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The Norlan Whisky Glass – A Comparative Review

The day has finally come. After having backed the Norlan Whisky Glass on Kickstarter back in November 2015 (funded successfully in mid-December), the promised backer reward finally made it to my doorstep Monday afternoon. I wasted no time upon arriving home that evening in unpackaging and pouring myself (Jason as well as Jean) a few drams into the new glass as well as a more traditional Glencairn-styled whisky glass for comparison. Not *intending* to do a full review until later in the week, I couldn’t help myself but to write down our notes and dig in to a proper review as we began the initial testing of the glassware.

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Unboxing

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Unboxing

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Unboxing

 

My initial impressions:

Comparison notes: For this comparison, I chose to sample Tualatin Valley Distilling’s Oregon Experimental Series American Whiskey, Project Cherry Wood Smoke, at 100.6 proof (sadly currently sold-out).IMG_2532

Nose

  • Norlan – Deeper caramel and stone fruit notes with a more delicate overall presence of slight, nearly imperceptible alcohol.
  • Traditional – Substantially punchy alcohol notes followed by aromas of grass, nougat, and bubble gum.
    Comparison note: The glassware absolutely has a dramatic impact on the nose of the whiskey, though I am not sure I can decide which I preferred. On one hand the more traditional style gave me a deeper sense of the higher proof of the whiskey as it sat in the glass, whereas the Norlan provided me more refined structure of the aromas without the more powerful impact of the alcohol bowling over the nose.

IMG_2537Palate

  • Norlan – Grassy forward then into a mellow stone fruit and mild hint of smoke, followed by soft butterscotch.
  • Traditional – Grassy forward then into a mellow stone fruit and mild hint of smoke, followed by soft butterscotch.

    Comparison note:
    Yup, same tasting notes for both glasses. We found no appreciable difference in the actual palate of the whiskey when sipped from either the Norlan or more traditional style glassware. Note, however, that our glasses remain on a side table as we sampled back and forth, where a more appreciable difference may have presented itself if the glassware were constantly help in the hand under differing usage scenarios.

Usage

  • Norlan – The thicker, more rounded lip of the glass removes the glass sensation from the lips and allows more focus on the flavour of the whiskey as presented. Jean found it more comfortable to sip from but also noted a less precise sip occurred in part due to the light weight of the glass regardless of quantity of fill. The external facets feel comfortable in the hand, though overall the glass has a very delicate presentation in feel.
  • Traditional – Far more substantial and weighty in the hand, lending to a familiar sip and control. The sharper edge of the glass lip becomes part of the overall tasting experience and slightly impacts the initial sharpness of the whiskey presented.

    Comparison note:
    This is going to come down to personal preference as far as usage. Many people tend to prefer more substance in their glassware than the Norlan would initially present. While I’d have no qualms about running my more traditional style through the dishwasher (side note, I don’t, but feel it could withstand such an undertaking) I don’t feel the Norlan would survive such treatment due to it’s overall sense of delicacy.

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Conclusions:

This is a cool glass that any whisky/whiskey geek should have in their arsenal. Some may find it is the absolute perfect glass for them, but I have not yet come to that conclusion for myself. With the palate reflecting the same profile in both vessels, I’d recommend it as a worthwhile purchase for a whiskey nerd, but the average whiskey drinker may not find any discernable difference between the Norlan and traditional Glencairn style glassware. This would make for a fun gift for any whiskey drinker who takes their drams ‘neat’, so definitely recommended as a wonderful whiskey gift. For those expecting a dramatically different experience, however, you may not be as impressed as you were hoping to be. Sadly, the Norlan glass will remain on my shelves as a cool gadget novelty while I continue to imbibe using my Glencairn and traditional style glassware for daily drinking. I’m very please to have a set, but they won’t be replacing my current daily drinkers.

You can preorder your own here, if you missed out on the Kickstarter backing: http://ift.tt/1UbOKKl

 

from The 3 Drunken Celts http://ift.tt/29wDx6T

2015 Holiday Gift Guide

Greetings Whisky Lovers (or very lost people looking for Celtic gifts),
Rather than issue a single list of likely gifts for the whisky enthusiast in your life, I solicited our Glorious Godfathers for a small selection to combine into one list. I gave simple Guidelines:
• One or two bottles
• One whisky-related item
• One non-whisky item
If nothing else, this proved to be a very interesting sociological study. I will call out that no one followed the guidelines as given, and one has yet to respond; if he does I’ll add to the list.

*Note The links are to the parent company whenever possible. Many items are available at Amazon.com, large liquor stores, or other online retailers, but I tried not to link to 3rd party retailers if I could avoid it.*

Jason:

One or two (or three) bottles:

  • High End”This is not a luxury whisky” or the Flaming Heart 15th Anniversary edition from Compass Box: http://ift.tt/1dzJr23
    Compass Box This is not a Luxury Whisky
  • “Munitions Grade”
    Go low-cost and accessible but still quality with Cardhu’s 12yr Single Malt Scotch: http://ift.tt/1PZD5iy

Cardhu 12

One (or more) whisky-related product:

And maybe even one (or more) totally non-whisky thing:

  • Why not grab a limited edition bottle of “Santa Clause Died” pimenta sauce from small batch craft producers, De Cabrón Chillis: http://ift.tt/1PAKwwy
    Santa_Died_large
  • Or some men’s shaving (and other) essentials from Portland Razor Co. sold by Wildwood & Company: http://ift.tt/1PZD5yZ
    Wildwood

Raz

Bottles:

  • Premium range bottle: Brenne 10 limited
    Full disclosure, I’ve not had it yet but I’m going to stand on what I know of Allison and recommend it anyway. Coming in at a mere $100, price wise it’s not really all that premium if you are used to scotch price points, but this is, technically a “non-scotch.” Just go with it and save the coins while living the high life.  http://ift.tt/1OssfQv
    BrenneTen_2015
  • Middle range bottle: Aberlour A’bunadh
    This is a damn find dram. Even at only $70 it will impress just about anyone, and make a fine gift for your boss or father in law, without breaking the bank. http://ift.tt/1OssgDT
    Abunadh
  • Lower range bottle: “Just Don’t.”
    $20-35 bottles of whisky are for gett’n yer drunk on (preferably alone) not gifting. 😉 See below for budget conscious ideas.

Whisky Related Items:

  • For the literate set I’d recommend The Whisky Bible like I usually do because, well “Jim” (and because Jay already pimped Distilling Rob) At $15-25 depending on where you find it, it’s a steal: http://whiskybible.com/
    WhiskyBible
  • Another option for the mixologist, budding or otherwise, on your list would be some proper bitters. For this I’d recommend some “Aromatic Coffee” bitters for their next Manhattan. At $16-20 bucks it won’t break the bank but is top notch as far as quality goes. Consider adding some “tools of the trade” to fluff up this budget friendly gift idea: The Mixing Glass Co. http://ift.tt/1OssfQA
    MixingGlass

Non-Whiskey:

As for a non booze related gift, why are you hanging out with this person? That’s the question.

My own

Bottles

  • Pig’s Nose –
    I love this dram. It’s soft, smooth and gentle – and aptly named if you’ve ever petted a pig’s nose. The price won’t break the bank either.
    http://ift.tt/1PZD8el
  • Teeling Small Batch
    This was a big hit at our tasting this past year. The rum cask aging really adds some new dimensions to your average Irish dram.
    http://ift.tt/1HYSjh6

Whisky Related Items:

  • Rare Whiskey Glasses – Set of two
    I saw these glasses in an advert, and was so taken with them I had to include them in this list.
    http://ift.tt/1PZD8en
    RareGlasses
  • The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore
    http://ift.tt/1PZD5zg
    OldFashion

Non Whisky

Yes, it is corny, but your own time. Invite people to your home; cook them a meal, or share a drink and conversation. When the days are short and cold and dark, we are faced with our own mortality and crave human contact to counteract that. Give in to that craving; spend time with close friends and family.

Cheers!

from The 3 Drunken Celts http://ift.tt/1OssgE0

The gospel, according to Seamus: Revelations- No longer a 3DC in exile

I landed Friday at noon, feeling the familiar pang of excitement for the weekend ahead as I let the past week’s stresses slough off, slowly but surely. I was, once again, in the city to meet up with some of my chosen family; those with whom I’ve shared many a drinks and laughs over the past 16 years sine we started this silly tasting club. Yes, it was time for another Whiskies of the World adventure in San Francisco, and I was gearing up for some serious professional level drinking this weekend.

Friday started as it has in the past: with many of us getting into the city at different times, all meeting up in whatever venue we happen to be in at the time. For me, as the first one to arrive, this meant loitering around the hotel lobby waiting on the next. When Rhawnie and Brian arrived, we began the weekend in the hotel’s executive lounge with wine and beer to while away time before the next round of friends arrived. Having a slow start to the weekend isn’t always how things go when we arrive (often times jumping right into on the plane or even on the way to the hotel), but this time it felt right as we all eased back into familiarity and away from our real life worries without grinding too many gears as we gained traction. Little by little others began to filter in, and our little party grew in numbers as we collected friends on the way.

Dinner was had at the Irish Bank, our local go-to spot where we either begin or end every day when we are in the city. While it started as an intentional choice, our collective ability to end up at the Bank has become a default setting. It is the 3DC home-base, always the first place to look for anyone if they aren’t where they said they’d be, or just to assume that is where we should meet up unless otherwise specified. We shy away from calling this tradition, as we’ve found that trying to force anything as tradition typically fails in spectacular ways. As such, we merely find comfort in the familiarity of a space like the Irish Bank that has a decent whiskies list, good food, and a space in the back that can accommodate a large and fluctuating group such as ours.

Over dinner, we ramped up the evening with Raz and Fergus who had joined us earlier at the hotel. It was a later dinner, so after a few pints we decided to move on out since Fergus was falling asleep at the table and needed motion to remain conscious. It was at that point as we made our way out of the Bank that we received the best recommendation of the weekend: the bouncer at the door told us the checkout the Rickhouse a block and a half away, noting their spectacular cocktails and whiskies list. Let me tell you here and now, he wasn’t joking.

The Rickhouse is an interesting bar on Kearny st. in San Francisco; consisting of a front bar, back bar, and little known downstairs bar, the tenders at all three are slinging some of the best cocktails I’ve experienced. Raz immediately ordered a whiskey sour and in doing so ingratiated himself to the staff who inquired if they could use egg whites, to which Raz’ reply of “well, are you going to make it right?” was met with adoration. That adoration didn’t ware off either, and somehow transferred to the rest of the group as we moved downstairs and continued to order old school whiskey cocktails that were delivered with exceptional precision and care. The downside here is that I can’t recollect the specifics of what I had, as I was ordering bartender’s choice, and they were riffing on Old Fashioneds and Manhattans in new and amazing ways. All said, after having a sip of Raz’ Whiskey Sour, I have to agree with his statement that it was indeed the best whiskey sour I’ve ever had.

It is while we are in a world of mixology induced ecstasy that the remainder of the 3DC crew arriving on Friday finally show up. It is with warm welcomes, hugs, and exuberant effusive exclamations that Sean and Justin enter the lower bar. As when more in our group arrives (regardless of location) a scene is made and the bar pauses to determine if the commotion is a threat. Quickly determining that there is no threat, nor celebrity sighting, the bar goes back to ignoring us and we continue to passionately imbibe and share our cocktails as if we were Ponce de Leon discovering the fountain of youth. And, perhaps in that moment, we really had discovered the mythical elixir, as for me at least, it was as if I were thrust back into the wonder of it all 16 years prior; a them I found would repeat itself throughout the weekend. Having drunk our fill (and being herded upstairs as they closed the lower bar), we opted to move on and head back to the hotel for more drinks in Fergus’ room where he had some special bottles waiting…. but alas, we were sidetracked on our way.

Another not-quite-tradition ran us into a delay as we were derailed from our due course into an alley bar boasting a bright blue flashy light as the siren song for Sean. You see, Sean has a history with the 3DC of leading us all into some of the worst bars we’ve encountered, one of the more magnificent failures being a hair salon serving beer in the back. We know this will happen, and are always expecting it, but are never really prepared for when it happens. In this case, we only spent a few minutes in the bar (enough for one drink, though a few of us declined to imbibe there), and we were soon enough on our way back to the hotel were we found ourselves once again among quality whiskies and a less-divey more subdued environment in Fergus’ hotel room.

For the next hour or two we imbibe in some of the most spectacular whiskies around: a flight of Knappogue Castle, beginning with the 1954 and working our way to the 16 year, with a number of other Knappogue Castle expressions in between. Since it was so late at night, I didn’t bother with any proper tasting notes. There are some times and situations where it is simply more important to experience the whisky in the moment, enjoying the company and passion surrounding you than focusing on documenting the tastes. This was obviously one of those moments, and truly one of the main reasons the 3DC do what we do; it is the bonding of lifelong friendships with the excuse to come together imparted by the whiskies, not the whiskies themselves.

Moseying to bed around 3:30am, I slept the sleep of the intoxicated; deeply and impervious to the snoring in the bed next to mine. As is normal for traveling (even after such a late bedtime) I was up, showered, and out the door by 9am. Gathering in the lobby awaiting the others, we finally collected and headed out to find sustenance. With the group moving rather slowly, and relatively ambivalent about where we chose to eat, we soon found ourselves looking for any place without a wait. Luckily we stumbled upon Original Joe’s where we found meals in abundance over our appetites. I don’t think any of us actually finished more than half of our plates.

Bellies full, we determined the hotel was an appropriate place to be, some of use noting that naps before the event Saturday evening would be a solid idea to ensure the rest of the day and night were not wasted. I can vouch for the fact that rest was indeed the right idea at this point and in no way impugns my status as a professional drinker. With an hour and a half of an air-conditioned nap, another shower, and a 5-hour energy drink behind me, we made our way out to yet another non-tradition that seemingly sneaks up on us every year: early dinner at Kennedy’s Irish Pub and Curry House. You may think curry before a whisky tasting is a bad idea, but I assure you it hasn’t impacted our experience at Whiskies of the World in the least and in fact serves us well to have a light dinner before hand. It was at this point even more of the group came together, and I was able to introduce two friends from Portland (Carrie and Courtney) to the wonders of the 3DC and a Whiskies of the World weekend.

I was really looking forward to Carrie and Courtney’s visit as it allows me to see the event through the eyes of first-timers and renew the passion and once again find the wonder in it all as seen through new eyes. Mind you these two aren’t any slouches when it comes to whiskies; they have now hosted a few PDX Whisky events themselves and have proven their own preferences and tastes fit right in with the 3DC crowd. These girls know their whiskies and because of that level of knowledge I was very interested to see how they reacted to Whiskies of the World and the immediate barrage on the senses when you enter the boat.

Having finished our dinners and reconvened at the boat to queue up for entrance, the final remainder of our group began arriving, making introductions and chatting through the wait for the doors to open. Lots of disparate conversations were to be had and I found it difficult to pay attention to many, rather finding myself focusing in on a small group at a time, which of course meant I didn’t get to interact with as many people as much as I’d have preferred. Ah, one of the few down sides to a group as large as ours. Even so, once the doors open, our group takes the free for all approach and tries not to move in packs as that tends to slow everyone down. Instead we flow through the tables finding what we are individually looking for, then as we cross paths during the night, trade information about any new discoveries or fantastic drams we think the others would enjoy. This always ends up with ad hoc small groups coming together for 10 minutes, then splitting off again, only to reform in a different group minutes later.

This particular event was different for me, however. While I’d normally taste and note down my findings in our 3DC Tasting Book, I found this year I was more focused on the experiences and talking with a few of the reps and distillers presenting their products. It’s no surprise why this was my focus, especially once I realized how many new American whiskies, and specifically American single malts were being shown. I’ll admit, I was initially deflated when I realized how many were there, as my own business was built with my partner to focus on an American Single Malt Whiskey when there were none on the market. So, to see so many now was a bit like the wind in my sails had just been taken by larger ships in the same tack. It took me a moment to regain my composure and remember that competition like this is what our company thrives on; that it just pushes us to do better and improve at every opportunity. So, with renewed vision, I was very please to make another observation: the hit tables of the evening were all the American distilleries. While the Scotch tables were busy, some being busier than others, there were also a number of tables from what I’ll call the “big boys” in the industry which were virtually unattended; no lines, no queues, no one clamouring to talk with those reps… just open space around them while the crowds gathered around the small independents who are admittedly putting out some remarkably good drams.

Two of note for me were the Westland Single Malt and Peated Malt whiskies, as well as the Wayward Single Malt by Venus Distilling. Both companies are created some wonderful expressions right in line with my own. Of course I also sought out Corsair Artisan Distillers since they have been a very influential part of my own focus on innovation in the industry. Speaking with Jason, the Director of Sales for Corsair, he walked me through all of their expressions including their newest gin and the barrel aged version of the same. Having the opportunity to sample their line of products was a highlight for me even though I could have obtained them easily elsewhere… but here I was able to talk about them with Jason and experience them anew next to Courtney and Carrie whom had found space at the table as well and were eagerly enjoying the samples as I was.

For the early part of the night, I moved from table to table alone; but quickly connected with James, my friend from our old LiveJournal days who shares a love of The Balvenie with me, and we then moved together from table to table comparing notes and ideas about what we were experiencing. Just as I enjoyed experiencing the event through others’ eyes, it seems James was enjoying seeing it through mine, with more of a technical, business, and production focus than I’ve had in prior years. Again, not entirely surprising.

As happens, the later the evening gets, the more our group tends to congregate and linger together with one or two running off to discover a new dram we’ve all been talking about, or to nurse our waters and while away the remainder of the evening until it is time to disembark and head on out to the next watering hole. The pack migrated from the 3rd floor down to the stern of the boat, outside as we waited to collect the others. Just outside the door, as the attendees were leaving, Sheridan took it upon himself to remind all participants about the “Irish whiskey tasting tomorrow morning… details are on the site”…. There are few pure amusements as watching Sheridan troll inebriated whiskey fans with so much confidence and unadulterated deception.

Here’s where I skip ahead to the Rickhouse as Courtney, Carrie, James, and I were the first to arrive. The bar was busy as you’d expect for a Saturday night, but the cocktails didn’t suffer (the wait might have). As we were waiting on the rest of the group, the main bar erupts in a loud chorus directed at a single individual… “RAZ!” we hear the bartenders shout, as the godfather himself enters the bar. A true 3DC rockstar entrance if there ever was one. Mind you, we’d only been to this bar once before and Raz is already being welcomed like a famous regular. Unfortunately, after another 40 minutes of waiting for drinks, we determined that the Irish Bank was going to be better for the group, and so made our way the block and a half over, where we find more of our group had already landed for a late night bite. The remainder of the evening was spent in inebriated bliss, surrounded by friends and chosen family singing Irish drinking tunes, inducting new members, and feeling like home is not necessarily a place but a feeling when events/circumstances/and people align just right. For those fleeting moments, I realize that I am no longer a 3DC in exile, but rather a 3DC at home when 3 or more gather with the passion of friendship and whiskies surround us.

Like the night before, the evening ends with us in Fergus’ room drinking whiskies. After all, there were new people to share the Knappogue Castles with! Pizza was ordered, and consumed, more whiskies were imbibed, and at some point we all made our way to our respective rooms and passed out…. again at 3:30am. It was a long day, but a day that will continue to bring me down to the city for fear of missing such amazing people and experiences that you just can’t plan. Weekends like this are organic in their flow, and any attempts to force the flow one way or another are met with disaster…. following it like an inner-tube on a lazy river always rewards with rich experiences.

Sunday comes far too early, but most of us are up, showered, and at the hotel’s breakfast buffet by 9:30am. A nice leisurely meal is had while our group filters in and caffeinates, rehydrates, and takes sustenance for the trip home. As most of our group is leaving in mid afternoon, we opt to take a quick walk through China Town, partially in hopes of having a drink at Li Po, but alas they were closed when we passed by. Without much fortitude for thought at this point, we all opt to go back to the hotel, collect their bags, and have some final drinks at the hotel bar before it is time to depart. When everyone flitters off, Raz and I are left and we decide to go find a late lunch which involved another walk through China Town, only to end up back at the Irish Bank for a last meal. A nice, quite time for us both as we chuckle, recap, and reflect upon the weekend. I can’t help but consider myself unbelievably blessed with such an amazing group of friends that can come together as we have, time and time again, to enjoy life in a hedonistic frenzy of whiskies and love for one another. We really do enjoy a very special kind of life together.

I see Raz off, and realize I now have the city to myself. I get a hold of James, who invites me over to a friend’s house where they are watching their children play and enjoying some adult time. This is big for me as I am finally able to meet James’ wife, but his nearly 2 year old child as well. I’m quite touched by the warm reception I encounter, and have a lovely late afternoon sipping wine and whiskey. James’ friend invites a neighbor over, who owns a wine and spirits shop in the city, to sample the whiskey I brought and we chat about the industry some. Such a random unplanned connection, that I am hopeful may help in some small way down the line. I only wish I had distribution set up already so I could get bottles into his shop! Truly, more 3DC luck, quite like what we have experienced all weekend long.

After a wonderful, but all too short visit with James, his wife, and kidlet, (in which they introduced me to a Hungarian brandy-type drink called Pálinka that made me feel like part of the family, though that could be the liquor talking), I found my way back to the hotel for a late dinner and an early night to bed. The next morning I travelled back to Portland, with San Francisco all but a memory now. Another year at Whiskies of the World under my belt, and another year of amazing memories in my head. Someone remarked during the weekend that it seems the actual event Saturday evening isn’t really what we all travel for… and they’re right. We don’t travel for Whiskies of the World. The event is merely the excuse we use to join one another year after year, to enjoy our chosen family and let loose of all the things binding us down elsewhere…. to partake in a safe weekend of debauchery in only the way the 3 Drunken Celts can. Cheers to you all, my brothers and sisters. You are the reason we do what we do!
Slainte’ Mhath!

from The 3 Drunken Celts http://ift.tt/1JhQP3s

Reminiscing with my day job blog posts

innovate2013

In building out some year-end blog posts for my day job on Notes from Rational support, I realized how some of my thought-leadership focused posts were maintaining some nice traction. While I’ve missed a few months of posting here I thought I might collect some of those top-viewed posts to highlight, if for nothing else than posterity showing part of what I’ve been able to accomplish on NFRS (now the #2 most viewed blog on developerWorks and over 12.5 million views to date). Here’s the top 16 of my op-ed/thought leadership posts in descending order of most viewed:

Of course some of these posts are re-purposed and published from this blog as a test bed for some of my ideas around social business. Of course I’ve a lot more where those came from, which you can read by browsing through the social business category here.

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1wTWkQm

Ten books that impacted my life

IMG_3958 I was tagged on Facebook by Michael Neel to list 10 books that have stuck with me in some way. I’ve opted to post here as a longer standing reference to this list so I don’t lose it to the wilds of social media posts. From Michael’s post, he notes they don’t have to be the “right” books, or even good books, just books that have stuck with me and made an impact in my life, with some brief explanations of my selections:

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1. Dubliners- James Joyce. This was THE book that drew me in to the evocative nature of literary writing. It is singularly responsible for setting the stage for choosing English Lit. as my major in college, and is the book I have revisited the most over the decades. Reading Dean Koontz later reminded me how Joyce would build fictional stories around real Dublin streets, basing his work in the real physical world.

2. Mere Christianity- C.S. Lewis. The only book I have ever started that I never finished. The concepts are so lofty, I have had trouble digesting the pages. Started in my Junior year in High school, and still have the book mark set to the page in which I gave up years later (pg. 161 for those of you playing along at home).

3. Little Birds, and Delta of VenusAnais Nin. Two books I obtained and read at the same time. Lover and contemporary to Henry Miller and his wife June, Anais’ writing is erotic and raw. These books blew away any notion of innocence of the past generations. They had a deep impact on my world view by showing the strength and passion of female sexuality from a woman’s perspective I’d not been exposed to prior and set the ground work for some of my more feminist leanings.

4. Where are you going, where have you been?- Joyce Carol Oates. Another piece akin to Dubliner’s for me. Evocative and steeped in imagery, this book again showed me what more contemporary authors could do with literary fiction and strengthened my love for English Lit. as a course of study. This book also reinforced my love for literary fiction set in the real world showing the dark-side of humanity from an unexpected perspective with an ambiguous end.

5. Beowulf- Seamus Heaney. A parallel translation of the Anglo-Saxon epic by the renowned Nobel prize-winning Irish poet. This work stuck with me as an intellectual pursuit and supported my academic love of English. Weaving both poetic beauty as well as technical skills in translation, Seamus took Tolkien’s translation head on, and gave you the original text at the same time. Having read this while in the candidacy process for the Methodist ministry, the parallel styling fit nicely with the biblical text of similar style I was also reading at the time, lending to a deeper love for this text.

6. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark- Alvin Schwartz. My first exposure to real horror, thriller, psychologically traumatic texts. This book stuck with me by virtue of the visceral reactions it was able to evoke through simple written words strung together in the right way. Not just a great book for scary stories, but a prime example of the impact good storytelling can impart and the reactions it can elicit from others.

7. The Compleat Distiller- Michael Nixon. If you can’t figure out why this book is so important to me, you likely haven’t been following me until this post was published. I use information from this reference book on a nearly daily basis. Combined with the Alcohol Distiller’s Manual for gasohol and spirits, by Dona Carolina Distillers, these books act as a first stop reference for any distillation question I may have.

8. Alt Whiskeys: Alternative Whiskey Recipes and Distilling Techniques for the Adventurous Craft Distiller- by Darek Bell. Written by the owner of Corsair Artisan Distilling, this book has recipes for non-traditional whiskies beyond your wildest imagination. Need inspiration for a new product? Peruse this book. As a new distiller in the industry, I hold Corsair in high regards as innovators that have helped pave the way for people like me to come in and continue the innovation.

9. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road- Neil Peart. This is an autobiography by Rush’s drummer covering the time period immediately after losing his daughter to a tragic car accident and then his wife less than a year later to cancer (or what he refers to as simply a broken heart). To process his grief, Neil got on his motorcycle and just rode. The book documents his journey both spiritually and geographically, and resonates with me at one of the deepest levels. Want to know what the open road feels like from an emotional perspective? Read this book. Both heart-wrenching and hopeful, Ghost Rider entwines the human condition in almost lyrical methods (to be expected from Rush’s lyricist, of course).

10. Elements of Style- Strunk & White. I live and die by this book. Yes, it is a reference book, much like number seven in this list, but a book that has stuck with me nonetheless and remains the most consulted book in my collection. It rests on my desk, always within arms reach and ready to be consulted at a moment’s notice.

.

This list is, of course, not all-inclusive. Limiting to only ten books that impacted my life was VERY difficult as reading was a huge part of my youth and young adult years. To encapsulate all the changes in my life over the past 40 years, this list would need to be at least five times as big and would likely include some of the ‘biggies’ as well… authors like Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe, Yasunari Kawabata, Earnest Hemmingway, John Steinbeck, Walt Whitman, William Faulkner, Henry David Thoreau, John Updike, Ralph Ellison, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and many MANY others… Of course over the past decade my consumption of literary authors has declined dramatically while more journalistic and technical content has risen as a result of my career path.

Since I don’t believe in imposing any challenge or tagging socially to elicit others to play along, I’ll leave this post as it stands and ask that anyone who feels compelled to build their own list do so and post it so we can all see the awesome diversity of writing around our social spaces.

 

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1vUCW4q

Happy Birthday Godfather

It was Randy/Raz’s birthday, so I baked him a cake, and of course there was whisky in it.  I know Orangire paires well with chocolate, so I set out to make a cake with the same flavor profile. It came out rather pretty, and very tasty, so I thought I’d share the process, since the results were devoured.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

What I used:ingredients

  • Duncan Heinz white cake mix
  • Orange Juice
  • Eggs
  • Canola oil
  • Compass Box Orangire scotch
  • Orange extract
  • Mini semi-sweet morsels
  • Food Coloring

What I did

Yes, they do make orange cake mix, but I knew it would have imitation flavors, and possible taste like baby aspirin, so I used juice to kick up the orangeyness of the cake.

I replaced the cup of water the mix calls for with a 50/50 mix of orange juice and Orangire, but when I tasted the batter there wasn’t quite enough orange flavor, so I added another ounce/shot of whisky and a few drops of orange extract. Once the cake batter with the right consisteincy, I poured in a handful of mini morsels and gave it a light stir before getting out the bunt pan.

With the pan well-greased, I poured the batter in. I finished it with another handful of chips, and used a spatula to even out the batter and distribute the chips. Then it was bake time.

I found it took about five minutes longer than the box claimed to get it cooked through and be a nice golden brown. I turned it out carefully on a waxpaper-covered cooling rack and put in the ‘fridge to cool. I also found the extra liquid, and the acid of the OJ gave the cake a very high rise, resulting in a little “bubble” of cake on what would be the bottom.

Cake2

   Cake3

Icing and Glaze

I boiled about a cup of orange juice with an equal amount of icing sugar, a pat of butter and two marshmallows to make an orange glaze. I also melted some chocolate chips with shortening in a ziplock back to make a chocolate icing. I waited until the last possible minute before glazing and icing the cake, but it was still warm, so the orange soaked in a bit more than I wanted.

 

HalfCake

What I will do when I make this again

  • Replace the orange juice with a concentrate.
  • Leave out one or two egg whites to reduce the amount of leavening.
  • Glaze with just a juice-free, less sugar, Orangire and (unflavored) whiskey reduction so it’s not as sweet.
NoCake

All gone!

 

from The 3 Drunken Celts http://ift.tt/1lFZ5Mi

Psst, I have a Secret

Secretly

I’ve been playing around on Secret lately. As a new social channel, I found it interesting and alluring to delve into the realm of anonymous social sharing. In doing so, I discovered a few interesting bits:

People use it to talk about sex. A LOT. While nowhere near surprising, it did reinforce how as a society we simply don’t talk about sex in any meaningful way publicly, or just openly. I’ve encountered some awesome discussions within the realms of sharing and commenting on secrets simply because of the safety involved with anonymity, thus by nature there is little chance of actual repercussions. More than just the issues we have with talking about sex, it also points heavily to the need to talk about it. With so many posts and comments surrounding the broad topic, there is a longing and desire to talk about these things in safe spaces. Things that are otherwise seen as taboo or lurid in mixed company or more public venues where anonymity isn’t a factor.

Even with outstanding community guidelines, people are still going to use the tool/service as they wish. Also known as “trolls will always be trolls”. Secret’s guidelines really are awesome, but they are only as good as the community that adopts them. With the overall tone of “Be Kind”, it seems that anonymity is seen as permission to be anything but. Thankfully, Secret has some outstanding report and block features that can help to quell hate or other inappropriate posts…

Which brings me to judgment. When Secret expanded its market a month or so back, I noticed a large uptick in comments that reigned down judgements upon the secrets being shared, or even upon other comments in the threads. Because there is no demographic data to back up and corollaries I may draw, I have no way to know if such judgments are attributable to a particular age range, gender, or socio-economic status. What I do know, is that a large influx of people felt the need to shame, demean, and/or harshly reprimand others for sharing secrets, which seems to me completely misses the point of Secret in creating a safe place for people to share things they can’t say out loud to others.

Gender essentialism is rampant, and starts with basic assumptions of gender as it relates to the post author or anonymous commenters. This is yet another unsurprising behaviour, but one which is highlighted in how often those assumptions are proven incorrect, as well as how easy it is to fall into the traps of essentialism as it can be so deeply ingrained in our upbringing and socialization. Of course it doesn’t stop there, as assumptions of sexuality and even nationality are relatively common and can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

Relationships are hard. People make mistakes. People are scared to do what is right for themselves. Yes it is a huge generalization, but I’ve noticed a lot of secrets relating to interpersonal relationships, questioning themselves or their significant other, and lamenting being stuck in situations. One great secret shared put it very well as a PSA: “Pleasure is our birthright”. What so many secret sharers seem to miss is that it is indeed okay to be happy, to find your pleasure, to do what is right for you.

Being able to see that a “Friend” shared a particular secret has reminded me how amazing and awesome my friends really are. There are heartbreaking secrets, sexy secrets, and even dull work related secrets. But they all show our humanity and beauty, and that to me is the best part of Secret: through anonymity I can see your true beauty.

 

from The Wayward Celt http://ift.tt/1qHfyES