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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Of Fine Whisk(e)ys
Some self-proclaimed well-read people seem to think that the best place to observe the End of the Universe, or the Big Crunch, is Millyway, its restaurant in Douglas Adams’s books. This, of course, is a fiction, because for the illiterate – and therefore much better informed – minority it has always been bleeding obvious that the best place to travel for forgotten unforgettable good times and to witness the collapse of the physical world as we know it – the world with fine whiskies and other life-saving and mind-boggling beverages in it – is Wonder Horse.
Let me start at the beginning of my story. Once upon a sad time I thought I didn’t like whisky – known as whiskey in Ireland and the United States. There is no shame in admitting that I couldn’t tell a blended Scotch from a single malt, and that I wouldn’t even look at a Lowland after a Highland – I always thought that coming down from the trees was a bad idea in the first place, anyway. This snotty attitude, however, soon evaporated in a puff of logic after I went to my first Wonder Horse Whisky Club.
Every good story starts in a bar. Wonder Horse, the Bar at the End of the Universe, is simply one of the most extraordinary ventures in the history of Hamilton catering. For most carbon-based organisms this is the perfect place for social interaction when, after a relatively lousy day, it has become vitally important to stop for a drink and some talk with friends and the barman before gate-crashing university parties to make fun of astrophysicists – or maybe flagging down spaceships.
Every good story needs a barman. In Wonder Horse’s case it’s Alex the Babel Barman. Alex is clearly a person to be reckoned with. Tall, so conspicuously hairy that it’s difficult to tell where he begins and his pullover ends, he may very well be the oddest person in da Tron. Luckily for some he feeds on his customers’ fuzzy brainwave energy, so that even in the cases of those who are completely uncertain about what to order he is able to absorb unconscious frequencies from their brainwave matrices and telepathically translate them into sane and articulated cocktail names. By making an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject’s nervous system’s taste-bud synopsis he is able to translate any form of language, thought, or random idea into the perfect drink. He expertly fields such orders as, ‘Ehm – I don’t know what I want. Surprise me!’ or ‘What do youse have?’ or ‘Can I have a potato vodka?’ or, in my case, ‘I don’t care for whisky, but give me a good single malt that I might like!’
Whether it’s a single malt or a blend, a Scotch or an Irish, or even an American bourbon or rye, some distillers seem to distil science-fiction characters to achieve a far, far more complex result. On my lucky first whisky tasting night at Wonder Horse I was fortunate enough to try a nice selection from a range of whiskies like that, each with its own fantasy character.
Time warp whisky-tasting notes and their sci-fi characters:
Royal Brackla ‘Adelphi’ 1997 16-year-old:
What a gorgeous girl she is! Pale skin with straw-to-gold tingling shadows in the glass and almost floral, pristine scents of apple pie and stewed pear. She has a beautiful duality, her sweet vanilla and waxy honey flavours being perfectly balanced by a precisely calculated clean-cut texture that has purity. This whisky was also reputedly a favourite of the similarly unlikely lady, Queen Victoria. Its relative rigidity might be explained by the remains of gunpowder in the fermenting barrels, as the RAF took over the distillery during the Second World War. Hot! – and a long finish.
Sullivans Cove Whisky Live Bottling
– Zaphod Beeblebrox
As how most Aucklanders think of themselves, this whisky, with his charismatic 47% Bourbon Cask finish, comes across as directly as someone who wants to be elected the next president of the Galaxy. Being a limited-edition bottling makes him egocentric, but his charisma causes many characters to ignore his flaws. He has a beautifully balanced body with two heavy, heavy heads – one loaded with barley and the other rich with intense fruitiness, irresistible and charming. A long finish of vanilla and cocoa creates a sense of narcissism almost to the point of solipsism. It might pay off to dilute the intensity with a drop of water.
Willet Pot Still Reserve Bourbon
– Sperm Whale and a Bowl of Petunias
I know, right? The probability of getting a whiskey from a pot-shaped bottle at the End of the Universe that tastes like the above-mentioned characters into a single tasting glass is remote, but what you will find in this bourbon is the giant body of a whale, with his innocent, sugary, toffee-and-caramel-like approach to the world – and by world I mean ground – accompanied by a minty, bowl-of-petunia scent that some might compare to cat piss, others to sweet summer nights from the movie Grease. Nothing has been more wildly and widely misunderstood than the thoughts of a bowl of petunias. Try to keep that in mind after the first sip of this bourbon, as you find yourself freefalling through the sky with a huge smile on your face, wondering if that thing we call the ground approaching you at 200 km/hr would be your friend.
Yellow Spot Irish Whisky
This is the whiskey that made Alex jack up his smile several notches. The second addition to the Spot range of Irish whiskies, this has been distilled from Slartibaltfast, designer of planets, creator of coastlines. It contains the famous Green Spot Pot Still Whiskey because, as with glaciers to the Norwegian coastline, it gives a certain baroque feel. Yellow Spot is a single-pot-still Irish whiskey that has been matured in three types of casks – an American bourbon cask for a hint of vanilla and a Spanish sherry butt and Malaga cask for a sweeter, dried-apricot and marzipan flavour.
This whiskey, however, is slightly different to the Green Spot, as we all know and love it, which is the lesser-known reason why Slartibartfast joined the Campaign for Real Time in order to preserve events before time travelling was invented. Make sure that you get a bottle from the Yellow Spot, though, before he succeeds in interfering with said time travel, as this whiskey is really fruity with a substantial body and a glacier-smooth, velvety texture.
Compass Peat Monster
– Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz
This peaty monster from the Vogon race contains whisky from secret distilleries from the village of Port Askaig in Islay, along with some south-coast Islay whisky vatted with Ardmore. All of these places are callous, cloak-and-dagger locations somewhere in Brantisvogon star cluster. Vogons take professional pride in shouting a certain peaty and medicinal aroma at people’s faces, followed shortly by botanical, floral, coppery, sweet, smoky-bacon, and hint-of-papaya tastes on the palate.
One hint of advice about this peaty monster, Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz: never, under any circumstances, should you allow him to read any of his poetry at you. Even though his poems may seem mostly harmless, they are actually the third-worst thing in the universe and capable of demolishing entire galaxies. Here we can only share a little excerpt for your own safety, just so you know what to avoid:
See, see the peat sky
Marvel at its big shoe sole depths.
Tell me, do you
Wonder why the dead duck ignoresyou?
Why its foobly stare
makes you feel like shovel in the oak.
I can tell you, it is
Worried by your compass facial growth
and elongated earlobe
What’s more, it knows
Your monster potting shed
Smells of copper.
Everything under the big peat sky
Asks why, why do you even bother?
You only charm harm
fed with fodder.
Lagavullin Distillers Edition
– Deep Thought: The Oh-So Super-Intelligent Computer
If you remember the time when computer monitors were monochrome you know exactly what I mean by that phosphorescent green colour that matches the shade of the packaging. This minty-green beast was distilled from Deep Thought, the super-intelligent Commodore computer designed by a pan-dimensional, hyper-intelligent species of beings in order to come up with the Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. By carefully delivered, almost analytic sea brine and ocean breeze aromas on the nose, it presents with an omnipresent smoke that covers the decaying flavours of overripe peaches and melons with a big dose of banana and pineapple. It all comes beautifully together in the glass with a nice, thick oiliness on the tongue, giving us the Answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything with Vogon poetry:
The answer to everything is not 42
but Big Bang and Crunch
in between this thing,
let’s just call it life
with shoelace-strangled pineapple dreams,
As it ends
with the best whisky in hand we look great on a selfie.
And that’s pretty much it. After the last serving at Wonder Horse we wrapped up the night with a good conversation in the bar, then ‘inert bodies sank through spinning blackness. Consciousness had died, cold oblivion pulled the bodies down and down into the pit of unbeing. The roar of silence echoed dismally around them and they sank at last into a dark and bitter sea of heaving red that slowly engulfed them, seemingly forever.’ – Douglas Adams
For this article we have relied heavily on using and abusing materials from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, written by Douglas Adams. Read them all!
All Vogon poetry was generated by http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/vogonpoetry/lettergen.shtml
For good times, craft beers, and fine wines come and see Kryssy, Vera, and Chris at Hamilton Beer and Wine Co.
To experience a similar sensation of time travel and space jump, join Alex and the team at Wonder Horse on their next Whisk(e)y tasting night, bring a towel, and most importantly, DON’T PANIC! .