Before all this, the blog, the meetings, etc., Franck thought of everything: the budget for buying two bottles a month, the little booklets for tasting reviews, assigning a different person as treasurer, responsible for collecting money and receipts from everyone and making sure all was square. He even thought of weighing the bottles after each meeting to prove he wasn’t “tasting” in our backs between meet-ups. Yes, Franck is a thorough fellow.
Franck and I are long time friends from another life (read: job). Since the office where I work moved near where he works, we go for lunch about once a week. When he started talking about hosting a scotch club, I had no hesitation and wanted to participate. Although I was not always an amateur; far from it. For the longest time, I would only ingest hard liquor from mixed drinks. On a couple of occasions, some older – manlier – friends made me try whisky. And inevitably, I would produce a rictus from the first to the last sip. Just the smell of it made the back of my head throb involuntarily. It’s only recently that I started appreciating this fine spirit.
So there we were, strolling after lunch and talking about this Elegant Bastards club. It had to be a small group and we thought six was the magic number. Just enough people to collect the impressions of everyone and not get lost in the frenzy. This experiment made two clans – so to speak – come into one. Franck brought in his brother Sylvain, as well as colleague and friend Bruno. Both of them know a thing or two about scotch. As for myself, I asked my partner Dominique to join the group, and our common friend – and scotch aficionado – Patrik. There we had it, six club members ready to meet once a month for this special exercise.
The very first meeting of Elegant Bastards took place on November 6, 2015 at Franck’s apartment, of course. Upon our arrival, we were offered a beer and something to munch on – very simple, somewhat neutral food – so our taste buds could concentrate on their duty. It was nice to meet new people and everyone seemed to get along from the start. After introducing ourselves briefly, Franck explained the rules of the club, made some jokes (first rule of Fight Club is …), gave each of us our own booklet for reviewing – tasting wheels and all – and presented before us the victims of the night: Bruichladdich’s Classic Ladie and Aberlour’s A’bunadh.
So we went for it. What struck me the most was how long we took just smelling the thing. I swear we must have taken ten – maybe fifteen – minutes before getting our mouth to it. The whole night actually was spent smelling and smelling. Noting in our little booklet. Smelling some more. Exchanging what the odours reminded us. Going from obvious aromas, vanilla, ginger, caramel, etc., to less conventional ones, remover and tires for example.
And nobody took pictures. I don’t remember if at that point, we knew that this “social activity” would turn into a “cultural product”. In any case, it makes this first night that much more of a mythic event, and writing about it from memory alone was a fun exercise.