Once more into the breach!
This may have been our greatest variety in some time. Today we started off trying some samples for possible store barrels. First up were three Evan Williams Single Barrels.
Wednesday tasting 2APR14 EW barrel.JPG
Appeared to be from up pretty high in the rick house with an average proof around 140. None were really notable but the 143.9 in particular was a bit unpleasant and water seemed to have little impact. We compared them to a current EWSB bottle off the shelf (a rather thin tasting bottle) as well as a barrel pick from another store (better than the shelf bottle and indeed probably better than the three samples after they were watered down closer to bottling proof). So that one got shelved and we quickly moved on!
Wednesday tasting 2APR14 Smooth Ambler barrel.JPG
Next up were three samples of Smooth Ambler that was about 7yo and was expected to be bottled at BP. There was a remarkable lack of detail on the samples themselves so we were dependent on the distributor rep for details. Fortunately he is a nice guy we have shared a few other bottles with! Although we never did find out what proof the samples were. We guessed around 120. A real Goldilocks experience here as one was interesting if a bit dry at the finish and a slight bitterness that spoiled it a bit while the second was rather on the sweet side and too one dimensional. But the third was just right with a nice balance between the two, good mouthfeel, nicely drinkable at full proof. Not sure how well BP will do with the unwashed masses so we are looking to see if we can get part barreled at full proof and the rest at around 100 pf. And as an added bonus it was barrel 666. Clearly that was a sign! Should sell well here in the heart of the bible belt...
Wednesday tasting 2APR14 Gin.JPG
And then for something completely different I pulled out several genevers and a couple of barrel aged gins the distributor rep had mentioned an interest in. Van Wees Roggenaer 15yo rye malt genever was followed by the Bols 10yo Corenwyn and finally the standard Bols Oude genever. The Corenwyn was the winner this particular afternoon with its delightful malty whisky flavor with a hint of sweetness. The Citadel gin was a comparison between the standard gin and the Citadelle Reserve barrel aged gin from Ferrand. The regular Citadelle is a nice enough botanical gin with juniper just one of many flavors and suitable for mixing but the aging of the Reserve really made it pretty pleasant to consume neat. Herbal almost a bit like a liqueur. We finished this portion of the program with the Rusty Blade gin from Old World Spirits near San Francisco. The distiller is an experienced eau de vie maker from Croatia who is distilling a variety of "craft" products now incuding this gin and the standard version simply called "Blade". Another very pleaseant spirit that I could see drinking neat but probably works best in a Martinez style cocktail.This served as a nice segue into our next round.
Wednesday tasting 2APR14 St Geroge liqueurs.JPGWednesday tasting 2APR14 St George coffee liqueur.JPG
A couple of unaged St. George fruit brandies (raspberry and pear) in their new packaging along with a raspberry liqueur and spiced pear liqueur. I continue to try the unaged fruit brandy/eau de vie style but I am not sure my palate is quite refined enough yet! That or I just don't care for them...
The Raspberry liqueur was sweet but very tasty while the spiced pear was perhaps the most interesting of the bunch. Rather more like an apple pie with just a hint of pear underlying it to me.
Finally the NOLA "New Orleans style" coffee liqueur reached up out of the bottle and gave me a good slap across the face! I am not a coffee person so it may be lost on me but it was intensely coffee flavored (it also has chickory root which may have contributed to the moderate bitterness). Not my thing but the coffee drinkers in the group seemed to approve.
Wednesday tasting 2APR14 Fernet.JPG
As if our palates weren't fried enough we then finished the afternoon with a tasting of several fernets. The Leopold was definitely on the sweeter side with less bitterness or mint. While the traditional Fernet-Branca was its usual classic bitter herbal/minty self. The Contratto Fernet found itself somewhere in the middle and was for me the most pleasant and interesting of the three to drink on its own as a digestif.
Somewhere along the way a bottle of the Redemption BP rye managed to get opened up and tried as well. As noted in the rye thread it was something of a pleasant surprise. I really should start taking notes as my memory is not what I used to think it was and probably never was...
Now you have to figure it was clearly nap time! But no, with rain looming on Friday and possibly into Saturday I decided to head home and shave off the thick dead bermuda grass coat left on the lawn all winter. I blame the NOLA coffee liqueur for inspiring me!
I managed to do it whilst keeping all fingers and toes intact so I considered it something of a miracle...