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  1. #71
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Yesterday was our first full tasting for 2015 and we wanted to make it a good one! Featured this week was the new Lost Prophet along with the three prior Orphan Barrel bottles and a couple of new and very different Longrow's.

    Wednesday tastings 07JAN15 1.JPG

    But first up was a very unusual single barrel cachaça from Novo Fogo that had been aged for 9 years (one of the distilleries earliest barrels) and was bottled at a cask strength of only 82 proof. Far too expensive but the temptation of something unusual got the better of me with this one! Chalk this one up to a learning experience. I really should have brought a moderately aged agricole for comparison but I did not think of it until too late. Not that it would have mattered as this was not really similar to any 9yo or so agricole I have had.

    While it was reportedly aged in American oak it is not clear what the size or source of the barrels is. I suspect it is at least a standard sized bourbon barrel (it yielded 240 bottles after all) but that it was broken down, sanded and retoasted before use based on this review of the standard barrel aged version. In any case the barrel influence here seems subtle as the color is remarkably light for a 9yo spirit aged in the rainforest!

    So, what does it taste like? Well, it has a moderately herbal nose, almost like a trace of anisette, and little to no alcohol on the nose. The palate has a mildly spicy flavor with little in the way of mouth feel. A bit thinner than expected. It certainly doesn't seem very "rummy" despite its origin from sugar cane juice like Rhum agricole. It tastes more like an herbal liqueur that has a long sweet finish that really grows over time. Very pleasant and easy to drink but not a bottle I would feel the need to try again. Oh well, worth a shot!

    So then it was on to big bad Diageo and the Orphan Barrel series, including the newest member, Lost Prophet, a 22yo bopurbon from the Stagg (now BT) distillery. All four weigh in at or near 90 proof. First up was the 26yo Old Blowhard. This was surprisingly drinkable for me last time and this time was no different. A musty leathery wood nose with little of the varnish character I have found in something like EC23. A touch of heat and spice that quickly turns to vanilla and then fades to an herbal quality towards the back. A modest mouthfeel at most. Only in the finish does the wood stand out with a dry and slightly ashy finish although with time that finish evolves into a bit of an herbal character and maybe just a touch of sweetness. Is the cachaça messing with me a bit? Water did nothing except make it a bit more bitter all around.

    Next up was Barterhouse which a had a similar but less intense nose followed by a thin but delicate sweetness on the palate. the Finish was less dry and it seemed to come off a bit more well rounded than the OB. Next was the 20yo Rhetoric which again had a similar nose but had a creamier mouthfeel with a fair amount of vanilla on the palate initially but was otherwise a bit less noteworthy than the previous two. Too bad you can't cherry pick the best elements of each!

    Finally it was time to open the newcomer, Lost Prophet. Immediately different nose with less wood and less of the musty leathery thing going on. Instead it was a bit more herbal. It had a similar oily viscosity as the Rhetoric but less vanilla on the palate as the herbal note of the nose carried through the palate and into the finish. Very little heat or spice and the finish had little woody character to me.

    Still not sure if I like the Lost Prophet or any of them for that matter although the decent price point of the Barterhouse continues to make that one the most interesting. I suppose the presumed heavy filtering is what is making them all taste just a tad uninspired.

    Then after a brief cheese and crackers break we switched gears to the Longrow. First up was the 11yo cask strength (104.2 pf) Longrow Red finished in Cabernet barrels for 4 years. Popping the cork the first thing you get is Wham, Bam, Band-aids and Iodine, Ma'am! This is not a bad thing of course. And there was little in the way of what I would call smoke, just peat. It also tasted a bit hotter than the proof with peat and heat through the palate. The Cabernet drinkers swore there was a splash or red berry fruit at the end of the palate and start of the finish but quite honestly it escaped me. The finish was just more peat to me. A touch of water helped tame the heat a bit but the wine influence was lost on me. It was not bad but if the rest of the Longrow Red series is like this then I think one example is enough. Not enough balance for me.

    Finally we plunged into both the Longrow 14yo Burgundy finish and darkness (a car apparently took out a power pole and left us without power for a couple of hours). This was also cask strength at 112.2 and was aged 11 years before an additional 3 years in 'fresh" burgundy casks. However this was quite different from the Red as the peat was clearly in a secondary role here. Nice hints of red fruit on the note interacting with the peat. The palate was definitely a bit sweeter with cherry/red fruit flavors and a touch of wood towards the end that carried into the lingering finish. A touch of water helped to further emphasize the fruit character. Much more interesting to me although others liked the blast of peat in the Longrow Red more.

    So that was about it, right? Oh no! After another brief break it was time for a beer or two to wash it all down.

    Wednesday tastings 07JAN15 2.JPG

    We started with the newest addition from the Bell's Planet series which so far had been pretty disappointing. Mercury was no exception. Billed as a Belgian Pale Ale style the only thing they got right was that it is pale. It is also largely devoid of any flavor. We also used this opportunity to try the new Spencer Trappist Beer, also a Belgian Pale Ale style. Spencer is the ninth and newest of the monasteries to be permitted to use the trappist designation and is the only one to be located in the US (Massachusetts). Compared to the Mercury it was a huge improvement but when paired against Orval, for me an archetype of the Belgian Pale Ale, it also fell a bit short.

    Next we tried Gregorius, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale from Stift Engelszell which is another recently recognized Trappist monastery brew from Austria, against another classic, the Trappistes Roquefort 8 Belgian Strong Dark Ale. The Gregorius fared much better against the TR8 but still fell short in comparison to this classic example of the style.

    Then just for the hell of it as we were sitting around in the dark we decided to finish the whole thing off with a bit of 3 Taverns Heavy Bells, a bourbon barrel aged quad from a local brewery as insulation against the increasing chill! This is definitely one of the better local brews available for those who like the strong higher proof quad style of Belgian ale.

    A long but enjoyable day!
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  2. #72
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Yeahhh... I'm sorry I missed this. Would have liked to try the Lost Prophet and the Longrow Red. I have about a 1/4 bottle left of the Longrow 14 yo Burgundy and I love it, but never bothered to pick up the "Red". Also a big fan of the Longrow Rundlets & Kilderkins. Springbank (etc.) is one of the only SM Scotches that I really long for nowadays as I've shifted heavily towards American whiskey. Finishing with Trappists too, dammit!
    Mike
    "I want a whiskey whiskey whiskey when I'm thirsty, I want a water water water when I'm dry"

  3. #73
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Quote Originally Posted by maybeling View Post
    Yeahhh... I'm sorry I missed this. Would have liked to try the Lost Prophet and the Longrow Red. I have about a 1/4 bottle left of the Longrow 14 yo Burgundy and I love it, but never bothered to pick up the "Red". Also a big fan of the Longrow Rundlets & Kilderkins. Springbank (etc.) is one of the only SM Scotches that I really long for nowadays as I've shifted heavily towards American whiskey. Finishing with Trappists too, dammit!
    Well, if you get a chance be sure to make the Longrow Red last! Pretty much blitzed the palate.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  4. #74
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Pretty much went hog wild this week! Started off with a tequila sampling for a possible store pick of Maestro Dobel that I had forgotten about. Dobel is a Cuervo product that is a blend of reposado, anejo and extra anejo which is then filtered so that it is clear. Didn't make sense to me because they had to be taking away flavor but I guess they were chasing the vodka crowd. The store did one last year I got to help with and it was much better than I had expected. This time the samples did not measure up and particularly failed when compared to last years pick.

    Wednesday tastings 14JAN15 1 tequila tasting.JPGWednesday tastings 14JAN15 3.JPG

    So then it was on to our regularly scheduled program! This was a mix of high end cognac, armagnac and a variety of single malts plus an odd Spanish malt and grain whisky thrown in for good measure! Unfortunately the notes quickly got pretty sketchy and the hand writing was even worse as the afternoon progressed!

    Wednesday tastings 14JAN15 2.JPG

    So first up was the brandy. The Hine Triomphe was a spendy blend of older cognacs from one of the bigger cognac houses bottled at 80 proof. The Navarre is also a blend of older cognacs, reportedly the average age is 40-50 years old that was bottled at a cask strength of 90 proof. I had intended to do these blind but in my rush to try them I forgot all about that. Not sure it would have been much of a battle though. After an initially musty nose that slowly developed deep fruit and grape notes the Navarre moved to the palate with an intense earthy leathery raisin/grape taste that just seemed to say maturity. There was also some oakiness but it just never seemed to interfere with the fruit. Despite dense legs in the glass it did not have a particularly dense mouthfeel. The finish brought a touch of earthy spice and then finished off with that long grape/wine finish. The Hine had most all of that as well but it seemed dialed back in every quarter and just came off as a bit thin in comparison. Probably should have had the Hine first in retrospect. I also think it was doctored to some degree. It just seemed a touch artificial.

    Next it was on to the Gourry de Chadeville. It was 16 or so years old and billed as the "Stagg" of cognac and weighed in at an impressive 128.6 proof. And yet that didn't seem to matter. There was no heat on the nose but there was an almost tart cherry note rather than grape or raison. Easy to drink at proof and with a very commendable mouthfeel. It also had a veritable kaleidoscope of flavors with lots of soft spice and herbal character and maybe a touch of herbal tea in the finish. A touch of water helped those flavors really bloom as well and brought out more vanilla sweetness as well. I recalled Sku saying it was more Armagnac like and I brought along the Pellehaut 17yo and the Darroze 20 to compare. Both are good but neither could match up to the "Chad"! It was the best of show by far even compared to the excellent but very different Navarre cognac.

    Wednesday tastings 14JAN15 6.JPG

    Then after a brief break for a bit of cheese and crackers we changed gears and countries, moving to Spain for some unusual Spanish whiskies. They were a 5yo Malt and Grain (mostly corn) bottling of a single Palo Cortado sherry barrel that produced about 330 bottles each (although the bottle says 300?). These we did manage to try blind and there was a clear difference as the grain whisky proved to be a bit grainy and could not be rescued by the sherry barrel. The malt on the other hand was much more polished and balanced and would be one I will drink again. Well, I will probably drink both again!

    Wednesday tastings 14JAN15 5.JPG

    Then it was on to some heavy hitters (The notes began to dry up at this point so this is mostly based on my at best fuzzy recollection!). These two were Bunnahabhains from 1997 that were described as "heavily peated". The Cheiftain was a 1670 cask strength and had not had any special finishing whilst the Murray McDavid was 13yo and had been finished in Chateua lafite casks. They certainly did not taste like the same whisky at the core. The MM kept more peat in it despite the finishing while the Cheiftain seemed to have mellowed out a good bit more, if indeed it was originally the same distillate. I liked them both but to try to describe any specific notes would just be guessing at this point!

    Wednesday tastings 14JAN15 4.JPG

    Finally we finished with the 3yo Kilchoman port whisky and compared it to the 16yo Bowmore Port matured. The Kilchoman was surprisingly balanced despite its very tender age and had a great balance of peat to port. The Bowmore was as superb as I remembered it from the past but in retrospect clearly this needed to be two separate tastings! I will bring back those last four for another visit soon.

    Then, after that marathon, we cooled down with a couple of very different beers from two newish local breweries. The Creature Comforts Southerly Love and the Jekyll Barrel Aged Barleywine. I am sure they were both excellent...
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  5. #75
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Quote Originally Posted by tanstaafl2 View Post
    But first up was a very unusual single barrel cachaça from Novo Fogo that had been aged for 9 years (one of the distilleries earliest barrels) and was bottled at a cask strength of only 82 proof. Far too expensive but the temptation of something unusual got the better of me with this one! Chalk this one up to a learning experience. I really should have brought a moderately aged agricole for comparison but I did not think of it until too late. Not that it would have mattered as this was not really similar to any 9yo or so agricole I have had.

    While it was reportedly aged in American oak it is not clear what the size or source of the barrels is. I suspect it is at least a standard sized bourbon barrel (it yielded 240 bottles after all) but that it was broken down, sanded and retoasted before use based on this review of the standard barrel aged version. In any case the barrel influence here seems subtle as the color is remarkably light for a 9yo spirit aged in the rainforest!

    So, what does it taste like? Well, it has a moderately herbal nose, almost like a trace of anisette, and little to no alcohol on the nose. The palate has a mildly spicy flavor with little in the way of mouth feel. A bit thinner than expected. It certainly doesn't seem very "rummy" despite its origin from sugar cane juice like Rhum agricole. It tastes more like an herbal liqueur that has a long sweet finish that really grows over time. Very pleasant and easy to drink but not a bottle I would feel the need to try again. Oh well, worth a shot!
    Very interesting. Sounds exotic! I've held an interest for cachaça ever since honeymooning in Brazil, though I haven't acted on it. Thanks for the notes!

    Quote Originally Posted by tanstaafl2 View Post
    Then after a brief cheese and crackers break we switched gears to the Longrow. First up was the 11yo cask strength (104.2 pf) Longrow Red finished in Cabernet barrels for 4 years. Popping the cork the first thing you get is Wham, Bam, Band-aids and Iodine, Ma'am! This is not a bad thing of course. And there was little in the way of what I would call smoke, just peat. It also tasted a bit hotter than the proof with peat and heat through the palate. The Cabernet drinkers swore there was a splash or red berry fruit at the end of the palate and start of the finish but quite honestly it escaped me. The finish was just more peat to me. A touch of water helped tame the heat a bit but the wine influence was lost on me. It was not bad but if the rest of the Longrow Red series is like this then I think one example is enough. Not enough balance for me.

    Finally we plunged into both the Longrow 14yo Burgundy finish and darkness (a car apparently took out a power pole and left us without power for a couple of hours). This was also cask strength at 112.2 and was aged 11 years before an additional 3 years in 'fresh" burgundy casks. However this was quite different from the Red as the peat was clearly in a secondary role here. Nice hints of red fruit on the note interacting with the peat. The palate was definitely a bit sweeter with cherry/red fruit flavors and a touch of wood towards the end that carried into the lingering finish. A touch of water helped to further emphasize the fruit character. Much more interesting to me although others liked the blast of peat in the Longrow Red more.
    Don't give up on the Red. I did not enjoy the Cab but I really like the Australian Shiraz and the Port versions. That Burgundy bottle was a dud for me though. I tried and tried and tried to like it but by the time I finally killed my bottle, it still tasted like feet. I should probably find some more to see if my reaction remains the same.
    "A man comes from the dust and in the dust he will end-- In the meantime it is good to drink whiskey."
    -->WhiskeyWonka<--

  6. #76
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Quote Originally Posted by AaronWF View Post
    Very interesting. Sounds exotic! I've held an interest for cachaça ever since honeymooning in Brazil, though I haven't acted on it. Thanks for the notes!



    Don't give up on the Red. I did not enjoy the Cab but I really like the Australian Shiraz and the Port versions. That Burgundy bottle was a dud for me though. I tried and tried and tried to like it but by the time I finally killed my bottle, it still tasted like feet. I should probably find some more to see if my reaction remains the same.
    I confess I was hoping for more on the Cachaca but it was worth a shot! I will keep looking for the Longrow Red Shiraz and Port but it doesn't seem like it is coming to Georgia that I can find.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  7. #77
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Walking into this on Wed was a much better option than sweating my butt off at the gym. Good seeing you and thanks again for sharing.

  8. #78
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Quote Originally Posted by petrel800 View Post
    Walking into this on Wed was a much better option than sweating my butt off at the gym. Good seeing you and thanks again for sharing.
    It did get a bit crazy! I think we are going to try to stick to a 6 bottle maximum limit going forward so I can get home before midnight...
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  9. #79
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    A bit of a change of pace this week and we made an effort to reel this monster back in after last weeks excesses! We tried to hold it to just six bottles but we ended up with six and a half...

    Wednesday tastings 21JAN15 1.JPG

    Today featured a few tequilas for a change and then an encore for one that didn't get a fair review during last weeks melee.

    Wednesday tastings 21JAN15 2.JPG

    First up were a couple of Herradura Reserva Reposado special editions from 2012 (port finish) and 2013 (cognac finish). But first we had to go all "Bruce" on it and try the standard Herradura Reposado! Herradura is a B-F product and suffered a bit of controversy over the use of a diffuser to process the pina. B-F says while they did it briefly they don't use it anymore on the Herradura line, saving it instead for the lower shelf El Jimador and Pepe Lopez line. Well, I don't have a pre-diffuser bottle of Herradura to compare with this (this occurred back in around 2010/2011) so I have to go with what is in front of me.

    The basic reposado, aged about 11 months and weighing in at the usual modest 80 proof level like many tequila's (including all of the ones tasted today), has a nice clean agave note on the nose and the palate brings more agave and an interesting hint of citrus before moving on to a nice peppery agave finish. Decent enough for a mid shelf option. We then went first to the lighter colored cognac finish which is presumably the same 11 month old reposado that is finished in cognac casks for 3 months. The cognac finish added a moderate sweetness while keeping much of the agave profile but completely wiped out the interesting citrus-y tang of the standard bottle. Not overwhelming and certainly not worth the big price difference to me. The port, which showed much more red coloring as compared to the cognac which was mostly a deeper gold and the lighter gold regular bottle. Again sweeter up front but with much more prominent red fruit character and a bit more weight on the palate. The agave was still there but had moved further towards the back of the bus. The citrus note was once again gone. In the finish the agave note and peppery character tried hard to reassert itself but it remained a battle with the solid red fruit character. But the balance was pretty good and made it quite enjoyable. While the port out did the cognac finish neither really justified the big sticker price. Not that I really expected them to. The 2014 edition is a scotch finished tequila including some Islay whisky but I decided to pass. If I want smoke in my tequila I can just drink Mezcal!

    Wednesday tastings 21JAN15 3.JPG

    We then moved on to a Chinaco blanco and anejo for a different profile. While Herradura is a lowland tequila from the Jalisco region, Chinaco is something a bit different, being a "northern" tequila from the state of Tamaulipas on the eastern side of Mexico along the Gulf of Mexico. Some credit it with being the first "premium" brand in the US in the early 80's. Some of the early bottlings were highly thought of but I have never had a chance to try any. But it has always been one I have enjoyed. The blanco, which is a bit unusual in that it ihas just a tinge of yellow to it, begins with a big agave nose followed by a fresh bracing agave flavor that turns to lots of pepper in the finish. I don't sip many true blancos but this is one I can have on occasion. It is of course also great for your favorite tequila cocktails! The anejo, finished for 3 years, which is longer than a lot of anejos, opens with a surprising amount of oak on the nose. It doesn't all carry forward to the palate fortunately as there is a nice agave character that helps balance out the vanilla flavors while just a hint of pepper adds life to the finish. I think I need to try the Chinaco reposado again to see how the middle ground holds up but I really enjoy this one as a neat pour of something a little different. And not a bank buster at around $55-$60.

    Wednesday tastings 21JAN15 4.JPG

    Finally it was time for an encore for the Kilchoman 3yo port matured whiskey. For comparison I broke out an early bottle of Kilchoman, the Summer 2010 release, which was also a 3yo whiskey finished only in ex-bourbon barrels. As those of you who drift over to the dark side now and again know Kilchoman has gained a pretty good reputation with their young peated whisky and this was the first release to cross the pond. Vibrant peat and smoke with little to know hint of its true age, the 2010 Summer Release is a very pleasant whiskey, if somewhat of a one trick pony. Finally we reevaluated the Port matured version that had gotten short shrift last week as it came late in the day of that long marathon. The remarkable ruby/mahogany color continued to fascinate and initially the big fruit notes really worked with the peat, which was a bit more mellow than the Summer Release. But this one tended to show its youth a bit more with time. As the only high proof spirit of the day at 110 pf (The Summer Release was 92 proof I believe) this one did seem a bit hot and a touch of water really helped the port flavors bloom and help balance the slightly youthful flavors. Still, quite tasty and worthwhile for such a yound whisky!

    Wednesday tastings 21JAN15 5.JPG

    Then for "dessert" we finished off with a few beers. The Cannon Dragger and Big Shanty were new offerings from yet another newish brewery in Atlanta. They had been doing mostly kegs to this point so these were some of there first bottles I believe. The Cannon Dragger was a fresh IPA that had a g=big juicy grapefruit nose but was way too hoppy and bitter for my palate. The Big Shanty was a "Graham Cracker" stout and the nose really did smell like graham crackers and cinnamon. The cinnamon did not carry to the palate but the graham cracker flavor sure did! Unfortunately there wasn't much body or maltyness under that for me to find it a very interesting stout. Maybe with some age it would improve but it was a bit of a disappointment over all. In between we fit a Bell's Oracle DIPA that had about 5 months of age on it. The hops had mellowed a bit with time but it still wasn't really my cup of tea.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

 

 

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