May 15th, 2009

tachikoma: celebratory

Booze, glorious booze

I've been wittering about SCIENCE an awful lot this week so I figured that since it's Friday, I'd talk about BOOZE instead.

On Wednesday night, imyril, her boy, a uni friend of his and I went to a whisky tasting at Vinopolis in London Bridge. We tasted seven whiskies from the Japanese distiller, Suntory. They sent along their master blender to teach us about their distilleries and the amazing amount of control exercised over their products. For instance, these people don't just buy sherry casks from producers in Spain to put their whisky in to mature. Oh no. That's not good enough. They go to the oak forests in northern Spain, select the trees that they want to be made into barrels and supervise the drying of the planks. Then they go to the cooperage to make sure that the barrels are assembled to specifications. Then they go to the sherry producers and say, "Please will you put your sherry in our barrels for a couple of years." They ensure that the barrels aren't filled with water or fish or anything else that doesn't belong in there. When the sherry is ready, they empty the barrels and ship them to Japan.

I'm pretty sure no other whisky producers in the world go to quite such lengths. Anyway, this chap was clearly a big nerdy chemist, and I was loving every minute of it. He used the Latin names for oak types and wasn't afraid of mentioning tylose. I don't think my sentiments were shared by everyone in the room, though, as his geeky lecture prevented the tasting of the tantalizing glasses in front of us until a good 45 minutes from the start.

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We walked along the South Bank to Waterloo station to go home. You know, I've been here for five years and that view over the Thames, St Paul's Cathedral, the bridges, the dim lights in the still has the power to make the thought hit me like a suckerpunch: god I love London.
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