Tuesday, December 4, 2012
So, tomorrow, I'll be lifting a snifter of something delicious to those that came before us in repealing prohibition. My drink of choice? I'm leaning toward a Prohibition Old Crow and a post Prohibition Mt. Vernon Rye.
How about you?
Saturday, November 24, 2012
So, since the girls would be gone a good 12+ hours, I decided an afternoon of BBQ, Beer, Bourbon and Poker was in order. I invited the family men (brother in laws, nephews, etc.) for an afternoon of goofing off.
On Thanksgiving evening I took out a 12lb pork butt and let it sit out for a little over an hour to let it come up in temp a little bit. I applied some Dizzy Pig Dizzy Dust rub and then tossed into the smoker. I used bourbon barrel staves for the wood.
At 3:00 a.m. I got up and checked the temp.....167. Perfect! I pulled it out, foiled it and placed it back into the smoker. At 9:30 a.m. when the temp reached 207, I pulled it out, wrapped it in a towel and put it in a cooler to sit for a couple hours.
During the game we enjoyed some whiskey libations that included 1991 Eagle Rare 101, 1988 Weller Special Reserve, Caperdonich 19 year and Four Roses OESO barrel strength.
It was a good Black Friday and I'm thinking I'll repeat this next year....and hopefully win my money back.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Thus the education begins ".....whiskey is diverse as wine in many respects...." and I go on to explain the origins of whiskey, the various grains that make up whiskey, the distillation differences, cooperage differences, aging differences, etc. etc. This cornucopia of whiskey information typically leads then to the real question. What style do you like?
When it comes to bourbon, I pretty much like them all. When it comes to Scotch, almost anything except Islay (ok, for those paying attention to this blog know that last exception is a lie). I dislike MOST Islay....there are exceptions like my Bruichladdich 15 year second edition.
I cut my teeth on Wild Turkey back in the day and then when reintroduced to bourbon, I gravitated toward wheated bourbons like Van Winkle Family Reserve Lot B. Today, I like a very broad cut across the whisk(e)y offerings so for me, I don't have a favorite whiskey but when it comes to styles, I do like barrel strength bourbons and in Scotch, I like Highland and Speyside primarily.
Style can cover many aspects:
Barrel proof to cut proof (that sweet spot that is your preferred drinking proof)
Single Barrel, Small Batch, or Vat
Extra age to young
World region (e.g. Japanese over Irish)
Mashbill of Rye, Wheat, Barley or Corn
Vintage or current
...and the list could go on
So, what's your style? Is your preference a broad drinking experience like mine or do you narrow in on a specific style? There is no wrong answer.....it all comes down to what you like.
Monday, November 5, 2012
Last night I enjoyed the last pour from a 2005 William LaRue Weller. I handled the bottle gently in order to minimize agitating the char. I was mildly successful but still managed to get some char into the glass producing a pour that was more the color of weak coffee than the deep amber hue of a typical pour. I added just a touch of water and wasn't disappointed with a full flavored dram of wheat bourbon goodness. The char was present on each sip but not unpleasantly so.
Some may be turned off by this but to me it's all part of the experience of enjoying bourbon of varying degrees.....including barrel char. You will most likely find char is George T. Stagg or Bookers and of course I've seen it in some of my barrel picks that go from barrel to bottle.
I owe an apology to a friend of mine (that's you Em), where he and I have argued over the years about which WLW is better, 2005 or 2006. My preference over the years has leaned toward 2006 but he swears by 2005 but in this case, I tip my hat to the 2005 as it was an exceptional dram.
Sunday, November 4, 2012
This is the 7th selection in the blind Irish tasting and for the most part, the results exhibited a somewhat lopsided bell curve with tasters approving more than disapproving. Interesting data point, the Beverage Tasting Institute gave this selection an exceptional rating of 92. Our tasting panel was not quite as generous.
My thoughts on this selection is that it's a very delicate whiskey exhibiting a profile that was somewhat grassy with citrus overnotes, honeyed, light summer berries and a touch of spice about mid palate. The finish was somewhat oily and moderate in length. The Knappogue is a lighter experience than say Jameson 12 and while both are 80 proof, the Jameson is a blend not a single malt like this selection.
Scores came out as follows:
|95-100 Classic Whiskey||0|
|90-94 Excellent Whiskey||0|
|85-89 Very Good, Above Average Whiskey||4|
|80-84 Average Whiskey||6|
|75-79 Fair Whiskey||1|
|74 and Under - Pass on This Whiskey||0|
The tasting panel had the following comments on this Irish Whiskey:
"A delicate nose of malt, spice and citrus (grapefruit, maybe a little orange). Sweet on the palate, with a clean finish."
"Nose is very fruity, some tropical notes (Mango, papaya) and some fruit cocktail notes.
Palate: Fruit yielding to malt notes. Exceedingly light with floral notes.
Finish: Fruit stripe gum."
"Very light color, presented initially as fruity on the nose...but then ended with an alcohol kick.
Light legs in the glass leading to an OK mouth feel. Found this to be ok on the initial sip but thin and leading to a very short finish and that wallop of heat that was so evident from the initial nose....."
"Color of this whiskey is very light. Very clean, bright fruit nose.....this one is very interesting on the palate…grapefruit on the back end of the finish? This one packs a good deal of flavor, appears to have more age and is quite interesting."
This is an Irish whiskey that is interesting enough to keep on the bar when you want something easy to sip on. Somewhat complex with a good mingle of flavors. I'm not sure if this particular release is still available but the pricing should be reasonable if found. If this one cannot be located, maybe try the current 12 year.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
So, now I'm challenged to go beyond just bourbon and try other whisk(e)y expressions with Ginger Ale. I'll use the same base soda as I did back then, Blenheims Ginger Ale, and try it with various Scotch expressions, Irish, Japanese, Canadian and Indian. I was thinking about avoiding anything with a heavy peat/smoke influence but maybe the results of that mix would surprise me (not thinking likely).
So, over the next number of days, I'll be mixing up various whisk(e)y with ginger to see how they stack up to the traditional Bourbon Highball.
I've mentioned before that my whiskey journey started with Bourbon and after many years began branching out to other whiskies. In talking with one of the guys, Tim, he started with Scotch and migrated toward Bourbon.
While I still buy quite a bit of Bourbon, those dollars are for the most part focused on barrel picks. The other portion of my disposable income now goes to other whiskies like Scotch, Irish, etc. I can see this starting the slip down that slippery slope since there's not many other whisk(e)y expressions that I don't like in some fashion, obviously, some better than others.
Tim was gracious enough to pick up a new Scotch expression for me from Specs Liquor in Dallas that was a selection in a recent Scotch tasting he attended. The Duncan Taylor 19 year Caperdonich ended up being one of the tops picks and Tim highly recommended it. So, being very game and trusting Tim's palate, he grabbed two bottles, one for me and another for a friend.
That got me thinking about how my purchasing has changed over just the last year. Looking at the bunker I've added a number of various Scotch expressions in just the last 10 months that include:
Compass Box Spice Tree
Signatory Royal Lochnagar 17
Springbank Claret 12
Springbank Madeira 14
Prior to that I added:
Redbreast 12 cask
Aberlour a'bunadh batch 22
Slieve Foy 8
The Glenlivet Nadurra 16
I see over time my purchasing becoming more balanced in the acquisition of Whiskey and Whisky. I feel I missed out on years of great drinking by ignoring Scotch, Irish, Japanese and the like. Better late than never I guess. By the way, the recent release of Balvenie 17 year Doublewood is giving me palpitations.
Question: Anyone else find more diversity in their whisk(e)y purchases? If so, what?
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Yup….I'm a little late posting the picks of the Spring 2012 barrel picks. Better late than never…..
These bottles rolled in early July and consisted of multiple picks from Four Rose and Buffalo Trace. In all the entire group purchased 13 barrels of bourbon….a rather silly amount of juice but this consisted of the group buy and those in our group that wanted to purchase their own barrel. For this posting, I'll focus on only those that I acquired myself as I didn't go in on any of the private purchases.
Back in June I posted a couple of blogs about the trip to KY here and here .
Old Weller Antique 7.4 years 107 proof (#8) - Loaded up with caramel, burnt brown sugar and cinnamon, this selection was quickly a top favorite. One member described this selection and "liquid candy" and I can't argue with that. This barrel and the following two were all distilled on the same day but the aging certainly took a different turn on each of these. The heat is non-existent and drink way too easy even at 107 proof.
Old Weller Antique 7.4 year 107 proof (#9) – This one to me has an abundance of ripe fruit. The profile also exhibits spices, toasted nut and a creamy mouthfeel. It's a very intriguing and another one that is too easy to drink and very full of flavor. Another cracker pick.
Old Weller Antique 7.4 year 107 proof (#10) – I didn't get many bottles from this barrel which is my own fault and I'm sorry I didn't acquire more. This one has turned out to be another favorite. I think at first opening, the bourbon was somewhat tight but after getting a little air, it opened up very nicely exhibiting a wonderful array of flavors similar to #9 above but different in some aspects. The fruit isn't as dominant and is more in line with pear or apple, add in caramel, vanilla and buttercream. This bourbon is a bit drier than the previous two selections but that's not a negative in this case. One member commented that they thought it was very similar to Pappy 15.
Four Roses (OESK) 11 year 124.5 proof – As I mentioned in my previous post about the Four Roses tasting, this barrel was extremely short and Jim Rutledge didn't think we would actually get any bottles from the barrel. Well, we ended up with 48. That was it. Unfortunately, this was the top pick for the group during the tasting. So, allocation went out by lottery. I managed two bottles. This one was described as a bourbon candy bar exhibiting a flavor profile of fruit, nut, caramel and vanilla. I would add in that the finish is long and lingering. Heat's totally in check….another drinkable bottle at barrel strength.
Four Rose (OBSF) 9.9 year 122.7 proof – This one was an interesting pick as I picked up a herbal/mint aroma on the nose with some moderate heat about mid palate. There a nice sweetness to this bourbon that's not overdone but a subtle mix of sweet, barrel char, stone fruit with a finish that's complex and deep. A very compelling bourbon and unlike the other two FR picks. Very tasty.
Four Rose (OESF) 9.9 year 122 proof – The "F" yeast is quickly becoming one of my favorite yeasts of the Four Roses mashbills. I find this to be another complex whiskey with a berry and chocolate profile. Long lingering wood notes and char (which gives the chocolate flavoring). This is a very satisfying bourbon and another great example from Four Roses. The fact that they have 10 mashbills really makes their bourbons so unique and appealing.
I'm expecting two more barrels selections to show up and both from Kentucky Bourbon Distillers; a Willett 9 year barrel strength and an 8 year barrel strength. Hopefully not too much longer to wait.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
This offering comes from Irish Distillers, a Pernod Ricard company, who also distribute Jameson, Paddy and Powers and up until 2009 also distributed Wild Turkey Bourbon.
This was selection #6 in the Irish blind tasting and I included it for the simple reason that it's a premium blend and I wanted something top shelf in the mix. I first came across Midleton back in early 2010 and vacillated purchasing the bottle due to the price. I ended pulling the trigger and for the most part am glad I did.
This blended whiskey comes from 50 hand selected casks by the Master Distiller and contains whiskey that is as young as 12 years up to 25 years old. This label first appeared in 1984 as a special annual release. Midleton has won many awards at various spirits competitions and is well regarded in the industry as well as world whiskey enthusiasts.
At 40% ABV, this is not a powerhouse whiskey but is instead an elegant dram exhibiting flavors of aged oak, honeycomb, summer fruits and baking spice. The finish is long and smooth coaxing the drinker to take yet another sip. To me, a very good example of a high end blend and one to be savored and shared among those that appreciate a unique and rare whiskey.
This selection received good marks among the tasting panel
|95-100 Classic Whiskey||1|
|90-94 Excellent Whiskey||4|
|85-89 Very Good, Above Average Whiskey||1|
|80-84 Average Whiskey||2|
|75-79 Fair Whiskey||1|
|74 and Under - Pass on This Whiskey||0|
Comments from the panel consisted of:
"Caramel, malt, sherry, spice, and a hint of citrus. As good as it gets."
"I like the fruit flavors but the metallic aftertaste was a bit of a turnoff for me."
"Wow! A stunner. Seriously I could drink this all day and all year."
"DELICIOUS !!!! I really enjoyed this whiskey and it comes closest in our sample to date to the type of flavour profile that I look for when reaching for an Irish Whiskey."
"To me, a one dimensional whiskey, not unplesant, but not something I'd crave."
The Midleton Very Rare has a limited distribution and may be difficult to find in some markets.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
I've mentioned before my beer preferences lean toward the dark and malty side of the beer flavor spectrum and I typically dislike hopped selections. This weekend was no exception. I attended a local gathering of beer, bourbon, bbq and cigar enthusiasts that encompassed both Friday evening and all day Saturday. Practically everyone that attended brought some sort of beer selection. My contribution entailed those of the pumpkin variety; Williamsburg Alewerks Pumpkin Ale, Schlafly Pumpkin Ale and Southern Tier Pumking. All great selections.
Over the last couple of years I've indulged in a number of beers finished in bourbon barrels. Few are great, some are good and a number of them are mediocre. A couple standouts have been Firestone Walker Anniversary releases, Schlafly Imperial Stout, Founders Backwoods Bastard, and Goose Island Bourbon County Stout to name just a few.
This weekend I enjoyed a couple new ones. Both from Williamsburg Alewerks; Bourbon Barrel Porter (BBP) and Cafe Royal (CR). Williamsburg Alewerks has a nice selection of beers from their seasonal Pumpkin Ale, to their standard offerings like Washington Porter, Tavern Ale and Coffeehouse Stout. The Bourbon Barrel Porter does not use the Washington Porter as the base but a different porter recipe. The Cafe Royale uses the Coffeehouse Stout as its base.
Bourbon Barrel Porter is aged in barrels from Bowman Distillery for a period of two months according to the brewery website. I believe the aging period may be longer just based on unofficial information and my own observations while visiting the brewery recently. After the porter is dumped, the barrel is re-filled with the Coffeehouse Stout and aged for a period of at least 3 months.
The results are amazing. First, you have to start with a great beer base and both the porter and stout are fantastic. I recently visited another VA brewery, Corcoran, and they also had a barrel aged stout that was lacking in so many ways.
First, the BBP was outstanding. The mouthfeel wasn't overly syrupy or too thick and the flavors were wonderfully balanced exhibiting a profile of roasted malts, caramel, bourbon (of course) and milk chocolate. Carbonation is moderate and the finish is lingering with a slight smoky sweetness. Some of these types of beers tend to be too heavy, too boozy or too sticky sweet.....BBP is none of these. A great barrel aged porter.
Second, the CR was also outstanding. The coffee stout base really pops with an overlay of bourbon that melds very nicely. A friend sitting next to me this past weekend tried the CR for the first time and stated "I think this very well may be the best beer I've ever had.....". I find the CR to be somewhat more complex that the BBP giving up flavors of coffee, bourbon, dark malts, bitter chocolate and toffee. Again, the brew is not sticky sweet or too overpowering.
I've managed to locate a number of these little gems locally so I've procured and bunkered them down for later enjoyment. These should age quite nicely.
These two selections come in bomber size bottles and run about $8-$10 retail.
Friday, September 21, 2012
This is a Single Malt offering from Cooley that is distilled twice instead of thrice as many Irish selections tend to be. Why is the number important? For those that are curious, the more you distill, the more flavor is stripped from the distillate. The Michael Collins is also an interesting selection as it's slightly peated. I noticed the peat and smoke just a touch with the fruit profile playing a more dominate role overall in the whiskey.
From the website, Michael Collins is described as such:
"Robust and complex, with a subtle peatiness, Michael Collins 10 Year Old Single Malt is double distilled for proper balance of purity and character, then matured in small bourbon seasoned casks for a minimum of ten years. Michael Collins 10 Year Old Single Malt has a slightly sweet nose that is rich and complex with hints of ripe fruit, meadow flowers and peat. Clean and smooth, the dry-to-medium finish has a lingering light smokiness that is made to savor."
The tasting panel liked this selection for the most part as the bell curve was above average. It ranked as follows:
|95-100 Classic Whiskey||0|
|90-94 Excellent Whiskey||1|
|85-89 Very Good, Above Average Whiskey||5|
|80-84 Average Whiskey||2|
|75-79 Fair Whiskey||0|
|74 and Under - Pass on This Whiskey||1|
Some comments from the panel starting with my own:
"The nose was bready and sweet with a hint of smoke and peat. Very inviting. The entry had sweet start that exhibited traces of orange peel, vanilla biscuit with a subtle smokey peaty finish. Nice deviation from a normal Irish (e.g. Bushmills, Jamesons)"
"Nose shows light smoke, reserved fruit and scotch like nuances. I suspect a bit more age as the nose reveals increased complexity. Less sweetness on the nose and a bit more alcohol. The palate reveals good depth of flavor, fruity sweetness, hints of smoke and nice balance. This is a much more interesting whisky and it exhibits good complexity… once again it is very scotch like. Good finish with a lingering smokiness."
"Lots of honey and fruits in this one. Very enjoyable, and definitely my favorite so far. I think this could handle some extra proof and become something outstanding. Well picked....."
"A nice start with white grape juice and some malt notes but it dulls pretty quickly, getting flat and watery. The finish isn't much, slightly malty."
"Initially sweet and delicate, this one seems to deliver some heat mid-palate; a little bit of dryness with vanilla, some of those pear notes and a nice lingering finish that seems to dry out as it goes along"
This whiskey runs about $40 which in my opinion, is a fair price for this offering. Michael Collins 10 year is not overly complex but delivers enough flavor and interest to make this a regular resident in the bunker. This label also comes in a blended version that is not age stated.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
A number of years back, I'm pilfering through D.C. liquor stores and I walk into one store that is a treasure trove of older whiskies in bygone era decanters that included a Baccarat Crystal Decanter of Wild Turkey 101, two full train sets of Jim Beam, various Michters Jug Decanters and a few others that escape me. The owner had a decent inventory of whiskey and when asking him about these very unique decanters he indicates that they may not all be for sale. So, on a whim, I ask about the Baccarat Decanter, hold my breath and wait for the answer. He indicates he would take no less than $1,200. I secretly think "yah, I bet you would". Moving on....nothing to see here.
He also indicates the other decanters are not for sale as they belonged to his father and had sentimental value. Ok, fine.
I'm ready to walk out and move on to the next store when I spy a couple of bottles of Old Overholt Rye Whiskey. The label on this whiskey hasn't changed in years so it's hard to tell what's recent and what's dusty. On closer inspection, they both have tax strips so I ask to see them. This Rye whiskey has a very long history in American whiskey production and as such has contained a couple different mashbills. Early on, Old Overholt was produced in Pennsylvania, then was moved to Kentucky by National Distillers. In 1987, Jim Beam purchased the brand and began using their normal Rye whiskey for this label. The timeline is somewhat important for these two bottles I'm eyeballing as I didn't want the whiskey if it contained Beam juice. For a more detailed explanation of Old Overholt, see Chuck Cowdery's post here.
I flip the bottle over and see "84" on the bottom......glory be! I purchase both bottles for $9.95 a piece. A a general rule, National Distillers made some pretty fine whiskey from Old Grand Dad to Old Talyor and Old Overholt.
The 1984 Old Overholt at 80 proof was packed with flavor, had a nice mid palate that exhibited sweet floral notes. The finish was moderately long with a good bit of sweetness lingering on the palate after the sip made it's way to my gullet. I've been nursing this bottle for quite some time but it was time to retire this bottle. I still have the sister bottle in the bunker and I'm not sure when I'll get around to opening it. Maybe if I ever go hunting again, I'll make an effort to find more of this very fine Rye.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
A 1978 Benchmark gave up its last the other night. One of tastiest and smoothest dusty bourbons I have is the Benchmark. This particular bottle was non-age stated (NAS) and came in at 86 proof although I suspect it was older than 4 years just by the depth of flavor and long finish. Whenever I drink this bourbon, I think of velvet.
Second dead bottle was a Single Malt Irish, Michael Collins coming in at 10 years old and 80 proof. This particular Irish has nice transitions for a low proof. Fruit, spice and sugar coated nuts. A very pleasant whiskey.
So now I'm on to other selections on the list. The BTAC stuff is going to take some time as I don't hit those that often; not sure why, but I don't. My tastes have changed over time and I'm less inclined to hit the big barrel proof bruisers.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
So, rather than taking my normal eclectic approach to drinking, I've decided to focus on those bottles that just need to be killed off. Two bottles I focused on in the last week or so was the Old Crow and a '82 Old Fitz BIB. After being open for a number of years, they were both still very enjoyable and tasty to the last drop.
The short list of low fill that I'll be concentrating on in the coming weeks will be:
70's vintage Cream of Kentucky
1959 Old Forester BIB
1992 Old Fitz Prime
1984 Wild Turkey 101
Michael Collins 10 year
Redbreast 12 year
Actually, that's not a short list after all.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Unfortunately, neither Tinker Bell nor Harry Potter can do anything to help this latest release from Bowman. I'll caveat once again, this is my impression only; I leave final judgement up to those that drink it and come to their own determination. I have friend in MD that loves this stuff.....he says the more heat and wood the better.
This latest release from Bowman is cask strength at 147.5 pf and 17 years old. Color is a golden hue with shades of amber. Nose is actually interesting giving up caramel and barrel notes but the heat really gets in the way of doing proper nosing.
First taste is nothing but heat that attacks the palate first thing which masks any flavor components on the front end of the sip. As the heat subsides around mid palate, there's hints of burnt sugar, wood and a bitter note that detracts from the overall profile. From mid palate to finish, it's rather flat and one dimensional. I added water taking it down to about 100 pf and while there's a touch of sweetness that pops up, the heat is still way too dominate to enjoy.
Bowman released an 18 year last year and it's fantastic. In a previous post, I blogged about our 14 year old barrel pick and that one is also fantastic so I had fairly high expectations of this 17 year. Unfortunately, it's really not a bourbon I would add to my bunker nor drink. I hate to be this critical of this bourbon but that's the way I taste it and my taster typically doesn't steer me wrong.
I revisited this bourbon a couple of times and it's just not going to get any better. If you enjoy heat and wood, go for this bottle. Other than that, I would recommend the big bypass on this one. It's just too one dimensional to invest nearly $70 for a bottle.
Friday, July 27, 2012
I've paired tobacco and whiskey together whether it be cigars or pipe on a regular basis and thoroughly enjoy the combination. There's no right or wrong pairing when selecting a whiskey or tobacco, it's really whatever you happen to like, but it's also fun trying various combinations that may be better than others. In the end, this double indulgence provides a time of relaxation, reflection and pure gratification. The one bit of advice I do offer, and again, this comes down to preference, is paring a whiskey that is not cask strength when smoking a pipe. The high ABV will impact the palate minimizing your ability to enjoy the subtle nature of the pipe tobacco.
For this post, I'll focus more on pipe tobacco. There's a very broad selection of pipe tobacco and the topic would take far to long to articulate here. There are numerous resources on the web if you're interested in researching.
Growing up, my Father smoked a pipe and I always remembered the sweet aroma that lingered in the room or car as he puffed away. Unfortunately, my Mother was not a fan and my Father eventually gave up smoking and gave his pipes away.....a real shame that I don't have some of his pipes today.
When someone asks me to make recommendations on cigars and they are new to smoking, I recommend something mild that has a light wrapper and little to no Ligero as this particular leaf adds strength to a cigar. For pipe tobacco, the selections are almost endless. There are a number of tobacco's that have higher nicotine content which can provide the same physical effects as a Ligero cigar......a good sucker punch to the gut.
I won't recommend anything here but will point you to a good website that has a deep database of user reviews at http://www.tobaccoreviews.com/index.cfm.
I have about 15 various selections and I recently picked up a couple more. Last night I enjoyed one of the new acquisitions; Dunhill Navy Rolls. While this is a Dunhill offering (Dunhill is a UK company), the blend comes from Orlik Tobacco Company in the Netherlands. This tobacco is labeled as medium in strength and very mild in flavor. Navy Rolls is a Virginia tobacco blended with Perique. The tobacco itself was coin rolled, not loose, which required the added job of breaking apart the coin before loading the pipe. Overall, an enjoyable smoke that exhibited a sweetness which comes from the Virginia tobacco and a spice on the finish that comes from the Perique.
To be honest, I couldn't even finish this whiskey. I was just too nasty for my palate since I'm not a lover of high peat content and this one was over the top for me. The tasting panel was pretty split on this whiskey. A little more than half liked it and the rest agreed with me. Here are how the numbers stacked up:
|95-100 Classic Whiskey||0|
|90-94 Excellent Whiskey||0|
|85-89 Very Good, Above Average Whiskey||5|
|80-84 Average Whiskey||2|
|75-79 Fair Whiskey||0|
|74 and Under - Pass on This Whiskey||4|
If you like Scotch, particularly those from Islay, you may find this Irish agreeable. Here are some comments from the tasters:
"An unpleasant nose dominated by rubber, with a little smoke and malt in the background. Bitter on the palate."
"Peat tea with honey, well balanced sweet and peaty elements. A nice flavor profile but a bit weak tasting. The peat is lighter on the finish but still very present."
"Beautifully complex - drinks nicer and smoother than the nose would suggest (didn't much care for this nose on an Irish whiskey), finish that goes on and on - great legs on the glass - just enough warmth on the sip to add to the complexity of the entire experience..works greatly with the sweet woody taste."
"A nice medium mouthfeel, this is pleasantly different than what I was expecting; there’s a sweet smokiness that follows the nose with a pleasantly drying smokey finish that lasts a while."
Bottle comes packaged in 750ml and is priced around $40. If you like Irish Whiskey and you like Peat....knock yourself out.
Monday, July 23, 2012
I have a couple things stacked up to post:
Bowman 17 years cask - new release last month
Personal barrel pick reviews
Irish Blind Tasting results
Pipe Tobacco - anybody else enjoy a good evening smoke? I'll review a couple tobacco's I've enjoyed recently.
Monday, July 9, 2012
The three Four Roses Single Barrels were different recipes; OBSF, OESK and OESF, picked in that order by the group of tasters. The OESK selection was a very short barrel. In fact, Jim Rutledge didn't think it would actually yield much of anything. He was almost right...we managed to pull 48 bottles from the barrel. The "F" yeast recipes are terrific. I've opened the OESF and it's got a big fruity profile.
Have not received the selections from KBD and we're still working a possible selection from Heaven Hill that would be a barrel from the Parkers Heritage line of wheaters.
I haven't opened and tasted everything yet but what I have opened is top shelf. I'll post tasting notes later.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
I've mentioned before that my whiskey journey all started with Bourbon and that's still my mainstay drink. But....world whiskies are getting my attention as I'm starting to find and try various selections. Late 2010 I posted a blog series called Global Tippler where I sampled various whiskies from different countries, starting with an American Whiskey, Van Winkle Family Reserve 12 year. Since that 'round the world trip, I've come across other great selections. Last summer my wife and I cruised the Easter Caribbean and one of the stops I always look forward to is Philipsburg St. Maarten due to the fact they have a good selection of liquor stores where I can find stuff not sold in the U.S. One bottle I picked up on that trip was a Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX. I was really impressed with the whisky and added that label to my list of acquisitions.
Original: 10 year old 86 proof. From the Glenmorangie website ".....maturing for ten long years in a range of ex-bourbon casks such as our famous slow-grown and air-dried 'designer casks' from Missouri, that our raw spirit develops a perfect balance between sweetness and complexity"
The Original was a pale golden color with orange zest on the nose with undertones of vanilla and floral. The feedback from the group included "viscous, fruit, honey, citrus zest, sweet, transitions nicely, good finish, delicate and lighter profile" Overall rating 85/100
Nectar D'Or: 12 year old 92 proof. From the Glenmorangie website "...hand selected wine barriques from Sauternes: the most famous and ancient sweet wine growing region of France, that this whisky develops its rich, spicy and dessert-like flavours."
This one I really like as the Sauterne second finish added a very nice musty, light fruit quality to it. From the group comments included "Winey, hint of mustiness, earthy, sweet, creamy, light fruit, Sweet, viscous, long finish, almond paste" Overall rating 87/100
This relationship begins with the Hilton of Cadboll Stone, an ancient monument that is the whisky's inspiration. But of no less importance is the layer upon layer of limestone that filters our Tarlogie Spring water, giving Artein its fruity aromas and layers of complexity. Or the rocky Tuscan hillsides which concentrate the flavours in vines that will, in turn, add complexity to the 'Super Tuscan' casks in which we extra mature our precious spirit."
This is another one that I really liked with an entry of fruit and cream.....in fact my comment to the group was "this is berries and cream". This was probably the most complex of the selections as the Tuscan influence really added layers of flavors while experiencing this whisky. Group comments "berries, peaches, plums, very creamy, honey suckle, concentrated flavors, huge finish." Group rating 90/100
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
This particular selection took some time make its way from distillery, through distribution and then finally to retail. The tasting took place last October, bottling in February and final delivery of the bottles mid May. Why so long? Well, the pallet with our barrel selection got......misplaced; or something to that effect. For a spell there, the bourbon went missing and it took a little while to track it down. I suspect it ended up in some distribution warehouse and sat there for a bit.
Many of our barrel picks get bottled at proof with the exception of the Old Weller Antique which is 107 proof and the Bowman selection which was done at 100 proof. As an enthusiast, I like to control the drinking proof because the sweet spot varies from barrel to barrel.
The barrel date for this bourbon was 12/31/97 making the bourbon almost 14 years old when we tasted it in October. At bottling, it had another 4 months in wood on it but due to the fact that it was in the barrel over the winter probably doesn't mean much happened in the way of change.
The barrel at bottling yielded 210 bottles which once again, fell below the expected yield of about 250. This has happened with just about every barrel.
Now, to the bourbon itself. Maybe I'm drunk on my own bathwater but I find this 14 year Bowman to be fantastic. As one friend put it "this is reminiscent of the 70/80's vintage bourbon....". The nose is very compelling giving up aromas of toffee, vanilla, and chocolate. The entry, well it's fantastic as well. Big flavor entry, mild to moderate heat that diminishes quickly leaving behind traces of caramelized sugar, vanilla, sweet corn, dark fruit and chocolate all wrapped in a creamy mouthfeel. Viscosity on this one is very nice. The finish is moderate to long with a sweet spice profile trailing off. When I first tasted this at barrel strength, I was skeptical about cutting it down to 100 proof but I have to say, it drinks very fine at that proof.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
I've gone through exercise and healthy regimens before but my expectations were, in my opinion, unrealistic. In this day and age of immediate satisfaction, I wanted the weight to come off and come off quick. To achieve that, my plan was to work out like a maniac and cut out anything that hints of high calories or fat. This time around I took a more rational approach and set my expectations at a more moderate rate of success. The way I look at it, as long as I'm progressing, that's what's important and if it takes 1 or 2 years to reach my goal weight and fitness level, then so be it.
My approach encompassed three prime areas.
1. Modify food intake and eat responsibly
2. Exercise program will include a form of metabolic workout providing three dimensional vs. one dimensional exercise.
3. Continue to enjoy guilty pleasures
January 2nd of 2012 was a miserable day. I began tracking my food intake on a daily basis using the Livestrong website. The food database is robust and allows one to enter a missing product, food or recipe into the database to use in your personal profile. The truth is, if you don't know what you're eating, how can it be managed?
So, looking at #1, I modified my caloric intake in order to achieve a weight loss of 1-2 lbs a week, which is 3500-7000 calories. I also modified what I eat. My whole life I've pretty much hated vegetables and seafood. I disliked both of these food items because to be honest, my Mother was a horrible cook and would cook veggies until they liquified and seafood, well Lord knows how she ruined that but she managed. So now, it's mostly veggies, fish, chicken and on occasion, a small helping of a carb like rice or potato. At present, my intake is about 1850 calories a day. I also track my fat, sodium, carb and salt intake as well.
January 2nd I also began my workout regimen as defined in #2 above. It was killer. By definition, I consider running or elliptical training to be one dimensional. Something like Metabolic Training or HIIT to be three dimensional. My exercise program consist of three dimensional movement using a 20lb weight that includes high intensity activity with short rest periods in between. I still run but that's in addition to the other exercise.
What does this have to do with booze? I'm coming to that.....
Guilty pleasure, again, in my opinion, must be part of the equation. We all have cravings and knowing myself, I wasn't going to set myself up for failure. Pizza? Check. Hamburger or Philly Cheesecake. Check again. You get the picture. I haven't cut those thing completely out of my diet, but those are the exception now where they used to be the rule. I still have the occasional sweet but again, in very limited quantity.
Now, about the booze. Obviously, I like whisk(e)y and beer and those are still part of my diet. Whiskey is actually fairly low in calories so that's one thing that has stayed a part of my almost daily intake (I typically don't drink every day). Beer on the other hand has gone from maybe 1 a day or every other day to 1-2 a week. On the days that I want a beer, it's also a day I work out so I bank some calories to offset the beverage.
I'm now almost 2 shirt sizes smaller and 2 pant sizes smaller. Because of the high intensity work outs, some of the flab has turned to muscle so the weight loss hasn't been as dramatic as I would have hoped but in all I'm 30 lbs lighter.
Moderation is the key to my success. My workouts are still killer but later as I sit and sip on a dusty Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond, a MacCallan 18 year or maybe a Founders Kentucky Bourbon Stout, I do so with no guilt.
Monday, June 4, 2012
Out of the approximately 200 or so liquor stores in the city, I've hit maybe 2/3 or 3/4 of them. Most you can walk into and within a split second know whether anything is lurking on the shelves. There are a couple of stores that over the years have been honey holes of dusty bourbon and I hit those when I'm hunting. One in particular I hit again on my most recent hunt and wasn't disappointed.
I'll simply call this store ACME Liquor and this particular store I've been into at least 6 times previously. Each time I've visited this particular location, new stuff is on the shelf. The stores in this part of DC have plexiglass and iron bars in order to discourage patrons from hopping the shelf and acting up. In any case, I've been let behind the glass many times and rummaged around the back room looking for treasure which has turned up numerous goodies. So, walking in recently I was shocked to see yet more stuff on the shelf that I either clearly missed the previous trips or was brought in from another location. In either case, I was there to score and score I did. I ended up bringing home the following:
1988 Old Fitz BIB Handle (1)
1993 Old Fitz BIB 375ml (1)
1990 ND OGD 86 pf Gift Boxes (3)
1985 Old Fitz Prime (Color is quite dark on these) (2)
1984 Old Crow 80 pf (2)
1985 Benchmark 86 pf (3)
2002 Weller Special Reserve (1)
The process Buffalo Trace typically goes through when conducting a barrel tasting is they pull samples at barrel strength and then provide samples cut to 50 proof. They say it's so you can pick out the nuances. Here's what I don't understand. Why wouldn't they simply provide samples of the bottling proof......in this case, 107? Well, in an effort to get to ground truth as to what the bourbon will taste like once bottled, a member of our group at last Fall's tasting brought along a graduated cylinder. The BT rep said that was a first for him as he had never seen a group come in and cut their own whiskey. Not to say it hasn't been done, but we made a point of doing it right then and there.
Fast forward to this past April and we find ourselves at Buffalo Trace once again. As we did the first time, we provided reference samples to the BT lab in advance to use when selecting barrels that matched the flavor profile we were seeking. We also requested they not provide any samples at barrel strength or cut to 50 proof but to simply provide samples at 107 proof which they accommodated.
The group tasted through 12 barrel samples of Old Weller Antique. Each participant took tasting notes and scored each selection. At the end, the results were collected and tallied up. Because of the size of our group, we actually conducted two tastings so while one group was tasting barrels, the other half of the group was going on the distillery tour.
We ended up picking three barrels but one in particular really stood out and was the hands down favorite of the majority of tasters. One member, ticked that his personal selection wasn't picked by the group ended up purchasing a barrel for himself......now that's hard core.
We had a great visit and once again, BT really did a great job in the barrel selections as we walked away with another allocation of great bourbon. Now I have to wait patiently while it makes its way through distribution.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Busy schedule has kept me away from BourbonDork for a couple weeks but I wanted to begin posting about the barrel selections in Bardstown recently.
Our first tasting event was at Four Roses Cox Creek where they rolled out 10 barrels for us to taste. We requested that the selections be kept secret as we didn't want to know the recipe (e.g. OBSV, OESK, etc.). Some in our group had expressed preferences to a specific recipe so we wanted the most unadulterated tasting we could have and one that was purely blind.
In tasting through the 10 barrels I have to admit, it was a difficult job as most all the samples were good to very good. There was maybe 1 or 2 that I would classify as weak but that's only because of minor flaws found in the bourbon (e.g. short finish). We all voted on our favorite and tallied up the votes. Of the three we picked, the first was far away the favorite and turned out to be the OBSF recipe. This actually surprised me as the F yeast recipe is one of the recipes used in the Yellow Label shelf offering. The second pick was OESF and the last was OESK. The last barrel was a short barrel only generating a measly 48 bottles. Four Roses Master Distiller Jim Rutledge then let us know that the two "F" barrels we picked were actually the first run barrels using the F yeast back almost 10 years ago.
After the tasting, we headed to Lawrenceburg to the distillery for lunch with Jim and to discuss the tasting and then snoop through the gift shop where I picked up a couple 16 year old Single Barrels.
The folks at Four Roses exhibited great hospitality and generosity. It was a great time and spending time with Jim was fun and informative.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
The group just finished up a barrel tasting at Four Roses at Cox Creek. They rolled out 10 barrels and unfortunately, almost all of them were very good. Headed up to Lawrenceburg to the distillery for a group lunch with Jim Rutledge, Four Roses Master Distiller.
So far, a great start. Tomorrow, we'll be at Buffalo Trace.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Now, let me state right up front that I am not a carpenter, cabinet maker or professional wood worker. What I am is an avid reader and tinkerer and have done small wood working projects over the years. The Bunker Bar is by far my largest endeavor.
The space selection for the Bunker was easy as I had a large wall to work with. I determined the center spot where the bar would go, marked the walls and laid out the base framing using standard 2x4 studs.
For the cabinets and bar, I used 3/4 inch oak plywood. When selecting the panels, I was somewhat picky looking for veneer that was detailed with unique grain patterns. For the trim I used solid oak 1x2 inch and 1x4 inch boards for the bottom and top trim.
The shelving units measured 4 ft wide, 7 ft tall and 18 inches deep. Due to the width of the shelving, I had to accommodate for weight and sag. Anything over 36 inches in length needs to have additional support. My design consisted of a honeycomb pattern for the shelves producing a cubby hole effect.
After building the initial cabinet frames, I cut panels that would sandwich the shelves between measured panels (as seen in the drawing to the left) which would provide support and accommodate for the 1x2 inch oak trim.
Going back to my opening statement that I'm not a professional wood worker, my first mistake was not checking to see if the wall was plumb; it was not which affected the bar cabinet forcing me to make shims and cuts along the way to ensure everything was level.
After everything was assembled, I began the staining process using MinWax Colonial Maple giving the wood a more reddish hue over the typical golden oak. At first I wasn't sure I liked it but as I progressed, the color started to grow on me. Now that it's finished, I really like the color overall.
After the staining was completed, I allowed it to dry overnight. I contemplated applying a second coat but I had allowed the stain to penetrate a full 15 minutes which allowed for a deeper color saturation. I used a shop vac to vacuum all the surfaces of the shelving and cabinet and then used a tack cloth to wipe down everything to ensure there was no debris left behind in preparation for polyurethane application.
I used a water based polyurethane for two reasons; smell and cleanup. I really can't tell that much of a difference in application or final finish between water and spirits based so I took the easy way out. When applying poly on wood for the first time, you will notice after drying that the wood feels rough to the touch like it needs sanding. This is because the poly soaks into the wood raising the wood fibers which causes the rough surface. Using a 320 no load sandpaper, I gently sanded all surfaces after allowing for the full drying time. After the light sanding, I repeated the shop vac and tack cloth process to remove all dust from the sanding. I applied the second coat of poly, allowed to dry and then inspected in order to determine whether I wanted to go for a third application. I decided to stop at 2 coats in order to avoid too much of a mirror shine from the wood as I was going for a more natural look.
After final very light sanding and clean up, it was time to start loading up the bottles. It took a couple of passes and moving bottles around to get everything to fit. My initial calculations on how many bottles would fit were slightly off but for the most part, everything fit on the shelves. I added a mini fridge that will hold some craft beer and the cabinet next to the mini fridge will eventually be converted to a humidor (later project). The last addition was a barrel from Four Roses that came from one of our barrel picks from last year.
The final touches included a leather couch and loveseat with ottoman, an "Ali Baba" throw rug and track lighting to illuminate the hoard. I'm happy with the overall results although there are some mistakes that I'm not happy with but I figured the bottles will keep attention away from the little things I did wrong. It was a fun project but quite a lot of work. In the end, worth the money and time investment.
1/18/13: Made a minor modification shown here.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Established in 1780 by John Jameson in Dublin, this brand is now one of the top selling whiskies in the world producing more than 30 million bottles annually. This whiskey is distilled in pot stills using malted and unmalted (green) barley and the results produce pretty tasty whiskey.
The Jameson beat out the Bushmills by a good margin but in fairness, the Bushmills is not age stated so potentially younger whiskey and is a blend.
|95-100 Classic Whiskey||0|
|90-94 Excellent Whiskey||2|
|85-89 Very Good, Above Average Whiskey||5|
|80-84 Average Whiskey||4|
|75-79 Fair Whiskey||1|
|74 and Under - Pass on This Whiskey||0|
For the most part, the tasting panel liked this selection and had some of the following comments:
"A nose of brown sugar, malt and pumpkin pie spice......looking forward to learning what this is because we'll probably buy some"
"Nose is forward and very attractive. White fruit, honey, roasted nuts, yeasty bread and creamy nuances. Sweet entry with apple and pear notes jumping forward. Honey, shortbread, buttery notes and apricots. Creamy mouth feel makes this whisky very approachable"
"This is a very nice whiskey but a little too timid for my taste"
"I can't really find much to like or dislike about this one. Just an easy drinker that doesn't warrant much thought"
"Nose is malt, mild leather with a sherry kicker. Nice"
"First sip hits the tongue like velvet with the sweetness dominating"
Last year the San Francisco World Spirits Competition award the Gold to Jameson 12 year. The label is widely available and and can be found in various sizes, the 750ml being the standard. Price is in the $40 range.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended Julio’s Go Whiskey Weekend about 6 weeks ago. There were three events with the finale on Sunday, February 26th listed as the “Grand Tasting”, and grand it was, oh and by the way….it was a free event.
For starters, Ryan Maloney, owner and proprietor of Julio’s Liquor (the J is not silent) has one of the nicest liquor stores I’ve seen. Living in Virginia (a controlled state) produces mediocre stores with mediocre liquor selections. The one slight variant here in my area is Total Wine does a decent job with their craft beer selections but there is room for improvement especially after perusing the beer aisle at Julio’s.
As a small business owner I have a number of marketing techniques I employ in order to generate foot traffic in my store and from this perspective, Ryan is spot on with not only this event, but the weekly events he holds at the store that covers whiskey, beer and wine when it comes to getting people in his store and strolling though the numerous aisle’s of drinking goodness. Wine? Not a problem, at least a third of the store is dedicated to that. Beer? Again, about a quarter of the store dedicated to that and spirits is another quarter. There’s also a fairly decent selection of tobacco ranging from canister pipe tobacco to cigars. So, getting folks in to taste whiskey is a great way to generate foot traffic, and ultimately purchases of whiskey during the tasting.
The size of Julio’s is impressive spanning over 10,000 square feet that includes wine and spirits tasting room as well as a basement space just renovated to handle larger events. The Grand Tasting on Sunday afternoon started at 1:00 and was to wind up at 4:00. We were warned there would be a line to get in and we weren’t disappointed. I decided to leave my coat in the car not wanting to hassle with carrying it around while trying to taste whiskey. We stood in line for approximately 20 minutes and at the front of the line was a Julio’s employee and a Westborough City Police Officer barking out for everyone to have their ID’s ready to display. Once at the front and displaying my valid ID, I was given a wrist band that had 10 removable tabs attached to it representing the number of samples I would be allowed to try.
Ryan provided a booklet to all participants of which I had received an advance copy. Because of that, I had taken the time the evening before to go through the list of 275 selections (yes, 275) and determine which ones I wanted to focus on.
Upon entering one was greeted with the sound of fighting cats…..er uh…..bagpipes. Each table was numbered which corresponded to a particular page in the booklet which listed what whiskies would be featured at each table. I spent some time just trolling around getting my bearings as the place was packed with other whiskey devotees.
As I began tasting through my various selections, I quickly realized why the wrist band had only 10 tabs to tear off…..tasting through that much whiskey obviously has its side effects. Some pours were meager while others were quite generous but in the end, I was able to taste through my selections while pacing myself over the course of 3.5 hours.
Some of the highlights of the tasting for me was the newly released Redbreast 12 year cask strength. It really blew me away how good it was. It’s a little pricy at the sale price of $65 but in my humble opinion, worth the cost. The Auchentoshan Three Wood was exceptional as was the new Bruichladdich “laddie” 10 year, Julio’s Rosebank 20 year and another Irish, Slieve Foy an 8 year a Cooley expression, and a new release from Amrut, Three Continents. These are but a couple examples of the tremendous lineup provided by the distilleries and resellers gathered at Julio’s.
A nice treat was to spend time talking with Al Young from Four Roses. He was kind enough to bring out the “under the table” soon to be released Limited Edition (at the time of the tasting) and I have to admit, it was pretty tasty. As some of you reading this may have noticed, most of my ramblings actually center around Scotch and Irish and very little about bourbon. I’ll admit this was done on purpose as I didn’t want to split the opportunity to taste some great whiskies between American and World selections. I’ve had plenty of bourbon over the years but the Scotch, Irish, Japanese and Indian whiskies have been taking up residence in my bunker at an increased pace of late so this was my one chance to taste through various expressions to get a sense of what else is out on the market.
One bourbon I will mention that I didn’t like was the Heaven Hill release of their Parkers Heritage Collection 27 year. This is one bourbon that I had on my list to try and I was disappointed which surprised me because I have liked those releases I’ve tried for the most part. To me, this release was way passed its prime.
This was a great weekend and I would encourage anybody in the Boston area that loves whiskey and has not attended the Julio’s events to make plans to do so. I enjoyed the weekend enough to make the trip again next year.