Saturday, January 31, 2009


Joe On Wednesday night we attended our first EBC whiskyprovning. This is, apparently, a tradition which predates the EBC itself: this particular group started meeting nearly 15 years ago, and they still get together three or four times a year. In addition to Jennifer and myself, German A. from her lab and F. (star of last year's Disputationsfest post) were in attendance, as well as six of the core attendees, who I can only remember now as Per, Almost Per, Micke, Håkan, Definitely Not Per, and Per.

Per, being the one in charge, started the evening by carefully measuring out exactly 2cl of each of the seven whiskies for each of us, into a series of 70 glasses, arranged on paper mats printed for the occasion with a description of each whisky and plenty of space for notes. For lids we had a set of square cards from a Concentration game, with images of Swedish stuff on one side (Crown Princess Victoria, the Vasaloppet, a moose, etc.).
Per started us off with a brief description of what we would be drinking, and then we were off. For the record, the evening's selection was three Clynelish bottlings, three more from Bunnahabhain, and a single 32 yo Banff. One was quite simple (Bunnahabhain 12 year), and a second a little off putting (a 27 year of the same), but the remainder ranged from quite good (a cask strength, 23 year Clynelish put down in 1974) to excellent (a 31 year old Bunnahabhain from a refill sherry butt, mmmm).

The lesson the night really brought home, though, was this: when meeting a group of Swedes for the first time, make sure there's drinking. In general Swedes are noticeably shy around people they don't know, and it can take a while (read: a couple of weeks) to get the conversation flowing naturally. Alternately, get them a little lubricated and, bam!, instant loquaciousness. Amongst the evening's more memorable moments:
F.: …and that's why we have no natural gas, we would have to buy it from Russia.
Innocent Foreigner: Yes, but you could buy it from Norway.
F. (genuinely shocked): Norway!

Per (on the relative prices of sherry and bourbon casks): Sherry casks get reused, but American law is that bourbon casks can only be used once. They either have to throw them away or sell them to Scotland—and Scots never want to spend any money.

Per: Technically, you have to go to Denmark and get the bottle for yourself, but there's a guy from Skåne who goes to Denmark and picks them up for Swedes1.
So, much whisky was drunk, and its relative merits debated, and crisp bread and cheese were eaten, and topics of greater or lesser weight were discussed (i.e., the fall of the Icelandic government, the price of sake). A little before 11 there were only a few of us left, and so Jennifer and I made our farewells, and I began the long, slow bike ride home. Ah, nothing like a bit of fresh air…

1 Skåne is a region in southern Sweden which was part of Denmark until 1658. Modern polls continue to show that most Scanians want to become part of Denmark once more; popular opinion in the rest of Sweden seems to be that this would be a good idea. I just like the implication that the guy from Skåne isn't quite Swedish.

1 comment:

  1. Joe and Jennifer-- I miss you guys so much!!!!!!! Please leave Sweden immediately and come live in my spare room in alabama. I will give you whiskey... I will give you cornbread, grits, sausage gravy, and anything else you want. Please????