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Tuesday, 24 March
The Enscotchening!

Where was I? Sorry for the teaser last night, but I quickly realized that I was literally too tired to type. So I quit and went to bed. Because THAT'S WHAT HEROES DO. They get tired and quit.

Anyway! So there Eric and I were, feeling like complete frauds, wandering amongst the Monopoly-looking dudes, many of whom, we noted, had actually brought their own tasting glasses. Some of these snifters were--I'm not kidding--the size of fishbowls. Eric sneered at them and I just felt embarrassed. These snifters would literally hold a liter of liquid, and we were at a tasting event where pretty much every bottle had a pour regulator on them so that they would dispense only a few milliliters of liquid; some of the scotches there to be tasted go for upwards of $200 a bottle. So these dumbfucks were carrying around these ridiculous tanks only to have them occasionally splashed with a tiny amount of liquid whose aromas would struggle vainly to reach their noses.

We got to brass tacks quickly, immediately picking up our non-aquarium sized tasting glasses and dashed giddily into the first of three tasting rooms. Eric spotted a table for Famous Grouse. "Have you ever had that?" he asked me, and I said that I hadn't. "That shit is all over England. Order a fuckin' scotch in London, you're getting Famous Grouse." I've been to London a couple times, and that's never been my experience, but I didn't care. "You want some?" I asked. "Fuck no," he replied. "That shit has killed me a thousand times." He stood there for a moment, staring silently at their sign. "All right, let's go over there," he said eventually.

He's right; it's not too good. But of course there was much more.

I won't give you the whole laundry list of scotches, but maybe just a few. We did spend much of the night searching for the Glenmorangie table with increasing anxiety; it's one of our favorite distilleries. We finally located them--they lacked signage for some reason--and sampled their ridiculously heavenly Nectar D'Or, which gets finished in Sauternes barrels. Glenrothes' 1985 vintage was like getting thirty-six handjobs from a mermaid all at once. Japanese distillery Suntory brought an 18-year Yamazaki that we kept furtively coming back to sample, like teenaged boyfriends returning to visit dextrous, indefatigable, willing mermaids. I may be stretching this simile too far.

Oh, and there was swag to be had. When we registered, we got a little poker chip that was exchangable for a Ziploc bag that contained three cigars, a cigar guillotine and a box of matches. Now, I don't know shit about cigars; they've never really been my bag, and so apart from bachelor parties and various Vegas trips, I hardly ever have them. I have no idea about them, but we received one Romeo Y Julieta, one Saint Luis Rey, and one Playboy branded cigar. This I found amusing. I don't really have any opinion or comment on all the familiar psychosexual jokes that arise from sticking a large cylinder in your mouth and then sucking on it for a long time, but it's hard not to think about when you're lighting up a Playboy penis. In fact, I lit it up on Sunday night, just to, you know, experiment, man. I sucked and sucked, and then I left it on our patio and it got rained in. So I don't know what that all means, but I'm COMFORTABLE WITH MYSELF.

Throughout the rest of the night, we simply wandered like the happy children that we were, sampling our way through 80+ scotches. At various points, Eric recognized other bartenders in attendance, greeting them warmly--Seattle bartenders are all apparently well acquainted. And not that they were tough to spot: many of them took the loosest possible interpretation of the phrase "jacket required." One guy was wearing a windbreaker; another was wearing a hideous vintage houndstooth horror that I'm pretty sure he peeled off a cadaver; the overall effect was like Holden Caulfield after spending a night out rolling in filth.

Oh, there was also the buffet dinner. It was like every buffet dinner ever given out in the history of man, despite the relative opulence of the Rainier Club, which features a fireplace of a size suitable for a Viking funeral. Long tables piled with warmer trays filled with dispiriting things like dour penne in cream sauce, vegetable medleys and grey surrendered pork loin. Eric had rounded out our table with the variously disheveled other bartenders he had found, and, unsurprisingly, they ate like starving Huns.

Eventually, after a couple hours, things had to come to an end. We finished up at the Dewar's table--whose rep had supplied Eric with the comp tickets in the first place--and sampled a surprisingly good blend that apparently you can only get by performing twelve heroic tasks, such as altering a river's course, or eating eggplant. The guy kept it under the table so the plebes wouldn't grab at it. As things were wrapping up, we made plans to meet the fellow at Vessel, a downtown Seattle bar a few blocks away.

Here's the thing about downtown Seattle. After about seven o'clock, it rolls up and dies like a mayfly. Downtown Seattle is simply not your kind of destination neighborhood, even on a Friday night at nine o'clock. So we had the upstairs sitting room all to ourselves. A bunch of the guys from Vessel had been at the event anyway, and so came up to talk to Eric about the various scotches and to discuss cocktail minutiae. I clinically noted that one of Vessel's gimmicks is that they have a machine that will carbonate virtually any drink--I resisted the bleak, twisted urge to ask them to carbonate a Bailey's or something, and instead ordered a Toronto and listened idly to the bartenders prattle on about arcane drinks like Grimacing Apes and Take A Dump In Purples or whatnot.

We weren't drunk, despite all the booze talk. The scotch samples were way too small for that . . . or so you'd think. After about fifteen minutes, the bar began to fill up. Funny; lots of assholes in suits! Yeah, it was all guys from the scotch tasting. They were wasted; they must have utterly blitzed those tables for two hour straight. That or they were the most pathetic lightweights ever to be beheld. One of them fumbled with the drink menu while the server stood by patiently; he stared at it owlishly for a time.

"What's yer scotches here?" he asked. "You gonna carbonate that shit, or what?" he joked.

Eric passed me a look and then flagged another server. "We'll tab out now."


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Comments

This sounds like a wee slice of heaven on earth, though I'm a bourbon drinker, myself.

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