Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary

Wild Turkey recently submitted to TTB a new label for approval; Wild Turkey Diamond Anniversary celebrating Jimmy Russells 60 years with the distillery.

A blend of 13-16 year old bourbon...oh, sorry....a very rare blend, bottled at the staggering proof of 91........yawn.  Why not 101 for Pete's sake?

Wild Turkey's release of Forgiven, was met with a tepid response (e.g. there wasn't a whole lot of yammering about this bourbon from the community).  The 2009 release of American Spirit was actually a very good bourbon...and in my opinion, the last decent limited release.  I've got Wild Turkey as early as 1976 to 2012 and I have to say, the early years were quite nice.  Maybe it's just me but I think Wild Turkey has lost a step or three along the way as I'm not finding much to be excited about these days coming from Lawrenceburg.  I miss the days of Russells Reserve 10 year 101 and both the 8 and 12 year 101 (both sold overseas).....which brings up a good point.  Why in hades armpit do they sell the 12 year 101 overseas but not to bourbon drinkers here in the good 'ole US of A?  Please Campari....bring back the age stated WT 101!

End rant.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The socialization of whiskey and cigars

I don't know about you but over the years my two vices; whiskey and cigars have produced friendships I don't think I would have made otherwise.  Good people I call friends span multiple states from Kentucky to Indiana, Texas and North Carolina.

I'm in the middle of a cigar tasting for the group and due to the completely sucky weather in the DC area, smoking outside is a non-starter.  So, yesterday I swing by the local cigar lounge near my house to sit and enjoy and smoke and provide my review.  About 30 minutes in to my smoke a gentleman comes in and sits at the table next to mine.  Almost immediately, he hands me a cigar; a Montecristo Monte.  For anyone who's a regular cigar smoker, this is not uncommon.  Dimitri and I strike up a conversation and he says he's the local cigar rep for Altadis USA, maker of the domestic Montecristo brand cigar.  We chatted like we were old friends, discussing different smokes, the art of rolling, binders, fillers, etc.

I had planned to sit and smoke my cigar and enjoy reading a couple magazines I was behind on but talking with Dimitri was a pleasant experience sharing our collective passion for cigars.  It's hard to explain but there's a very social aspect to whiskey and cigars that goes beyond race, religion, politics, financial standing or anything else that unfortunately creates division among some folks.

For me, responsible consumption of whiskey and cigars is a celebration of life best enjoyed with friends, new and old regardless of who you are or where you come from.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Exam-o-Dram Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 3

I'm not one to pay a lot of money for any whisk(e)y but there are times when I break that rule.  Balvenie released their Tun 1401 back in 2010 as a distillery only offering.  Batches 3, 6 and the most recent 9 were U.S. releases only. 

Tun 1401 is a blend of hand selected barrels that span decades by David Stewart, Balvenie's Master Blender.  When batch 3 first showed up in 2011, I passed on it as the price point was north of $230.  I didn't regret that decision until 2013 when a friend of mine shared a sample from Batch 3.  I was smitten to say the least.  A phone call one day by the same friend said he was in MD and found a couple bottles on the shelf of a liquor store for $285.  My answer was yes....please get me a bottle.

Color is a rich gold and the viscosity produces nicely spaced legs down the side of the glass.  Nosing this whisky exhibits a rich fruit profile with a subtle sherry notes as well. 

The entry is classy, sophisticated and captivating.....and I hate using these goofy descriptors but I'm not sure how else to describe a nearly perfect Scotch.  Balvenie produces solid whiskies but Tun 1401 is multiple steps above anything else they release.  As the whisky hits the palate I taste summer fruits, stone fruits and mild mature oak with a touch of spice all with perfect balance.  This whisky is smooth and creamy, has fantastic mouthfeel with a long warming finish. Bravo David Stewart.

I wish I could afford to bunker multiples of each batch but I'm happy to have this one. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Suntory purchases Beam Global

Well, now the Japanese own another big American distillery.....Four Roses and now Jim Beam/Makers Mark.  Beam shares in the market today shot up on the news.  Suntory is reportedly paying $13.6B.  Maybe this acquisition will help get more Japanese whisky to the U.S. market? 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Exam-o-Dram Highwest Rocky Mountain Rye 21 year

In recent years rye has become quite popular to the point that rye goes missing from the shelves for period of time; e.g. Wild Turkey Rye.  Heaven Hill only mash's rye twice a month.  MGP/LDI pumps out a good bit of rye as do the Canadians and I think they'll have to continue to do so.

Highwest Distillery started back in 2004 by David Perkins and back then he was sourcing rye and bourbon from some pretty good sources.

I recently was able to acquire 9 bottles of HW Rocky Mountain Rye 21 year (Batch 10).  While not necessarily a fan of uber old bourbons, older rye's can be quite good and this rye offering is no exception.  From the Highwest website, they state that Rocky Mountain Rye "...is very rare whiskey aged in USED barrels. All were aged on the lower three tiers of the rickhouse. Mash bill is 53% rye, 37% corn, 10% barley malt." Technically, this is not a rye whiskey since used cooperage was employed and Highwest doesn't market this whiskey as such but says it's "whiskey distilled from rye mash".  Fine by me.

For the age one would expect a deeper color but this whiskey is a light golden color reminiscent of low proof Scotch.  The nose is rye forward with mild spice, mint and a nice oak backbone.  Entry is soft and flavorful with a profile consisting of oak, cinnamon, nut and a touch of anise.  Mid palate is somewhat candied with a cream finish.  The whiskey really hangs on the palate offering up a very pleasant finish of sweet vanilla and cereal grain that lasts quite some time.  

Truthfully, this is a very approachable whiskey, easy to drink with a brilliant flavor profile.  This is not a one dimensional whiskey but offers layers of flavors from start to finish. 

I hate to say it but I don't think you'll find these on your local retail shelf.  A quick check and I found one bottle on the German Ebay site for $244.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Whiskey-less Christmas

I think this is a first.  Not a single solitary bottle of booze to be found on Christmas morning.  How can this be?  I don't think I was naughty but actually, pretty nice.  Let's see...going through the list of gifts again to see if I missed anything;

LL Bean slippers.....check
Red Vines.....check
XBox One.....check

Well, truth is, I didn't ask for any.  I have a lot of whisk(e)y.  The never ending question we ask on the board; when is it enough?  "Never!" say some......."more than 100 bottles" says another.  A couple sheepishly chime in and say "my wife doesn't know about the stash at work". 

So, not my wifes fault, although she has been more vocal of late on the amount of beautiful glass bottles lining the bunker shelves.  I take the blame for not asking. 

There is though something quite nice about getting a brand new bottle to add to the bunker.  Recent acquisitions (pre-Christmas) include

George Dickel Single Barrel 14 year
George Dickel Single Barrel 9 year
A.D. Rattray Cooley Irish - single barrel cask
Glenmorangie Ealanta
Highwest 21 year Rye
Cambus 21 year single grain

So, maybe I didn't need any whiskey for Christmas.