January 29, 2012

Dear Mr. Carnegie...

'she's only filled my cup three times'
Warning: This may seem to be more of an opinionated bitch session than an informative blog post, but seeing as I'm the master & commander of this silly and somewhat ridiculous berth I guess I can call it as I see it (until I'm voted out by the shareholders which seems to be trending high these days)

A little back story shall we: employees at establishments that serve alcohol earn a lower base wage than the standard minimum wage. This is fact and law. Whether you knew that or not is beside the point though. It's not your duty to know the ins and outs of industry specific compensation structures. How much a person earns in our 'biz' is made greatly in part by their own efforts in the service they provide. This is actually an incredibly fair arrangement and makes for a great motivator. It makes the server give better service, it makes the business a better place to be, and most importantly, it makes the customer have a better experience. Everyone wins. (Yeah for everyone!)

Do we all know where this is going... yes of course we do. This is (as was previously mentioned) a bitch session. But a bitch session by itself is as flat and dry as a dessert in Seattle. *sniff* Enter Karma.

if a tree falls in a forest and crushes a beaver's spine...
Karma is the all powerful trans-denominational force that supersedes all things. If there's one thing that can unify all faith and platform, all creatures large and small, it surely must be this. That little old lady you held the door open for at the mall the other day... that was a damn good move because when you're speeding to work on monday because you weren't exactly 'pumped' to get out of bed to be at that task force meeting at 8:45 in boardroom C, and the Cop that sits and waits for people in your situation happens to have his radar gun fail due to a dead battery... uh, yeah... that's karma.

What needs to be understood here is that when a person jacks up a $200 bill, or even a $30 bill at their fav watering hole and leaves a $3 tip, they aren't throwing the server under the bus... no, no, they're just pissing them off and begging them to make note of this person's jersey number for the rest of the staff. What they're doing in fact, is throwing themselves under the bus.

Proper etiquette asks that you show respect to all, regardless of caste.... but if you weren't raised with etiquette then all you have left is your conscience right? Deep down inside, in all of us, regardless of education or cultural experience, we have a base sub-conscience that tells us 'right' from 'wrong' It's an instinctual survival skill that generations before you developed so that you could be here.

Your mom didn't sing that damn song so you could
go off and steal all that music off the inter-web
The good people will always be good. This is why I still like people. They are very fortunate that goodness comes so naturally to them and jealous of them, we all should be. When someone wrongs them, they may for a split second want to respond in turn, but they're wiser than that. Good people. But they are also smart people because they know that there are other forces at work that will correct the balance.

The 'not-so-good people' are just in need of a little re-alignment. Thus we have karma. So let us give thanks to karma for working her ass off and making things right in the world. We all make mistakes, some consciously, some without thinking at all. But either way, karma will gently, or perhaps not so gently remind us to get our act together and strive to be more like the good people. See: How to Win Friends and Influence People

January 18, 2012

Pour-over the Black Gold and get out of the Cold

Siberia on a hot summer day!
 I was raised on the same coffee you were. It was from the grocery store, it was cheap, and it pretty much had one purpose: to wake-you-up & punch-you-in-the-face. Any thought or hope of flavour, or dare I say; character, was solemnly devoid. This was how it was and you didn't ask questions. I'm talkin' communist Russia-style shades of grey with a few highlights of more grey.

Then I had my first pour-over. Not a Ronald Regan/cowboy kinda battery-acid, more of a Jimmy Carter "the Cuban-loving skinny-guy still trying to make a difference brew."

Light, delicate, and understated. Coffee? Coffee is suppose to be a black tar-sludge with a prize under the rim isn't it? Remember: everything in it's right place.

As part of my continuing "coffee canadiana" rehabilitation, when I find a joe that tingles my taste buds, I breath in, I blink slowly, and smile deeply. I reach down between my legs and ease the seat back... no no, not Panama... El Salvador! Just a couple of rogue states away but close. Last week I was in love with our popular Guatemalan pour-over, this week, I'm dancing in Siberia. Stay with me...

El Salvador IS Siberia. Have I been reading one too many Tom Robbins books. Perhaps, but one thing he does well is connect the unconnectable.

Enter Detour Coffee Roasters, stage left:
Finca Siberia (the roast in question) has been farmed since 1870, when Fabio MorĂ¡n and Etifanio Silva decided to settle on this hostile territory, sowing coffee trees on one of the highest cultivable areas of the Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain Range. They named their 28 hectares of land ‘Siberia’, inspired by its unpredictable weather conditions and remote location.

Siberia lies at around 1450m, where its 28 hectares of coffee trees are sheltered from the sun and strong winds by numerous native trees. It's planted out with a mix of bourbon and pacamara varietal trees. The lot we have for pour-overs takes on notes of brown sugar, tangerine and honeysuckle. Yum.

Is this blog done yet?
More on the Silvas... ok: The Silvas are committed to protecting their local environment and have accumulated a vast collection of earthworms, which they use to produce completely organic fertilizer from the leftover coffee pulp. Their coffee is hand picked, sun-dried and hand selected to guarantee quality, a process which provides work for some 24 local families.

My advice: give the pour-over a go. It's a great way to experience the subtleness of coffee. Black is the way to go for this. The bitterness you imagine only exists in the Siberia in your head.

January 15, 2012

Auchentoshan 12 yr old vs Laphroaig Quarter Cask: It's all about time and place.

The Pinnacle of Breakfast Culture
I can't think of two more polar opposites to write about than these two at the moment. As it's getting close to 11am on a Sunday morning and I gaze upon a bottle of the Auchentoshan (while stealing glances from a visibly perturbed wife). Clearly she doesn't understand the passion behind this incredibly important assignment. The inspiration... it's been said that whisky from the Lowlands is the perfect breakfast dram. Good enough for this jackalope, let's experiment shall we:

Those are Stills (not paper boats!)
Auchentoshan 12 yr old
To counter the DTs, many have fallen easily to the caesar or the mimoso in the AM as their prescription. But if you're looking to step up your game, a Lowland might just be the quarterback you're looking for. Auchentoshan 12 yr old is one such star player from just outside of Glasgow to consider. Falling in the 'light and delicate' quadrant of our flavour map, this dram is very accessible and refined. Possibly because it's been triple distilled, possibly because the malts used are unpeated. Look for nuttiness and green leafiness. Not sure how well it pairs with bacon & eggs, so look to a less traditional breakfast meal with this one. Perhaps some re-heated prime-rib from last night's dinner at The Keg & some crusty rye bread? (Yes, we all know you went there again last night, shame on you.) Either way, your friends, your family and your wife (or husband) will all judge you for this reckless decision.

Mmmmm, delicious creosote
Laphroaig Quarter Cask
If you can actually remember the last time you sat in front of a camp fire all night, passed out, then woke up the next morning with your clothes permanently infused with the smell of smoke, then you would understand where Laphroaig Quarter Cask is coming from. This is by far the one single malt we carry that I would never give to a first timer. It's intense beyond intense and would turn you back to rye & gingers faster than a 3 bean burrito on a cruise. When I see reviews of this smokebomb noting a 'slightly peaty' nose I can't help but wonder if they're playing a joke on us.

The Quarter Cask comes out of the bottle defiant and punching hard. Creosote soaked railway ties come out as the dominant taste, followed by diesel, then rubber... it oozes with deep south blues; still interested? It can overwhelm the novice quite easily, but for the seasoned whiskyhead this is a welcome test of your peat tolerance. After the initial shock, you might find some subtle and fruitier notes, but you really have to look for them. BTW 'Quarter Cask' simply refers to a smaller barrel being used during maturation. The idea is that more whisky comes in contact with the aged wood (60% more in fact) of this smaller barrel, thus producing a more powerful result. And it does.
Much like our 'Lone Wolf' (Ardbeg), the Quarter Cask isn't an everyday whisky, and definitely not a breakfast dose. Save this one for the weekend folks. It's Scotland's Southern Harmony Musical Companion.

January 10, 2012

Hello, is there anybody out there...?

 Hello world of bloggers... this is our first post and we're excited to finally get our little selves on the blog scene to share our world view of all things Espresso Whisky and Bread. The holy trinity of 'the good life'

First up we'll talk scotch... I find a lot of whisky reviews both in book form and blog form tend to over-analyze the dram for our liking, but that being said, I do enjoy them... we're just simple whisky sippin' jackalopes though, so we'll keep our comments lighthearted and easy on the ol' noggin. A few tasting notes is all you need to peak an interest. At the end of the day, we all have different palettes and we'll all experience these whiskies in our own way. One thing we do try to do at DVLB is to plot each whisky on our flavour map. When you visit our digs, we'll make sure you get a gander at the flavour map to help you on your journey down the whisky trail. With that said... here we go a-bloggin'... up first are the 3 newest additions to the DVLB line-up:

Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix:
Recently we scoured all of K-W and picked up the last 3 bottles of Snow Phoenix available at the provincial pharmacy. I was actually surprised to see that only 3 were left in the region. I thought we'd have more time to get to know this scotch before making a big commitment, but the sales speak for themselves. Since this is our first ever blog review, we'll rely on the help of some other whiskyheads for the background story on this special whisky: "In January 2010, thanks to an especially snow-filled winter, some of Glenfiddich’s warehouse roofs reached their snow load-bearing limits and decided to collapse without considering the feelings of those sensitive spirit-filled casks within. These casks, some ex-bourbon, some ex-Oloroso, sat shivering in the snow, exposed to sub-zero temps while crews worked furiously to get all involved into a warmer setting. Malt Master Brian Kinsman decided to create a special edition commemorating the event, vatting a selection of whiskies ranging from 12 to 30 years old, bottling it non-chill filtered at a slightly higher proof, and giving it its myth-inspired name."

DVLB's First Impressions:
Strong honey note off the start. Sweet, light, tiny bit of smoke, well balanced and complex. Almost in the center. Slightly richer than light. Slightly delicate over smoke. Aside from the obvious marketing ploy, and sexy packaging, this is actually a damn good dram. Because it's never being released again, it makes this scotch extra special. Once it's gone, it's gone.

Jura Superstition:

Smoky rich, very spicy, not sure what spice but there's orange peel in there somewhere. Peaty, not light not delicate. Very unique, can't say what it is though... It's a mystery. Heavy like a heavy scotch ale and not an everyday scotch. It's a stand alone.

Aberlour 18 yr old:
Incredibly smooth, no burn at all. Delicate and rich, not a lot of smoke. This is a scotch that sets the bar high. When you first have a go at it, you almost can't believe it's a single-malt. Makes you wonder (and dream) about how smooth 30 & 50 yr old scotches are... hmm.