Anyone who knows the name “King Leopold“, and knows enough to connect that name to Belgium, should be expected to know who King Leopold was. Here in San Francisco, we should be conscious that Mark Twain campaigned against the evils of Leopold’s regime in the Belgian Congo. History has plenty of “greatest monster” candidates. Leopold is one of them.
Here is Nsala Wala. He and his family were kidnapped and pressed into slavery. He didn’t collect enough rubber sap quickly enough, so his daughter was tortured, mutilated, and murdered. He’s been given her dismembered little hand and foot. That’s what he’s looking at. This was done by King Leopold and his man on the ground, Henry Morton Stanley.
This is not news. What happened in the Congo is well known. The book “King Leopold’s Ghost” is not, exactly, obscure. Certainly, anyone who knows who King Leopold was should know who he actually was, and what he did.
So, of course, there’s a brewery, “Triple Voodoo”, that just opened its doors here in San Francisco and they think it’s hilarious to brew a Belgian Stout and call it “King Leopold”. And no-one who writes for the industry press or blogs for the industry blogs batted an eyelid.
I’m starting to feel like I know my way around Chicago a bit and it was great to see old friends and new folks. A few people I missed, I’ll come back. Importantly there was WhiskyFest Chicago, of which, some notes:
- Koval Oat — Koval is based in Chicago and they do some interesting grain combinations. I loved their four-grain (corn/barley/wheat/rye). The 100% oat has a supple satiny aromatic quality to it that was completely new to me.
- Tomatin 30 year old — The other Tomatin expressions were, I thought, either “sherry bombs” (as Brad put it) or not much of anything. But the 30 year old was special, lovely balance of heat and spice and vanilla surprising for a product that’s been in the wood so long.
- Glendronach 14 year old “Virgin Oak” — My first sample of the night and a great way to start. Very distinctively, deceptively simple, like a baseline reference for an excellent single malt. Anchor is distributing this in the US now, apparently.
- Cody Road Rye Whiskey — Fine pure rye from Mississippi River Distilling Co in Iowa, by far the best of a thin crop of new ryes.
Also went to The Map Room, wherein:
- Big Muddy Monster — An “India-Style Brown Ale”, they call it, more like a blend of different beers, like a rich brown ale married to a hoppier pale.
- Darkhorse Plead the 5th — Well, here’s an Imperial Stout for you. Superb. Vinous, old fruit, dates and leather, good heat, good balance.