I was accosted by Campbell Smith at the Music Awards finalists announcement last night. No, not what you think. He'd read the cover story on alternative rugby media, featuring Jedi of the highly accomplished Alternative Rugby Commentary, in the Star Times' Sunday magazine and discovered that it had left out a crucial chapter in the evolution of alt.rugby culture.
On reflection, it is true, as the story says, that the first 95bFM rugby commentary was provided by Graeme Hill and (as Dad) Paul Casserley in 1991, but it did rather hit another level when Campbell and I weighed in with the assistance of Paula Davy in 1995. We even came came the following year with Lee Stensness in the studio as the comments guy. And then Jeremy Wells and I came back to the mic in 2003, for all the good that did the team.
My main memory of the 2003 commentaries is bFM's small but perfectly formed tech genius Rick Huntington correctly perceiving that our crowd noise effects weren't really cutting it and swiftly running an audio lead out of his Sky decoder, EQing out the commentary and beaming it into the studio from Grey Lynn with his outside broadcast transmitter. I'm calling it fair dealing.
Certain elements of the 1995 and 1996 projects must go untold even now, but I do recall that Stensness, good chap that he was, had an unfortunate practice of adding Coca-Cola to the whisky we had obtained from Deschler's by way of sponsorship.
Speaking of which … you have until tomorrow morning to post a comment in this blog to be in to win the first of our prizes from our sponsor, Whisky Galore. I'm giving the Adelphi Private Stock Blend for the first two or three weeks at least: it's from Adelphi, so it's good; you probably can't get it anywhere else; and it's remarkably good value.
Should you be moved to obtain your own stocks from our sponsors, you may find yourself confused by the depth and breadth of the fare on offer. A couple of tips, then:
Under $50 you really can't go past the above-mentioned Adelphi Blend. You're just not going to get a more interesting whisky for the price. At $55, it's hard to imagine the new Glenfarclas 8 year-old not being good value.
Under $100, I think the BenRiach 16 year-old is a nice, very approachable whisky at $89, which makes me think of honey and nougat, although you'd probably do nearly as well with the 12 year-old for $20 less. The prestigious Campbelltown whiskies start with the Springbank 10 year old at $95.80, and the rich, dark Glenfarclas 15 also creeps in under the $100 mark.
If you can go a little higher for the World Cup, it gets really good. I've already ordered myself a bottle of the relatively rare Glenfarclas 17 year old at $116. The Adelphi Breath of the Isles ($154) is a wonderful dram: astringent, peppery and peaty, it excites the palate and is one of my favourite whiskies. (Just quietly, it's a Talisker, although you'd hardly know it from the colour.)
I can't really comment on anything that costs more than $200 (although you have no shortage of options if that's where you're headed), but the other bottle I have obtained for myself (I'm not going to all this trouble for nothing, clearly) is the Tactical 1988 'Old Malt Cask' 18 yr old, another Talisker private bottling. I tried this at Dramfest and thought it was absolutely sensational. I'm telling myself I'm keeping it to crack when the final whistle blows and the All Blacks have won the World Cup.
By the way, if you'd like to keep it patriotic, there are New Zealand whiskies from the Milford company. The 12 year old is good value at $68.50 and the 15 year-old comes in under $100.
Feel free to offer your personal tips too. Just promise me you won't put Coca-Cola with any of it.