WhiskyFest San Francisco was a wonderful event. It was filled with friendly (if at points sometimes strange) whisky fans, fantastic drinks, and some pretty amazing folks from the distilleries. I will be posting several stories of my experiences there (ask me about the John Hansell doppelganger) and some videos and pictures that I took, but first and foremost, I need to speak about the man, the myth, the legend - Simon Brooking.
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Laphroaig and Islay whiskies on this blog. But Simon Brookings, brand ambassador for Laphroaig, was truly an entertainer and educator of the highest form at WhiskyFest. He made the high cost of the event seem justified, made me and my friends feel as though we were part of an inner circle, and generally just provided a great time. One of the things that struck me the most about Simon at first, was that he gave some amazing toasts whenever he offered up some of his wares at the standing room only Laphroaig tastings. As my friend TE said over and over, “That man is GREAT at what he does.” I thought for a first post, I would write out the toasts that he gave (I know some of them are slightly adapted from Robert Burns, but I would love to know the etymology of the others), post the videos of the toasts and the whisky descriptions, and hopefully let others who weren’t able to attend feel a bit like they were there. Or at the very least, make us realize that we should be giving more toasts to each other whilst drinking. (ed. note 11/26/2009. Videos taken down by request)
Toast 1: Given prior to the Laphroaig/Ardmore Tasting
Willie Brews a damn fine scotch, and Rob and Al came to taste it.
Once uncorked, the friends confessed that not a drop will be wasted.
Oh, we’re not drunk. We’re not that drunk. Just a little tipsy.
The day may dawn, work may call, but we’ll still drink our whisky.
Toast 2: Given prior to the Laphroaig Cairdeas 12 Tasting (eye and die are pronounced eee and dee)
May the best you’ve ever seen, be the worst you’ll ever see.
May a mouse never leave your pantry with a teardrop in his eye
May you all keep hale and hearty, til you’re old enough to die
and I wish you all the best, as I wish you all to be. Slainte Va.
Toast 3 (w/story): Given prior to the Laphroaig 18 Tasting
Angus is at the local pub, and he’s like, “I’ve got a toast. Oh I’ve got a toast. Here’s my toast. ‘Here’s to spending the rest of my life between the legs of my wife!’” And he wins best toast of the night. And he goes home, and he goes to his wife “I won best toast of the night!”
"Oh, really? Did you now? What was it?"
"Um, err. Here’s to spending the rest of my life, in church, beside my wife"
So the next morning she’s shopping in the local village, and one of Angus’s pals comes up to her and says “Hey. Angus won best toast of the night, last night, didn’t he? Eh?”
"Yeah, I don’t understand. He’s only been there twice in the last two years. First time he fell asleep and the second time I had to pull him by the ears to make him come."
So here’s the toast.
Here’s to us, who’s like us? Damn few.
And that’s here’s to us, there’s nobody else like us, god damn the rest.
Toast 4: Given prior to the Laphroaig 25 Tasting
I must go down to the sea today,
to the lonely sea in the sky,
and all i ask is an islay cask,
and the friends to drink it dry.
Toast 5 (story): Given at The Great Whisk(e)y Debate prior to the Laphroaig Quarter Cask Tasting
John goes to his first baseball game (he’s trying to learn the game), and the home team’s up in the first inning, and the first batter gets up and he hits a ground ball and the crowd goes “run, run, run”. So John’s watching this and trying to understand this. And then the next guy gets up and he hits a base hit, and John goes “run, run, run!”. He’s starting to understand it and get it now. The next batter gets up. The first ball is inside, the next is outside, the third is too short, and the fourth is outside, so the batter puts the bat down and starts walking towards first base. And John gets up and goes “Run, run you bastard!” And the guy next to him goes “No, you don’t understand, he’s got 4 balls” So John goes, “Walk Proud, Man! Walk Proud!”