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tanstaafl2

Wednesday Tastings!

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tanstaafl2

Have gotten into the habit of having a Wednesday tasting with the staff at a small but enthusiastic store I frequent. Since the owner is into it everybody gets a chance to play along. And it gives me a chance to try a few new things with a group of folks who are fellow enthusiasts so that we can compare impressions.

Wasn't sure where to put this so I ended up here. While bourbon commonly shows up at these mini events the tasting isn't always all bourbon or even all whiskey so I didn't want to put it in the tasting thread. But bourbon/whiskey tends to be a common theme.

The first occasion this year was January 8 but just now getting organized enough to post.

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This one featured Jefferson Rye 21, Vintage Rye 21, Fuenteseca Extra Anejo tequila from K&L, Ron Navazos Palazzi, Dos Maderas 5+5 rum and of course I wanted to share a bit of the SB HHSS with the gang.

Much as already been said about this exquisite HHSS bottle and it was the top pick of the day despite some interesting competition.

Next were the Jefferson and Vintage Rye. The Vintage was newly opened while the Jefferson had been open for a few weeks. The Vintage was interesting battle between wood and spice but seemed a tad closed initially. It will definitely need to be revisited. The Jefferson was much lighter with a mix of fruit and spice and very little wood, especially in comparison to the Vintage. Not sure how they came to be so different but they definitiely are. A Canadian versus a Kentucky source perhaps?

Ron Navazos Palazzi is a 5yo Caribbean rum that is then taken to Spain where it is finished in Oloroso sherry casks for 5 years. For me it was a solid second for the day. A delightful if pricey beverage. It was there primarily as a comparison to a new bottle to my collection, Dos Maderas 5+5 rum, received courtesy of the efforts of a fellow SBer. This is also a 5yo rum that is take to Spain where it is finished for 3 years in Oloroso sherry casks and then 2 additional years in PX sherry casks. While much less expensive than the Navazos it didn't have anywhere near the depth and showed a lot more plum/fig notes from the PX sherry. This kind of compounded the natural sweetness of the rum although it was not cloying and would make a very pleasant after dinner dessert drink if you want a bit more proof than a typical PX sherry. Also brings to ming the notion of blending a bit of rum and sherry on my own to see what might happen!

And finally shared a bit of the Fuenteseca tequila with the group. Made a few comments about it here already. Every one liked it, probably especially because they didn't have to pay for it!

Off ot a great start for 2014!

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tanstaafl2

January 15 led us across the pond for a bit of whisky. I say a bit but this afternoon featured ten different bottles!

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Usually I bring most of the bottles to try but today included a couple of lovely contributions from the owner. First up was a 31 and a half year old Balvenie single cask! I would say that was quite the contribution!

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Distilled and barreled in April 1966, this was one of 240 bottles that had "limited chill filtering" and was bottled at 45.5% ABV. We decided this needed to go first of course. Not much point in blowing out the palate and then trying it!

Remarkably sweet with nice fruit and vanilla flavors, a deep oily mouthfeel and remarkably very little wood influence. As far as I know this was all done in a single refill bourbon barrel. A delightful experience to start the afternoon.

A second contribution from the owner was an original Compass Box Spice Tree to be compared to the current bottling. While consensus was split I found the original to be spicier and more in your face, which I liked, while the newer version was more rounded and had a bit less spice. Not to say both weren't excellent. But if you like it a bit on the wild side the original was the way to go.

We followed that with the Caol Ila Stitchell Reserve which I got thanks to a heads up from a fellow SBer and the kind delivery to me by another (Isn't this group a thing of beauty??? :cool:). This was a NAS vatting of unpeated Caol Ila single malt at cask strength from refill American Oak, rejuvenated American Oak and ex-bodega European Oak casks intended to honor the retiring Master Distiller. A beautiful whisky with a hint of apples and citrus and that lovely hint of smoke in the background that must permeate the water and everything else in Islay. This was compared to the standard 12yo which as always has lots of peaty smoke and a hint of iodine that makes it one of my favorite readily available Islay malts. While I love the 12 it is a drink for when I am in a smokey frame of mind. The Stichell Reserve is just way to easy to drink. A bit spendy but a nice splurge to try the rare unpeated version of Caol Ila.

Next it was on to the Talisker 10, Storm and Dark Storm. I must confess here I liked the 10 best of all. All the typical pepper, brine and wisps of smoke that make it so enjoyable. The Storm, while inoffensive, didn't really add anything noteworthy and wasn't that much smokier while the Dark Storm was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the afternoon. It seemed almost astringent. All were newly opened so perhaps time will help it. It is currently a travel retail only bottle and not one I will need to look for again.

Last but by no means least were a NAS Longrow and a recently acquired CS Springbank 12. The Longrow was good although not all that peaty/smokey. But the Sprinbank may well have been the find of the day. A beautiful honeyed dram with rich fruit that really came to life with a splash of water. This one was enjoyed by all and goes to the top of my buy again list!

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Max Power

The Balvenie 30+ year looks like it would be amazing. I tend to love teh Balvenie.

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tanstaafl2

Back at it this week and using it as an opportunity to spend a bit more time with the Jeff Ryes.

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Brought a Canadian marked Jeff 10 along as well as the Top Pig amd the Dutch Millstone Rye for comparison. Also threw a recently acquired Flying Dutchman rum from Zuidam in the Netherlands, the same distillery that makes the Millstone rye.

The Jeff 10 was its usual pleasant easy drinking self with plenty of spice that makes it a great bargain option. Having tried to get an idea of the general profile we moved on to the Jeff 21 and 25 rye. By themselves it did appear that there was a bit more wood than originally noted but still not much for the age. More importantly there was no sense at all that they shared a common heritage with the 10yo. But they do appear to be related to one another. There is something about the 21 that jsut doesn't quite measure up to the 25 with is rounder with more body for lack of a better word. Neither has just a ton of "slap you in the face" rye spice either but the 25 seems to be a little better integrated than the 21. the 21 seems to have a bit of a void in the midpalate and doesn't finish as strong as the 25. Everything being equal I prefer the 25 to the other two but it is not enough of a difference to make it worth the painful upcharge over this older Jeff 10. Not sure if the newer Jeff 10 on the shelf is still as good as the older bottles though.

Of note the 25 is a slightly lower proof than the already lowish proof 21. I had not noticed that before. Gotta stretch it as far as you can I suppose.

Next up we threw the Top Pig into the race and it basically beats the pants off any one of the Jeffersons if you disregard price. It runs roughly between the 21 and 25 but carries alot more flavor and spice and really blossoms with a bit of water with a nice touch of sweetness that thens gets buried in the long spicy finish. Not sure it is 5 times the Jeff rye though as a regular pour. It will remain on the occasional special pour shelf.

The Millstone rye is simply a different profile altogether and somewhere between the Jeff 10 and AE Rum cask rye with a really pleasant sweet note that stays in harmony with the rye spice throughout. A really nice liitle oddity!

Then for the complete change of pace we moved onto the Flying Dutchman 3yo dark rum. pleasant enough with a nice sweet molasses flavor without being overwhelming but not a regular sipper for me. This will likely spend most of its life in search of a nice tiki drink!

Edited by tanstaafl2

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tigerlam92

Very nice notes.

Thank you!

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tanstaafl2

Thanks to Blizzard Mania 2014 the usual Wednesday tasting was a snow out. Unfortunately out of town next week so it will be two weeks before we can resume. On the plus side I am out of town to attend an Angels Envy tasting which was certainly fun last year.

I did venture out on Thursday just in time for a taste of Bummer & Lazarus gin as well as to try samples from barrels of Dobel Tequila, an aged and filtered "premium joven" no doubt intended to try to capture the vodka drinker market.

Five samples reportedly a blend of aged (reposado, anejo and extra anejo) tequila that is blended and then filtered to make it clear in appearance. The website describes use of Hungarian white oak for aging. But the samples supposedly were aged in American toasted oak (don't know if it was new or previously used barrels which seems more likely), french oak in 3 levels of toasting and a combination of toasted French and American oak. Not sure if this was a finish after the three aged tequilas were married together or if they all spent time in these barrels their entire life. Seems like a lot of barrels to keep track of.

Anywho all were relatively light, a characterisitc I find of the filtering process, but one did manage to have some retained spice and liveliness and did a good job of bringing a bit of agave and maintaining flavor across the palate. It was the French Oak with the heaviest toasting. But overall I think I prefer my tequila, like my whiskey, unfiltered!

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tanstaafl2

After having Blizzard Mania wipe out two Wednesday tastings and a third postponed due to a trip it was finally time to get back to Wednesday Tastings!

This week had the added benefit of being put on by the new distributor for Corsair in Atlanta. He had 10 different bottles to try which was supplemented by two more that I brought along.

But before that started there was time to sample a couple of whisky options. First was another taste of the Rosebank 1991 13yo CS. Once again a crowd-pleaser with its easy drinkability even at 118.6 pf although a drop or two water only served to open it even further. Confirmed that others noted the tasty hint of peat in the background and it wasn't just me!

Then it was on to the new Companta. Apparently a NAS whisky but this one was very different from the Rosebank with nice plummy fruit tones, great mouthfeel and a long satisfying finish. One of those came home with me as a result.

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Then it was on to the Corsair collection. Not all of it was whiskey of course. It included Wry Moon, Ryemaggedon (lightly aged Wry Moon), Spiced Rum, Vanilla Bean vodka, Pumpkin Spice "Moonshine", Old Punk (aged pumpkin moonshine), Triple Smoke, Quinoa whiskey, Centennial hopped whiskey, Barrel Aged Gin, regular gin and the Red Absinthe.

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It was tough duty but we managed to slog our way through all of the options! Favorites included the Ryemageddon, Triple Smoke, Quinoa, Centennial and a bit surprisingly the Old Punk.

Next order of business was a nap...

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smokinjoe
After having Blizzard Mania wipe out two Wednesday tastings and a third postponed due to a trip it was finally time to get back to Wednesday Tastings!

This week had the added benefit of being put on by the new distributor for Corsair in Atlanta. He had 10 different bottles to try which was supplemented by two more that I brought along.

But before that started there was time to sample a couple of whisky options. First was another taste of the Rosebank 1991 13yo CS. Once again a crowd-pleaser with its easy drinkability even at 118.6 pf although a drop or two water only served to open it even further. Confirmed that others noted the tasty hint of peat in the background and it wasn't just me!

Then it was on to the new Companta. Apparently a NAS whisky but this one was very different from the Rosebank with nice plummy fruit tones, great mouthfeel and a long satisfying finish. One of those came home with me as a result.

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Then it was on to the Corsair collection. Not all of it was whiskey of course. It included Wry Moon, Ryemaggedon (lightly aged Wry Moon), Spiced Rum, Vanilla Bean vodka, Pumpkin Spice "Moonshine", Old Punk (aged pumpkin moonshine), Triple Smoke, Quinoa whiskey, Centennial hopped whiskey, Barrel Aged Gin, regular gin and the Red Absinthe.

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It was tough duty but we managed to slog our way through all of the options! Favorites included the Ryemageddon, Triple Smoke, Quinoa, Centennial and a bit surprisingly the Old Punk.

Next order of business was a nap...

More than a nap needed after that, Bruce! :lol:

As a true rum aficionado, what were your impression of those?

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GaryT
After having Blizzard Mania wipe out two Wednesday tastings and a third postponed due to a trip it was finally time to get back to Wednesday Tastings!

This week had the added benefit of being put on by the new distributor for Corsair in Atlanta. He had 10 different bottles to try which was supplemented by two more that I brought along.

But before that started there was time to sample a couple of whisky options. First was another taste of the Rosebank 1991 13yo CS. Once again a crowd-pleaser with its easy drinkability even at 118.6 pf although a drop or two water only served to open it even further. Confirmed that others noted the tasty hint of peat in the background and it wasn't just me!

Then it was on to the new Companta. Apparently a NAS whisky but this one was very different from the Rosebank with nice plummy fruit tones, great mouthfeel and a long satisfying finish. One of those came home with me as a result.

[ATTACH=CONFIG]17830[/ATTACH]

Then it was on to the Corsair collection. Not all of it was whiskey of course. It included Wry Moon, Ryemaggedon (lightly aged Wry Moon), Spiced Rum, Vanilla Bean vodka, Pumpkin Spice "Moonshine", Old Punk (aged pumpkin moonshine), Triple Smoke, Quinoa whiskey, Centennial hopped whiskey, Barrel Aged Gin, regular gin and the Red Absinthe.

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It was tough duty but we managed to slog our way through all of the options! Favorites included the Ryemageddon, Triple Smoke, Quinoa, Centennial and a bit surprisingly the Old Punk.

Next order of business was a nap...

I absolutely LOVE the Old Punk (and not a fan of flavored whiskey as a rule)! They said it was purely experimental with no plans to distribute, so I hope this is a sign they are reconsidering!!

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tanstaafl2
More than a nap needed after that, Bruce! :lol:

As a true rum aficionado, what were your impression of those?

The only rum in the group was the spiced rum. It was much drier than most spiced rums which I think is a good thing and the spice was a bit more muted. Focus was on citrus and vanilla bean as is used in their vanilla vodka with less nutmag/cinnamon/allspice type flavors present and that was readily evident. Not really one to be drunk by itself but I felt it had potential as a cocktail mixer. I almost never drink rum and coke but I expect it could work there as well.

The Vanilla Bean vodka was similar in that it was drier than a typical crappy bubblegum style flavored vodka and I thought it could work in a cocktail with the right combination of ingredients. But it would take someone more skilled at combining the right ingredients to make it work than I. I am better at drinking them than creating them!

Like many craft distilleries this is all very young stuff, especially the whiskey, and it shows with everything. The Triple Smoke probably did the best to cover that up. And of course it tends to be at the typical "craft" price point with the gin/vodka/rum around $30 and the whiskey between $40 and $50. Definitely not high value QPR here! But definitely an interesting take on various things. Downside is I have visited twice, once last spring and then again a couple of weeks ago. No evidence of any plan to put anything aside in full sized casks for more extended aging. It looked much the same from one visit to the next. Almost all of it is in about 25-30 gallon barrels and aged typically for a period of months rather than years.

I absolutely LOVE the Old Punk (and not a fan of flavored whiskey as a rule)! They said it was purely experimental with no plans to distribute, so I hope this is a sign they are reconsidering!!

The Old Punk was kind of the surprise of the day. I had it at the Whisky tasting held in Atlanta back in November but had A LOT of different things that night and it didn't really register. But having a bit more time to sit with it (and the Pumpkin moonshine which was also good but not quite as good as the Old Punk) I found it much more enjoyable. I think it will be available in a limited amount for at least the near future.

Did you want one Gary? Not sure if it will be available before Saturday but if so I am happy to bring one! No idea on cost yet but I would guess it could easily be mid 40's or more.

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tanstaafl2

Another round of whisk(e)y tastings and today it was international week with whisky from Japan, Australia, Wales and a bit unexpectedly from India. It's a tough job but somebody's got to do it...

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We began with a Nikka 21 Taketsuru. Very tasty yet delicate whisky with maybe a wisp of smoke and fruit but a nice long pleasant finish. That was followed by Yanazaki 18 and 12. The 18 was definitely the winner among the Japanese whisky with a bit more complexity and another long finish with more spice at the end. All were well balanced easy drinking whisky but only the 18 provided a wow moment in the group.

We then moved on to Wales for a couple of Penderyn whisky tastings. The standard Madiera finished whiskey was good but finished with a little bit of bitterness that was off putting to some. The Sherrywood finish was far more complex with delightful fruit notes and a long pleasant finish that everyone preferred.

Then was down under for several Australian whiskies. I was concerned about whether these would hold their own against the Japanese whiskey but they proved up the the task. The Smaith Angaston 12yo 2000 vintage was quite unique but well regarded by all. Plenty of fruit notes presumed to be from sherry hogsheads and full bodied with solid mouthfeel and finish. The Lark Port cask was more mixed but several, including myself liked the port finish and the nce finish it provided. The Sullivans Cove Double Cask had potential but seemed a bitthin at 80 proof (although all others were between about 86 and 92 proof, no high proof whisky here!). Finished with a gift pack of Hellyers Road unpeated, slightly peated and peated. The later two seemed very Islay like and most enjoyable.

As we were tasting two new Amrut Indian whiskies arrived and we got to try Portnova port finished cask strength (120+ and very good! Needed a bit of water though) and Amrut 100, a peated whiskey and a bit of a gimmick aged 100 months and bottled at 100 British proof (114.2 proof to us. But still hot even with water). This seemed a bit hard to tame and a little unbalanced.

And now it is time for a nap...

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tanstaafl2

Its Wednesday and that means it is time for another nap! But to help me get there it is time for another Wednesday tasting first.

This week the distributor rep was bringing the Smooth Ambler line. They just recently changed distributors and so they would be providing the bulk of the whiskey. No complaints from me!

I did contribute the K&L Faultline first batch to the fun as well as a few scotches to close out the afternoon.

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The Smooth Ambler line consisted of the Vodka, the Yearling (aged 1yr, 7 m), 7yo Bourbon and Rye,10yo Old Scout and of course the Faultline. Then we finished with the gin and barrel aged gin. We also had a bottle of Cappalletti (kind of a sweet Campari) and Cardamaro which was a moderately herbal, minty amaro but we saved those for the last.

The vodka was a touch sweet and inoffensive but it was after all vodka. The Yearling was a bit grainy on the nose which was to be expected but we all thought it quite pleasant to drink and see real potential down the road. Not sure which mashbill of wheat this was and whether it was from the small barrels or the larger barrels. My guess was the smaller barrels. It was batch 7 I believe.

The 7yo MGPI bourbon and rye we had all had before and found to be perfectly pleasant to drink. But the 10yo was a real standout and definitely a buy for me. Very easy to dring at 99 proof as I recall with a very pleasant honeyed edges and great mouthfeel as well as a nice but not overly long finish.

The Faultline proved to be the real surprise though. It seemed to take the best of both the reported 7 and 10 you bourbon and bring them out in great harmony. Not quite as honey sweet as the 10 with a nice spicey backbone but still very drinkable. In fairness the Old Scouts were all newly opened while the Faultline had been open for a week or so.

On to the gin! Good juniper notes but not overbearing while mixing in some nice herbal flavors that were almost savory in nature. A couple felt it was good all by itself. I thought the barrel aged version brought it all together very nicely and preferred that one.

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After a bit of a break for some lovely prosciutto, salami, bread and crackers we moved on to a few scotches. First up was the 18 yo Mortlach CS from the Exclusive Malts series. This did not seem to have much of the traditional Mortlach sherry component which allowed the base distillate to realy shine. It was perhaps a touch hot but seemed to open up nicely with a touch of water. But most seemed to prefer the 22yo sherried Morlach it was compared to. No surprise there!

Next were two Arran 16yo Single casks, one in Bourbon and one in Sherry. Here it was the bourbon cask that shined. The sherry cask seemed a bit closed and didn't open up with water much. It will need a revisit after awhile. But the Bourbon cask was lively on the nose with a nice bourbon-y aroma that carried through to the palate with a great mouthfeel, nice caramel and toffee notes and a long pleasant finish. A real delight!

We finished with the Cappalletti, a Campari like liqueur, which was a bit sweeter, almost bubble gum-ish, but still had a decent bitter finish. For those who find Campari to be a little too aggressive it might be just right in an Americano.

The Cardamaro was more herbal and a touch minty but quite pleasant on its own. In a moment of inspiration a splash of the OS 7yo rye at roughly 2:1 rye made a lovely cocktail. A little orange bitters might have been a nice addition but it was pretty good as is.

And now it is time for that nap...

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GaryT

I need to get a job with Wednesday off - y'all are having just too much fun!

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tanstaafl2

This week the Wenesday tasting was greatly influenced by the upcoming World Wide International St Patty's holiday, not to mention the upcoming GBS celebration of said holiday and the arrival of a new addition to the illustrious Redbreast line of whiskies.

Sadly the Tullamore D.E.W. got inadvertently left behind by my whiskey mule and will have to wait for another time but the Redbreast 21 made it debut at this weeks tasting.

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While the star of the show was the Redbreast 21, weighing in at 92 proof, it was compared to some pretty strong competition this week. And in addition to the ones pictured above the RB 12CS and RB 15 also made an appearance.

After getting a baseline from the RB12 we moved straight to the newcomer, Redbreast 21. This bottle was of course newly opened but immediately demonstrated a significantly different nose compared to the 12. An interesting almost tropical fruit nose was apparent from the beginning as well as a nice faintly musty wood smell (in a good way). The whiskey was light on the tip of the tongue but as it rolled across the tongue the fruit note built quickly (we finally decided it was mango!) along with a rich but not super heavy mouthfeel. The finish was long and pleasant with the mango flavor resting atop the rest of the flavors for quite a long time. Veery good and fairly different from the RB 12 (as well as the RB12CS and RB15, none of which had quite the same fruit flavor).

Next up was the always superb Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy blend of single pot still whiskies. It is also at 92 proof and is a NAS but is reported to have whiskey up to as much as 25yo and may have some whiskey that spent time in new seasoned but apparently uncharred American oak (not entirely confirmed) as well as refill bourbon casks. A truly refined and elegant whiskey this shows none of the fruit notes that the RB21 has but certainly is an elegant whiskey with a heavier mouthfeel and a pleasant but not dominating presence of bourbon-y vanilla and oak. Some reviews describe fruit notes but I don't get them myself and certainly not to the degree we found in the RB21.

We then moved to the Cooley distillery where the new Teeling Whiskey Company has sourced some 21 yo single malt that has been finished in Sauternes (John Teeling owned Cooley until Beam bought it and is now using barrels he kept control of for his newest whiskies until they can presumably make their own). This one, also at 92 proof (the new proof for "high end" Irish whisley?) was by far the most scotch like of the whiskey tried and distinctively different from the Redbreast/Midleton line. That said it was also excellent. There was also a very tasty almost port like rancio note and maybe even the barest hint of peat present. Most interesting.

Next was the Bushmills 21 which is another single malt, again from a different distillery, which is described as a "triple wood" finish to include maturation in a combination of refill bourbon and sherry barrels that is then married for 2 years in Madiera casks. When first opened it seemed a little closed. Now unfortunately it remains much the same. Even resting in the glass for 5-10 minutes doesn't seem to help. At 80 proof it is already a bit thin and a touch of water diodn't really seem to help. Maybe it is a bad bottle or maybe it has just gotten a little too much time in the barrel. Not sure but it was again a bit of a disappointment. May have to try the 16yo triple wood (with port pipes instead of Madiera in the finish) to see if that fares better although it too is a bit of a lightweight at 80 proof.

For a bit of a change of pace we also tried the Greenore 18yo, a 90+ percent grain (corn) whiskey. Not as complex as the others, as has been the case with all the Greenore's (In fact I may have to try the 15 and 18 SBS as I seem to recall that I liked it better) but a moderately sweet and very easy to drink whiskey with a bit of a bourbon overtone given the refill bourbon cask aging.

We did not include the Powers John's Lane or Yellow Spot here but I believe they would have been able to hold their own with any of these and of course the PJL is readily available and much more friendly on the poor old wallet!

It would have now been nap time of course but last evening included dinner out to a local establishment where several cocktails were in order.

Rather a long day!

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tanstaafl2

Another Wednesday, another selection of spirits. This week it featured Booker's with the 2013-6 (thanks to the kind assistance of a fellow SBer), 2013-7 and the 25th Anniversary bottles.

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But before we got to those we started with a couple of Armagnac's and a very old bottle of Cognac (not from age but rather originally purchased probably more than 20 years ago).

The Armagnacs were the Chateau de Pellehaut 1996 Tenareze from K&L. This spirit was made from Folle Blanche grapes and bottled at 100.8 pf after aging for 17 years. This was a very nice brandy with a fair amount of spicey notes and a lot of whiskey character and barrel maturity that led to a fairly dry finish. A touch of water helped to further highlight the spicey notes and bring a touchy of fruit reminiscent of figs to the finish. It was paired against the Darroze 20yo Armagnac. Much more wood influence here despite only three additional years and less proof at 83pf. Some vanilla but a fair amount of oak that wanted to dominate a bit. Very much like an older bourbon but I didn't get as much fruit, spice or vanilla from this as the Pellehaut. Water just thinned it out without really improving it. The Pellehaut was the favorite here of all involved.

We finished with a taste of Camus XO Cognac that was likely purchased in Hong Kong duty free in the late 80's or early 90's. It had been opened at some point, perhaps as far back as the purchase date and was only about half full. Looked to be a liter bottle that had no indication of original proof but was probably at or close to 80pf. Although the stopper seemed tight on tasting it seemed apparent that some of the alcohol had evaporated over time. Either that or it was remarkably "smooth" and honey sweet to the point of being almost too much. Don't know what it was supposed to taste like but I am guessing this is not it. A bit sad.

But then we moved onto some bourbon to get things back on track!

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First up was a comparison of Jeff Ocean I & II. They were also compared to a newly purchased bottle of Michter's 10yo Bourbon. First thing of note was that the Ocean II had dropped the word "Kentucky" from the label leading to immediate speculation that this was MGPI bourbon. Reportedly it was 7-8yo bourbon that then spent time on board a ship traveling the seven seas for an unknown number of months. This freshly opened bottle, while not bad, seemed singularly unremarkable. The Michter's 10 was a better bourbon that had a particular interesting herbal note and a good bit more depth and complexity than Ocean II. The Ocean I on the other hand was excellent and perhaps even better than I remember it, especially given it is low proof and presumably only four years of age. None of these bottles likely warranted their high prices but the Ocean I was the best of the three (and to me competed favorably with the Bookers as well). If the Ocean I were available with a bit more proof at $50 or so I would definitely consider buying it on a regular basis. The Ocean II would likely not be one I would buy again even at less than $50. And while the Michter's, whatever the heck the source is for this particular bottle, was very good it would not be something I would seek out again at $90+.

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With the preliminary rounds out of the way it was time for the main event! First up was a Booker's Roundtable 2013-6. Weighing in at 7y6m and 125.9 proof this one was surprisingly drinkable at proof and had tons of caramel on the nose and palate. Finish was long and satisfying. The presumed Roundtable II batch 2013-7 was an even 7yo with a proof of 128. It was actually tasted first and again had lots of nice caramel but had a bit more oak. A bit of water seemed to help this bottle where the 2013-6 didn't really need it as much. Everyone enjoyed it until they tried the 2013-6 which was felt by all to be the better of the two. We then capped off the evening with the 25th Anniversary bottling. At 10y3m and 130.8 pf it was everything that the 2013-6 was and more. Tons of caramel and vanilla, nicely integrated oaky characteristics and a pleasant touch of honey on top. Finish was again long with some nice red fruit influence. Very nice indeed. Is it worth the premium over the standard Booker's? Well I suppose it would depend on the particular bottle of Booker's you had. But I am happy I picked one up. Don't know if I will become a Booker's drinker in the future but the 25th Anniversary bottle was certainly an unexpected pleasant surprise! And the 2013-6 Roundtable batch was not too shabby either.

And I didn't even need a nap! Well, not a long one...

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Paddy

Fantastic summarization (as I'm living vicariously through you guys)! Keep 'em coming!!

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tanstaafl2

Looks like the Wednesday tasting this week is going to have to be postponed due to some rather annoying work obligations. The current plan is to have a Friday tasting instead!

May also have a brief report from the upcoming whiskey tasting sponsored by the Dekalb Bottle House on Thursday evening this week!

If I remember to take some pictures.

Or just remember anything at all...

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tigerlam92

Thanks. Quite enjoying your tasting notes.

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tanstaafl2
Thanks. Quite enjoying your tasting notes.

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tanstaafl2
Thanks! Still hopeful we can do something this Friday but that is not yet confirmed.

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tanstaafl2

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.

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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!

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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...

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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.

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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.

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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...

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tanstaafl2

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.

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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!

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

Ok, maybe more than moderately.

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tanstaafl2

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.

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Edited by tanstaafl2

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AaronWF
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!

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tanstaafl2

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!

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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!

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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!

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