Jan. 2nd, 2017

jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
My uncle Tim is a scrounger. One of those guys who can sniff out deals from here and there. The whole family got together a few weeks ago after my brother died, and we ended up chatting about that.

Tim told me the tale of Vince and Vince's stuff. Vince (I never learned his last name, despite an interesting hour reading obituaries) never had a social insurance number, but over his life went from basically poor, to being the salvage king of Calgary. When he died, he left his widow a bunch of property, several million dollars, and a warehouse full of personal crap. You see, in addition to being a self-trained salvage expert, Vince was also a hoarder. A very rich, very well-organised hoarder. Which is to say, there was a ton of random stuff, but it was fairly well-labeled and properly stored.

The widow, being set for life, not having any children to worry about, and not wanting to deal with a warehouse full of constant reminders, decided to simply get rid of it. So she contacted a bunch of people who had worked for her husband and told them to come help themselves. These guys were all contractors (like Tim), so they weren't afraid of hard work. They also were the people most likely to appreciate Vince's stuff, and most importantly, had big pickup trucks.

Tim came and got a bunch of stuff. Amongst his haul:
  • Over a thousand dollars worth of scrap copper. Tim, feeling a little guilty, offered to split the cash with her, but she wouldn't have any of it. She was already rich.
  • Tons of well-maintained vintage hand tools.
  • An electron microscope. He ended up selling it to a high-school science teacher, who spent several hours in Tim's garage confirming that it worked.
  • A barrel of liquor.
Which bring us to the crux of this story.

Tim and another fellow figured the barrels would be worth something, so they started to empty them into the toilet. Tim realized right away, from the colour and the smell, that this wasn't something that should be poured away, and they ended up scrounging every empty bottle they could find in the warehouse, to decant what turns out to be really good port. Well, technically fortified wine, since you can't call it port, unless it was made in Portugal. That said, I'm just going to call it port. Fuck the EU.

Subsequent investigations revealed that Vince had made the port himself, and it had been sitting in that barrel since somewhere between 1955 and 1960. Most likely 1959. Tim and the other contractor decanted it in 2011. At a minimum, it was in that barrel for at least 51 years, and possibly 56. Because I like round numbers, I'm going to call it 50-year old.

He also thinks it's somewhere in the vicinity of 30% alcohol. Tim has long since hit the age where drinking is often more trouble than it's worth, so has more than he can personally use.

Unrelated, I'm thinking about having a bathroom renovation done (depending on whether my laneway house project proceeds or not), so I invite Tim over later in the week to have a look.

"When you come over, I'll trade you some peanut butter squares for a bottle of that port."
"Deal."
Having divvied up the existing peanut butter squares, I figure, I'll make a fresh batch. I figured, if he gave me a wee bottle, he'd get a quarter or a half of the batch. He brought me a gallon; 160 fluid ounces; Over four litres! I just gave him the whole damn batch, and if he asks for more, it's his. I priced out 50-year old port that's available commercially. That stuff is dear.

Since I didn't want to keep all my port on one huge-ass bottle, I've split it up. All told, I filled 2x750ml, 1x650ml, 2x500ml, 2x375ml and (unshown) 1x200ml bottle. [livejournal.com profile] nosarious and I were getting high off the fumes.

Left: the big-ass jug. Right: seven bottles of awesomeness!

So how is it? It's easily the best port I've ever tasted. Hell, you can get drunk off the fumes, and it's smooth. As friends describe something this easy-drinking, "it tastes like waking up in a field." I think I'm going to be very popular when I bring some to a cocktail party.

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