Friday, September 21, 2012

Michael Collins - Blind Tasting

I'm trying to play catch up here so bear with me.  As a reminder, I hosted a blind tasting of Irish Whiskey and the Michael Collins was selected due to its age.  Coming in at 10 years, I figured this would provide additional complexity to the whiskey even though it's bottled at 80 proof.

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

Good Bye Old Overholt *sniff*

Ok, so I'm not trying to be Mr. Dusty drinker in your face snobby blah blah blah.....but the reality is, there are actually quite a few enthusiasts out there that have a decent bunker that includes out of production whiskies.  So, I share just for the heck of it plus it's fun rolling through these older whiskies.

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.