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tanstaafl2

Wednesday Tastings!

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tanstaafl2
23 minutes ago, maybeling said:

 

Springbank 19 Rum? Just a guess... Regardless, seems like a pretty f'in epic Wednesday!

19yo recharred sherry I believe. Didn't you already have that one? I think you gave me a sample of it at the "elephant"! Might be a different barrel number. It also might show up again this week on Wednesday...

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tanstaafl2

Our first back to back Wednesday tasting in quite a while!

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Well, this week it was time for a little light reading...

 

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The packaging was nice enough but this was a heavy weight, coming in at 128.2 proof! And it was apparent that it was high proof from the moment you opened the bottle. It was hard to get past the alcohol in the glass as well and the first sip met our expectations. This one was carrying some serious heat! There were some hints of herbal notes in their but it was hard to get past the heat. Several initial attempts to add water were not successful but we finally got it down to something we could taste a little better. And finally we could taste that I was, well, a hot mess is what it was. One of three tasters liked it "OK" after sufficient water but two of us found it dry and oaky and not in a pleasant way. Sometimes oak is nicely balanced but that wasn't the case here. I have seen reviews describing sweetness, fruity notes and lots of vanilla. I got none of that. One review found it hot like I did but felt it improved with (a lot of) water Maybe we just needed more water but there was little that I could find that was tolerable, much less good. I think the title of this book is Fahrenheit 451. Maybe it will improve with time. I won't hold my breath.

 

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In addition to the new Beam "Little Book" we decided to take on the 3 most recent ECBP's in a SBSBS. I was not a fan of the first release A117. I thought B517 was a bit better. A couple of tastes of C917 seemed better still so we set out to see if that was the case. Batch A remained easy to identify as it was still fairly unpleasant to me, with and without a little water. B and C were better and a little closer to each other but oddly B seemed better without water while C was improved and became my favorite with a few drops of water. So if you get a choice I suggest B or C over A! Alas none of them was close to the early days of the ECBP releases.

 

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We then took a moment to resample the Springbank single barrel re-charred Sherry before plunging into tequila, mescal and the Ardbeg 2017 Kelpie committee release. Delightful whiskey that is definitely not a sherry bomb but rather a delightful balance between sherry, mild peat and oaky goodness. Essentially the direct opposite of the unpleasant oak influence in Little Book.

 

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Next up was a newish 5yo extra anejo from Dulce Vida aged entirely in Napa Valley Rombauer Merlot and Cabernet barrels. The only thing missing from this one in the taste was an impact from the Rombauer Merlot and Cabernet barrels... They must have been some seriously neutral barrels! A little disappointing to be honest but I like to support this brand because you see so few tequila brands bottled at more than 80 proof.

 

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Then to "prep" our palate a bit we went to this lovely blend of agaves from Mezcal Vago. Lots of agave with peppery character and just enough smoke to balance some light sweetness without being overbearing.

 

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Ok, I admit I had no clue where or what the "Adyghe Republic" was (Part of Russia near the eastern edge of the Black Sea. Who knew?) nor did I know that they made barrels from the oaks growing there. But virgin casks (that presumably were toasted, not charred) always sound like something with interesting potential and who wouldn't want smoked fish in their whisky???

 

This was a fairly different Ardbeg that really deserves some time of its own rather than after having followed a potpourri of spirits. But it was good, nice mouth feel with smoky cooked fruit with a bit of mossy seaweed character as described. Maybe a touch of nice cocoa nib/bitter chocolate going into the finish. Although sadly not so much smoked fish...

 

Will be interesting to try the lower proof Kelpie against this one. I suspect it would stand up to the rich flavors of this one and a finish that lingers on and on. Is this a memorable whisky? Not sure yet but it seems to be an improvement to me over other recent Ardbeg releases.

 

But I can't linger on and on so it was time to stop!

 

 

 

 

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tanstaafl2

Keeping it light this week!

 

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Only 12 bottles! But one is a vermouth and 4 of them are ports so they don't really even count! However to keep it nicely balanced the first four bottles after the vermouth were at cask strength. :D

 

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First up was the aforementioned vermouth. In this case Silvio Carta vermouth from the island of Sardinia. Had this at a local bar a few weeks back and finally managed to track some down. I must say this is delicious on its own. My first couple of efforts have been in the Martinez vein where so far it has worked extremely well! Then we left Italy and the azure Mediterranean to visit Gascony and try a bit of the native spirit. These three are linked by virtue of all of them seeing new oak aging and not being colored or cut (and most likely not chill filtered). Some describe it as "bourbon-y" to me but I think that does a bit of a disservice to the powerful flavor of a well made Armagnac. The L'Encantada is a 1996 Lous Pibous similar to the barrels Kyle just mentioned in the French spirits thread and is a superb spirit at 107.2 proof with a lot of rich chewy savory notes balanced by a pleasantly dark oaky character. You don't really get much sense of grape character in the spirit until the back of the palate and the warm finish stays with for a pleasantly long time. The Charron's are a different house that also uses new oak aging and although not cut to my knowledge they tend to have slightly lower proofs. the younger 2004 is at 102 while the older 1995 was below 100. Surprisingly it was the younger Armagnac that seemed to have a bit more herbal character and distinctive oak notes. The 1995 seemed a bit more one dimensional. While the L'Encantada was the best of the bunch the 2004 Charron holds it own still.

 

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Next up were a couple of one offs to include the new Macallan "Classic Cut" and the latest Woodford LE. Did I mention that someone always buys it? Well, not surprisingly It was me. First up was the Macallan. While I was prepared to be underwhelmed I wanted to give it a fair trial. And surprisingly it was quite pleasant. The Sherry is not overbearing despite the full maturation in "sherry seasoned" oak. Maybe the fact that they were "seasoned" and not long used casks had something to do with that. In addition there was no noticeable suggestion of youth despite the lack of an age statement. All in all a pretty pleasant $60-ish bottle of whiskey. Unfortunately it seems to run more like $80 and up.

 

Then, with some trepidation, we moved on to the Woodford MC. This year it is a bourbon but with a 30% barley content of which some or all has been smoked with cherry wood. I want to like these, I really do. But they are low proof and high cost which is never a great start. Every now and again one of them is pretty good but it hasn't been enough to gamble on and I should know better (yeah, right). Unfortunately for me this is not one of the good ones. Maybe it will liven up with some magical "air time" but for me this was pretty boring. Not bad, just not particularly interesting. The smoked barley reminded me a bit more of a wet dog who had been briefly standing next to a camp fire an hour ago. Not enough smoke to be interesting but enough to taste like a slightly off Woodford bourbon. Live and learn! Unless you are me...

 

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Fortunately we were about to turn the page to something completely different for the rest of the evening. Four Pillars gin is a brand from Australia that has been heavily touted by K&L who for all I know are the only source of it in the US. In addition to a standard gin they had a Navy proof version and these two, Barrel aged and "Bloody Shiraz" (at 75.6 pf I guess it is really more of a liqueur). To explain that one you are probably best served reading what the producer has to say about it if you are interested. The barrel aged gin sees time in French oak previously used for Aussie Chardonnay and had some delightfully spice notes. I get an almost menthol/eucalyptus thing from it but I may be the only one. The Bloody Shiraz is, well bloody delicious! But other than as a sipper in its own right I am not quite sure how to use it in a cocktail just yet.

 

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Finally it was time to wind it down with a few California ports being considered for after dinner on turkey day. The Terra d'Oro and the J Dust were both Zinfandel based while the Bogle was made from Petite Sirah and had the darkest fruit notes of the bunch. The Terra d'Oro was a little more oaky and stood up well on it's own. And the Kopke was there just to remind us of what port was and because I wanted to drink it!

 

Then I was off to a little Tiki pop up from Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh as their staff invaded our local tiki bar with their own creations. So needless to say it turned into a rather long night...

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tanstaafl2

David Driscoll's post about the Macallan Classic Cut seems to answer the question about whether it is in fact cask strength like it 's predecessor, the Macallan Cask Strength. Although I will have to differ with him a bit on whether it is truly "A'bunadh" like. It is not quite the sherry bomb that one is to me. I think it is the result of using newish "seasoned" sherry casks rather than older well used sherry casks. But perhaps in the world of Macallan it is the biggest sherry bomb they have and that is the comparison being made?

 

Interestingly it was an earlier post on Makers Mark PS  that struck me as more peculiar. In his MM cask #1 he has 6 baked American staves along with 4 French cuvee. In cask 2 he notes he uses less French oak than cask #1. But I presume he has to know that the "Maker's 46" staves are all seared French oak as well? Less seared and without the ridged cut of the seared French cuvee but French oak all the same. I think I know what he means in that he uses more of the seared French cuvee but it is not like those Maker's 46 staves are exactly inert!

 

Ok, I will stop nerding out.

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lcpfratn

Bruce, you probably remember that I am a fan of last year's WRMC Brandy Cask Finish, while you weren't that impressed, so I didn't take your comments above about this year's Cherry Wood Smoked Barley that seriously, and I had to get my own bottle. I opened the bottle in the store for the staff to taste and we all thought it was different, but everyone seemed to like it, albeit with a very small sample. I've since had a decent sized pour at home, and I have to confess that you may be correct in your conclusion. I'll need to have a few more pours before I completely agree, because my palate could have just been off that night, but I certainly don't think I'm going to like this as much as the Brandy Cask Finish, and I may end up not liking it much at all. And to add insult to injury, the distributor apparently jacked the wholesale price up in my area, so it's selling for $129 in all stores near me!


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tanstaafl2
24 minutes ago, lcpfratn said:

Bruce, you probably remember that I am a fan of last year's WRMC Brandy Cask Finish, while you weren't that impressed, so I didn't take your comments above about this year's Cherry Wood Smoked Barley that seriously, and I had to get my own bottle. I opened the bottle in the store for the staff to taste and we all thought it was different, but everyone seemed to like it, albeit with a very small sample. I've since had a decent sized pour at home, and I have to confess that you may be correct in your conclusion. I'll need to have a few more pours before I completely agree, because my palate could have just been off that night, but I certainly don't think I'm going to like this as much as the Brandy Cask Finish, and I may end up not liking it much at all. And to add insult to injury, the distributor apparently jacked the wholesale price up in my area, so it's selling for $129 in all stores near me!


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Yikes! Might have been worth a try if they jacked the price DOWN by $29. Like that will ever happen.

 

On second though even that might not have made it worth it...

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lcpfratn
Yikes! Might have been worth a try if they jacked the price DOWN by $29. Like that will ever happen.
 
On second though even that might not have made it worth it...

I'm giving the WRMC Cherry Wood another go this evening. It's definitely different. I still don't love it, but it is sort of growing on me. At this point, I likely won't be buying another bottle (certainly not at $129 anyway), but I can see myself having an occasional pour for something different.


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tanstaafl2

This is a couple of days late but since it is currently Snowmaggedon 2017 in Atlanta at the moment there is little point in me trying to get on the road until the panic dies down and people stop crashing into one another as usually happens at the first sign of a snowflake.

 

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The selections this week were a bit of a hodgepodge with some bourbon, Indian malt, Scotch and gin. Calvados and port were planned but we never quite got there.

 

After tasting our most recent Barton 1792 Full Proof (excellent but welcomes a bit of water to reach full potential) that just arrived at the store (with MM46, BT and ER expected any day now) I then moved on to our first special guest star, the Amrut "Spectrum". Indian Malt, bottled at 100 proof, was reportedly finished in bourbon casks for 3 years and then finished in a unique cask that was made of staves cut from new American oak, new French oak (I am guessing toasted for both) as well as Oloroso and PX sherry for an additional 3 1/2 years. This was very interesting indeed. Rich and a bit sweet up front with a rum and red fruit character that grew into solid sherry character with heavy raisin-y taste and a lovely hint of rancio on the palate. The finish was reasonably long and went from sherry to a bit of rich nutmeg-ish herbal flavor tones as it drifted across the back of your throat. Quite complex and interesting to me. Also quite easy to drink at proof and I never even tried any water. I was so taken with it I forgot to get a close up picture.

 

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Next up was a comparison of the Aster from several years ago versus the new 2017 release. Both of these were freshly opened for this testing with the older bottle weighing in at 114.2 compared to the 2017 bottle at a mere 103 proof. The expectation was that these might be very similar in profile but that was not the case. The older bottle seemed a bit muted while the newer but lower proof bottle was a bit drier overall and more complex palate of some rich nuttiness and maybe a hint of tropical fruit. At least I think so. I gotta start taking notes again... :huh:

 

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As we were about to start on some Calvados another friend showed up with a trio of OS barrel picks to share, all at 8 years of age and between 110 and 123 proof. All were very good but he T5C "Bandito" was the winner for me. The middle bottle from "The Wood Guy" was indeed a good bit more woody and dry (apparently the name has nothing to do with an interest in woody whiskey) whilst the third bottle returned to lovely bourbon sweetness and caramel. All drank well without water despite the higher proofs but the third bottle seemed to benefit the most.

 

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At this point I was determined to try the gins so the Calvados and port will be saved for another day. First up was a new gin from the UK that is not currently available in the US. As the tag indicates while it has plenty of juniper it is definitely balanced with citrus flavors and especially the lavender. That took a bit of getting used to but once I did it was a quite pleasant gin that could work in a basic gin & tonic or a more complex cocktail equally well. But for now this bottle will have to do us.

 

Finally we moved on to a bottle of "Gin-cal" that I tasted for the first time last week while in El Paso. Turns out the brand, which also makes more typical mezcals, is in Atlanta. But I am not quite sure if the gin is. Agave based gin from Oaxaca, this was rather unique, with a pretty solid roasted agave based on which a number of botanicals are added by steeping in the agave based spirit. This is one that kind of needs to be tried to appreciate!

 

And that seemed like about the right time to stop. After that the palate was pretty well shot anyway.

 

And now that I am done it is time to go brave Snowmagedon 2017. The roads don't seem much improved so if you don't hear from me for a while...

 

 

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