Welcome to Issue No. 54


The Art of a Gift


On my birthday in July 1986, my godfather (who I credit for giving me a taste of the urbane life at an early age) gave me a 1937 edition of a book by a man named Herman Melville called “Moby Dick”.  I was one.

While I tried (and failed) to read it a few years ago, it sits prominently on our china cabinet, something I look at regularly and appreciate more with the passing of time – something both humorous (who gives an epic to a one-year-old?) as well as incredibly meaningful (a priceless reminder of my relationship with my godfather).

As the giver and receiver of hundreds of gifts during my life, I know it’s no small feat that this book has been with me for more than three decades. How many gifts are broken, shrunken, or lost (at least in memory) in the chaos of life? Can you remember what you received when you were 18?

But sometimes each of us – just like my godfather – chooses a gift so perfectly, it not only enhances the recipient’s life (in this case for 35 years and counting) but also deepens the relationship. Weeks go by that I don’t talk to my godfather, but each time I see “Moby Dick” perched on our cabinet, I feel connected to him.

That’s why, at Christmas or birthdays, I wait until the last minute to pull the trigger on a gift. Not because I procrastinate or am lazy. No, it’s because I’m hoping to hit a gift “homerun” and don’t want to commit in case something better comes to mind. Usually, I end up giving a sweater or a piece of jewelry (with gift receipt), but sometimes – like my godfather – the gift gods align, and I give something special. Like when I made my dad cry with Yankee tickets or when I gave my wife a handmade “Non, je ne regrette rien” sign that now sits on her bedside table.

Or, hopefully, when I give my daughter the letters I’ve committed to writing her each year on her birthday (currently, there’s only two). Here’s to having more conviction with this pursuit than “Moby Dick”.

Fall Is for Barbour

Slowly, but certain and steadily we are moving away from the long sunny days filled with rosé, linen shirts, and espadrilles, into the darker months with rain, wind and scotch in front of the fire. Gloomy as it might sound, it is also my favorite season for menswear; flannel, tweed and probably most importantly – it’s time to dig out the Barbour.

Opening the cabinet where it has spent its time the past months, often results being met by a peculiar haze from the waxed cotton having been trapped. It’s often stiff when you wear it the first time and I always seem to forget how significant the weight feels on the back. Next step, which is probably my favorite – the re-waxing. This ritual is part of what makes a Barbour jacket so personal and special – it is what gives the jacket its special feel and smell; it’s what allows the wear and tear to stand out and personalize the jacket, resulting in not 2 Barbour jackets looking exactly alike.

I like to compare the Barbour jacket to the Land Rover Defender – another significant icon. When we look at and admire a certain thing or item, in most cases the mark for “niceness” is measured on the scale of condition; most items are higher valued on our scale if they are in a “superb, spot- and flawless” condition. And then, there are items that are the complete opposite. Items or things that should often be with as much patina or wear and tear as possible! When the paint job comes off in peels and rust appears on a Land Rover Defender it is ok, discolorations and little holes in the canvas of your vintage Barbour or Belstaff jacket is almost seen as a must, odeur from multiple fill-ups with whisky, Fernet Branca or aquavit in your inherited flask – these things are valued higher than the flawlessness.

A Barbour is something special – worn by everyone; from the farmer, the hunter, or the motorcyclist to the menswear top, gathering at Fortezza da Basso in Florence when Pitti Uomo takes place; and it works regardless of the scenery.

Now, I’m ready to take on fall…
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A Man for All Seasons


I’ve often said that wines might be best characterized as women – each bottle variably elegant, lithe or full-bodied. White wines like blondes; red wines, brunettes; rosè, the redhead that you’d happily shelter from the summer sun with over lunch. If there’s a drink that similarly captures man, it's whisky. In the formative years that it takes to become a man, many develop an interiority with age that makes them who they are. Some might be more light-hearted than others, some sullen, some moody like the sea. Sit at a bar for long enough with any man however and, as the glasses empty, they’ll slowly reveal the past that made them. You’ll probably find some respect for them and how they turned out too.

As the years pass and daily life gets in the way, different times of the year become a chance to meet up with old friends again. There are those that one sees more in summer, some the spring, some only in their winter tweeds. Drinking great scotch can be like meeting up with friends too. I have this friend Glenkinchie, he always seems younger than his years – as light-hearted too as the linen shirts he wears. I first met Blair Athol in autumn, sitting discretely at the end of a pub bar. He reminded me of my grandfather – flannel trousers, good manners and a hint of sherry in the air as he spoke. Dailuaine is the type of man one meets when dog-walking in the winter rain.

There’s a question of course of who you are as a man or, if you haven’t found yourself yet, who you want to be? Everyone wants to be like Talisker. Adventurous, rugged, outgoing but refined enough to be completely at home at the bar of a world-class hotel. There are those that seem adept in all seasons – the one that everyone likes – well almost everyone. No one is liked by all. Even Lagavulin has those who can’t stand him. Johnnie Walker too has his detractors. Men are quick to disapprove of success in other men.

This time of year, as the nights draw in earlier, we can tend to spend most of the time alone until the holidays. It’s a great time to arrange a get together with your real friends. Invite them over. Tell them to each bring a friend of their own.

The Elegant Ceremony of a Fountain Pen


There are moments that call for a bit of formality, even in the most cluttered of desks. I clear a space between pencil shavings and computer cords. I crumble up the paper that has a ring from my coffee mug to make room for my stationery. I sit down and stare at the blank page in anticipation of the upcoming ceremony.

I am talking about, of course, the moment I take out my fountain pen.

Like handmade loafers and heirloom pocket watches, a fountain pen is an accessory for a gent who lives well. There’s a bit of ceremony to the process of using a fountain pen that adds a little more intentionality to the day than, say, pulling the cap of a Bic and scribbling away willy-nilly. There is the ink that needs to be selected (I like a hunter green personally), the barrel that needs screwed back into place. There is a 45-degree-angle of the pen itself, held with military precision to make the perfect curlicue on your signature. Yes, it requires a welcomed pause to the day.

It requires a moment of, dare I say, elegance.

There is a misconception that a fountain pen is only good for the most formal of notes. For cursive writing and signatures on documents. This simply is not true. I use mine for grocery lists, love notes on Post-Its, reminders for vet appointments and haircuts. I don’t let the situations of life dictate when I use my fountain pen. I use it often and belovedly. I quite like the way my name looks written out in the fat, dripping ink of my preferred bold nib (in gold, of course).

They say the next generation will not be witness to such things as paper money and telephones with cords and even polar bears. I would think that the sound of a nib scratching on paper will be gone soon, too. But it is our duty to reverse that, dear Reader. A well-lived life, in my experience, isn’t just good food and wine. I live quite happily with ink-stained fingers, I must admit.

Stories from around the web

What’s the Origin of the Word ‘Cocktail’?
No, it doesn’t have anything to do with a rooster, but it does have something to do with a horse. Keep reading for cocktail clarification.
The Land Rover Defender V8 Bond Edition Has Arrived
Land Rover SV Bespoke has just revealed the Land Rover Defender V8 BOND EDITION, which is inspired by the Defenders tearing up the screen in No Time To Die.
→ Read on Airows
The Family Business That Owns a Share of the $7b James Bond Franchise
Cubby Broccoli managed to secure a cut of the Bond rights in 1961. Since then, his family has made hundreds of millions from the franchise.
→ Read on The Hustle
These Are the 10 Most Stylish Men in Literature, Ranked
There are plenty of well-dressed men to be found in literature. But ‘well-dressed’ is not necessarily ‘stylish’. Style requires more than rules; it needs panache, pizzazz and a healthy dose of individuality. 
→ Read on Gentleman's Journal
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This month's Issue was brought to you by Alessandro Coltro, David J. Reardon, Casper Lundmose, Gary Harrison, Brett F. Braley-Palko and Nikki Ximeri.
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