Saturday, January 26, 2013

Old.....Old Grand Dad

I bet you would never guess I have many friends who share my passion for bourbon....well, I have many.  As a byproduct, we do a lot of sharing and horse trading.

I met a good friend at a local cigar lounge today to just visit over a pint of Founders Porter and enjoy a nice Juan Lopez Corona Gorda.  He's a big dusty hunter and has pulled in some very nice bottles over the last year.

Recently, he fell into a horde of vintage bourbon from a guy dumping bottles picked up at an estate sale up in PA.  The original owner had boxes and boxes of old bourbon in his basement and a couple of those boxes contained 1962 Old Grand Dad Bottled in Bond.  My buddy was kind enough to share some of the OGD; it was a very nice gesture and one I gladly took advantage of.

The stopper and cork on this decanter was compromised so the bourbon had to be re-canted in order to eliminate any evaporation or oxidation so I dumped the whiskey into an empty I had laying around.  The fill level on the bottle was actually quite impressive considering it's been sitting around for 50 years.  I would say less than 10% loss over that time.

I tried a small sip of the bourbon and it has that musty old quality to it; one that I like very much.  I'll do a more in depth tasting in the near future.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bourbon Influx - Winter 2012

Oops...I did it again.  This time though I didn't travel to KY.  A smaller contingent of our group traveled to KY in October to again pick barrels from Four Roses and Buffalo Trace.

Right around Christmas, all that bourbon flowed in at one time.  The timing could have been better...say, a month or two after the holidays.  Along with the fall barrel picks were three selections of Willett.  These bottles were actually from the Spring 2012 KY barrel picks but KBD took some time getting everything bottled up so they didn't actually make it into my bunker until December.

All these selections are single barrel.

Old Weller Antique 7.8 yrs 107 pf (#14) - Profile of fruit, cream with a mild dose of oak mixed in.  Virtually no heat with a flavor pop about mid palate and then a long soothing finish.  This selection is not as sweet as some of the OWA picks and has a noticeable oakiness producing a nicely balanced bourbon.

Old Weller Antique 7.8 yrs 107 pf (#15) - This one is sweet right up front then transitions to a baking spice profile accented with caramel and a mild presence of cinnamon red hots.  Finish is moderate with a sweetness still noticeable on the palate for a couple minutes after.

Four Roses (OBSF) 10.3 yrs 124.5 pf - Tons of flavor on this one with fudge right up front, very sweet (think brown sugar, cinnamon, butter), maple with a finish that includes some nice barrel notes.  This one is dynamite and quickly topping my list of favorite Four Roses.

Four Roses (OESQ) 8.6 yrs 119.6 pf - This one was described by one member as "buttered popcorn" which I think nails the unique flavor in this bourbon.  Not as sweet as the OBSF but it has a nice viscosity coating the mouth and palate make the finish long and lingering.  The nose on this isn't overly pronounced but first sip puts a smile on your face.  Delicious.

Willett 9 yr 125.4 pf -No heat on the nose and superb entry that's sweet and then transition to some nice barrel notes of dark chocolate, honey and vanilla.  The finish is outstanding leaving a nice zing on the touch as it slowly fades away.

Willett 9 yr 128.4 pf - Zap...this one has some forward spice right out of the gate.  This one is sweet also but more like fudge and toffee sweet, not spun sugar.  Candied fruit and nut appears mid palate as the initial spice and heat takes a back seat.  There's a nice oak undernote that plays all the way through the finish which is moderate to long.

Willett 8 yr 130.5 pf - Caramel, caramel, caramel! This wheat bourbon is a flavor bomb (which is why we picked it).  Very creamy entry, lots of rich caramel, dark brown sugar, some bitter chocolate and slight wood.  I could sip this all night long....a stunning wheater.  Finish is fantastic with just a slight amount of heat popping up toward the end.  Nice transition in this bourbon.

Already the gang is gearing up for April.  I have my flight booked and we're finalizing schedules with the distillery reps for another round of barrel picks.  This next round, we're adding a couple new labels, Elmer T. Lee and Jefferson Rye.  Hope to find some nice barrels with these two new additions.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stitzel Weller.....the return?

I've written quite a bit about Stitzel Weller bourbon over the last number of years as well as stating that they shut down operations around mid 1992.  Well, they're back.  The distillery grounds have been used over the years to age whiskey from numerous distillers but evidently Diageo has decided to fire up the still.

John Hansell over at Whiskey Advocate posts about the news.

I wouldn't get your hopes up that it will taste the same.  Let's see how things will shake out.  In the end, another KY distiller back in operation is good for whiskey lovers everywhere.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Holiday Beer Chug-a-lug

I was off the week of Christmas so decided what better time to get some guys together and enjoy some beer and home made tacos.

I decided the theme would be barrel aged (BA) beers.  I didn't want to focus on a singular profile (e.g. barrel aged stout) so did a little research and put together, what I think, was a pretty diverse list of BA brews.  Prior to the tasting I decided to whip up some home made taco's using a recipe found in Issue #67 of Beer Advocate.

First, I made the the tortilla's which consisted of roasted green chili's, garlic and pale ale along with the flour base.  Instead of make the salsa from scratch, I bought some chunky salsa, strained much of the tomato base out and replaced with a Dog Fish Head Chicory Stout and let that sit overnight in the fridge.  All I can say is it turned out quite tasty.  I used 80% lean beef for the filling and some good aged cheddar cheese.  For the first time making this recipe, it turned out quite guests wouldn't shut up about it.

After lunch we got down to tasting beer.  Here's the lineup:

1. Boulevard Brewing Rye on Rye
2. Allagash Curieux
3. Goose Island Madame Rose
4. Williamsburg Alewerks Bourbon Barrel Porter
5. The Bruery Smoking Wood
6. Julio's Ry(e)an Ale
7. Old Suffolk English Ale
8. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout

The Rye on Rye was a great start and as we worked our way through the brews, we really didn't find any that were stinkers.  I think the least favored was Smoking Wood.  For some, the smoke was too pronounced and dominated the profile.  The other near miss was the Madame Rose.  This is a Belgian style brown ale fermented with wild yeast and aged with cherries in wine barrels.  This reminded me of a tart ale with some sourness up front, big cherry profile and wine influence hanging around in the background.  To me, this was a very interesting beer and one I would enjoy again while some of the others said they would pass.  The three top picks were Rye on Rye, Bourbon Barrel Porter and of course, KBS. 

After tasting through the beer, we retired to the bunker bar and enjoyed a few bourbon libations.  Not a bad way to end the year.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bunker Bar v1.1

I've been absent for about a month but not idle.  There's a lot going on and much it centers around my favorite topics.....bourbon and whiskey.

In the course of my many trips to Kentucky for bourbon picking, the opportunity exists to take possession of the barrel itself.  The distillery will include the barrel on the pallet when shipping the bourbon bottles.  On two occasions, our Four Roses picks came through a Maryland distributor so I went up both times and picked up the barrel.   For some time they sat against the wall in my basement but I decided to put them to good use and use them as the base for a small top addition to the bunker bar.

Nothing special as I used the same oak plywood and trim as the rest of the cabinet to keep everything uniform.  I'm happy with the final outcome so I don't think there's going to be a version 1.2.