Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Liverpudlians Rejoice!

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! What a week! Now this is not exactly SMW or cricket related but there's a reason to rejoice - at least for now. This article makes it to this blog simply because I am and always will be a Liverpool fan. Though I'm also an anti Utd fan :)

It's not everyday we get to celebrate. It all started during the weekend. Usually, matches between Liverpool and Utd have been preceded with the ever so irritating banter from the red half of Manchester. Recent history and track record favors them especially with Liverpool having only collected 1 measly point from the past 4 league matches played at Anfield. Well, I'm far away from home now so while i miss home, one thing i truly appreciated was the "silence" before the match. I wasn't lucky enough to be able to watch it ( i had just arrived in California and my cable TV was not setup yet. Mind you if it was, i would have paid a good sum of money as it is on pay-per-view only) but luckily i had internet connectivity and I followed every single minute online.

My heart sank when the ever pesky Tevez slotted the ball home as early as in the third minute and the online updates revealed that Utd was taking it to Liverpool. I feared the worst but hoped that we could settle down and start dictating the pace. Slowly Liverpool came to life and then we levelled the score through a Wes Brown own goal. Now how many times have you seen such a stroke of fortune favor Liverpool. Too many times have we been on the receiving end instead and the Utd fans claiming that luck favored the brave! What say you now! What's more is that we were getting it done without our two best players - Gerrard and Torres.
In the second half, there was no stopping Liverpool. We were dominating and when Babel scored, Utd were deflated. That sweet sweet long overdue taste of victory over Utd was at last imminent. When the final whistle blew, so did Fergie's head as well - i've never seen a head so red. While "you'll never walk alone" rang through Anfield, I bet the Utd players never felt so lonely and isolated as they did when they walked off the pitch, heads down. They probably wished that the ground would open up and swallow them whole! Where were the red devil fans and their annoying phonecalls. Never came!

Captain Fantastic!

The icing one the cake came later this week. Liverpool winning away at a very tough Marseille team with captain fantastic showing Ronaldo how one should perform when one comes back after a long layoff due to injury. Utd though stuttered and stumbled at home to a draw against a Villareal team that are just two games into the Spanish league. Not surprisingly, one faithful red devil fan remarked - oh the ref did us in - there were two obvious penalty claims! Well, my oblivious friend, didn't you see Villareal going closest and striking the inside post and the ball finding the grateful arms of Van Der Sar? Which team was the lucky one to come away with a point?

You'd think Fergie would rant and rage at his team for 2 poor performances but instead he's busy grilling the PFA for overturning Terry's red card. Come on Fergie, worry about your own team. The way they are playing, Chelsea could parade a defense taken from the Malaysian soccer team and still not concede. The red devils are running scared, their tails between their legs as they whine, whine, whine!

Now we all know the season is still young and there will be lots of twists and turns but this week belongs to Liverpool and I hope come May next year, Utd will remember this week as the week that led to their downfall!

To me, this move to the US has been overwhelming - drowned in work, family still unsettled, new place, new environment but today i will take that shot of single malt, sit down, lie back, rest my legs on the table and sing!
When you walk through a storm,
Hold your head up high,
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm,
There's a golden sky,
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown..
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone.......You'll never walk alone.
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
And you'll never walk alone.......You'll never walk alone

- Liverpudlians rejoice!


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Oceans XI : Off to a whimper!

The Oceans XI cricket team opened its 2020 cricket season with a game today against the Penang combined schools. Now, no disrespect to the schoolboys, but several seasons ago, such a fixture would be celebrated by the oceans boys as a win even before stepping out into the field.

The Oceans team comprising of former national and state cricketers surprisingly fell in this opening game with the schoolboys easily catching the 110 odd runs that the blokes put up. It doesn't augur well for the Ocean's team that we were poor in all departments of the game - batting, bowling and fielding.

We went in to bat and very quickly, started chasing the game. Our top 4 batsmen all fell cheaply and was it not for the heroics of Deva, we would have fell far short of the century mark.

When it was our turn to bowl and field, it was pretty much the same story. Our bowling attack lacked any bite and the schoolboys pretty much had the game sewn up when they lost their first wicket in th 13th over. This toothless attack was compounded further by slack fielding with our veteran, Kilat Rama, being the biggest culprit for spilling a sitter. I hear the vaseline that he put on his fingers the night before had yet to wear off. For his sake, I am hoping that he had more success with the use of his fingers the previous night.

The biggest letdown however, was that there was no fine session after the game. Going against Ocean's tradition, we decided to forego the fine session. Have we lost our character, guys? Win or lose, we have always had fun and the camaraderie amongst ourselves was always bigger than the game itself. Fine sessions were there for us to laugh off our follies and at the same time collect a small amount of dough for this self financed team.

On the bright side, we can only improve and hopefully as the rust wears off, we start to show our Ocean's colors in matches to come, especially if the boys get off their asses and get some practice in. One thing for sure, be sure to fine the fine master in the next game - that's now you Mr Flaming Wei! Dont say I didn't pass on the role!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Part 2: Cheers to Good Health!

Damn! Almost a month without a blog update! Sorry folks, got so caught up with the move and 1001 items on my wife's checklist didnt help in any way free up time to blog.

There is an Irish Proverb : "What whisky will not cure, there is no cure for". Here are 5 more reasons to consume the water of life.
#6: Nasal Congestion

Try this. Open a bottle of phenolic islay malt. Take a deep, deep breath and inhale the whisky or take a sip neat. It's perfect for clearing the tubes. If you cannot smell an Ardbeg, Lagavulin or a Laphroaig, you are probably dead!

My recommendation: Ardbeg 10 yo - phew! Wait till you get a whiff of it!!!

Bottled in the 1850s, this is among the oldest whiskies ever - 15,000 pounds only!

#7: Disinfectant
You've probably seen this in many westerns, how the hero or the villain gets shot and douses his wound with whisky before taking out the bullet with a knife. Believe it or not, they're on to something.
The alcohol in the whisky breaks open harmful bacterial cells and kills them, effectively sterilising the wound. But there's a catch — the alcohol needs to be at least 60 percent proof. Anything of lesser strength, like beer or wine, won't be strong enough to stop the bacteria in its tracks. Hah! - Whisky 3, wine 0 !

My recommendation: Aberlour Abunadh (any batch) - just remember that the whisky has to be overproof to effectively sterilize wounds

#8: Reduced risk in Type II diabetes, stroke cases

This is closely related to fact #1 in the first part of this article. The idea that moderate drinking protects against cardiovascular disease makes sense biologically and scientifically.

Moderate amounts of alcohol raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good" cholesterol), and higher HDL levels are associated with greater protection against heart disease.

Moderate alcohol consumption has also been linked with beneficial changes ranging from better sensitivity to insulin to improvements in factors that influence blood clotting.

Such changes would tend to prevent the formation of small blood clots that can block arteries in the heart, neck, and brain, the ultimate cause of many heart attacks and the most common kind of stroke.

My recommendation: Auchentoshan 3 wood - easy to drink, mellow malt that can be introduced to diabetics and stroke patients !!!

Another oldie - distilled in 1937, bottled in 2001 - that's a 61yo dram, wow! - will set you back 16,500 pounds

#9: Anti-freeze cure

This is interesting. I read an article that a lady accidentally drank some anti-freeze. Now anti freeze really can damn well near kill you. The potential is that it causes kidney failure and can cause seizures, and the methanol can cause blindness. But you've guessed it. The antidote is whisky! Nope, wine will just not do! Whisky 4, wine 0 - if you're still keeping tabs.

So if you find yourself foolish enough to ingest some anti-freeze, get the whisky out and down a couple of glasses ASAP, else you're gonna kick the bucket.

My recommendation: Ardbeg 10yo - one of the most potent single malts i know, if anything's gonna save you from anti-freeze, this would be the one!

#10: The ultimate cure for loneliness

Well, if you're done and out, feeling blue, no one around and you're just lying on the couch, flipping through all those channels while in a daze, this one's for you.
GET UP, PUT SOMETHING DECENT ON, MAKE YOUR WAY TO A PUB. Have a few shots, relax, look around, flash a smile and you'll probably get a few smiles in return. Say hello and take it from there. Loneliness begone! Additionally with single malt, you'd probably get questions about why its different from the blended spirits. Thats when you take a stiff one and share your wisdom. Chances are, you'll impress someone and you'll be in good company late into the night.
Beats lying on a couch and playing with your ding a ling, doesn't it!!!
My recommendation: Bushmills 12 yo - not exactly a scotch but it being the oldest whisky distillery in the world and its rich history will have you running your mouth till the cows come home!

The most expensive SMW in the world thus far - 60yo macallan - in excess of 20,000 pounds


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Part 1: Cheers to good health!

You've heard it before. All these naysayers and their rantings about how the drink will send you to the grave. They have even gone on to say that it is one of the 4 vices that will surely do you in. (The other three being smokes/drugs, gambling and women)

There's also talk that if you really want to drink, go for wine. A moderate consumption can aid your health. Well, I'm overjoyed to say that after a short research, there are more reasons now for us good folks to pour ourselves ( and the close friends) a dram or two on a regular basis.

This article is only the first of several articles about the positive effects whisky has on health. (You'd never guess there could be so many good reasons to enjoy the drink)

#1 : Say goodbye to coronary heart disease
Researchers claim that drinking the equivalent of three or four pub measures of scotch can boost the body's defences against the disease.

The research, led by the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen , found that both whisky and red wine helped to protect against coronary heart disease by raising the body's level of anti-oxidants.

However, it was the whisky drinkers who absorbed a greater proportion of the "phenol" chemicals that provide the protective effect - whisky 1, wine 0!
My recommendation : Laphroaig 10 yo - as phenolic as they can get

Whisky Safe: Scotch is priceless!!!

#2: Whisky cures colds
Not much research done by medical experts here but I'm talking from personal experience, plus my fellow oceanites will surely back me up with theirs as well. Many a time, when I've been under the weather, I've turned to a good single malt whisky watered down with some warm water. As it flows down my throat, slowly but surely, the headaches go away, the sneezing stops, the discomfort of a cold replaced by a feeling of content and mellowness. . The magic, however, comes the next morning when my cold is completely cured.

My recommendation : Highland Park 18 yo - the smokiness of this dram will will clear the cloudiness in your head and tinge of saltiness can only help with the sore throat!

#3: Cancer Prevention

I am not kidding. Actual research has shown that whisky contains ellagic acid, which is a highly effective 'free radical scavenger' that actually 'absorbs' or 'eats up' rogue cells that occur in the body during eating.
What's more is that Single malt whiskies have more ellagic acid than red wine. Hah! whisky 2, wine 0

My recommendation: Balvenie Double wood - simply because I love it!

Even if you succumb to cancer, chances are you'll meet her if you've had whisky!

#4: Gluten Free

People once thought that whisky made from barley/malt contained gluten and should be avoided on a gluten free diet, along with beers, lagers, ales and stouts. It is now known that the distillation process removes all traces of gluten and is safe to consume on a gluten-free diet. So when you walk into a health store and find no single malt in the gluten free section, give them a piece of your mind!
My recommendation: Glenmorangie 12yo - moderately priced for a such a dieter to consider
#5: Stress Reliever
Have you ever been consumed with work or bothered by some personal issues that have caused stress? Again, here a piece of anecdotal evidence.
Oceanites meet almost every Friday, the end of the week that brings with it many frustrations of various sorts. The evening usually starts off with some serious discussions about various issues but I've noticed that every evening that involves high quality single malt, at some point during the evening you feel intensely, almost palpably happy.

This feeling of happiness and completeness is so deep, real and overwhelming, and at the same time so elusive that you realise you have been given a great gift. The conversation becomes light hearted, words acquire meaning and suddenly a lot of things that had appeared confusing find their proper place in your life, and you see the answers that you could not see before.

My recommendation: Isle of Jura 16yo - pure bliss that will melt away all frustrations in life

Look out for the 2nd part coming soon!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Oceans XI Cricket Team - Contenders on the field, Champions off the field!!!

It is about time, isn't it? The first cricket related write up in this blog! I'll put a hold on the other whisky related articles till later.

The Ocean XI cricket team - founded in 2004 by a bunch of ex-BMHS and ex-PFS guys. Made up of regular members and guess members. A good multi-racial mix of tall, short, fat, thin, dark, fair blokes who do claim to be "good" cricket players. All coming from different backgrounds and who each hold jobs in a variety of sectors . Though so different we may be, we're brought together because of two commonalities - the love for cricket and the love for the drink!

These are the Oceanites :

The regulars
1. General B - captain on and off the field - especially off since he's been injured on the field so often; surprisingly always performs off the field, never injured, always not out!

2. Kilat Rama(Vick) - ex-Malaysian cricket superstar. Takes the first run quick and always looks for 2 for 1 opportunities. Recently, lacks match fitness "off the field" in domestic matches.

3. Mogoi G - our version of Sehwag! Lost the jambang but still very explosive with the bat. Potentially our largest fine contributor next season due to severe lack of match fitness "off the field".

4. Old Man Wei - experienced cricket guru, qualified umpire, keeps wicket extremely well - especially off the field where never a "bye" he lets go; nothing old about him off the field

5. Flaming Wei - off the field star for Ocean, steady grafter off the field, can scalp prized wickets - again off the field, the most steady Oceanite - you guessed it! off the field when it comes to drinking!

6. Motte - fine master extraordinaire ; owner of the most expensive bat in the team, seldom puts it to good use; workhorse - both on and off the field; fast on the field, faster off it.

7. Sun Gave-up - quickest bowler in the team; shiniest teeth in the team too; finishes one tube of sunscreen per game; constantly asking the mirror on the wall, "Who is the fairest of them all?"

8. Ah Long - handy with ball and bat; prone to causing bodily harm - especially off the field; great recovery skills - again off the field especially where loans are concerned

9. Guinness Raj - the name says it all. Scores big on and off the field - only goes for 4s and 6s - again on and off the field; Friday Night Session (FNS) king

10. D man - need this bloke to even up the karma in the team - not! Crosses at every chance - yes, on and off the field;

11. Ah Boy - evil knievel himself; fastest runner between the wickets - that's what he tells himself! now the expat in the team

Former Greats

12. PP - has the most famous shirt in the team; most famous bus driver in the team; also claimed to be a doctor, a policeman - lately claims to be a lawyer

13. Cupper - sleek, shrewd and a smooth operator; a fine bus conductor too; elusive bugger - though lately mogoi is just as elusive

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Whisky Or Whiskey?

Ever since I started this blog, I've received feedback that I've misspelled whisky (or is it whiskey?). Well, i found this on the web and I don't think there is a better way of putting it.

Whisky Or Whiskey?

A Scotsman who spells
Whisky with a n ‘e’,
should be hand cuffed
and thrown head first in the Dee.

In the USA and Ireland,
it’s spelt with an ‘e’
but in Scotland
it’s real ‘Whisky’.

So if you see Whisky
and it has an ‘e’,
only take it,
if you get it for free!

For the name is not the same
and it never will be,
a dram is only a real dram,
from a bottle of ‘Scotch Whisky’.

Stanley Bruce.20th April 2004

Isle of Jura - 16 years old of pure joy at the price of a 12 year old

Price: RM150 (1 litre) - Langkawi

What they claim:

AGE – 16 years
COLOUR – Glassy golden highlights
NOSE – Full and rich. Each aroma beautifully structured to reveal harmony at its best. Silk and honey with a hint of ginger spice encompass this floral bouquet.
PALATE – Soft peaches and honey with a hint of citrus and marzipan will slowly arise, yet the backbone of its heritage continues to ebb away on the aftertaste, leaving the palate rewarded and satisfied.

This layman's version + how the evening went

It was one of those Wednesday evenings where i found myself at Ingolf's for a lazy, feel good talking "cock" session with one of my good buddies - Wei Lin (whose still famous for downing 4 - yes 4 flaming Lamborghini's in less than 3 hours and had numerous whisky shots in between, then calmly walked without wobbling after that). Ingolf's is one place where we constantly find ourselves with good food, good drinks and good company and it gets better on Wednesdays since they serve their special German pork knuckle. (plus their corkage for a bottle of whisky is a measly RM35!!!!)

That good chunk of meat, wonderful sides of sauerkraut, mash and secret sauce makes for a very good "value" meal - beats the crap out of the value meals you get at McDonald's.

Yes, that is wei lin at the corner of the bar in ingolf's kneipe. This shot was taken on a different occasion and he was probably getting it on with the broad hidden behind the plant and the bartender.

Anyway, back to the evening, wl was reluctant to cork the bottle since it was in the middle of the week and his claims of working the next day. In his defense, it was a 1 litre bottle that 2 guys, well past their prime toxicating days, were attempting to finish. But the lure of a highly recommended drink was too much to give up and after all, we thought we'd go back with half a bottle left.

As we were led to our seats, the waiter asked us if we wanted ice and water with the whisky. We acknowledged but we were a little confused as he took away our prized possession. When he came back, he had our bottle swimming in a tub of iced water!!! Shows you that they get patrons who are into wine more than whisky. Anyway, that was quickly remedied and we got our glasses and ice shortly.
So, cork the bottle we did and while the bottle looked simple and bland, its content was anything but ordinary. The colour was simply divine - really golden - way more golden than Macallan or the boring glen's that we've drunk so many times (it was affordable!!). One whiff of its aroma and my night suddenly perked up. I found it to be a little "citrussy" and "caramelish" while my dear friend assured me that there was a tinge of spice. While we're no connoisseurs, we did think it was a really sweet smell with a hint of spiciness that perfectly rounded off the bouquet.

The first taste was heavenly. It was fruity and had a wonderful not so cloying sweetness to it. What followed was a tinge of peatiness that was not too overbearing like the islay malts. Clearly it had a unique taste. If I were too put it as simply as possible, not as fruity and florally as the typical highland malts and not too peaty like the islay malts. I've been told that these island whiskys are really unique and I have to agree after tasting these whiskys from Islay, Orkney and now Jura.
(The Jura distillery - add this to the 1000 places to visit before you die!!!)
We did find it interesting though that the taste of this whisky kept on "developing" as we continued sipping it over the course of the night (yes we were sipping, contrary to many of you who think that Oceanites only gulp and swallow). It just kept getting smoother and more elegant, enriching and satisfying my palate with every mouthful.

As the night progressed and while we lamented upon the unfortunate situation our cricket club found itself in (that's a story for another day), we quickly found the bottle's content down to it's last quarter ( much for sipping). Truth be told, it was indeed a really good drink and i think we did it justice.
As the night wound down and the frequency of the phone calls from my immigration officer intensified, one good friend in the form of Nerang turned up. Good timing too as wl's initial intention of taking it easy and slow evaporated into thin air, as he drowned himself with the water of life. I said my goodbyes and left these two gentleman to what was left of the good food and wonderful whisky.

As I drove home (again, I don't endorse drinking and driving), my thoughts were about how good a drink this was and would it take the place of my fav dram - the ever potent abu'nadh. I really couldn't decide so i thought I'd just include it in my top 3. The one regret that i had that night was that i only bought one such bottle so I am now hunting for another!!!!