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  1. #21
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    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...
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  2. #22
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    The Wednesday tasting is postponed this week due to the pilgrimage to the mecca of golf, Auguasta National, to watch the Tuesday practice round of the Master's. A bit soggy and nippy initially but it turned into a beautiful day! I joined my brother, sister in law and a friend for the day.

    Masters 2014.JPG

    But since we left early in the morning they all came by to stay the night before and that of course meant a chance for a little mini tasting! Since they aren't able to join me for the usual Wednesday tasting I was able to break out a few bottles for another round for me and had them try it blind. They included the Bookers roundtable bottles (2013-6 & 2013-7) as well as the 25th Anniversary on the bourbon side and the Arran 16yo CS sherry and bourbon cask bottles. The Chieftain's Mortlach 22yo sherry managed to sneak in there as "dessert"!

    My friend generally has similar tastes to my own and preferred the 25th, 2013-6 and then 2013-7 just as I did. My brother the vodka drinker was a bit less consistent picking the 2013-7 as his first choice!

    Among the Arran's the Sherry cask proved the favorite of both of them while I still preferred the Bourbon cask. The consensus was the bourbon cask was not "scotch-y" enough and thus a bit confusing. What do they know!

    Home tasting 1.JPG

    As a result I must now do penance by working on Wednesday which I confess I find moderately annoying.

    Ok, maybe more than moderately.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  3. #23
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Damn, typed out the Wednesday tasting report only to have the whole thing vanish when I tried to post it. Will have to try again if I get time later. Need to start doing it in word first as this page seems to be getting unreliable from the office.
    Last edited by tanstaafl2; 04-17-2014 at 08:41.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  4. #24
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Quote Originally Posted by tanstaafl2 View Post
    Damn, typed out the Wednesday tasting report only to have the whole thing vanish when I tried to post it. Will have to try again if I get time later. Need to start doing it in word first as this page seems to be getting unreliable from the office.
    Hate it when that happens!
    "A man comes from the dust and in the dust he will end-- In the meantime it is good to drink whiskey."
    -->WhiskeyWonka<--

  5. #25
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    OK, trying again with a somewhat abbreviated report.

    After a week off the Wednesday tasting is back. This will be the last in April as the next two weeks I will be on the road part of the week which will limit my Wednesday availability. This week was a somewhat eclectic collection of whisky, rum and a few other things!

    Wednesday tasting 16APR14 rum and Caol Ila.JPG

    First up was the Devil’s Bit. This is a yearly limited edition release whiskey from McMenamin’s Edgefield Distillery in Portland, OR that is released every year on St. Patrick’s Day in 200 ml bottles. This year there were about 1200 bottles from the single barrel (roughly the equivalent of 320 regular 750ml bottles.) This single barrel hogshead was first copper pot double distilled in 2006 from 100 percent two row malted barley and barreled in a charred, new American white oak barrel at 160 proof. After two years, it was cut to 115 proof and then rebarreled into a smaller American white oak cask. After two more years it was put into a used port-style wine barrel for three more years and then transferred to a used wheat whiskey barrel for a year to “calm the port influence” before bottling at 92 proof.

    The nose on opening the bottle had huge plummy fruit notes that took quite some time to decrease. But the noses didn’t carry to the palate. It opened with some sweetness up front and nice mouthfeel that got much drier than expected in the midpalate with some increasing spice notes towards the end and an encore of the those fruit notes in the moderately long pleasant finish. A touch of water helped to emphasize some of the fruit notes in a good way.

    Next up was a cask strength 14yo version of the annual Caol Ila unpeated release from several years ago. It was compared to the version this past year which was the NAS vatting of malts that made up the Stitchell Reserve unpeated as well as a standard CI 12 peated OB at 86pf. The 14yo was also different in that it was finished in “European Oak” which is presumed to mean sherry casks although I don’t think it notes sherry casks anywhere on the box or bottle. It was noticeably darker than the NAS Stitchell although both were a similar 118 or so proof. Just a wisp of smoke but no peat on the tip of the tongue which was quickly smothered by a pleasant honey sweetness that carried through the palate. Nice mouthfeel and greater sense of maturity in the 14. A bit hot at full proof but still drinkable. But a touch of water really opened both up nicely. Nice long sweet but not cloying finish made this one really pleasant to me and a nice example of the strong underlying whiskey at Caol Ila. The standard peated 12, while fine for when you want a bit of peat, dominated the whiskey too much. I think these unpeated versions are wonderful malts and something I will happily seek out, especially this 14yo.

    After a bit of a break we plunged right into the rum. First up was the Papa’s Pilar 24 “solera” dark rum produced in some part by the folks responsible for Angel’s Envy (Lincoln Henderson was an advisor on the blend). This is a blend of rums from Barbados, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Florida(!) that used ex bourbon and port casks. Lots of caramel and vanilla on the nose and the palate. I couldn’t clearly identify the port influence and overall it is easy to drink and on the sweet side a bit like Zacapa (and at a similar or slightly lower price point) but in the end it seemed a little one dimensional to me (again, a bit like Zacapa).

    Next up was the Thomas Tew pot still rum from Rhode Island, which was once one of the main ports receiving molasses and sugar from the Caribbean and apparently had a robust rum industry in the mid to late 1700’s. This was a surprisingly interesting moderately funky earthy rum with a bit of bite and nice sharp flavor. Perhaps best as a mixer in cocktails looking for an authentic pot still rum but not bad as an occasional sipper!

    Then we broke into the truly funky Lost Spirits overproof rum from a small distiller in California also known for making some seriously funky super peated malt whiskey. This weighed in at 136 proof and the bottle states it is 100% additive free and so presumably has no coloring or added flavors. Made from high grade molasses and over ripe bananas and finished in sherry treated casks, it is a Jamaican style "high ester" navy rum that it is very dark and has a strong nose of molasses with some really interesting over ripe plum/raison notes that are very enjoyable. Quite drinkable at proof but a bit of water helps to smooth it out a bit and further emphasize the delightful rancid fruit note. A challenging but very interesting rum. It was compared to the Tiki standard, Lemonhart 151 as well as the cognac finished Plantation overproof dark rum at 146 proof. All three are surprisingly drinkable at proof but the Lost spirits may be the most complex of the three.

    And so you would think at this point we were finished, both literally and figuratively. But oh no!

    Wednesday tasting 16APR14 Eddu Picon Hammer Head.JPG

    Midway through the tasting a distributor rep who has demonstrated a keen interest in trying different spirits stopped by after returning from France. And of course he brought gifts! In addition to a bottle of Amer Picon for himself, a classic cocktail liqueur in drinks like the Brooklyn and currently only available in Europe, he brought me a requested bottles of Eddu Silver buckwheat whiskey made in France and Hammer Head Czech made 23yo single malt. Of course we were obligated to give them a go! Both were around 80 proof so they seemed rather light at this point. The Eddu had a fascinating nose and interesting taste that was clearly different from a typical malt while the hammer Head was clearly malt with an interesting anise like note. Both deserve further examination when the palate is not quite so beaten up!

    And then, finally, it was nap time!
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  6. #26
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Wow, you're doing it right Bruce. Glad you're spreading the word about that Lost Spirits rum, too; every time I drink that rum I enjoy it even more


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  7. #27
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kpiz View Post
    Wow, you're doing it right Bruce. Glad you're spreading the word about that Lost Spirits rum, too; every time I drink that rum I enjoy it even more


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Yuo get a huge assist this week for making it possible to include in the tasting!
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  8. #28
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Well, it is finally back! After a two week hiatus for back to back trips to the Motherland the Wednesday tastings have resumed, at least for a couple of weeks.

    Didn’t get a chance to post this on Wednesday or yesterday so it will be a severe test of my already impaired memory to recall what we tasted! I am going to have to start taking notes…

    Wednesday tasting 07MAY14.JPG

    As you can see we went scotch heavy in preparation for the upcoming GBS “Dark Side” gala in a couple of weeks. I should also note that several of these bottles are courtesy of the kind assistance of two different SBers who helped me acquire them.

    But first we started off with the new Bowman Double Barrel. Clear notes of wood on the nose had me wondering if this was going to be an overly woody one trick pony. But fortunately the palate started off with some nice sweetness building to some red fruit flavors of a nicely matured bourbon with only a hint of dryness to begin with. In the finish the extra wood influence seemed to move to the dominant position as this finished fairly long and dry. It was a nice balance of contrasting flavors though and generally well regarded.

    And then it was on to the whisky. The first three bottles were all from Bladnoch, which is a lowland distillery and generally noted as being the southernmost of Scotland’s distilleries. The distillery was owned by United Distiller (which of course some years later became Diageo) for a period of time until it was closed in about 1993. All three bottles come from the period before it closed in 1993. The first was a G&M 16yo I had found locally a while back distilled in 1993 at 92 pf. While very light and inoffensive this one seemed a bit like drinking a lightly scented glass of water. Some potential but not really a lot there. But an easy drinker in the warm summer months to come I should think. Next was a 23yo barrel selected by K&L which was distilled in 1990 and bottled at cask strength at a mere 88.8 pf. Clearly the same family of whisky as the previous bottle and had more richness and mouthfeel as well as some nice sweet floral notes. Again easy to drink but light and definitely more of a summer time bottle to me. The final bottle was a 22yo from Duncan Taylor that was also distilled in 1990 and bottled at a more robust cask strength of 109.8 pf. This one, despite being a bit younger seemed a good bit more robust with a lot of nice sweetness (an old sherry cask perhaps?) and body and a much more sustained finish. Of the three it was by far the most enjoyable. Perhaps not surprisingly for these light delicate whisky’s none of them seemed to benefit from the addition of water.

    Wednesday tasting 07MAY14 Bladnoch comparison.JPG

    Each bottle was supposedly bottled without coloring or chill filtration and it was interesting to compare the colors side by side.

    Following the Bladnoch experience we moved on to Longmorn. This was another cask recently selected by K&L that was distilled in 1992 and bottled at somewhere at 104.4 proof I think (can’t remember). A Speyside sherried whisky that I don’t see here very much except in occasional IB selections, this one was of real interest. There apparently is (or was) a 16yo official bottling in the Flora and Fauna collection but I have not seen it. Presumably it is typically used more in blends and was once part of the Chivas group but now is owned by Pernod Ricard. I don’t know if it ever was or even can still be found in Chivas but it must be getting used somewhere! It was pretty classic in its profile with lots of lovely sweet vanilla, honey and fruit flavors that stayed constant throughout. Perhaps not terribly complex but it was a damned fine whisky! And at $90 on K&L for a 20yo cask strength whiskey a pretty good deal as well.

    Having avoided the peat thus far we now moved to a couple of Bowmore selections. The first was the standard 15yo “darkest” Sherry finished which is always a dependable balance of peat, smoke and sweet fruit. One of my favorite off the shelf Islay choices. This was brought as a comparison to the newly acquired 1991 limited edition Bowmore 16yo “Port Matured” whisky recommended highly by a fellow SBer. This was bottled at a cask strength of 106.2 after spending all 16 years in port pipes. It sounded like a finished whisky lover’s dream and indeed it was a wonderful dram! Lots of huge red fruit flavors, dense oily mouthfeel and tendrils of smoke wafting up in between. About as close to a smokey port as one could get I suppose and still be whisky. Perhaps not for everyone but I thought this was the bottle of the day and certainly one of my favorite from the dark side. The Longmorn was a respectable second but was a totally different profile.

    Towards the end a local distributor wandered in with a Dalmore rep in tow pouring the 12 and 15. We of course obliged in tasting, just to be polite of course! Pretty bottles with nice enough whiskey but by this time it was hard to give it a fair assessment.

    A good way to kick off the tastings for May!
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  9. #29
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    Another Wednesday tasting before we go through another "dry" spell for a few weeks. Decided it was summer so it was time for some rum! But we threw in a few more scotch selections in the run up to the GBS Dark Side extravaganza.

    Wednesday tasting 14MAY14 1.JPG

    We began the afternoon with a blind side by side comparison of a Zacapa 23 “solera” with an earlier true 23 year old Zacapa (acquired from a generous fellow Sber) that was likely from at least the mid/late 2000’s before Diageo got involved in 2008 and it changed to a “solera” method which is a blend of 6-23yo rums.

    Wednesday tasting 14MAY14 2.JPG

    There was a clear difference between the rums as the real 23 had much more body and fruit flavors while the solera was a bit thinner mouthfeel with a surprisingly drier but longer lasting finish. The finish on the 23yo was surprisingly short in fact. The bottles were both freshly opened for this comparison. We also compared a solera bottle that had been opened a couple of years to the new solera bottle and the older bottle was more like the original 23yo than the newer bottle. Somehow this did not surprise me. As the price goes up the quality seems to be going down…

    Wednesday tasting 14MAY14 3.JPG

    Next we moved on to a couple of Duncan Taylor rums that were acquired in the Caribbean but aged and bottled in Scotland as best we can tell. The 1991 came from the Trinidad Distillery (Source of Angostura rum and provides bulk rum for many products) that uses column stills and molasses from several other countries. I had tried this one at TPS and liked it but today from a freshly opened bottle it seemed a little thin and unremarkable. Not bad mind you but nothing that said “Drink Me”! Will have to try it again after it “breathes” a bit. The second was a 1986 25yo rum from the West Indies Distillery in Barbados and according to the bottle was off their pot still. The distillery also has several column stills and is a pretty big producer including the cheap Malibu flavored rum line and the Cockspur rums. Nice to try an older Bajan pot still rum not from Mt. Gay. Both are cask strength, unadulterated and non chill filtered. The 1986 was much more complex and interesting with some nice tropical fruit notes and a bit of underlying tasty “funk”.

    From Barbados we moved up the Lesser Antilles to Guadeloupe where we put the Samaroli 1998 12yo rhum agricole aged in Scotland against the Plantation Guadeloupe 1998 that was aged locally and then finished for a year in France in Ferrand cognac casks. The Samaroli was definitely younger tasting and more vegetal with a curious but pleasant flamed orange peel note on the palate and the more typical earthy, almost musty agricole notes. The Plantation, a personal favorite, was much more refined and softer but still had the earthy notes and even a hint of that flamed orange peel seemed to be there. I enjoyed them both but they are definitely different!

    Wednesday tasting 14MAY14 4.jpg
    After a short break we plunged on with the task before us but shifted gears back to Scotland again for a couple of Longrow’s made possible by another generous SBer that were compared to their kissing cousin, the Springbank 12 cask strength. The nice thing about most if not all Campbeltown whisky is that it is not colored or chill filtered. But it might not have been a fair comparison as the Springbank CS is just such a lovely whisky. The first Longrow was an 11yo Refill Sherry single cask, cask strength bottle that was described as very earthy and the color of Pinot Grigio! It must have been a sherry cask that had been used many, many times because it was just as advertised. I tend to find the peat from Longrow to be relatively light and the smoke component to be subtle as well. It is definitely not an Islay super peat monster but it is indeed very enjoyable. The next was a 1996 vintage 10yo that clearly had seen a lot more intense sherry casks based on the deep red color. That hint of peat struck a lovely balance with the sherry and made this one quite delightful as well. Both excellent choices by my SB benefactor!

    Surprisingly given some of these were lower proof the need for a nap after this was quite high. Maybe it was the rainy overcast day. Or maybe mixing rum and scotch does more damage than one might think!

    Also finally got the picture from the WT barrel pick on Tuesday. I am the guy selling ice cream…

    Eddie Russell picture.jpg
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  10. #30
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    Re: Wednesday Tastings!

    That's quite a progression Bruce! Rum always makes me sleepy, so I call them out as the culprit here. Throwing the Campbeltown malts in after all the others sounds like it would be quite the curveball, but sounds like you managed to hang onto it. Love those Longrows and I'm not sure which one would be better to have first... Sounds like your way fit the bill though! Cheers!
    "A man comes from the dust and in the dust he will end-- In the meantime it is good to drink whiskey."
    -->WhiskeyWonka<--

 

 

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