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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

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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

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  • 3 weeks later...
tanstaafl2

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…

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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.

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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!

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tanstaafl2

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.

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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.

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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…

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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 Meâ€! 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 “funkâ€.

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!

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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…

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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!

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Dolph Lundgren

I've always been a Springbank fan but recently I've been smitten by Longrow. I really enjoyed the 11yr CS and a few weeks back I got to try the cab finished 11yr CS. I'm not a huge fan of wine finished whisky, but it was a great pour. The smoke and fruit from the cab barrel were in great balance (sweet and smokey, with a light dry finish). I'm glad you enjoyed the sherry, Bruce.

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tanstaafl2
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!

Always a bit tricky when you have a mix of things. But we have a lot of experience!

Not knowing anymore than what you told me about the Longrows I thought I would try them what seemed lightest to heaviest in flavor rather than proof. Since the Longrow has the peat (which I think is more accurately described as you have, earthy, as compared to other styles of peated whisky). It seemed to work for us!

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tanstaafl2
I've always been a Springbank fan but recently I've been smitten by Longrow. I really enjoyed the 11yr CS and a few weeks back I got to try the cab finished 11yr CS. I'm not a huge fan of wine finished whisky, but it was a great pour. The smoke and fruit from the cab barrel were in great balance (sweet and smokey, with a light dry finish). I'm glad you enjoyed the sherry, Bruce.

I do like the Sprinkbank 12 CS but didn't have a lot of other Springbank/Longrow experience prior to this. only other bottle I have had was a very nice but subtle Longrow CV NAS. I really did enjoy that Longrow 10yo with the wonderful balance of sherry and earthy peatiness.

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  • 1 month later...

Ok, let's see if i can do this while I can still remember most of it and before the nap time bell rings...

Our only June Wednesday tasting so we tried to make it a good one!

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Today it was an attempt to do some comparisons. We started off with the FR 2014 LESB compared to a FR gift shop bottle of OESF that I happened to have. It was also 11 yo and bottled in August 2013. If we are presuming the 2014 was bottled about April 2014 then it appears that these two whiskies that aged most likely very near to one another in the same warehouse Barrel 47-4R versus 47-4Q), possibly came from the same distillation and are perhaps at most a few months apart in age at most.

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These two were tasted blind. Initially they were very similar with the previously reported peppery spicy tones and some very nice fruit in the mid palate with a dry finish. With a touch of water the Limited Edition seemed to blossom with increased fruit flavor while the gift shop bottle did not seem to handle a bit of water as well and seemed to be a bit muted. Everyone correctly identified the LE bottle but no one felt it was worth the extra $40 or so to get it over the gift shop bottle if you could. Hmm...

The first two were the only ones done blind. Next up was the just arrived store pick of SAOS at 8yo and 107.8 proof against a TPS barrel 362 pick at 10yo and and 111.6 pf. The local pick is the high rye mashbill (we think!). Everyone really liked barrel 666 and felt it had a solid nose and a good balance of rye spice and some nice caramel notes that worked well together. The 10yo seemed a bit muted by comparison and perhaps it was because it was the lower rye mashbill.

We then moved on to a bit of an oddity. This was a comparison of a Milroy private label of 14yo Dutch sherried single malt. The color was impressively dark but the bottle was quite familiar. It was a dead ringer for the Zuidam Millstone 100 rye bottle I happened to have suggesting it was sourced from Zuidam. I also happened to have a 12yo bottle of the Zuidam sherried single malt so I brought that along for comparison. Both were at 46 proof. The Milroy bottle had a strong PX sherry nose but the palate seemed a bit one dimensional and much drier than the nose suggested. The 12yo did not have as strong a nose but seemed a bit more balanced with much better weight and mouthfeel. Neither was bad but the 12yo was the better one here.

Then it was on to the Nikka Whisky from the barrel. A delightfully balanced whisky with really just a hint of smoke that seems to show that a blend should not be dismissed out of hand, at least if it is from Japan! The Nikka really reminded me of the Springbank 12 CS so I need to compare that one with it next time. It was compared to the last bit of a G&M Caol Ila finished in Madiera wood. This was much more classically Islay in style and not really a good comparison to the Nikka but an excellent whisky in its own right. The remnants of this bottle were gifted to me following the recent GBS Dark Side event in May and I certainly wouldn't mind getting another bottle or two of this one! The classic Caol Ila smoke was tempered with a delightful fruit rancio note that I happen to really enjoy presumably coming from the Madeira aging.

Finally we finished with the surprising Westland Cask 29 American Single malt. This would have been a good comparison to the Nikka but instead it was compared to another young peated whisky, the Kilchoman 2010 Summer Release. The Westland, while young, did not taste overly young to me but the smoke was really more in the background. Perhaps the Caol Ila had beaten up the palate a bit but this wasn't overly smokey and was instead a quite pleasant whisky in its own right. The Kilchoman on the other hand was an in your face peat bomb like many in that line and while very good it was not a particularly good comparison to the Westland.

And now it is time for my na...

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The 4Roses deal was pretty amazing. How often do you run into bottles that literally aged together? Those 2 had to have touched one another. I checked my 4RSBLE and its 47-1J @ 54.6%, so likely close, but not as close as those 2. Thanks again for the taste of your 4RLE.

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I just recently discovered your thread and thank you for all your wonderful comparisons. I had no idea that Bookers had a roundtable batch released. I typically always have a bottle of Bookers around for making my Old Fashioneds, and the current bottle I have is a 2013-7. I did notice it was better than the last couple of Bookers but just attributed to a lucky batch. Now I'm purposely going to look for another 2013-7 or 2013-6.

I also did a side by side comparison between a store select OESF to this year's LE. Unfortunately my store select is probably not quite as good as yours. Both of my bottle is a lower proof and my LE doesn't take water as well as the store select.

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I just recently discovered your thread and thank you for all your wonderful comparisons. I had no idea that Bookers had a roundtable batch released. I typically always have a bottle of Bookers around for making my Old Fashioneds, and the current bottle I have is a 2013-7. I did notice it was better than the last couple of Bookers but just attributed to a lucky batch. Now I'm purposely going to look for another 2013-7 or 2013-6.

I also did a side by side comparison between a store select OESF to this year's LE. Unfortunately my store select is probably not quite as good as yours. Both of my bottle is a lower proof and my LE doesn't take water as well as the store select.

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tanstaafl2

Nap time got the better of me this week so I will have to post based on my recollections from yesterday!

This week we had hoped to have some rums provided by a local distributors but that fell through at the last minute so I scraped together a few odds and ends for tasting. Unfortunately the picture tools seems to be on the fritz again so as I can't seem to load them directly from my computer today.

We started this time a bit differently with a newly arrived beer, La Socarrada. This was a Spanish beer brewed with rosemary and rosemary honey. Pretty tasty and a nice summer option with clear hints of rosemary and a sweet finish from the honey. Clearly unfiltered as it had bits of lovely flotsam and jetsam throughout. Also picked up the new Love Child #4 from Boulevard which had just arrived.

A recent barrel pick of a Maestro Dobel tequila that I had the opportunity to help pick arrived this week so I brought a couple of tequilas to compare it to. Dobel is aged tequila from a blend of reposado, anejo and extra anejo that is then filtered to remove most of the color. We chose the sample finished in French oak barrels. I must say this turned out quite well. The Centinela simply didn't hold up well and was in fact a bit disappointing in general. The El Mayor is a nice low priced option and I enjoy both the reposado and this anejo that I brought. It was quite good but still came in second behind the Dobel. I presume the color of the Dobel is to reach out to the vodka crowd but this had a lovely balance of agave and wood with a nice spicy undercurrent throughout the palate. A bit of a surprise that it was such a crowd pleaser.

From here we moved on to a Bushmills single malt that may or may not be about 19yo (Bushmills couldn't or wouldn't give me any details on this bottle which seemed odd) "mellowed" in a rum cask. This was not what I expected. It had some pretty significant rancio tropical fruit notes overlying the relatively light whiskey. This might need a little air time to open up so I won't pass judgment yet.

I had recently acquired the Dos Maderas 5+3 sherry finished rum so this was another opportunity to compare it to the Dos Maderas 5+5 and one of my favorites, the Navazos Palazzi rum which is a "5+10" rum that is aged 5 years and then finished for 10 years in Oloroso sherry casks (I like this so much I just splurged on getting another bottle!). The 5+3 is drier as expected than the 5+5 which has 2 years of PX sherry aging. I like them both, the 5+5 maybe a bit more than the 5+3 (but then I have a sweet tooth and love PX sherry) but neither can stand up to the Navazos Palazzi for me.

This was followed by a new bottle of Goslings Old Rum compared to my dark rum standard bearer, the El Dorado 15. The Goslings may have been the biggest disappointment of the day as it was simply unremarkable to me and didn't come close to the classic ED15.

The plan was to finish off the day with several IB whisky options but by then we were beginning to run out of steam so we decided to put those aside for another day. They included a port finished whisky from Imperial from G&M, a 22yo Glencadam from Exclusive Malts and a 13yo Murray McDavid Bunnahabhain finished in Chateau Lafite casks. I confess I could not wait to try the Bunnahabhain so I took a little taste of that to finish the day. It had been on the shelf a while and wine cask finishes can be a bit of a gamble but I got a bit of a discount on it and I think I will be glad I did! It will return with the others for another Wednesday tasting.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Another Wednesday, another tasting! This week we started with bourbon and finished with scotch (and a couple of ryes thrown in for good measure!).

Today featured the "Orphan" barrels. It included a bottle that had been open since it first appeared here in late March/early April and had only a few ounces left in the bottle against a fresh unopened bottle of Barterhouse. That was followed by an unopened bottle of Rhetoric and a bottle of Old Blowhard that had been open for a while but only had a small amount gone.

In the Barthouse v. Barterhouse showdown the open bottle was the preferred bourbon with a nice caramel component and lightly dry finish while the new bottle seemed a bit closed with more alcohol, less caramel and a drier less pleasant finish. Hopefully it too will improve with time.

The Rhetoric was drier and more woody than the Barterhouse but did a have a bit creamier mouth feel (none of them were as dense and oily as I might have liked for bourbon this age. Presumably it is all chill filtered and perhaps that makes a difference? and had a nice fruit note undertone that helped it a bit. Still, I think I liked the long open bottle of Barterhouse better.

The Old Blowhard was the real surprise here though as it had a little fuller mouth feel and more of that fruit flavor the Rhetoric was trying to show. That flavor came through into the finish and while it was dry and moderately woody it was not unpleasantly so. Probably the best of the bourbons.

Next we worked in a couple of SAOS ryes. One was a store pick from a neighboring store that was 8yo and 121.8pf (Barrel #186). This had an explosion of fruit up front that was very nice but not necessarily what we expected from a rye. Little or no spice to speak of and then sadly it finished with a slightly sour bitter note on the finish that really detracted from the overall experience. But easy to drink even at 120 pf. We compared it to a 7yo 99pf off the shelf bottle and this was much more like a rye with a bit of spice that coated the palate nicely. Only shortcoming here was a bit of a bland finish. The off the shelf bottle was definitely the preferred whiskey.

After a bit of a break we moved on to Scotland where we started with a 22yo Glencadam from Exclusive Malts which is a Highland bottling with no particular finish as best we could tell. This was at cask strength of 100.8pf but a bit pricey. A very pleasant pour with a real creamy sweet fruit character but it didn't really grab you attention. Would make a lovely summer pour but not something I would seek out again.

Next up was an Imperial from the G&M "Private Collection" that was finished in Port wood. Imperial is currently closed (since 1998) but not torn down at present. It had been reopened in 1991 which is when this bottle hade been distilled and was 15yo. Not much detail on the port finishing but it must have been a pretty fresh barrel as it has tons of fruit that dominate the whiskey. A bit one dimensional but very pleasant.

Next we checked out the newest Ardbeg, the Auriverdes, and compared it to an Uigeadail from probably last year. There really was no comparison as the oogie was the superior whisky and the newest Ardbeg proves to be another disappointment. Not quite down to Ardbog level but I think you might find the lovely balance of peat, smoke and sherry to be far better in the Uigeadail. I know I did!

Last but by no means least was another taste of the Murray McDavid heavily peated Bunnahabhain that was finished in Chateau Lafite casks. Still the best of the bunch!

Still having trouble with pictures but it seems to be at work so I blame it on that.

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Many thanks for your notes. I also agree that nose for Barterhouse is actually very pleasant, nice sweet long caramel but the taste and finish leaves something to be desired. It lacked complexity and seemed bland. Rhetoric has a similar nose, but a bit more alcohol. I like the mouth feel and the clove spice, with a dry and oaky finish. I haven't tried OB yet, as I just can't bring myself to spend $160 + taxes where I'm located. However I get a feeling that maybe my favorite among the three.

Interesting notes for SAOS 8 year rye. I just posted notes on mine on another thread, but did come away feeling slightly disappointed. It's not a bad rye by any means, but I'm starting to realized there is very few LDI ryes I really like. WFE 4 year is nice, but I primarily enjoy WT101 rye. I hated the Bulliet Rye and the Angels Envy rye has been sitting on my bar for months untouched up until recently when I felt that I needed to start clearing out some bottles.

I think you may have squashed my curiosity for the Auriverdes. It isn't on my short list, but after reading your comparison to Uigeadail, I'll just seek it out in a bar.

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Last but by no means least was another taste of the Murray McDavid heavily peated Bunnahabhain that was finished in Chateau Lafite casks. Still the best of the bunch!

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Thanks. I definitely agree that trying in a bar first, especially if you can do it side by side with some other options like the Uigeadail or another sherry Islay (Max mentioned Lagavulin DE in a recent thread I think). Just not overwhelmed by recent Ardbeg offerings.

Many thanks for your notes. I also agree that nose for Barterhouse is actually very pleasant, nice sweet long caramel but the taste and finish leaves something to be desired. It lacked complexity and seemed bland. Rhetoric has a similar nose, but a bit more alcohol. I like the mouth feel and the clove spice, with a dry and oaky finish. I haven't tried OB yet, as I just can't bring myself to spend $160 + taxes where I'm located. However I get a feeling that maybe my favorite among the three.

Interesting notes for SAOS 8 year rye. I just posted notes on mine on another thread, but did come away feeling slightly disappointed. It's not a bad rye by any means, but I'm starting to realized there is very few LDI ryes I really like. WFE 4 year is nice, but I primarily enjoy WT101 rye. I hated the Bulliet Rye and the Angels Envy rye has been sitting on my bar for months untouched up until recently when I felt that I needed to start clearing out some bottles.

I think you may have squashed my curiosity for the Auriverdes. It isn't on my short list, but after reading your comparison to Uigeadail, I'll just seek it out in a bar.

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Tell me more about this guy. There's one sitting on a shelf around here for <$80 that I was considering.
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I forgot to mention, the AD Rattray Imperial 17 year, distilled in 1995 is a nice summer dram I recently picked up. They came in 375ml bottles at about $60. It really reminded me of apple juice, basically green fruits and a slight malt finish. I could easily drink many pours during a BBQ. Sounds like your bottle maybe similar to mine. Your one dimensional description makes it sound somewhat unappealing although that might be the best description.

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I forgot to mention, the AD Rattray Imperial 17 year, distilled in 1995 is a nice summer dram I recently picked up. They came in 375ml bottles at about $60. It really reminded me of apple juice, basically green fruits and a slight malt finish. I could easily drink many pours during a BBQ. Sounds like your bottle maybe similar to mine. Your one dimensional description makes it sound somewhat unappealing although that might be the best description.

Yes, I don't want to make it sound like the Imperial was too bland. The underlying malt likely made it a good base to lay the port finish over as it didn't really compete with it much. You got tons of red berry/fruit flavors from the finish that were quite nice if a bit in your face.

The 22yo Glencadam sounds a bit more like the one you describe. Light, delicate and easy to drink but not really memorable.

Sometimes you want complex, sometime you don't!

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This week the Wednesday tasting was a Rye-apalooza in recognition of the arrival of the new 2yo Willett distilled rye and the cover story of the Summer edition of Whisky Advocate!

Given the Willett is a 2yo the focus this week was on younger ryes in general with a lineup that included the 2yo JD "rested" rye, basic NAS Bulleit rye, 2 4yo MGPI sourced Willett, Leopold Bros Maryland Style Rye, Old Potrero, Goldrun Rye, McKenzie rye and finally my quasi-legendary mystery bottle of 13th Colony rye with the tag indicating a 95/5 mashbill.

But first it was for a splash of blueberry vodka. Say what??? Yes, I said blueberry vodka! This one is from Cold River and it is one of the few flavored vodkas I have ever enjoyed. When you open this bottle (even now, long after it was first opened) the room quickly begins to smell of blueberries. But not bubblegum blueberries. Still, you think this has got to be awful! And yet when you try it the flavor is light and dry and I swear you think just for a moment you are drinking a fresh baked blueberry muffin! In any case I brought it in as a distributor is pushing a new blueberry vodka and the owner wanted to have this one to compare it to as the "gold standard".

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. After a bit rest, water and crackers it was on to the rye. But to start with I wanted to try the DPS store pick 8yo SOAS rye that had not appealed to me last week. Maybe not as sweet and the finish not as bitter but it was still there. This one just isn't for me.

So on to the main event! We started with the JD 2yo rye. For the first time I think I really picked up on the banana flavor every one seems to get on this. What ever that flavor is it is strong, one dimensional and dominating. But it is also rather thin. I think I liked the white dog better. Can only hope it will improve with more age. And hope JD will allow it to get adequate age. And hope it is not priced at a ridiculous level. The last one seems the most unlikely...

Next up was standard Bulleit. It was OK, nothing stood out but it was also a bit thin. The minty/pickle think was not to strong but neither was anything else about it.

From there we moved to the Willett 4yo at 110pf. Solid and lots of bold rye spicey flavor. I got very little mint or dill from this one. Probably should have done the new Willett first...

The guest of honor, the Willett 2yo, was at 108.1pf. It was still a bit grainy tasting and could use a bit more age to me but had a nice spicey profile pushing through with an underlying sweetness through out that was not present in the 4yo Willett. I think the potential is there but don't really need another another until it gets a bit older.

Next up was the Leopold Maryland Style rye which I always find to be a bit sweeter with the light peppery finish coming out towards the end. I know it is not that old but to me it definitely lacks the grainy cereal flavor that was in the Willett. Always enjoyable to me.

The McKenzie rye was next. As when we tried it before this 2yo also has a bit of the rye grain/cereal component but it has the edges smoothed off a bit presumably from the touch of sherry finishing. A toss up between this and the Willett 2yo as I think they are perhaps the two most similar. The edge probably goes to this one for me.

We changed up the order a bit to go to the 13th Colony rye before diving off into the dark world of the all malted rye whiskey from Old Potrero. Again there is that young rye grain character as before. My palate is not sophisticated enough to say whether or not this is MGPI but again I don't get much dill or minty character. Fairly similar to the Willett and McKenzie but perhaps a touch less sweet and a bit thinner on the palate to me.

Then it was time for a brief diversion to Old Potrero and Goldrun, a young "craft" whiskey out of California that is 100% rye mashbill but not malted rye as best I can tell. It is quite young at about 1 year of age and aged in smaller barrels. One K&L staffer suggested it was similar to Old Potrero so I thought it might be interesting to try them side by side. The Old Potrero is a much drier whiskey and very rye spice forward. I like it but I know others seem to love or hate it. The Goldrun had much more of the rye bread yeasty flavor and also was very spicey or peppery to me. The Potrero I enjoy but the Goldrun will likely remain just a now and again bottle when I am looking for that new make rye bread yeasty profile. Don't know just how often I will look for it though...

And that brought an end to the afternoon! Not sure what we learned but we sure enjoyed it!

And the Russel's Reserve barrel pick we did a couple of months ago has arrived at last. So next week will likely feature a bit of "Thanksgiving" in July!

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Edited by tanstaafl2
to add the pictures which seems to be a challenge!
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Very nice rundown and I appreciate the notes. I'm trying very hard to stay away from the 2 yr Willett, but it is difficult as you know.

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Very nice rundown and I appreciate the notes. I'm trying very hard to stay away from the 2 yr Willett, but it is difficult as you know.

Indeed I do know! One bottle, purely for scientific reasons, won't hurt anything. You will want to have the full historical perspective down the road anyway!

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Indeed I do know! One bottle, purely for scientific reasons, won't hurt anything. You will want to have the full historical perspective down the road anyway!

And then the 3 year, 4 year ... but all for purely scientific reasons. I hate research like this. Especially the repeated tests againt a control to, umm verify my results. Yes, that's it. Verify!

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All bourbon this week as we focused on the recently arrived GBS Four Roses picks and the Russell's Reserve store pick that just arrived.

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To kick it off we finished the last little bit of the Wild Turkey Diamond to put us in the mood! Maybe not the best Turkey there ever was but certainly a delightful pour that seems to have improved after several months at low fill in the bottle. Perhaps a bit thin but ever so easy to drink.

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Then it was down to business as we started with a blind tasting of an off the shelf RR 110pf against the store pick RR which was about 8 years, 8 months old and also at 110 pf. The sample was only 112 pf but they insisted on cutting it down to 110, I suppose because they hadn't had the forethought to leave a blank space to write a different proof in. Kind of annoying but what can you do. The store pick had been open a few days while the off the shelf bottle was newly opened.

Nobody had any trouble telling these two apart and we all got the store pick correct. It had a nice consistent flavor across the palate with a nice fairly long dry finish with a pleasant dose of cinnamon in the finish. Very easy to drink at proof with no need for water as it didn't seem to add much. The off the shelf bottle started with a bit more fruit and sweetness on the front of the palate but finished a bit spicier but mostly hotter. Not as pleasant to drink at proof and while water tamed the heat a bit it didn't really improve the flavor that I could tell. We finished this round with a newly opened 112.8 Rare Breed. I don't know if it was just the previous whiskey affecting the palate but this one seemed rather bland by comparison. Maybe it was a little closed off. There was a bit of spice on the finish but it was otherwise unremarkable.

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After a little break we moved on to the GBS Four Roses barrel picks, a 9+ yo OBSK and an 11+ yo OESO, with a 2013 LE 13yo OBSK thrown in for comparison. The OBSK seemed to have tons of fruit up front but was well balanced and kind of evolved on the palate to a bit of spiciness on the finish and a really nice thick mouthfeel and good long finish. The 2013 SBLE also had a tendency to change character on the palate and even from sip to sip with perhaps a bit more wood as expected but plenty of balancing sweetness and an even longer finish than the GBS OBSK. Very nice indeed. A bit of heat at the end but just a touch of water worked wonders. The OESO was a bit different with sweetness up front again that changed to a drier finish with an interesting herbal note in the finish. Not spicy but pleasant all the same. Can't recall if this was the case when we picked it but it was perhaps my favorite at that time, even over the OBSK.

Finally for a bit of variety we finished up with the always pleasant store pick barrel 666 "Devil's Batch". Still spicy and yet very easy to drink. This was compared to a TPS 10yo barrel 362 which is of course a different mashbill from the Devil's Batch. This one has a really nice chocolate note on the palate and finish that lingers for awhile. Both are delightful.

All in all a pleasant day! Next week we will likely swing back to the dark side with some unusual barrel finished malts like the Amarone finished Arran and perhaps a Sauternes finished Caol Ila among the options. Unless something else comes along...

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