sections as well as basic rating scales to capture your own reactions to the whiskies you are tasting.
There is more information about this new offering below… I’ve a personal beef with tasting notes and ratings as are currently done by the whiskey world at large; eg: Would I like a given “98” rated whiskey? Would it be good on a hot summer afternoon? Is it thick and warm or thin and refreshing? Is it complex or curt in its story? The “98” really doesn’t mean anything to you unless you were the one who tasted the dram or at least know what scores in each of the individual categories the reviewer has used that then where added up to the 98. I’m pretty sure we, the 3DC, can do a damn site better than that. I find that some whiskies that rate highly I don’t like while others that do not rate so highly, by the experts at least, are rather enjoyable and visa versa on both these statements.On the most rudimentary level what I’d like to know about a bottle of whiskey I’ve never had is how thick the dram is, how strong the taste is, how long the story is. I find that I prefer a stronger, thicker dram in the winter and a lighter more complex one in the summer so knowing the viscosity, boldness and length of story goes a long way towards picking out a dram I’m not familiar with. Additionally, these are categories that can be reviewed with far less subjectively. We’ll use a 1-5 scale. For example, if it drinks like a 10W40 motor oil, as far as viscosity is concerned, you’d give it a 5 and if it was thin as water you’d give it a 1. The same scale will be used for Boldness and length of story.
From there, more traditional tasting notes regarding descriptive verbiage of the nose, flavor and finish can come into play when deciding between drams I already know to be appropriate to my mood’s general requirements at the time. I should be noted that the evaluations, 1-5, in the categories above are not indicative of quality or approval. A 1 is no better than a 5, just an empirical take on the dram’s properties. This is what makes our system drastically different from the status quo as well as makes the future database a much more useful tool.
The last category, and notably the least important, is an indication of how much we liked the dram based on own personal taste with an A-F scale. This is simply intended to be a reference or reminder of our overall impression of the dram as time passes and also a means for others to get to know our individual preferences while reviewing the database. For example, Seamus really likes the Balvenie 21, and so does Fergus, so Fergus looking over Seamus’ favorable review of the Edradour 10 cask strength would lend Fergus to think he may well want to try it too. Simple huh?
We are also, in time, going to be able to start logging these tasting notes onto our web site for others to reference. The idea here is that you can try things that others have tried and get to know each other’s tastes and preferences. Once you get to know the others preferences you may be inclined to try something you’d not normally have tried simply because someone with similar tastes as your own rated it favorably regardless of what the late M. Jackson or J. Murray has said about the dram. Not that they don’t know their business. As Fergus and Seamus will tell you, I’ve nothing but the highest admiration for Jim but his tastes have developed far beyond my own and his sophistication of pallet is also well out of my current personal reach. He has highly rated things I don’t care for and has panned some of my favorite drams as well so as much as I like the man, I can’t rely on his ratings to determine whether or not I’m going to like what’s in the bottle in front of me. I just know if Jim liked it.