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Despite the cost of entry going up more than a little since I started attending, I continue to enjoy WhiskyFest. This year’s main room seemed less crowded to me overall, but the VIP group seemed larger (though Ellen thought there were as many VIP folks last year).

As I review the program book and my other lists, there were a bunch of whiskies I either didn’t get to or arrived too late to get a pour from the only bottle. This is more a reminder for next time because I have no regrets! I think I’m in better shape today than in some past years due to requesting short pours.

My “missed it this year” list in no particular order:
- WhistlePig Straight Rye 2016 Boss Hog
- Tullibardine 25 yr
- Wolfburn Aurora
- Laphroaig 32 yr
- High West Yippee Ki Yay
- Redbreast Lustau Edition
- Compass Box The Circus
- Writer’s Tears Cask Strength
- Wild Turkey Decades
- Buffalo Trace George T. Stagg

I also would have liked to attend Highland Park Brand Ambassador Martin Daraz’ seminar — he’s such an entertaining speaker! — but we went last year and tasted the complete Valhalla Collection, so maybe next year.

There was another seminar that purported to do ham and bourbon pairings.

Ellen and I went to The Macallan seminar, though, and Brand Ambassador (and actor?) Kieron Elliott was also fun as he walked us through a tasting comprised of the Sherry Oak 12 yr, new Double Cask 12 yr, Edition No. 1 and Edition No. 2. I had purchased a bottle of the Double Cask (still unopened!) during my NYC trip on the recommendation of a shop owner, but of the four in the tasting I liked it the least. Maybe I’ll like more another time. :)

Okay, here’s what I did taste (in addition to The Macallan four above):

Glenfiddich Excellence 26 yr

Balvenie
- Single Cask 25 yr
- Tun 1509
- 21 yr PortWood

The Macallan
- Reflexion
- Rare Cask

Auchentoshan
- 21 yr
- 1988 Wine Cask Finish

Laphroaig 25 yr

Glen Garioch
- Founder’s Reserve
- 15 Years Old Renaissance

Old Pulteney
- 21 yr
- 17 yr

Highland Park 18 yr

Aberlour A'Bunadh (Batch 53)

Westland Garyanna

GlenDronach 18 yr

Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy

The Glenlivet 21 yr

Jim Beam Distiller’s Masterpiece

Van Winkle 12 yr (poured by Julian Van Winkle himself)

Alexander Murray & Co.
- Caol Ila 8 yr
- Dalmore 15 yr
- Polly’s

Ainsley Brae Sauternes Cask Finish

Suntory Toki (& Toki highball cocktail)

Octomore
- 7.1
- 7.3
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You would have turned 93 today, so I'm celebrating by enjoying an eclair from Fat Apple's!
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Attended a tequila and mezcal tasting last night at Northbrae Bottle Shop.

Got to try the usual three (blanco, reposado, anejo) by Mi Casa Tequila. Eli, a member of the family who started the company, was informative and told good stories while sharing with the group the background and talking us through the tasting. I found all three to be very clean-tasting, with the blanco nicely floral. I expected more depth and complexity with the other two, but maybe I should've taken more time with them. Barrels for the aged ones from Heaven Hill. Eli mentioned in passing that he got some barrels from Hudson, specifically used in making the Maple Cask Rye, which I tried and liked at last year's WhiskyFest in San Francisco. I later asked him about it and he said it was an experiment, but hoped to make it available to the public in a year. I voiced my interest, so he gave me his number and said to text him if I wanted a sample. I think I'm going to text him. Hee!

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Mi Casa tequila with Eli in the background.


A Wahaka Mezcal business partner was on hand to pour five different mezcal from their line-up. He also told good stories. Started out with the (Joven) Espadin, the most familiar unaged, which was nicely smoky. Next pours were Tobala (a wild agave found in the mountains, still smoky and more floral/sweet) and Madre-Cuishe (another wild agave from valley areas, less sweet and more minerally). The last two were pechugas with no animal product, unlike others I've had that contain some tiny amount of poultry or other meat, due to the process. Both made with the same Espadin as a base, the Manzanita, we were told, was made with heirloom apples (not exactly fruity, but under the smoke had different aromas and flavors). The Botaniko was very different, kind of like a gin, with juniper and cardamom in the mix.

(The "Wahaka" brand amuses me because last year when I was in London I went with friends to a restaurant named "Wahaca" -- LOL!)

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Wahaka mezcal


The not-very-formal tasting was a lot of fun, though I didn't have conversations with the other attendees. I hope to get to more Northbrae events. :)
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Yesterday, I spent the day w/[livejournal.com profile] lilacfairy, celebrating her birthday in the typical way: going out to eat, going to a bookstore, and seeing a movie.

I was introduced to a pleasant diner-ish spot, My Garden Cafe, not far from where [livejournal.com profile] lilacfairy lives. In the same shopping center there was Mr T's Donut Shop, so I had to try a selection even though we didn't see Mr. T anywhere. Maybe he was in back mixing the apple fritter dough.

From there, we went to Yesterday's Books, an excellent used bookstore. I definitely could've stayed there an hour longer. :)

We saw the movie version of "Into The Woods" which worked out for me because I had wanted to see it again. We were the only people in the theater for the late afternoon showing!

Despite striking out at two dinner venues, we had a yum time at the third choice, Galletto Ristaurante. They even had seared foie gras -- this made me particularly happy because, well, Modesto. It was very nicely prepared, as were our entrees (risotto for [livejournal.com profile] lilacfairy and house-made squid ink papardelle with Dungeness crab meat for me), the small pizza appetizer, the house-made gelato and cinnamon bread pudding, the antipasto plate, though interestingly presented with Italian cured meats and local cheeses, we received different descriptions of the ingredients when we questioned the servers. Still, I'd go back.

Got to see [livejournal.com profile] lilacfairy's place, which felt very spacious! Nice set-up. Even interacted with Rupert the cat as we chatted into the evening.

Lovely visit!
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Gosh, I guess I've been too busy doing stuff to post to LJ. Or something. When I think about it, there are posts I want to do that are more than a few sentences but I'd rather to other stuff. See what happens in 2015.
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... I began my Brighton and Torino trip! Good memories and photos -- perhaps I will share some in the coming days.

Edinburgh

Oct. 19th, 2014 10:21 pm
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Wow, it's been a while since I last posted here. Guess I really have mostly moved to Facebook.

Here's a pic I took from a bus when I was in Edinburgh. It was the first day I was there. I encountered rainy days, too, but there were still lots of folks around due to the many festivals, including The Fringe.

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The East Coast of Scotland, that is. Also, it's the name of the train line.

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Got to see some of the countryside on my way from Edinburgh to London.

PABU

Jul. 9th, 2014 07:29 pm
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[livejournal.com profile] keker took me to dinner after we saw "Begin Again" (aka "Once Again" - LOL). We agreed we'd see if the recently-opened Pabu had availability and, if not, we'd look elsewhere. We got in!

Open barely a week, it's the latest by celebrity chef Michael Mina, who partnered with Chef Ken Tominaga, to create an upscale izakaya and sushi place, (which they initially did in Baltimore in 2012, though that Pabu recently closed). They also opened the Ramen Bar next door for casual dining, though Pabu did not feel like a fine-dining space to me.

After a conversation with the waitress where I eventually learned she was not familiar with whiskies, she had someone more knowledgeable come over. After his description of the various Japanese whiskies, with focus on the White Oak Akashi blended and single malt I chose the latter. It was very fresh, smooth and clean tasting, and definitely opened up with more spice after I added a nice, small cube of ice. I may go back for the blended, or try both side by side. I plan to get a photo of the single malt bottle the next time I'm in the area.

Food pics here )
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My coworkers really like me!
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Also: Cinco de Mayo.
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This past Saturday at the parking lot of Robert Young Estate Winery, looking up the hill at the livestock sauntering by.
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It's been two weeks since the condo building maintenance and this is the first morning with hot water. Finally!
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Was in the Napa Valley yesterday. Yay for the rain!
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Had a head cold the last couple of days. Yay for today off work. Hope to be mostly well by tomorrow. Catching up on LJ ...
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Recently saw "Last Vegas" with sis. Fun movie, though probably would've been okay to see on DVD; maybe even better with the right extras such as out-takes, etc. Morgan Freeman was in how many movies released in 2013? 3? 4? Maybe I'll look it up.

trip

Nov. 17th, 2013 07:43 pm
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Went to Brighton in England to attend the World Fantasy Convention (really, just to meet Tricia Sullivan) and then to Turin/Torino in Italy. Fun! More later. Maybe.
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Yesterday, saw "Gravity" IMAX 3D with long-time friend, C. It was a beautiful movie experience. While I don't go to movies just because George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are in them, I thought they were fine in their roles.

Before I forget, here are other movies I saw over the summer-ish:

Elysium

Europa Report

Iron Man 3

Pacific Rim

Riddick

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Wolverine

World War Z

World's End

(I keep thinking I missed one or two. Perhaps someone will remind me.)


My favorite was WWZ. The best one was Europa ... or maybe Gravity.
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I recently watched the movie, "Pitch Perfect," and enjoyed the musical performances a lot. The other parts were mostly fun. Have been a fan of Anna Kendrick ever since I saw her in "Camp" where her Fritzi character performed "Ladies Who Lunch" - loved it!
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In my continuing exploration of gin (see the last paragraph of this post from 2011), I participated in a gin (& tonic) tasting at Chaos Castle last Friday night. Had a lot of fun!

Gins:
Beefeater
Bombay Sapphire
Boodles
Death's Door
St. George (all four: Botanivore, Dry Rye, & Terroir; and Faultline from K & L Wine shop)
Tanqueray Rangpur
Hendrick's
Gin from Texas (need to get the official name from Dom)
New Amsterdam
Nashoba Gin (from last year's trip to the winery in Bolton, MA)


Tonic water:
Schweppes
Tonic elixer (and fizzy water to make it tonic water!)
Q-Tonic
Fever Tree (regular and light -- left the Mediterranean in the trunk, darn it! -- plus the Bitter Lemon mixer that tastes good on its own)

We started with tiny tastes neat, then tasted the tonic waters, and then set about making gin & tonic combos from the various choices. And yes, we also had limes and lemons and ice -- oh, my!

As with the single malt tasting earlier in the year, I brought some additional spirits. This time I brought a maple liqueur from Vermont (thanks, Alex, there's still some left!), pear brandy also from Nashoba, and asian pear brandy from a local-to-me place. Kathy added her DeKuyper Buttershots Schnapps to the table.

The evening was warm-ish, which was nice, and the conversation lively, which was nicer. I wouldn't mind doing it again, even with the same gin line-up!
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