This past weekend was atypical for me: I went out with some friends and was social with people I barely know.
First off was a going away party for my previous boss and coworker from the company I left last November. She and her boyfriend have dropped corporate life and are moving to Florida to work in a dive shop and teach SCUBA, something which has been a dream for both of them and is now becoming a reality. An enviable event to be sure. It takes a special kind of courage and confidence to leave a secure position to follow a dream, and damned if I am not completely jealous and envious that a friend is doing just that.
The party was in the top private room at Hennessey’s in Laguna Beach. While we didn’t stay long (left around 10pm) I am happy I was able to see Traci off and help support her in her adventure. A number of pints were raised in her honour and can only hope for the best for her future. Both Jean and I had a great time and left the party smiling and confident Traci will find success.
Raz, Fergus and I were all invited a while back to join Countess Albra (a GREAT friend of the 3 Drunken Celts) to a Scotch tasting which was hosted at Gerhard and Una’s in Ventura on Saturday night.
On Saturday afternoon, I picked up Raz at his house so we could carpool up to Ventura. We met up with Fergus in Long Beach and had an early dinner at HofsHut. The mood at the table was foreshadowing for the rest of the night and into the next morning. We were laughing our asses off, which is not exactly out of character for us. After dinner, we caravanned up the 101 and made decent time even with running into some heavy traffic through Santa Monica and Sherman Oaks. Barring a wrong turn and an extra 15 minute detour, we still made it to the tasting a bit early.
Fergus was a bit leery when we walked up to the house and the door opened, as he saw only one person he recognized, and a bunch of other “pointy hats” which tend to subdue his ability to enjoy himself. Luckily, both Raz and I are familiar and comfortable enough in situations like this that we were able to jump right in and start mixing it up with people we didn’t know, and Fergus followed suit to a “T”.
Over the course of the evening we uncorked a number of fantastic Scotches ranging from around $20 per bottle to over $80 per bottle (I am sure there were more expensive bottles than merely $80, however I was not privy to the actual cost so I will use my bottle’s known price as the top marker). There was a Highland Park 21 year, an Aberlour 15, a Bowmore Darkest Sherry Finish, and a few others whose names escape me now.
By far, however, the most interesting Scotches were the ones Raz, Fergus, and I brought. We took an educational approach (as we tend to do) and brought The Edradour straight from the cask standard Oak finish, The Edradour straight from the cask Port finish, and The Edradour straight from the cask Chardonnay finish. The night was spent comparing the three Edradours to determine which finish was the best. No matter how often I do this type of thing, I am always impressed at the level of conversations which result from tastings. We made many friends on Saturday evening, I can tell you that. And later, we regaled each other with the “No shit, there I was…” stories which are par for the course in ANY SCA environment.
While we enjoyed glass after glass of some of the finest Scotches in the world, we laughed and carried on and endeared ourselves to our hosts and other guests. A good time was indeed had by all. As the party wore down, it became just the 3 Drunken Celts and our hosts. (We were staying as guests for the night as none of us wished to make the 2 hour drive home. While we had planned for this, it seems our place of slumber has shifted from Albra’s to Gerhard and Una’s and our hosts graciously worked to accommodate us as best they could.) While all other guests had departed hours before, we continued the story telling well into the morning, finally making it to our respective beds at around 2.30-3am.
Awake at 8am for some ungodly reason, both Raz and I were the first up and were able to slowly greet the morning just sitting in the living room and quietly chatting away. Gerhard was the next up and kindly began the process of making breakfast for 5. By 11.30/Noonish, we finally forced ourselves to stop talking and actually pack up to head home, and allow Gerhard to pack so he could make it to LAX on time for his flight out. It was a difficult time having to leave, as the 5 of us simply can’t seem to stop telling stories. However, after thanking our hosts for being so kind as to host the party and us after so little warning, we made our way over to Albra’s house to pick up some silk banners which she had been holding for us and to just visit for a while longer. I think we finally left there around 2pm to actually head home.
All in all, the weekend was fabulous. Though I only -feel- as if I had a single day, it was well worth it. Again, Raz Fergus and I were all affirmed as to why we do what we do. Through whisky, we have met some of the best people this life has to offer us. For essential strangers to open their house to us and accommodate us for the night is truly something special. While our love for Scotch and Whisky are indeed unparalleled, the true motivation for our continued involvement with the tastings and the SCA in general stems solely from the people we are able to meet and befriend. And THAT, my friends, is worth the cost of a nice single malt 10 times over.