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Thread: WhiskyRest NYC

  1. #1
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    WhiskyRest NYC

    As many of you know, I attended last evening's WhiskyFest held at the Marriot Marquis in NYC. It was quite a night!

    First off, the disappointing news...the new Stagg was NOT there. A rep at BT had written me and said that one bottle of the new GTS would be available, so my first stop was at the BT booth, and when I asked to taste the Stagg, I knew it was last years due to the proof. I asked for the new bottling, and I was told that was the only Stagg they had. The second disappointment was that the '94 Evan Williams was not available. At the Heaven Hill booth, I showed the staff that the '94 was included in the list of whiskies that would be available. Unfortunately, it was not. I really wanted to try this one based upon all of the great reviews it has gotten here.

    Now, the good news! It was an overall wonderful evening. I got to talk with Elmer T Lee again; I met with Ken Weber for awhile; while at the Heaven Hill booth, I got to meet Parker Beam. He and I spoke about the Evan Williams '94 and our party at the Gazebo. Upon learning that I was a member of SB and had attended the Bourbon Festival, one of the women from the HH booth asked if I had been at the Gazebo party. She said that she'd heard it was quite a time! Word gets around.

    I tasted numerous Bourbons that I've had before, but there were 3 (1 Rye) that I'd never had before, and all are from Michter's: 10 Year Old Single Barrel Bourbon, US*1 American Whisky and 10 Year Old Straight Rye. The US*1 was very different. As Mark has noted, the aroma is totally amazing. I enoyed smelling this one very much. The taste caught me off guard a bit, as it too was different, so I'm really not sure if I liked it or not. I would have to try it again, and not on an evening of tasting as much as I did last night. The Michter's Bourbon was OK, but I didn't find anything really exciting about it, but the same holds true for this as the *1, I would try it again. The Michter's Straight Rye was VERY good. I found the flavors of the Rye to be very enjoyable. I was told that the Rye is curently unavaible, as they are all sold out. It is one that I will be looking for when it hits the stores again. I highly recommend checking it out!

    I tried for the second time, and I think the last, the Old Potero products. I had them at the WhiskyFest last year and did not enjoy them. I had the same experience last evening. I wonder if I would enjoy them better if they aged a bit more.

    I'll just add here that Connemara Irish Whiskey is great, especially if you like a peaty dram. I tried the 4 Year Old, 12 Year old and Cask Strength. All were excellent.

    Bob

  2. #2
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    Re: WhiskyRest NYC

    Great notes, thanks. Connemara from Ireland is great in any form but the Cask Strength is the best - a good example of a "new" whiskey that became an instant classic.

    Regarding Old Potrero, I am mystified Anchor won't release a version that is 8-10-12 years old. It has been making the ryes for that long and surely must have aged stock in inventory. Strange.


  3. #3
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    Re: WhiskyRest NYC

    I laughed just now when I realized that I wrote "WhiskyRest" as the subject of this post. I guess that tells you something about how I'm feeling today! Of course, you all know that I meant WhiskyFest!

  4. #4
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    Re: WhiskyRest NYC

    Hey Gillman,

    I liked the Connemara Cask Strength a lot, but I think it was the 4 Year Old that I appreciated the most. It had that peat flavor/aroma that I love.

    I hope that Old Potero does release older bottlings in the future, just to see if the aging helps. Do you like the current bottlings? The scary thing to me is how much they might charge for an 8 YO, as I believe the current bottlings are considerably in excess of $50. I don't have to worry though...if I need a good rye, there's the 13 YO Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye that is superb and is a bargain. I asked Julian if they had that available at WhiskyFest for my buddies to try and unfortunately they didn't have any. But, we did have the Sazarec, which is another great rye and a hell of a lot cheaper and tastier than the Old Potero crap!

    Bob

  5. #5
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    Re: WhiskyRest NYC

    Hi Bob, thanks for these comments. All the Connemaras are excellent (in fact all the whiskey made by the company), but the Cask Strength has an intense taste I like, "cereal-like" or perhaps "oat-like" even though no oats is used.

    Regarding Potrero, I admire what Fritz Maytag is doing but I find the whiskeys too young for my own taste. Rye was sold very young more than 150 years ago but it was also flavoured and "dulcified" (sweetened) to mask certain immature flavours that longer aging would have softened and changed. With even a 6 year old rye we would see, in the one using charred barrels, more smoky wood character to off-set again the vigourous "wild" taste of young rye. I like his products as an experiment but I think he could sell more if it was longer aged. As for price, most of the new microdistillers do sell their products at a high price. I think some people would pay it for a superlative product. In time hopefully the price would come down. But will people pay a very high price for a young whiskey?

    Jimbo mentioned that the microdistillers have a hard road to travel. I agree, yet it is striking that at one time there were hundreds of rye distillers and blenders in the Northeast, maybe thousands. Ditto for the industry in Kentucky and Tennessee. These distilers all sold aged whiskey (at least 4-8 years) and made money for years doing that. There were large companies then too, as now, but the difference today is the latter have consolidated to the point of effacing almost all the small companies. But is that an inevitable situation..? (Look at the entry of Maker's Mark in the 1950's, against the trend, mostly because of the determination of Bill Samuels, Sr. to make it happen!).

    I think whiskey and beer - its resurgence through microbrewing - are largely valid analogies - they were historically and could be again today. There are some differences of course now. One is that whiskey doesn't have the alcohol market share - the cultural acceptance - it once had. Before 1919, hundreds of companies carried on operations in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere because spirits and drinking generally meant whiskey (except for beer which then as now had a fairly defined market). Today, many people drink vodka, tequila, rum, wine or coolers.

    Also, it would be hard for new players to break into the existing whisky market not to mention this other market. Distribution networks are far-flung and well-developed and work to the advantage of the existing and larger players.

    Still, I believe, say, a Connemera-type operation (ie. based on that business model) could succeed here. Connemara is made by Cooley's, which was a start-up in Ireland in the 1980's-90's. The Irish market was heavily consolidated since the three extant companies in the 1960's merged to form Irish Distillers, later bought out by Pernod Ricard.

    I think an American company could follow Cooley's example. Interestingly, Cooley's opted to make non-traditional types of whiskey. They make Irish whiskey because they are an Irish company making it in Ireland, but they have a proprietary approach. Their best whiskeys are not traditional Irish pot still because for those (e.g. Tyconnell, Connemara) Cooley's uses only malted grains. They also do a lot of private labelling and blending.

    An American microdistiller would perhaps (in whiskey) need go for something that was at once familiar as American whiskey and yet different to chart a similar path. Maybe something like the new Michter's unblended whiskey. Or maybe a 4 year old bourbon made to very tradiitonal methods (as earlier bruited) would work.

    I think it can be done.

    Gary


  6. #6
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    Re: WhiskyRest NYC

    The following awards were given by Malt Advocate at the WhiskyFest: Value Whiskey of the Year: Evan Williams 7 Year Old; American Whiskey of the Year: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Spring 1990 Vintage; and 2 Lifetime Achievement Awards: Parker Beam and Lincoln Henderson. Congratulations all around!

    Bob

 

 

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