27 December 2006

Sung to the tune of "Tangerine" by Led Zeppelin:

Covering the action, and trigger spring
Even glued the mag plate on, damn Cosmoline,
Nastiest crud you've ever seen...

Yes, this glorious Christmas weekend what did I do? Why, learn how to clean 50 year old Cosmolene off of my new Mauser M24/47, of course! A gift from my parents ("you'll shoot your eye out, kid!"), it is a late 40s Yugoslavian-built 8mm Mauser 98k. While the stock was a bit rough, Cosmoline impregnated into every possible nook and cranny, and the action a bit stiff, I can see the inner beauty. This is a fine rifle! Completely disassembling a Mauser is quite a task, especially to those who have never taken a rifle completely down before (my Enfield has had its bolt taken apart, nothing more). I took the bolt completely apart, then I worked at getting the stock off. Took off little extra parts like the butt plate and sight shroud. Took out the magazine assembly and trigger assembly, and disassembled each of those...then finally the bolt release lever. Degreased every thing, soaked it in mineral spirits, and coated everything up with lots of CLP. The bolt and trigger assemblies are back on the receiver/barrel, and I'm finishing the stock nicely with some boiled linseed oil...after a good scrubbing with 0000 steel wool it feels slick and smooth, much nicer than the rough, raw initial feel. The oil gives it a natural, non-glossy finish, nicer than the mirror-bright lacquer they put on commercial hunting rifles.

Ordered some non-corrosive 8mm FMJ as well as a matching Yugo bayonet (goodbye, Christmas bonus!). I probably need to scrub the bore some more, it looked a little crudded out still, hopefully not too much corrosion. I need a better bore brush rod, the threads on mine are stripped out so I can't run it back and forth, to really scrub at it.

But yes, now I own an example each of what were probably the two greatest bolt-action rifles of the 20th Century...the Mauser, and the Lee-Enfield. Personally I much prefer the bolt on the Enfield, but it may just be familiarity...the "bolt cocking upon opening" thing is a bit strange to get used to. And if you somehow manage to decock the bolt when taking it off, you're in for a fun time, I can tell you. But the Mauser is probably the big one that influenced later designs, moreso...I just like the crude, sloppy simplicity of a good stout Enfield.

And now I'm defying reason by unceremoniously linking two previously written posts...one you have read already regarding my Mauser, from which I will now segue into an older post concerning, well, something that mixes rather poorly with firearms...

I pray your benevolent graces to grant me such indulgence as to expound fatuously upon both the salient and subtle virtues of some of world's most noble spirits.

[takes off the Poncy Hat]

Excuse me. Anyway, we're going to take this opportunity to chew the fat (aka performing lipomastication) on some of the classiest booze around. Sorry, there's got to be middle ground between noble spirits and classy booze. High quality adult beverages, there you go.

Anywhichwaybutanyway, the whole reason I started this post is that I'm in relatively high spirits (ha! ha!) because I have just entered another little seasonal quiz competition with Aberlour, which in the past has yielded not one (no!) but two (yes!) grand prizes. The first was a bottle of their ridiculously good a'bunadh, which is an old-fashioned, unfiltered, cask strength Speyside single malt. It is a bracing 120 proof, but the concentration of flavours is amazing. It leans much more heavily to the warm, inviting "raisin" notes imparted by aging in sherry butts (as opposed to the brisker, more austere notes of the other main Scotch aging method, used bourbon casks). It is a very vinuous whisky that is easily one of my favourites. And the other thing I won from them is a pair of fine Riedel single malt tasting glasses, etched with Aberlour's logo. So, yes, I'm partial to them...their 10 Year Old is probably one of the best single malts around in that age bracket (and especially at the price, a relatively modest $30). Maybe I'll win their 15-year, who knows! I've made the bottle of a'bunadh last what, two years now.

Right now I've also got bottles of Dalmore Cigar Malt and Speyburn 10-year (a very respectable whisky for the low price), as well as a few brandies. My latest interest in brandy has drifted away from the admittedly snobby and overpriced cognacs and armagnacs (yes, they are nice, though) and onto a less well known spirit, that of calvados. Calvados is apple brandy from Normandy...similar in some aspects of production and labelling to the grape brandies of the Cognac and Armagnac regions. Cider is fermented, and then distilled, and the resulting white spirit (raw apple brandy) is aged in white oak barrels for a period of years. The younger Calvados tends to be a paler, brighter spirit with a fresher apple flavour, and a rougher edge. As it ages, the fruity apple notes fade a bit to the background and the spirit becomes smoother, and incorporates more of the traditional old brandy aromas...dark aromas like oak and (I'm not making this up) leather. I've tried an XO calvados, and I don't actually think it is necessarily worth the increased cost...when the aging obscures most of the character of the original apple spirit it kind of defeats the purpose, and one might as well have a grape brandy. And Spanish brandy? That can be rather a treat, it tends (in my experience) to be immensely dark, fruity, and sweet. Much more appealing I'm sure to those new to spirits. In 2004, I bought a small 50ml bottle off an auction website of Hine Triomphe. Hine is probably my favourite cognac distillery, and the Triomphe bottling is a blend of 45-55 year old brandies. Very good stuff, although I'm hardly going to shell out $300 for a 750ml bottle. It was nice to try, definitely.

There are other spirits that interest me at least...high quality American whiskies such as Kentucky bourbon and rye, and Irish whiskey is quite pleasing I think. Rum can be good (and can be very, very bad) but I tend to prefer the older, well-aged sipping rums. I like gin, but certainly not as a sipper, it needs to be well diluted with good quality tonic water. Vodka and tequila....well, life is too short to waste my liver on those. Vodka might as well be Windex...pure ethanol, no taste, and if there IS any flavour it is because you are drinking cheap vodka with lots of nasty impurities. Tequila, well, tends to taste "planty" to me and I've never quite understood the appeal, although an 1800 Anejo Reserve I tried was peppery and interesting.

I'm bored. Time to end the post. Soupy twist!

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