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Last Exit to Bronkhorstspruit Vol. 3: A Dram Fine Bunch of Fellows

Written by André Meyer (Culling Song)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 14 May 2013 at 09:48

I had originally planned to talk about the new (and final instalment in the New History Warfare trilogy) Colin Stetson album, but when I think about what to say I feel kind of like the apes in the opening scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey – Confounded. Intimidated. Confronted by something beyond my frame of reference, but that I feel compelled to get close to. And completely at a loss for words.

So instead, I’ve decided to opt for something a little more fun, a little more light-hearted, and a lot more relevant to the title of this website. You’ve often seen wines or whiskies being paired with specific foods; here now is Culling Song’s pairing of whisky with Sharks players.

Note to Sharks players: I don’t know any of you. I don’t have you as Facebook friends. I don’t follow you on Twitter. I don’t interact with you on Google+ or MySpace or Tumblr or any of the myriad other social networking sites that abound. The descriptions listed below are broadly based on public perception. Yes, they’re probably not accurate. Yes, they’re probably stereotypical. But it’s all in the name of fun, so see it as such. Also, if you’re not listed below, it’s not that I don’t like you. Or don’t rate you. It’s just that I don’t think of you in whisky terms. It’s me, not you, OK? OK.

The player – Beast Mtawarira: Beast is a player that has popularised front row play with the masses. Affable, popular, hugely accomplished and highly watchable.
The whisky – Glenfiddich 12 Year Old: The single malt that started the revolution, and introduced single malt to the masses. As the biggest selling single malt in the world, it is popular, approachable and highly drinkable.

The player – Bismarck du Plessis: Combative and uncompromising, Bismarck epitomises the modern hooker, combining traditional qualities like strength and physicality with ball-pilfering skills and an unparalleled work rate around the park.
The whisky – Talisker Storm: Talisker Storm epitomises the modern trend towards no age statement whiskies, combining the bold, robust flavours of the traditional 10 year old with some punchier, youthful elements for an unparalleled taste explosion.

The player – Pieter-Steph du Toit: One of the youngest members of the Sharks squad, the young lock is already attracting comparisons to greats like Mark Andrews and Bakkies Botha with his all-round abilities and robust physicality.
The whisky – Kilchoman Machir Bay: Established in 2005, Kilchoman is the newest (in fact, first new distillery to be built in 124 years) distillery in Islay. While still very much lacking in maturation, the robust peaty flavours of the initial offerings from Kilchoman are already attracting comparisons to the great (and now defunct) Port Ellen distillery.

The player – Keegan Daniel: While lacking the physique typically required of a loose forward, Keegan compensates (notwithstanding 2013 form) through pace, sublime skills and a peerless feel for the game. While he may not appeal to all, he’s undoubtedly the type of player who, when on song, can turn a game, and would probably been a regular member of the Bok squad had it not been for our national coaches well-documented size prejudice.
The whisky – Compass Box Spice Tree: While lacking their own distillery, the folks at Compass box compensate through the innovative treatment of other distillery’s malts. While not finding universal favour (the Spice Tree was initially banned by the Scotch Whisky Association over the post-maturation use of toasted oak staves), Compass Box has nonetheless caused a stir in the market place, and the Spice Tree cracked the World Whisky of the Year shortlist.

The player – Willem Alberts: With his direct approach and superhuman strength, Willem Alberts regularly leaves a lasting impression (and bruised and battered bodies) in his wake.
The whisky – Big Peat Cask Strength: With a phenol content hovering around the 50ppm, and alcohol levels of 58% ABV, Big Peat is not for the casual whisky drinker; even brief contact leaves a lasting impression (and aching head) in its wake.

The player – Pat Lambie: Able to execute all four key facets of flyhalf play (kicking, passing, running, defense) with equal aplomb, Pat additionally manages to marry the fearlessness of youth with a composure that belies his age.
The whisky – Johnny Walker Green Label: Blending four fine single malts (Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore, Caol Ilha) with aplomb, Green Label additionally manages to infuse these stately components with an undeniable youthful exuberance.

The player – Frans Steyn: Freakishly talented, but prone to divide public opinion with his weight issues and perceived petulance, he is nonetheless a proven match winner.
The whisky – Ardbeg 10 Year Old: Brilliantly constructed single malt that may appeal to limited segments of the market owing to its heavy, brooding character, but is nonetheless a World Whisky of the Year winner.

The player – Lwazi Mvovo: Initially attracting attention with his blistering pace, Lwazi has since worked on other aspects of his game, and while it’s still his finishing abilities that he’s renowned for, he’s very much the finished product.
The whisky – Bruichladdich Octomore: initially gaining notoriety for the blistering phenol content (130ppm+!), successive releases have seen a more balanced character emerge, even as the phenols have climbed a notch or two.

The player – JP Pietersen: Converted from lock, the tall wing was initially known for his perplexing ability to score tries from impossible positions at will, but being unable to execute basic like catching a ball passed gently into his bread basket. In the interim, JP set about developing his game to become the best defensive-, and later best wing in the world, period. Often looks to not be taking things too seriously, he is nonetheless one class act.
The whisky – Glenmorangie Original: Created in the tallest stills in the world, and described by noted whisky scribe Jim Murray as “complexity at its most complex”. With a strong vanilla, honey and floral character, this is a fun, easy-going whisky that is nonetheless a class act.

And now, just to stir the pot a bit…

The whisky – Johnny Walker Blue Label: Blended from some seriously good whiskies, this still somehow fails to leave any lasting impression. Over-hyped and over-priced, this triumph of marketing over quality only thrives in the market-place due to its finding of favour with the young, connected elite.
The player – Pierre Spies: Blessed with speed, strength, and a physique almost as impressive as my own, Pierre nonetheless fails to leave any lasting impression on the rugby field. Over-hyped and under-achieving, he only continues to feature due to his being BFF with the Bok coach.

The whisky – Johnny Walker Double Black: Faced with a niche in the market due to the rising popularity of whisky and increased demand for more distinctive, smoky offerings, the guys at Johnny Walker decided to reconstitute the ingredients of the well-loved Black Label, and age it further in charred oak barrels. In the process, they managed to eliminate all the charm of the traditional Black, and produce a whisky as multi-faceted as a sheet of paper.
The player – Morne Steyn: Faced with the need for a backup to Derick Hougaard, the guys at the Bulls decided to recondition their running flyhalf into a kicking robot. ‘Nuff said.

The whisky – Bains Cape Mountain Whisky: One-dimensional home-grown fare that has won awards for single-grain whiskies. Which is like winning the academic prize in the special class.
The player – Duane Vermeulen: A yawn-inducingly one-dimensional player that has nonetheless been called up to the Bok squad by coach Heyneke “I like ‘em big, strong and dumb” Meyer. I rest my case.

From the Bronks, slainte!


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