A mea culpa to White Owl Whiskey in the interests of journalistic integrity

My fellow inebriates,

My parents pointed out that it was unfair of me to describe the taste of White Owl Whisky after it had been soaking into my fur.

My on-again-off-again girlfriend Dolly seconded my parents; she said the odour I was wafting could not in any way have been intended by the makers of White Owl Whisky.

Happier times with Dolly.

Even more chastened than last time, I begged my mother to buy a fresh bottle of White Owl Whisky so we could give it a fair shake. She refused. She said the nasty aroma had stuck with her for hours—and by the way, did I realize I’d taken the finish off the coffee table when I spilled it?

So, MFI, I now rely on you to send in your impressions of White Owl Whisky. If you don’t want to buy a big bottle, maybe you can find a mini-bottle affixed to the neck of a bottle you do decide to purchase. I will wait for you.

Math is tough! Can Bearface whisky help?

My fellow inebriates,

As Barbie used to say, “Math class is tough!”

When I saw V’s grade 8 math, I had to concur. Surface area of a prism? Square root of a four-digit number? Diameter of the hide covering of a drum being used in an Indigenous ceremony? My two brain cells got injured just watching her do these computations.

Mum’s brain cells were also injured. Being ancient, she couldn’t remember surface-area problems from math class, so she spent an afternoon relearning them (or perhaps learning them for the first time). I pictured her putting dresses on Barbies, puzzling how to wrench their disproportionate limbs through the holes and pulling Barbie’s string for reassurance. And of course I offered her a drink.

As for V, it was all she could do to stay with us. She’d already spent an hour online with these equations. It was probably worse watching Mum scratch her head than battle them herself. I pictured V wrenching Barbie’s disproportionate limbs off and setting her on fire. And of course I offered her a drink too.

This did not go over well. Apparently there are some rules about teenage drinking in our house. Rules that, as far as I know, have never been violated. In fact, V said she had no interest in drinking, having spent her whole life observing yours truly.

But you can’t really blame me, right? Math is tough! Even when Google offered to calculate the surface area for us, I felt unsettled.

Then my mum told this stupid story about how, when she was a kid and brought math problems home, her parents would say, “Oh, that’s the new math. They’ve changed everything; we can’t possibly help.” So she just muddled through it and immediately jettisoned all knowledge of it. Totally.

I mean, get this. My mum thought she was pouring an ounce of Bearface whisky the other night.

Turned out it was more like 2.5 ounces. OMG! If she’d had two of those in one night (which I generally encourage) she would have had a huge headache.

Her massive underestimate of liquid volume was revelatory. It explains why we can’t keep a decent supply of whisky in the house. And it puts the lie to any theories that the kids were drinking the whisky. It was all my mum, with her big, generous pours!

So how much should we be pouring at one time?

Wikipedia: standard drink.

HealthLink BC recommends these “low-risk” drinking portions:

Men: Up to 3 standard drinks a day; no more than 15 a week.

Women: Up to 2 standard drinks a day; no more than 10 a week.

But what if the drink is really yummy? Like Bearface whisky, which is “elementally aged in the Canadian wilderness for a bolder, smoother flavour”?

What on earth is elemental ageing? Apparently, if your oak casks are in an extreme northern climate (or southern, I imagine), the cold amplifies the interaction of the wood with the booze. The makers of Bearface say the whisky temperature can fluctuate between minus 10 C and plus 40 C within a single day.

So, this sounds more like the planet Mercury than a Canadian wilderness. But what do I know? I’m as bad at science as I am at math. The only thing I do know is that Bearface is an interesting kind of hooch. It’s rich and dark, with a surprising kick of spice and a tannic, almost winey quality. The mouthfeel is medium-viscosity and slightly oily—substantial and bearlike, if I do say so. Bearface spends seven years sitting in a cask that sits inside a shipping container being abused by Canadian weather extremes, and that is how it comes by its oaky, toasty, woody, spiciness. Not super-complex, but it has enough going on to get you wondering what’s in it and how it all computes. (Did you see what I did there?)

What would anti-math Barbie say about Bearface whisky? Despite the zillions of words she was advertised to have said, no number of string-pulls could have anticipated a request for a whisky review. But if she had produced one, it could hardly have been more offensive than her claim that math was tough. At the time, everyone jumped on Mattel. How dare they represent Barbie as being dumb at math? After all, she was a role model for girls. What if Barbie’s defeatism deterred girls from STEM?

But maybe Barbie was just being honest. After all, she was contending with tons of physiological challenges. Her head was teetering on a neck that could barely support it. How did all her organs fit inside her body? She must have been missing at least one of her intestines and possibly her liver. Her proportions were such that, had she come to life, she would have had to walk on all fours. How could you expect her to do math? Especially hanging out with a himbo like Ken, who probably couldn’t do math either.

V was born long after the Mattel debacle. She never played with Barbies; she felt an instinctive revulsion about them. She doesn’t think Barbie represents women, whether doing STEM at UBC or fighting over a purse at Nordstrom Rack. V doesn’t give a crap what Barbie thinks about math, or anyone out there trying to imitate Barbie. (In fact, she eighty-sixed her Discord account this week.)

Regardless of the 30-year-old math-class-is-tough kerfuffle, it’s painfully obvious that Barbie can’t help us with our math today.

Nor, for that matter, can Bearface whisky, which is tasty enough that you might eyeball a 2.5-ounce pour as a HealthLink-recommended 1.5 ounces.

And my mum is worse than Barbie and Bearface put together, especially with a headful of Bearface—in which case, surface area of a prism be damned.

But you tell me, my fellow inebriates. What do you think about math? Are you good at calculating surface areas? What about liquid volume? Do you walk on all fours? Let me know!

How Canadian Club Classic 12 has found its way into our hearts during COVID-19

My fellow inebriates,

Since the pandemic struck, we have been drinking almost every day. This puts us among the 18% of Canadians who report they’ve been indulging more often.

COVID-19 seems like a great reason to drink more. We’re not going anywhere (no driving). Alcohol has been declared essential by the BC government (yes!). So, come about 8:00 pm each evening, my parents and I will unwind with a glass of whisk(e)y. As we sip and work our way through reruns of Battlestar Galactica, and I’ve started to associate Canadian Club Classic 12 with Cylons.

In the before-times, we probably would have abstained on a weekday and then busted out on Friday/Saturday (not one glass but several). But we no longer socialize—meaning Friday/Saturday are just like regular days.

Effectively, we’ve spread the half a dozen drinks that would formerly have been consumed between Friday and Saturday over a seven-day stretch.

I wondered if this was the case for other Canadians. Are they drinking more often, but in lower quantities?

Not according to Statistics Canada. In pre-pandemic times, 11% of Canadians reported consuming five or more drinks at a time on the days they consumed alcohol. During COVID, it’s 18%.

I figured my mum would be a candidate for this kind of behaviour. Pre-COVID, she’d be up for consuming an entire bottle of wine in an evening. But now… a wee dram, Cylons, then bedtime.

I’m conflicted about this. Over the years I’ve been a huge proponent of binge drinking. [Insert disclaimers: I’m a bear, bears are stupid, we don’t even have opposable thumbs, etc.] But I kind of like this daily sipping behaviour too. I feel like I’m calming down a bit about drinking. I don’t have to wait till Friday to have a drink. I’m sometimes sad that no one comes over and a party never breaks out, but hey, those weekend parties sometimes led to douchebaggery of the kind my parents should have aged out of long ago.

So, what do other Canadians say about their drinking?

They’re bored. Over 60% are casting about for things to do, so why not have a drink?

They’re stressed. Over 57% have extra anxiety thanks to COVID. We know what that’s like. The kids are home climbing the walls. My parents’ work has increased, not decreased. They’re doing Zoom calls all day, freaking out about deadlines while coping with guilt at their failure with home schooling. Plus, my dad actually had COVID! I’ll tell you all about that in a later post.

Alcohol is convenient. In fact, there’s some on the kitchen counter right now. About 52% of Canadians are finding themselves in close proximity to alcohol. There it is, and they have nowhere they need to drive. No reason not to put some Bailey’s in the morning coffee and then hit that Zoom meeting.

Loneliness. You’d think you couldn’t get lonely, stuffed into a house together for over a year. But at LBHQ we’re lucky to have each other. Many Canadians live at home and are missing human contact. Almost 37% say loneliness makes them reach for the bottle.

Insomnia. This one is huge at our house. In the before-times, 5:00 am was gym time. Now there’s no gym (at least, no thank you to the gym, where people are panting away without a mask on the cardio machines). We get up later. We go to bed later. And there was no exhausting commute to tire us out. We may even have slacked off work a bit. No wonder we’re wide awake at 11:00 pm.

According to Nanos Research, lack of a regular schedule is a big factor. Another reason is cooking at home. And some people report they are just lucky to have a lot of alcohol in the house.

What about Canadians who’ve decreased their drinking?

Nanos says 61% of Canadians now lack opportunities to gather and socialize. Considering we’re supposed to be in a flat-out fucking lock-down, this number should be more like 100%, but it makes sense the fact that all we have to do is look out the window and see 10 neighbours partying on their front lawn. The next biggest reason Nanos gives for decreased drinking is a desire to maintain good health lest the virus attacks (36%). Other reasons include running out of alcohol, caring for dependents, and being too busy.

It’s one thing to read surveys and self-reports about alcohol consumption during COVID. But what do the liquor sales statistics tell us?

For one thing, it wasn’t just toilet paper we were panicking over. Check out the spikes in liquor sales at both private and government liquor stores last year.

Here’s a comparison of retail sales of beer, wine and liquor in Canada.

COVID kiboshed our annual Gin Shoot-Out last year. Instead of buying half a dozen bottles for guests to sample, we bought one big bottle of Gordon’s, and there’s still a third of it left.

Wine has a social association for us. No guests = no wine, except on holidays, and even then we’ve been moderate. In a couple of cases, my parents didn’t even finish a bottle they opened; they ended up cooking with it (criminal).

Liqueurs mean Christmas and a house full of people. That didn’t happen this year, hence no liqueurs. A small bottle of Bailey’s is languishing in the fridge. (I think it keeps forever?)

Dad’s beer consumption is moderate, and Mum stopped drinking it altogether.

Stratospherically up. Rye and Irish whiskey have become the wee dram of choice around here.

If you’re not exhausted by this round-up of statistics and the personal drinking habits of my boring parents, you may want to know a bit about Canadian Club Classic 12.

For starters, it’s $27.49 and often goes on sale (for instance, it’s $26.09, so we should probably gallop to the liquor store). You know how I and Don Draper feel about Canadian Club proper (10:00 am siren call), but Classic 12 is different. It’s more substantial, with a superior mouthfeel and longer finish. Notes are firm and heady—lots of caramel with some mellow fruit and a hint of spice and a wood finish. If you’ve been drinking Canadian Club and then switch to Classic 12, it’ll feel like you’re being clobbered over the head, but in a nice way. It’s an affordable bottle for anyone hunkering down during COVID, and fully suitable for a Battlestar Galactica binge. (Have you noticed how much they drink on that show?)