City Reads provide a much needed literary salon type experience in Brighton, as well as the swathe of worthy and wonderful reading events that they run and promote across the city. I’ve previously been along to a literary supper, but tonight it was a slightly different type of event. Seated in the Regency Townhouse, in Brunswick Square, there was a curious mix of decadent exterior and dilapidated cosy interior, high ceilings and peeling paint, plastic chairs and ornate ceiling fixtures. It’s kind of exactly what Brighton is about. The townhouse has probably been host to events like this through its two hundred year history, and as we sat down at the perfectly arranged candle lit tables I instantly relaxed in the faded grandeur and ambience. It’s of course down to the City Reads team that we have this event this evening. Billed as Whiskey tasting that will ‘purify your palate and tickle your taste buds’ and taking place on St Patrick’s day, I was really happy to be going along to celebrate (and learn!).
On arrival there was live music, with Rowan Piggott on the fiddle. Our host for the evening was Dave Broom. Dave has written and published extensively on whiskey and his expert knowledge shone through in his presentations, which were a good mix of anecdotal, historical and thoroughly passionate. There is a man that loves his job. Through the evening, between sipping single malts, blends and single pots, we heard how the historical events since 1300 (I think that’s as far back as he went) had determined the production, successes and failures of Irish whiskey production. On our whistle stop tour he discussed the effects of Irish independence, WWII, the Great French Wine Blight (caused by phylloxera!) which killed crops across France and subsequently ceased the production of Cognac… I could go on, from the chemical composition, flavourings, sherry casks and the first translation of the medical distillation process from Latin – which was in Ireland.
I’m actually surprising myself with how much I remember and I definitely don’t remember everything. Besides the whiskey, the tables were decked out with homemade Irish soda bread and Irish cheese, chutney and other appetisers. It was expertly put together and Dave Broom provided a seamless and enthusiastic guide through an array of Irish Whiskey’s. When we thought it was all over we were treated to an enthusiastic reading from author Paul Mcveigh (reading his book The Good Son). This was followed by traditional Irish song, and we all sang as well.
What a brilliant evening of entertainment, it was two hours, but felt like the whole evening.
Find out about future City Reads events through their website here http://collectedworks.co.uk/city-reads/city-reads-2016-2/
Written by Lou Clement