After 15 beer reviews, I realize that I am overdue for my first proper Scotch review. Before I get to the review though, I should mention a couple of things. When reviewing Scotch, and whisk(e)y in general, I find it is often more difficult to remove price from the equation than when reviewing beer. For example, the “world’s best beer,” Westvleteren 12, though admittedly hard to find, and pricey for a beer, will still only cost you about $20 for a bottle; perhaps ridiculous to some, but not out of anyone’s reach. By comparison, the world’s best Scotch is likely to be something that only a handful of people have ever tried, and that no one would ever be able to put a sane price on. There’s just too much diversity and complexity within Scotch to reach a consensus on the best, and too many great Scotches are exceedingly rare and pricey. Thus to anyone who drinks Scotch, the price generally influences opinion far more than it does to a beer drinker. Two comparable and tasty beers that cost $5 and $8 respectively are far more likely to be enjoyed by the same person multiple times, than two comparable Scotches that cost $50 and $80 respectively. If money was no object, then this wouldn’t matter, but sadly it does. Therefore, the average Scotch drinker is constantly seeking out the tasty Scotch that tastes like it should cost more, rather than the tasty Scotch that tastes like it should cost less. Objectively they may be equally good, but it is often hard to keep the price from swaying opinion at least slightly. With that out of the way, I can begin my first review; from Sir Iain Noble’s Gaelic Whiskies range, Té Bheag, a blended Scotch.
Another one of my favourite pubs in Victoria, which may well appear on my next pub crawl route, is Smith’s Pub. Located within the Quality Inn building, about a block north of Douglas street, and below the Argyle Attic, Smith’s offers one of the most authentic, classic pub atmospheres in Victoria. A key to this atmosphere is that there are only a couple of televisions, and they are only turned on for important sporting events such as Habs games and Canucks games. If nothing substantial is on, the televisions are turned off, which is refreshing and avoids the unwelcome distraction of endless loops of Sports Centre after midnight. The interior is tastefully decorated with wood trim and has an interesting wall paper with the names of various English artists, musicians, poets, writers etc. scrawled upon it in a gentle style. The beer selection is always full of interesting seasonals and good local beers, whilst the gin selection boasts over 40 different gin from around the world; a gin tasting is certainly in order one of these days. The food menu, while simple, is very good. I recommend the Anglo-Poutine!
The Victoria Pub Co. are the owners of three British Isles style pubs: the Irish Times, the Bard & Banker (Scottish style), and the Penny Farthing (English style). Until recently I had only ever visited the first two since they are both downtown on Government street and are thus an easy place to wander in for a pint. The Penny Farthing not so much, being located in Oak Bay village, a location one would generally only visit if specifically planned. Now in fairness I must point out that my first ever visit to the Pennyfarthing at the end of September went rather smoothly. I was much impressed with the relative lack of televisions when compared to her sister pubs, it had a decent selection of English ales (I enjoyed a Goose Island Honkers Ale, which is from Chicago, but has a very authentic English taste), and combined with the tasteful interior this meant that there was a rather authentic and classic pub ambiance, something that I value very much. So when my friend Ian contacted me the other day expressing an interest in a visit to the Penny Farthing (“I’m craving English style pubs and pints” he said) I was of course delighted to return. I wish I could feel the same way after my second visit, but alas things were a bit disappointing this time around.
I left off my story last blog post while in the clutches of a pair of sirens, Joni Mitchell and Lighthouse’s Siren Red, with the intention of trying my new pumpkin ale. What with Thanksgiving fast approaching, it made sense to give it a try and get a little deeper into the Autumnal spirit!
The new school year heralded an extended summer for kids, more stupidity from the BC Liberals, and new stereo systems for my friends! Specifically two friends, Ian and Stephen, who acquired used, yet serviceable turntables and amps, to plug into their existing speakers. This meant that I would now have people to join me on my frequent visits to the many record stores of Victoria, such as Ditch Records, Lyle’s Place, and the Turntable. We quickly formed the Victoria Vinyl Appreciation Club, with “meetings” consisting of some combination of purchasing vinyl, listening to vinyl, sketching drawings, writing poetry, reading books, eating food, and drinking beer. This is where a blog post becomes relevant.