This post has been a long time coming. It took me a while to get my hands on L.A. Noire, and like with most epic games I discuss on this blog, I wanted to get into the meat of it before I reviewed a pairing. Tonight I finally sat down with two fine American whiskies to investigate their pertinence to L.A. Noire.
Rockstar Games' L.A. Noire looks like a sandbox game, though it is fairly linear. You are put in the shoes of Cole Phelps, a veteran of the Second World War and a rookie detective for the Los Angeles Police Department. The game has you investigate crime scenes, interview witnesses, interrogate suspects and fight the occasional gun battle. Set in the late 1940's, the game does an amazing job creating an immersive environment. The music, graphics, and script all draw heavily on historical fact. The game is dark, and many of the crimes that Cole investigates are on the grizzly side. Grizzly crimes call for strong booze.
I had a bit of Leopold Brothers American Small Batch Whiskey on my shelf. I also had a bit of Redemption Rye. The Leopold Bros. whiskey is based on pre-prohibition recipes for America's favorite liquor. This struck me as being inappropriate for a game inspired by the noir genre. Noir is characterized largely by post-war disillusionment. After World War II, the liquor industry was not purveying pinnacles of craftsmanship. Characters is Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett novels drink bourbon, and sometimes rye. Redemption Rye, therefore, may have been a more historically appropriate choice, but since I only had a little of it left, and since LBASBW tastes pretty damn good, I decided to try them side-by-side while playing through a case called "Manifest Destiny."
L.A. Noire drives players through scenery both shocking and mundane. An analogy of Jekyll and Hyde may be a bit dramatic, but the two whiskies I drank with the game exhibited a similar polarity. LBASBW smells of black tea, prune and pear. It is not exactly mellow at 86 proof but it is well-balanced. It is distilled from corn and rye, and a subtle graininess comes through, along with a faint hint of confectioner's sugar. Redemption Rye is a substantially more brash whiskey. It smells spicy, and it tastes spicier. Clove, nutmeg and cinnamon dominate this rye. A bit of pear and citrus come through, but this is a 92 proof whiskey that burns the tongue. Neither of these whiskies has the degree of toasty vanilla that bourbons do. I liked them both, though I especially appreciated the more balanced LBASBW.
I'm not sure I've ever had a whiskey that wouldn't go well with L.A. Noire. For most of the case that I played through while researching this post, I preferred drinking the Leopold Bros. But towards the end of it, the action heated up, and the plot started twisting in surprising ways. At that point I started to reach for the stronger stuff. The combination of whiskies helped me develop a new strategy during gun battles that I call "Always empty your entire clip when you shoot at someone." It works pretty well.
In conclusion, whiskey is good.
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