A Flight of Bruichladdich II: An Octomore Quartet

[This is the second of two postings on a recent tasting of spirits from Bruichladdich; the first posting – covering The Botanist, The Classic Laddie, the Black Art 4, and the most recent release of the Port Charlotte – can be found here.]

Possibly the most frustrating thing about tastings is you rarely have the opportunity to explore nuance. With the Octomores, an underlying citrus character and some floral herbaceousness reveal themselves in due time – more time than was available.

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A Flight of Bruichladdich I: A Gin and Three Whiskies

In July 2015, Jim McEwan, who’d served as Production Manager/Master Distiller at Bruichladdich since it resumed production in 2001, retired after more than 50 years in the industry, and Allan Logan, who’d come up through the ranks since its reopening, took his place. Logan was recently in Edmonton for an industry tasting, which consisted of The Botanist gin, The Classic Laddie, the Black Art 4, the most recent release of the Port Charlotte, and four different bottlings of the Octomore (which are covered in a separate posting).

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Remembering Family Traditions

This Christmas season has been particularly difficult for me.

Partly it’s because I’ve found myself really struggling with the depression for most of this past year, which has left me emotionally very vulnerable. Partly it’s because, for the second year in a row, I find myself utterly alone at Christmas, this year without even a tv to keep me company. (A goodly chunk of Christmas Day last year was spent, God help me, watching Doctor Who.) Partly, too, it’s because I’m so painfully aware that my folks are ageing.

But mostly it’s because I find myself thinking about Christmases past, caught in the clutches of the Ghost of Christmas Past, and thinking, too, of what a fragile thing family – and familial traditions – can be.

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‘Lest We Forget. . .’: Not Forgetting Is Not the Same as Remembering

[A printable PDF of this post can be found here.]

Five years ago, I wrote an occasional piece in which I tried to articulate the ambivalence I always felt towards Remembrance Day and towards World War II more generally. (That piece, in PDF, can be found here.)

While my response to Remembrance Day continues to be complex and ambivalent, the anger and indignation of five years ago has, to some extent, slowly been supplanted by concern. In 2008, I wrote of ‘how people in Canada have taken to speaking of how those soldiers, the ones who died in World War I and, later, in World War II, died to protect our freedom; how their deaths gave us the freedom we enjoy’, and noted that there’s ‘an odd sort of revisionism at work here.’

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Indulgence 2013. . . .

Indulgence was interesting. It was the first tasting event I’ve been to where I wasn’t there in some sort of industry capacity or even just taking notes for personal reference; I let myself just wander about, sampling food and wine as the mood took me.

The event seems to be more about the food than about the wine. It’s almost like the wine’s an afterthought (and some of the pairings of restaurants with wines did seem somewhat suspect); certainly, there seems to have been much more engagement between producers (which is where the whole Slow Food/locavore aspect comes into play) and restaurants. But part of that feeling might just be because I’d tasted a lot of the wines before, although in some cases in different vintages.

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Thinking About the Past. . . .

Twenty-five years ago, I convocated from the U of L with a B.A. in English.

It was a bittersweet occasion. My father refused to attend over an innocuous comment I’d made to my brother some six weeks earlier, but my mother attended. I don’t think she was ever more proud of me.

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A Flight of Five from Road 13

Last Sunday, 10 June, the store played host to Mick and Pam Luckhurst, proprietors of Road 13 Vineyards (who were in town for Indulgence the following day), at an informal afternoon tasting of five of their wines.

I’ve long enjoyed Road 13’s wines, going back to when they were known as Golden Mile Cellars. (The Luckhursts gave up the name in the hope it will come to be used as a regional designation.) The Black Arts 5th Element was the wine that, along with a couple of Pinots Noir from Therapy Vineyards, convinced me Canada was capable of producing world-class wines with distinct regional characteristics and styles.

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Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale

Rogue Ales from Newport, OR, is one of the more experimental American breweries (possibly outstripped only by Dogfish Head) by whose beers are available in Alberta. One of their more curious concoctions is the Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale.

When I first came across the Bacon Maple Ale, I was a bit concerned: the person who first brought it to my attention (whose opinion I respect when it comes to beer) seemed less than smitten with it. This ambivalence was soon exacerbated by comments made by a work-mate, who’d heard the beer was very sweet. Add to this the fact my previous experiences with Rauchbiere have been less than compelling and the fact the beer scored very low on RateBeer.com, and my concerns are understandable.

It turns out those concerns were unfounded.

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Australian Odyssey: Ten Wines in Two Hours

Some quick notes on the wines from the Australian Odyssey tasting, hosted by Spike Maynard of Harvest Vintage Imports, held at Aligra Wine & Spirits last night:

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Four for Cinco de Mayo. . . .

Since starting at Aligra Wine & Spirits four months ago, I’ve been exposed to a lot of good tequila and rum. While I previously had some exposure to high-end rum, my experiences with good-quality tequila were quite a bit more limited. It wasn’t till the late 1990s that I came to realise that tequila didn’t need to taste like the distillate of petroleum byproducts and that there were far better tequilas out there than the mixtos I (and a lot of others around my age) grew up with. (Upside-down margaritas, anyone?)

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