As with whiskey, the brandy that we buy in stores is typically a crafted blend of the distillers’ production which provides a consistent and specific flavour profile. Usually a flavour profile oriented to satisfy as many customers as possible. Brandy producers employ master blenders with the knowledge and skill to mix brandies, and their 486 volatile compounds, of varying age so that we, the consumers, may enjoy a brandy with individual and distinctive qualities.
Taking these standard industry practices as an inspiration, I’ve decided to develop my own house blend. Given my limited means, however, my House Blend experiment will be modest and oriented to my individual palate and eccentricities. My blend will be a constantly changing concoction….pulling in my personal brandy experiences as they occur. Like me, my house blend will explore, evolve and provide new enjoyments.
My House Blend will also be paired with my exploration and enjoyment of some of the world’s greatest poetry – noting my observations and reflections along the way. As a kind of short-hand, I’ll be calling my House Blend “AHB”.
House Blend 1.0
AHB started with 300 ml of the Forty Creek Small Cask VSOP and 100 ml of Cortel XO. This base is my launching point for purely practical reasons. That’s what I have on hand. I chose these proportions in an attempt to significantly impact the Forty Creek flavour withou completely emptying out my Cortel XO stock.
The vessel for storing AHB is a crystal decanter I purchased a few years ago in a fit of anachronistic longing. Crystal decanters are not a thing of modernity. I thoroughly enjoy the matched crystal low-ball tumblers cut with a grain-like motif in the thick glass. It is a modest luxury to pour a drink and ponder the flavours.
As indicated, this first blend is intended to impart some of the complexity of the Cortel XO to the Small Cask. After allowing the blend to stand for several days, I’m not convinced the flavour profile budged very far. The Small Cask flavours and scent are dominant. Perhaps a bit more caramel is noted. But I also sense that the blend is slightly smoother. Perhaps it is wishful thinking.
I recommend water and ice in a low-ball crystal tumbler (to taste). And a few poems by Henry Beissel In particular I’m going to recommend the book Fugitive Horizons. My copy was sent to me as a gift early in 2017. I’m thankful to have received it as I’ve found in it a great little collection of poems. Some of the poems pursue lines of thinking and expressions that seem like musings I might readily have had. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Beissel’s exploration of scientific themes in poetic structures.
A few favorite lines? How about Tracings in Silver Dust…
The delicate soft designs on the wings of moths light up
the night’s eyes though they are but tracings in silver dust.
or how about Silence
Let there be silence. Stop the forward engines,
shut off all machines and stay your tongue –
I want to listen to the sun’s choir in the open air
auditorium of the forest that makes the sap dance
to its tune under the bark of every tree. I want to hear
what the wind is telling the flowers as it stalks
the fields with a message from the faraway sea.
In Fugitive Horizons, Beissel appears to have leaned heavily on the sonnet form and yet to have broken away from it as well. This was as much to say, here’s my foundation, where can I go with it? The subject matter is the same. We are not used to scientific language and concepts rendered in poetic forms.
With AHB, I’ve taken existing arts, sciences and forms and have begun to bend them in my own explorations. Next on the AHB list: replenishment and infusion of recent experience.