Tag Archives: Matchstick

The Highlands and Lowlands of Macallan Scotch Tasting

Solo Scotch
7:43 Arrive at Macallan scotch tasting at 99 Sudbury. Free parking is nice, though a central location and not having to drive to an event celebrating alcohol would have been even nicer.

7:44 Handed a silver Macallan coin, told to exchange it for a drink. Instead reminded of Super Mario Bros. 3.

7:45 Exchange coin for drink. Apparently tonight, a drink is defined as “a tall, thin glass containing just enough scotch to wonder whether or not there’s actually any scotch in there.”

7:46 Move to charcuterie buffet. Surprisingly well-stocked with four types of cheese, several cured meats, and a selection of bread and olives.

Charcuterie Buffet

7:48 Note to self: cheese with fancy names distracts crowd from lack of alcohol… Must increase cheese budget for next party.

7:50 The line at the buffet is now 30-people deep, compared to the three surrounding it minutes earlier. I’ve still only had one drink.

7:51 Getting frustrated at lack of alcohol at this scotch tasting

Scotch Set

7:52 Noticing a lot of attendees do not look like they are influential bloggers. This suspicion is confirmed after talking with staff… “They wanted to cram in as many people as they could fit…”

7:53 Random cute server surreptitiously offers me another drink, despite my lack of a silver coin. I wholeheartedly accept.

7:54 Starting to feel like a scotch cattle call

7:59 The event is scheduled to start at 8PM, but organizers show no sign of moving people into next room

8:05 Handed a second silver coin from a friend just as drink service stops. I have somehow angered the scotch Gods.

8:08 Ushered into second room; stage and screens in front, as well as Macallan bottles on display; tables and seating all around.

Ice maker

8:10 Sitting with three others. Nothing on the table except bottles of water and a glass full of nuts.

8:14 If walnuts and cheese were scotch, I’d be enjoying this tasting a lot more right now.

8:19 The Macallan rep tells us we were served 10-year old scotch to start, and will be getting into older scotches now. Sounds promising!

8:21 While Macallan rep goes into history of brand, I can’t help notice a lack of scotch on my table and the tables of others

8:24 The first audience question is asked, and the audience member receives a full bottle of scotch as a prize. Dozens of hands shoot up immediately.

Crowd

8:28 Jealously eyeing plate of cheese the guy across from me brought from the other room. Even more jealously eyeing bottles of scotch in front of room.

8:31 Servers (finally!) appear with trays of 12-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1998 (including clips from Titanic and A Bug’s Life) set to a Wallflowers tune. Really, Macallan?

8:37 Macallan rep describes making of 15-year old scotch while audience members tweet frantically.

8:41 Servers appear with trays of 15-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1995. Really, Macallan? Really?

8:46 Servers appear with trays of Macallan Sherry Oak Cask Strength and individual Lindt chocolates. I am momentarily appeased.

8:47 Drink finished. Appeasement over.

8:48 Realize that Macallan encourages, facilitates, and condones tweeting under the influence of alcohol.

8:49 Note to self: On drive home tonight after scotch tasting, tweet @MADDOnline to alert them of dangerous drinking/typing epidemic sweeping our youth.

8:50 Looking around the room, I’m reminded of the lyrics to Kanye West’s Runaway:
Let’s have a toast for the douchebags,
Let’s have a toast for the assholes,
Let’s have a toast for the scumbags…

8:51 Macallan rep breaks out the patented (or maybe not) Steel Macallan Ice Ball Maker 2500 SCT (note, I made that name up).

Scotch Ice Ball

8:53 While Macallan rep discusses the merits of Ice Balls vs. Ice Cubes (cubes have larger surface area, therefore melt faster), I prefer to discuss merits of Ice Cube vs. Ice-T vs. Vanilla Ice (Ice Cube wins this round, with an honourable mention going out to Iceberg Slim).

8:54 Servers appear with trays of 18-year old scotch, while a video montage screens highlights from 1992. Seriously?! To be fair, crowd cheers for 1992 Toronto Blue Jays team photo, boos vociferously at following still of Ottawa Senators logo.

8:56 Macallan rep informs us that 18-year old scotch is best drank neat, and that ice is best made with bottled water, not tap. Who has time to make ice with bottled water, you ask? Being a Toronto Elitist… I have the time.

8:57 Crowd is thanked, event over. I search in vain for taxi chits, giftbags or takeaways, to no avail.

8:59 I steal a block of cheese.

Bottles

Thanks Macallan, Matchstick and Praxis PR for a good time, and a special shout-out to Macallan for your goddamn fine scotch.

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Sippin’ The ‘Gnac

“Each year, Cognac makes its mark with enthusiasm, style and confidence, and it’s wonderful to be taking part in this year’s edition.”
Jonathan Demme

Eighteen floors above street-level. Someone hands me a cocktail. I drink it. Then another. I don’t know what’s inside, but I drink it anyway. I hear music… syncopated beats aligned sonically with displaced dub. I see people… beautiful, elegant, hip to the groove. Out the corner of my eye, I think I spot a black Napoleon, with a multicultural harem of Josephines. I try to make sense of it all. Eighteen floors above street-level. This is not good…

I insisted on coming tonight, even brought along a friend of mine – a spunky Asian girl from Hong Kong named Loi Wing. But when the elevator doors opened and we stepped into the bar area, she vanished. No matter, I think to myself. I’ll have a drink and we’ll find our way back to one another. Strolling toward the bar, I notice a cool, yellow ripple to the bartender’s right; a batch of ready-made cocktails, waiting to be consumed. The bartender smiles, informs me those are the only drinks available tonight, and winks. Strange…

Grabbing the closest glass and taking a sip, I’m intrigued. Interesting taste, sharp with a hint of citrus, but not too acidic. I drink some more. The glass is small, and in a matter of minutes, I’ve emptied it. I’m drawn back to the bar and before I know it, I’m finishing up a second glass. I start to feel like a cross between Bruce Banner and Reed Richards, craving more to drink but knowing it will severely change my behaviour. I still don’t know what I’m drinking, the effects it’s having on my body, or who all these people are…

Beautiful people. I’m surrounded by them, in their bow ties, their stiletto heels, their faux-vintage cardigan sweaters, and their $200 fancy sneakers. Their conversations are dizzying, and I hear snippets from around the room flooding my ears:

“One sec, I have to post this to my Twitter…”
“What’s the name of that rapper who sings about Courvoisier?”
“Yeah… My blog gets about 700 hits a day… Hey, you want to get a drink somewhere after this?”
“Don’t they drink Sidecars on Mad Men? What do you mean you don’t know… ?”

I need some fresh air, and stumble toward a balcony door. Outside, I make the mistake of looking down onto the street below me. Eighteen floors above street level. Jesus Christ. I taste my stomach in the back of my throat. Hearing music inside, I peer through the windows and see bodies begin to tangle into one another, moving rhythmically. Except the beautiful people seem to have been replaced by the Great Emperor Napoleon, and a gaggle of girls grabbing at him. Napoleon is black, the girls are dark-skinned, light-skinned, Asian, all colours. There’s a man on stilts. What the hell is happening? What is in these drinks?

Before I guess at an answer, I’m plopped down at a table. Sitting surrounded by strangers, we stare at each other blankly, and then at the abundance of colours, textures, and flavours spread in front of us. Brown sugar, white sugar, raw sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, rosemary, mint, ginger, lemons, limes, blueberries, cherries, juices, sodas, and more. But once again, there is little time to make sense of the situation. I feel the effects of the drinks starting to wear off, and begin hoping for a return to some sense of normalcy and logic, when a series of vials are thrust under my nose, one after another. With the seemingly innocuous scents of maple, iris, and – most devious of all – ginger cookies, wafting through my nostrils and into my system, I’m overcome by sensation once again. Blinded to everything around me, I feel defeated by the urge to try more… taste more… experience more…

Let loose, I’m suddenly mixing ingredients in a frenzy. Flashes of Fantasia flicker in my mind as I create one unholy concoction after another. My hands have a mind of their own, and I feel like Being John Malkovich as I watch myself uncontrollably fall under the stupefying spell of this powerful beverage. Addicted to the feeling, I mix together Courvoisier, cherries, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. Too many ingredients with the letter C, I think to myself. Scared, I add a dash of lemon juice. Before I’m done tasting, I’ve already moved on to my next experiment. Courvoisier and cucumber. Again, too many C ingredients. I’m even more scared now. This is not just a coincidence. Coincidence, I think to myself… Also starts with a C. Now, I panic. Are they controlling my mind? Is that why everything here tastes so good? Is that why I had imbibed so much more than I ever would have under normal circumstances? Is that why I couldn’t think straight? “WHAT HAVE YOU PEOPLE DONE TO ME!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. Everything stopped. The room grew silent. Uh oh, I thought… They’re on to me.

I calculated my dashing factor. If I ran top speed, I estimated being in the stairwell and on my way to freedom in under ten seconds. Would that be enough time? And what of the complimentary gift bags I noticed by the door? No, no time for that now. Must concentrate. With beads of sweat forming across my forehead, I surveyed the room. There was a small commotion at another one of the tables. Had someone else realized what was being done? Were they being subdued? My heart raced.

“Alright! We have a winner for the best mixed drink!”

A voice. Whose voice? God? I don’t know. Applause. Cheering. What’s happening? All the beautiful people are standing up, looking toward the small commotion. Glasses are raised. People are drinking more. Don’t they understand what this is doing to them? The music begins again. Beats. I’m disoriented. Loi Wing saunters up to me, and I am relieved to see she is OK. I try to ask where she’s been and what they’ve done to her, but she smiles wider than ever and drags me by the arm, back outside to the balcony.

The fresh air invigorates me, and I begin to feel sober at last. I revisit what I just experienced: the dizzying excitement, the blurry exhilaration, the energizing crowd. Loi Wing asks if I want something more to drink. “Oh hell yeah,” I reply, before losing myself again in a glass of Courvosier Exclusif.

Too Much of Anything Is Bad. Too Much Good Scotch Is Barely Enough.

Three weeks. It’s been three weeks since I was last home. A lot happens to a man in three weeks. His whole life can change in three weeks. Mine did.

Bottles

Three weeks ago, discreetly invited by Matchstick for a private scotch-tasting event, I strode into One Hazelton, a trendy restaurant in Toronto’s Yorkville district. The staff greeted me by name and took my coat, not an uncommon occurrence. After a quick glass of brandy with the manager – and a lively, though abbreviated, discussion on the merits of a program proactively providing guests with a choice of “dates” for the evening – I was ushered into a private room toward the back. Lined with tables, the room was buzzing with activity, and I found myself sitting among the most influential members of the city’s online community. A little out of place, I felt like Number 6 in the Village. But with a scotch in hand, and several more on the table before me, I was prepared for a hard night’s work.

Tasting Again

Within an hour, I had devoured no less than six glasses of fine Macallan scotch… 10-year old Macallan, 12-year old, 15-year old, 21-year old. I couldn’t stop myself. A presentation on the Macallan brand and its history described in great detail its methods of barreling and aging. Our affable host then held up a small vial of clear liquid, explaining it was Macallan scotch aged only one day. I never imagined such imbibitions existed.

Fuelled by scotch, alcohol raging through my veins, I leapt to my feet and bolted toward the front of the room. Racing toward our host, I zeroed in on the panic in his ever-widening eyes. Swooping in, I grabbed the small vial of day-old scotch, opened it and drank it down, all in one quick motion.

Indescribable. It’s the only way to describe the feeling. It was the fix I’d been searching for my entire life. Standing there, all eyes affixed on me with looks of fear and contempt sweeping across the sea of faces like a tidal wave, I felt invincible. Unleashing an other-worldly roar, my voice sounded like nothing I’d ever heard in the natural universe. Men and women around me began to sob, quivering with fear as I felt the scotch coursing through my body.

Glasses

I quickly grabbed the bottle of 21-year old Macallan scotch from our host’s paralyzed arms, as he stood transfixed by what I’d become. Within 20 seconds, I had gulped down two-thirds of the bottle, and shattered it on the table before me. Holding half the broken bottle, dripping with sweet, sweet scotch, I saw myself start swinging wildly. People climbed over one another to get out of my way, crying and screaming madly as they dove for cover. Men were even throwing women in my way in order to save themselves. Cowards. Before long, I found myself outside. Snarling and frothing at the mouth, I had managed to get away with several bottles of each Macallan scotch before I escaped the claustrophobia of that crowd, the negative energy affecting my scotch-fuelled spree of sin.

Macallan Years

The next few weeks, I traveled across the globe in a scotch-induced stupor. Using my considerable resources and delusional judgment, I destroyed anything in my path. While in Morocco, half a bottle of 12-year old scotch preceded the severe beating I administered to a camel and its owner after it spit in the vicinity of my Nike dunks. After a stern warning to the camel’s owner, he mumbled some anti-Semitic remarks under his breath. I used the remaining half-bottle of booze to light the fire to heat the branding iron I needed to brand his forehead with a Star of David. Then I kicked his ass. And that of his camel.

Climbing the mountains of Nepal, I was enlightened after sharing two bottles of 18-year old Macallan scotch with a clan of Buddhist monks. Having spent the previous six years in complete silence, we communicated through an intricate series of hand-gestures, eye-movements and breathing patterns. They considered me a deity, and I shared with them the warmth and comfort of Macallan scotch. In return, they taught me karmic self-control, and the deadly ancient martial arts. I hadn’t the heart to tell them I was already well-versed in both.

Sailing the Black Sea, I boarded a stolen ship crawling with Somali pirates. After a few bottles of Macallan 15-year old scotch, and a violent but rousing game of Backgammon, I surprised my hosts by physically overpowering the entire crew, one by one. After returning the ship to its rightful owners, I stole a helicopter from a Greek military base and, before long, touched down in Haiti.

Macallan

Having saved the best for last, I quickly consumed half my remaining stash upon landing – three bottles of 21-year old Macallan. My killing power increased exponentially, I staged a one-man bloody coup and seized control of the island within a day. Once my buzz faded, I grew weary of the responsibilities associated with running a brutal dictatorship and decided to return home.

I built a crude rocket of only monkey bones, coconut shells and palm fronds. Using just one ounce of 21-year old Macallan scotch, I was able to fuel my vessel across the horizon and back to Toronto. With only two bottles remaining, I decided to sacrifice them for the good of this blog posting, and finished them both before sitting down to recount my adventures.

Three weeks. That’s all it took for Macallan scotch to change my life. Thank you Macallan. (and thank you Mark Twain)Ice Ball Glass

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