Sunday, June 21

It's Father's Day in the USA, so felicitations to all USA-ish males with living offspring.

It's also Caine's birthday everywhere (International Date Lines notwithstanding), which means that he's on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer, which tells you pretty much all you need to know about my faith in astrology.

However, those of you who are (of legal drinking age and) so inclined, raise a toast to your favorite Amoral Sociopath Who Hasn't Been Born Yet at some appropriate time of the day.

Hardcore fans will, of course, do so with Caine's spirit of choice, Laphroaig.

The 10 year old, that is. The 15's for weenies and anybody who drinks Scotch over 20 years old should just go ahead and drink cognac.

That's all.


Chopper said...

Laphroig is for folks who can't handle a real Islay. Lagavullin!

Chris said...

A Balvenie New Wood for me, then - a fine Scotch that Evil Gabe introduced me to in The Brandy Library.

MWS said...

For Chopper, all I can say is "Um . . . not."

Lagavulin is very good, in its cask strength bottlings (usually around 124 - 126 proof). At 86 proof, it's got no hair on its balls.

Further (courtesy of Wikipedia):

"The distillery of Lagavulin officially dates from 1816, when John Jonston and Archibald Campbell constructed two distilleries on the site. One of them became Lagavulin, taking over the other — which one is not exactly known . . . In the 19th century, several legal battles ensued with their neighbour Laphroaig, brought about after the distiller at Lagavulin, Sir Peter Mackie, leased the Laphroaig distillery. It is said that Mackie attempted to copy Laphroaig's style. Since the water and peat at Lagavulin's premises was different from that at Laphroaig's, the result was different. The Lagavulin distillery is located in the town of the same name."

You'll note that Laphroaig was originally licensed in 1815, which makes is not only "a real Islay" but THE real Islay (unless you count Bowmore, which I find undrinkable at any age).

For Chris:

Balvenie makes a variety of excellent scotches; their 12-year Double Wood being (in my opinion) the most interesting. If that sort of thing gives you a thrill, you might give Bruchladdich a try -- it's an Islay for Highlanders.

Lestack said...

I would, believe me I would LOVE TO. But I'm poor and the best Scotch I can afford is Black Label.

I am ashamed :p

MWS said...

Don't be ashamed. Save some money and order Red Label instead -- it's more intense, and among the fine single malts with which it is made, if memory serves, is Laphroaig.

Enjoy in moderation, but without shame.

Anonymous said...

I'll have some wine, if you don't mind. A nice aromatic shiraz, sil vous plait.

- Ilya

WarlordGrego said...

I had some really shitty johnny walker once...

I've never been able to find a place that has laphroig in Kentucky.

Chris said...

Matt - one day we will share a whiskey with Gabe and the others somewhere fine. Whenever I'm in New York, Gabe n' I try and frequent this place:

Words cannot describe how good it is. Anyway, yes, I agree on the Balvenie Double Wood as well. The New Wood was very limited, but excellent. A great smokey taste. I'm no whiskey snob (you should see the cheap bourbon I neck with a childlike grin on my face) but I can't stomach bad cheap Scotch, so it's always good to have a tip-off on a decent one.

MWS said...

Well, yer talkin' to the right guy. The last Really Good restaurant where I tended bar had a varying Scotch menu that usually averaged around 35 single malts.

As for bourbon, I favor Booker's (because I can't afford the Van Winkle Family Reserve, which really is the Best Bourbon on Earth, and is the only Kentucky product with the complexity to go up against the finest single malts and top-shelf brandies) though I'm also fond of Maker's Mark, and I can even drink Knob Creek if you put a gun to my head.

For cheap bourbon, you can't beat Old Crow -- the same company that INVENTED sour mash bourbon, and still produced from the original recipe. No kidding. And the whiskey of choice for another of my personal heroes, Ulysses S. Grant.

If you REALLY want a fabulously rare single malt (that often is not actually very expensive), try the Glenrothes vintage malts. They are produced by hand, and bottled when the Master Distiller judges they're ready to drink, so they vary from about 11 years to 17 or so. If you happen to find the 1983, GRAB IT and for God's sake SAVE IT UNTIL I COME VISIT. The '87 was excellent as well. I think the last one I sampled was the '89, which was still good, just not as good as the other two. The point is that each release of the vintage bottlings is different from the others, with individual characteristics not unlike how fine wine vintages.

Whisk(e)y snob? Why, yes. Yes I am.

Chris said...

I got my 'e' confused there as I was mentioning bourbon - I'd normally leave it when talking Scotch!

Thanks for the tips. All are noted, and I'll start trying to dig up some of the cheaper ones. I actually have a whisk[e]y dealer over here - an essential, as you'll be lucky if you get anything more than Jack Daniels in a regular store or most bars these days, in the UK.

Our mutual Gentleman Bastard pal slung me a bottle of Knob Creek in Austin a couple of years back, and I thought it was pretty good. I do have far lower standards for American whiskey, as I mentioned. Woodford Reserver is my favourite of the ones I can semi-regularly find in bars here.

Now that I think about it, Talisker is probably my starting point for anything else. Not a bad drop for a relatively cheap bottle.

Chris said...

Reserve, even...

I think I had some Old Rip with Gabe in New York in January. Not a bad bottle. Have you had the Rye that Jim Beam produce (but don't label with any of their details, to avoid the stigma... I forget the full name).

Chris said...

(ri)1 - that was it.

MWS said...

Don't care for the Beam rye -- if you want a serious drinkin' rye, the Van Winkles make a 13-year rye that will, as the saying goes, rock your world.

Skip the Woodford; in my expert opinion, it's crappy whiskey in a nice lookin' bottle. Maker's Mark is cheaper and considerably more than twice as good. But Booker's . . . really, my boy, you must try this. Not unlike the Glenrothes, Booker's is bottled at a varying age, depending on the batch -- usually between 6 and 8 years.

It's also barrel strength. None of that watered-down crap. Actual proof can, again, vary by batch, but it's usually between 124.5 and 127 proof -- that's 62.25 to 63.5% alcohol by volume, for you Brit types.

If you want 80 proof whiskey, add a shot of water. But it's better straight.

And I mean straight. Or, in bartender parlance, neat. No ice, no water, no chilling, no nothing. Out of the bottle, into the glass.

This is the only way to tell exactly what you're getting. If it doesn't taste good neat, don't waste your money mixing it.

This pronouncement should be regarded as being delivered from On High.

MWS said...

Oh, and --

Old Rip is very, very good, for an entry-level small batch. But it is, if memory serves, a 10-year that's as purely fine as a straight-forward sippin' whiskey could hope to be. But if you ever get a shot at their 20-year Family Reserve -- which was, the last time I priced it, around $25 USD per shot . . . and that was in 2001, when $25 could actually by more than a pack of cigarettes and a stick of gum -- jump on it with both feet.

You'll thank me. Really.

WarlordGrego said...

I really only drink Crown Royal when it comes to whiskey, Special Reserve if I can get it.

I don't really know much about high-shelf alcohol, because I'm a poor soldier :D

Rob Locke said...

As a "poor soldier" myself, I hear you on the crown. Though lately i've seen a couple Crown Royal Cask no. 16 at my Class6 for ~$80-$100.

Curious if that even compares to the top shelf mentioned here. Its canadian, so maybe not. Canada did bring us the horrid Canadian Mist.

WarlordGrego said...

Cask no. 16 is cognac, I thought. But again, too rich for my blood.

I like Captain Morgan's, Smirnoff Vodka, and crown royal. I really don't drink much outside my comfort zone.

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,
I re-read the 3 books in the Caine series recently and once again I realized how much I loved them. So much so, that I want to find out if you're interested in collaborating on a project (not a novel, but related to your work in the Caine series). I don't want to say too much publicly, but if you're at all interested in finding out more, please email me: devnull at

Robert said...

Heh, Caine is born the day before I am.

Hey Matt, there's no chance you're going to be at San Diego Comic Con is there? I know they've got a few of the Star Wars writers there and I'd love to be one of the guys actually talking about Heroes Die.

NSB said...

Hmm. According to Amazon, only 8 more months until Untitled G PS3 Game Novel 1 by Matthew Stover comes out!

Adam said...

How soon until we know the title of the book, I wonder?

Nathan said...

A God of War novel, apparently.

mdmnm said...

Re: bourbon.

I find Booker's too "hot" for me straight, after a dollop of water it opens up and I can taste it a bit more.

Another bourbon I'd suggest trying is the Elijah Craig 18 Year Old.

An Islay every now and then, Balvenie Double Wood more often, but Oban is usually the single malt I tend toward, although it has gotten very expensive the last couple of years. I'll have to give the Bruchladdich a try.