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tanstaafl2

I did not expect this....

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But blind tastings are what they are!

This week it was all about rye whiskey. Well almost!

But first I picked up a bottle of the new CB 15th Anniversary Hedonism Ouindecimus. it is an all grain blend wih nothing under 20yo.

17.6% North British 20yo from first-fill American standard barrels

36.6% Port Dundas 25yo from rejuvenated hogsheads

8.4% Dumbarton 28yo from American standard barrels

19.4% Port Dundas 20yo from first-fill American standard barrels

18% 32yo Loch Lomond mystery blended grain from American standard barrels

I like the regular bottling of Hedonism on occasion, a nice light whisky, and really enjoyed a taste of the previous Hedonism Maximus which was a 70% 42yo Invergordon with 30% 28yo Carsebridge and anything but light! This bottling is completely different as you can see and is different from my recollection of the Maximus. Without having them side by side to compare it is hard to say which I liked better. The opening aroma was a huge hit of pencil shavings and maybe even a hint of the erasure as well! On the palate there was a nice full mouthfeel with a touch of sweetness that quickly evolves into an unexpected burst of spice. Unfortunately on the finish it started to fall apart with a very subtle and relatively brief finish. The spice lingers a bit but I really wanted more. Although very good this is not one I would seek again at the current price of $175 or more. I suspect the Maximus would have been the easy winner.

So what didn't I expect? Well, the main event yesterday was a rye blind tasting featuring the new Michter's BP rye as the main attraction. The competition included a 110pf Willet 4yo rye, a Redemption 122pf 6yo rye (both MGP of course), the newish Woodford rye at 90.4pf, WT101 new version, and the last bit of a baby Saz bottle at 90pf that needed finishing off (it had not been that low very long). All the participants were pretty familiar with the five challengers but none had tried the Michter's before.

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There were four participants and despite being blind it was 4 of 4 for the Michter's in the end. The group also did pretty well at identifying all 6 whiskies (I had a hard time deciphering the Willet from the Redemption but my gut feeling proved right). The Michter's really was a well balanced whiskey. The baby Saz was second on most scorecards with some love for the Woodford and Redemption battling for third and fourth. The WT averaged a fifth place finish and it was the Willet that got almost no love at all (most felt it was overly hot in addition to the minty spicy component).

We then paired the Michter's blind once again with a DSP354 Rittenhouse. While both were enjoyed the Michter's was easy to pick out as the favorite. It also really liked just a drop or two of water which made it even sweeter and "smoother". Several people also noted that the Michter's seemed to be a bit more like the Woodford Rye, but with a touch less grainy character than I find in the Woodford (which for me at least was easily the most recognizable rye in the bunch).

My sense is the Michter's is a bit older than 4yo and more likely falls in the 6yo range. It might be interesting to try with the upcoming Pikesville rye as well as the 6yo Russell's Reserve rye and the NAS but presumed older Knob Creek rye. Perhaps it would even be a worthy competitor with Handy in a blind test. Something to keep in mind for the future!

So is it worth the $70 plus price tag? Remember that the Redemption is already at $60. It still seems a bit high to me but, like the Redemption, at around $50 this would be a pretty good option to me!

Then of course as we often do we finished up with a bit of dessert.

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Tinder is a newish rauch or smoked beer from the Crooked Line series by Uinta at 6.5 ABV. The Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen, at just 5.4 ABV, is generarally regarded as the gold standard for the style. This one had been in my possession for awhile (at least a couple of years I would guess) although it was refrigerated for much of that time. There was little comparison between the two. The Tinder, while an odd and somewhat interesting beer, is not one I would seek out again. It had an odd wet ash kind of flavor and smell with a bit of faintly bacon greasiness in the palate. There was no real smoke component at all. The Marzen was a classic moderately bitter, smokey beer despite its age and enjoyable if you like that style. Perfect with a smokey brisket!

Finally we finished up with the new Terrapin Side Project #25 Liquid Lunch Peanut Butter & Jelly Porter at 7.7ABV. Strong peanut butter on the nose with just a hint of jammy strawberry (even though it is made with raspberry). But on the palate the Jammy taste tends to dominate with a nice sweet tart strawberry taste. I suppose the raspberry adds the tartness. Although a bit malty there was very little porter malty richness to the body of the beer. Very interesting and the brewers should be complimented on getting both flavors in one bottle. Not one I would drink often but interesting all the same.

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meadeweber
I did not expect this....

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But blind tastings are what they are!

This week it was all about rye whiskey. Well almost!

But first I picked up a bottle of the new CB 15th Anniversary Hedonism Ouindecimus. it is an all grain blend wih nothing under 20yo.

17.6% North British 20yo from first-fill American standard barrels

36.6% Port Dundas 25yo from rejuvenated hogsheads

8.4% Dumbarton 28yo from American standard barrels

19.4% Port Dundas 20yo from first-fill American standard barrels

18% 32yo Loch Lomond mystery blended grain from American standard barrels

I like the regular bottling of Hedonism on occasion, a nice light whisky, and really enjoyed a taste of the previous Hedonism Maximus which was a 70% 42yo Invergordon with 30% 28yo Carsebridge and anything but light! This bottling is completely different as you can see and is different from my recollection of the Maximus. Without having them side by side to compare it is hard to say which I liked better. The opening aroma was a huge hit of pencil shavings and maybe even a hint of the erasure as well! On the palate there was a nice full mouthfeel with a touch of sweetness that quickly evolves into an unexpected burst of spice. Unfortunately on the finish it started to fall apart with a very subtle and relatively brief finish. The spice lingers a bit but I really wanted more. Although very good this is not one I would seek again at the current price of $175 or more. I suspect the Maximus would have been the easy winner.

So what didn't I expect? Well, the main event yesterday was a rye blind tasting featuring the new Michter's BP rye as the main attraction. The competition included a 110pf Willet 4yo rye, a Redemption 122pf 6yo rye (both MGP of course), the newish Woodford rye at 90.4pf, WT101 new version, and the last bit of a baby Saz bottle at 90pf that needed finishing off (it had not been that low very long). All the participants were pretty familiar with the five challengers but none had tried the Michter's before.

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There were four participants and despite being blind it was 4 of 4 for the Michter's in the end. The group also did pretty well at identifying all 6 whiskies (I had a hard time deciphering the Willet from the Redemption but my gut feeling proved right). The Michter's really was a well balanced whiskey. The baby Saz was second on most scorecards with some love for the Woodford and Redemption battling for third and fourth. The WT averaged a fifth place finish and it was the Willet that got almost no love at all (most felt it was overly hot in addition to the minty spicy component).

We then paired the Michter's blind once again with a DSP354 Rittenhouse. While both were enjoyed the Michter's was easy to pick out as the favorite. It also really liked just a drop or two of water which made it even sweeter and "smoother". Several people also noted that the Michter's seemed to be a bit more like the Woodford Rye, but with a touch less grainy character than I find in the Woodford (which for me at least was easily the most recognizable rye in the bunch).

My sense is the Michter's is a bit older than 4yo and more likely falls in the 6yo range. It might be interesting to try with the upcoming Pikesville rye as well as the 6yo Russell's Reserve rye and the NAS but presumed older Knob Creek rye. Perhaps it would even be a worthy competitor with Handy in a blind test. Something to keep in mind for the future!

So is it worth the $70 plus price tag? Remember that the Redemption is already at $60. It still seems a bit high to me but, like the Redemption, at around $50 this would be a pretty good option to me!

Then of course as we often do we finished up with a bit of dessert.

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Tinder is a newish rauch or smoked beer from the Crooked Line series by Uinta at 6.5 ABV. The Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen, at just 5.4 ABV, is generarally regarded as the gold standard for the style. This one had been in my possession for awhile (at least a couple of years I would guess) although it was refrigerated for much of that time. There was little comparison between the two. The Tinder, while an odd and somewhat interesting beer, is not one I would seek out again. It had an odd wet ash kind of flavor and smell with a bit of faintly bacon greasiness in the palate. There was no real smoke component at all. The Marzen was a classic moderately bitter, smokey beer despite its age and enjoyable if you like that style. Perfect with a smokey brisket!

Finally we finished up with the new Terrapin Side Project #25 Liquid Lunch Peanut Butter & Jelly Porter at 7.7ABV. Strong peanut butter on the nose with just a hint of jammy strawberry (even though it is made with raspberry). But on the palate the Jammy taste tends to dominate with a nice sweet tart strawberry taste. I suppose the raspberry adds the tartness. Although a bit malty there was very little porter malty richness to the body of the beer. Very interesting and the brewers should be complimented on getting both flavors in one bottle. Not one I would drink often but interesting all the same.

Great review. Thanks for the notes. I'm looking forward to trying my bottle of Michter's even more now.

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tanstaafl2
Great review. Thanks for the notes. I'm looking forward to trying my bottle of Michter's even more now.

I was a skeptic at best so I was surprised at how good it was and especially that it stood out above the other ryes we tried against it.

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tanstaafl2

The Dog Days of Summer are upon us and that means it is time for rum! Well, not really as most anytime is a good time for rum but recent chatter in the rum thread inspired this weeks Wednesday Tasting.

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First up was a little taste off between the Georgia based Richland Rum and a Rhum Agricole from Martinique, in this case the Hors d'Age from St. James distillery.

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The Richland claims to be a "Single Estate rum" although the label also implies that at least some, if not all of their sugar cane syrup is sourced from somewhere else. The St. James is a blend of 6-10yo rhum which is a bit older than Richland which is about 3yo I believe. Also as a rhum agricole it is made with cane juice while the Richland is from cane syrup as opposed to fresh cane juice that rhum agricoles from the French Caribbean (and cachaça) use. Reportedly Zacapa and Zaya (at least before it moved from Guatemala) also used a sugar cane syrup. No doubt other rums do as well. Barbancourt rhum agricole from Haiti, the former French portion of Hispaniola, has been reported to use cane syrup at times instead of cane juice although I believe they claim to use only cane juice.

Sugar cane syrup is made by reducing the sugar cane juice with heat. This makes the sugar cane syrup more stable than sugar cane juice and can be stored up to a few months, as compared to perhaps only a few days for the juice.

In any case back to our program! In a blind tasting the group picked the Richland over the St. James as it was a touch sweeter but more importantly it had a more complex overall flavor on the palate and finish. Both had a pleasant nose although again the Richland was a bit more honey sweet. The St. James was dry almost to the point of bland at the front of the palate with a bit of spicy heat on the back of the palate and then little finish. Over all a bit of a disappointment.

I really wanted to compare the Richland to a bottle of the Clement Select Barrel which is a similar age but typically a bit cheaper than the Richland. I will be on the lookout for one of those (as if I don't have enough rum as it is...) but in the meantime we treated ourselves to a bit of the Clement single cask which was delightful as always despite getting a bit low in the bottle.

Next it was onto a tasting of the Kirk & Sweeney 12, 18 and 23yo rums against the El Dorado line of 12, 15 and 21yo rums. Kirk & Sweeney is a line of sourced rum from the company 35 Maple St, that souces a number of liquors to include the Masterson Rye and Bib n Tucker bourbon. In this case it is Dominican rum from Bermudez, one of the big three "B's" rum makers on the island (along with Brugal and Barceló). I don't see much Bermudez in the US under it's own label which doesn't mean it doesn't happen, but Barceló and especially Brugal tend to be more common.

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The El Dorado line is a well known entity to me. They are not merely older versions of the same rum but instead are combinations of rum in different proportions from the several different ancient stills they have at their disposal. The 12 is a solid but slightly drier rum. The 15 is richer, has more mouthfeel and is perhaps a touch sweeter than the 12 with more of a hint of smokiness in the background (and is my favorite of the line) while the 21 is a good bit sweeter than either of its younger siblings.

The K&S lie on the other hand seems to be clearly an age progression of the same distillate. The nose is similar on all three unlike the ED rums. I found the 12 to be quite enjoyable with a curious almost candied cinnamon herb character that I couldn't quite describe but a nice balance that wasn't too overwhelming (although perhaps too much for those who like their rum extra dry). The 18 and 23 carried this same flavor profile forward but I thought the age only served to mute what made the 12 so interesting. Enjoyable to be sure but I think I could be OK with the 12 for less money. That said these aren't overly expensive for now with the 18yo in the upper $30's and the 23yo in the mid to upper $40's I believe. One could do worse!

Finally we finished off with a couple of beers as has become our habit of late. First was a Dogfish Head Urkontinent, a dubbel style malt forward beer made with herbs and flavorings from 6 continents (not surprisingly Antarctica did not make the cut). A noble effort but it seemed to be a bit too much with no one flavor taking lead and finished a bit flat.

In addition we tried and an Old Stock Ale from North Coast Brewing in CA mostly because it had been hanging around for a long time in the store. This really was old as it was a 2003 vintage. Initially it tasted like it had some real potential and it hid its 11.8% ABV well but it finished with no finish at all. I think maybe it had lost some of its ABV over time as the finish seemed almost stale.

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Perhaps it was too old after all...

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amg

This is one of my favorite threads here. Thanks for the great notes!

With regard to that Old Stock Ale, I think even the most "cellarable" beers start to go down hill after 5 years, so 12 is pushing your luck. Interesting thing to try though!

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tanstaafl2

This week it was a relatively abbreviated tasting featuring the newly arrived GBS Russell's Reserve in a blind SBS. One thing that really stood out right away was that the cap was much darker on the new GBS bottle than the other three (they are mixed up in this photo but I have since corrected them). I forgot to look at a newer bottle off the shelf to see if it was a light or darker brown.

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We had a selection of four RR's to try. In addition to the GBS barrel there was a barrel from a local store I had a chance to help pick along with a store pick from a Louisville store I picked up last April and finally an off the shelf bottle from about a year ago.

The store owner managed to pick all four correctly which was quite amazing and really liked the GS bottle, picking it as his favorite over even his own store pick bottle which he really liked and had been drinking just this past weekend (which no doubt helped him identify it!). I liked them both but managed to pick the local store bottle as my first choice over the GBS bottle.

The local store pick was a bit drier to me but I guess that is my profile with a nice cinnamon component at the back of the palate and into the finish. The GBS bottle had a much thicker mouthfeel with a nice but well balanced rich light sweetness on the palate of chocolate more than cinnamon. I found the store pick to be my third choice with a similar dry mildly tannic edge but not as interesting as the local store pick while the Louisville store pick was also more on the sweet side but not as complex or rich tasting and kind of a one trick pony.

So four bottlings presumably with similar profile although the three store picks all were from a different warehouse. 2 were 5th floor and one was 6th floor for what ever that is worth. But 2 were on the drier side and 2 were on the sweeter side with one of each of those much more complex and interesting than the other one.

Will be fun to continue to explore the local store pick and the GBS pick for the next few weeks!

Still don't care much for the hang tag because if you lose it there is no good way to distinguish between bottles. Need to remember to put some sort of sticker on the bottles themselves pretty soon.

As we were wrapping up a distributor rep wandered in with the new Bluecoat barrel aged gin that was finished for at least 3 months in new oak barrels of undetermined size. It comes in a clear bottle instead of the typical blue bottle of the original. Hard to give it a completely fair assessment after all the bourbon which was followed by pizza but it seemed to be pretty good.

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tanstaafl2

This week was a again a bit of a mélange of spirits although that is hardly unusual for us! In addition to rum and some craft malt and rye whiskey the featured tasting of the day was a blind four way SBS of wheated bourbons featuring the new "Sweet Wheat" from Barton.

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But we started with the help of a distributor and the distributors spirits specialist who is trying to build up the sprits side of the house. They brought in Wasmund's Malt and Copper Fox rye (which this distributor is bringing into Georgia for the first time as far as I know). They also brought along a couple different single barrel bottlings of Richland Rum, which along with the one I brought, allowed us to do an interesting side by side of Richland.

The Wasmund, a Virginia malted barley made with home malted barley flavored with apple and cherry wood smoke, was a young (<2yo) whiskey aged in small barrels and was not my favorite. I did not expect too much from the also very young Copper Fox rye, which has a 2/3 rye and 1/3 malted smoked barley mashbill and is aged using applewood and oak chips in used bourbon barrels, but I found this to be much more enjoyable. Rye just seems to be able to handle youth a bit better and this did not have the tannic grainy new barrel twang the Wasmund had. Westland does American malt much better although admittedly at about twice the cost as does Westward whiskey from House Spirits in Oregon. In all the "excitement" I forgot to take pictures of them. Oh well.

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I had initially planned to do a repeat of an earlier tasting with Richland Rum this time against Clement Select Barrel rhum agricole. By this time I had confirmed that Richland was indeed sugar cane syrup and not fresh sugar cane juice since the still capacity did not let them process the juice fast enough. They are no additives used with the Richland and somewhat uniquely it is aged for perhaps 3-4 years in NEW toasted/charred oak casks. I can't recall if they were full size or a little smaller.

Again the Clememt was drier and it was also a bit thinner at 80 proof compared to the Richland which was only 86 proof. I have to say I really liked the Richland and I liked it even better when we did the 3 different bottles SBS. Each was good but each was different with varying degrees of sweetness and spiciness in each barrel.

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Next we moved on to our featured pairing of four wheaters to include the Makers Mark standard bottling at 90 pf, Barton 1792 Sweet Wheat at 91.2 pf, BT Weller 12 at 90 pf (This bottle was one I had for awhile and did not have much of that sooty burnt caramel character noted in some bottles, especially newer ones, at least to me) and HH Larceny at 92 proof. Both the Makers and Sweet Wheat were newly opened whereas the other 2 had been open for awhile.

Four of us took part in the blind tasting and the outcome found that Makers was the only one accurately identified by all four and also the least favored of the bunch by all four tasters. Hmmm. Choices were all over the map on the other three but it was Larceny edging out the other 2 as the favorite. But all three were pretty similar and enjoyable. I found the Sweet Wheat to be very easy drinking with a nice moderatlely sweet palate and decent finish but was one of those who found it similar to W12 and felt that Larceny was just a smidge better. When you add in price and availability well then Larceny becomes the hands down winner in this battle of wheaters for me.

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Finally for dessert I opened up the newly acquired Plantation "Stiggins Fancy" pineapple rum. This is in no way an artificial pineapple flavored overly sweet rum. The pineapple is certainly there but it is nicely integrated to make an enjoyable drink on its own or as the base for a cocktail.

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Paddy

Good work Bruce! I bet you take one hell of an awesome late afternoon nap on Wednesdays don't you? :lol:

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tanstaafl2
Good work Bruce! I bet you take one hell of an awesome late afternoon nap on Wednesdays don't you? :lol:

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tanstaafl2

After taking last week off to visit High West distillery in Utah we were back at it again this week. And the star of the show was of course the new HW 16yo rye in a blind side by side with the original HW 16yo rye!

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This was followed by two more blind tastings, the new Old Forester 1897 BIB compared to a shelf bottle of OF Signature and then 4 American single malts also tasted blind. As has become a bit of a tradition we finished the day with a comparison of the newly released 2015 W00tstout from Stone against the 2013 bottling (somehow I missed out on the 2014).

But first up it was the battle of the High West heavyweights. Both ryes were newly opened bottles that day. The original of course had been sitting in the bunker for at least a couple of years. It was also a half bottle as compared to a standard 750ml for the new rye. The biggest difference on the front label is that the original notes that it is an 80% rye under the age statement to indicate the Barton mashbill while the new bottle notes it is a blend of straight rye whiskey. The picture of the saloon in Park City remains the same. The newer bottle is a combination of this same Barton rye (which is likely just about gone at this point) with both 16 and 17yo rye from MGP giving it an even higher rye content.

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The differences here are pretty subtle. Both have a lovely mouthfeel while the original seems a touch sweeter (more corn?) and maybe a little less complex especially on the mid palate. The newer bottle finished a touch drier with a bit more wood character but had more complexity in the palate for lake of a better word. Earthy with a touch of spice going into the finish.

Both were excellent but if I was forced to choose one at that moment I think the new version is the winner.

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Next it was on to the Old Forester comparison. The 1897 was newly opened and uses a cork while the Signature has a basic screw top and has been open for a while and it about 2/3 full. There was less subtlety here as, in a surprise, the Signature was the more enjoyable whiskey. The 1897 seemed a bit flat and one dimensional with mild sweetness while the Signature was more "lively" on the palate and the sweetness seemed better balanced. This probably deserves a retest one the BIB has been open for a bit but especially when you add in cost the Signature is the easy winner and a surprisingly tasty whiskey in its own right.

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Finishing off the tasting was a bottle Wasmund's 18 month old malt, McCarthy's Single Malt at about 3 years old, Stranahan's batch 106 I think distilled in 2011 and about 2 years old and finally the new Stranahan's Black Diamond, Batch 1, that is reportedly around 4 years old (and as a result was likely distilled around the same time as the regular Stranahan's).

Despite being a blind tasting this quickly became a tasting of the two Stranahan's. The McCarthy was obvious as a mildly peated whiskey (decent but not overly interesting) and the Wasmund had a clear new make small barrel twang. We were able to determine which was which among the two Stranahan's as the younger bottle was a tad sweet and one dimensional where the Black Diamond was a drier with a bit more complexity that made it clearly different, and clearly better to me, from the regular Stranahan's. Price point aside the Black Diamond was the best of these four and a reasonably tasty and interesting whiskey. Add in the cost and there are many things in the single malt world I would certainly prefer!

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After a little break it was time for some beer to wash down a pizza! The W00tStout filled the bill. I thought the 2013 had aged nicely with some nice barrel syrupy consistency. The 2015 was a bit underwhelming by comparison but likely will age nicely as well. I got little in the way of specific flavors (the 2013 supposedly contained pecans but did not have any particular pecan or nutty flavor that I could discern). This is not Backwoods Bastard or Bourbon County stout but it was certainly a pleasant way to finish the day.

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Edited by tanstaafl2

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tanstaafl2

Next couple of weeks will be replaced by several industry tastings that I will have the opportunity to attend so don't know if I will squeeze a Wednesday tasting in before I head for Scotland. Might work one more in, we shall see.

But yesterday was a big one. It didn't start out that way but oddly that tends to happen on Wednesdays!

The original plan was a young rye showdown inspired by my recent spur of the moment purchase of Oppidan 100% single malt rye whiskey. But as soon as we hit the door I knew things were headed off the rails! Because first up was a blind tasting of 3 samples from a mystery distillery. 2 samples were very good while one did not seem to match up. One was a bit feisty but had nice fruit and spice with a long slowly drying finish (#1690). The other (#1877) was a touch sweeter without as much spice or burn and seemed more likely to suit the general public. Not being the general public I pushed hard for the first one. We shall see.

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Turns out the samples were for Smooth Ambler bourbon. Don't yet know if they are high or low rye but I would guess high rye. I presume they will be bottled at barrel strength as the last pick we did was. None of these matched up to the original barrel #666 "Highway to Hell" selection we did in the past but I have high hopes for the one I liked! Alas the rye was not an option as we expected.

Then surprise number two was the arrival of the two BP Four Roses picks we did at the sampler this spring. We had an OESF and an OBSV that we ended up picking and at the time I would have said the OESF was the real jewel here. But it was the OBSV that blew me away at this tasting! Funny how that works. The OBSV is 9y1m and weighs in at 115.2 pf. The OESF is 10y3m and a lower proof of 108.2

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A large portion of these barrels was already spoken for so if you are interested and live in Atlanta you need to get their soon!

Finally we got to the main event.

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First up was a blind SBS with the young 1-ish year old Oppidan malted rye aged in a variety of barrels pitted against the classic (and about the only contender I could think of) Potrero Straight malted rye. The Potrero is at least 2yo I assume as a straight whiskey. Also included was the Jack Daniels "rested" rye (got to find some way to drink it...) and the Copper Fox rye from Wasmund.

The JD with its banana rama flavor and the Copper Fox with its grainy nature and touch of smoke were easily identifiable even from the nose alone. The two rye malts were more similar but one just smelled a bit young and funky and was presumed to be the Oppidan. The Potrero was by comparison the old man of this group and teated like it. I tend to like it and found it quite pleasant despite its relative youth with little or no new make flavor. There was something just a touch funky about the Oppidan. I think it has potential but for me it needs a bit more time in the barrel I suspect to get there.

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Finally for dessert this week (we gave up on getting to the beer this time although we had a nice one planned!) we finished up with a sampling of the Balcones Rumble, Rumble Cask and a retaste of the very pleasant Richland rum. This was inspired by an old repeat of the show "Drinking Made Easy" from about 2010 were the boys were drinking in Dallas but made time to run down to Balcones in Waco and meet with Chip Tate back in the good old days to taste the Rumble.

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For me the Rumble Cask was the best of the three, just edging out the slightly sweeter Richland with the fruitiness of the figs helping to add some cadditional omplexity.

Towards the end a rep stopped by with the Georgia version of the Crown Royal Single Barrel and of course it seemed only proper to have a taste. Most notable thing was the lovely golden velvet bag in the Texas version was gone to be replaced with a somewhat less glamorous burlap bag with e Crown logo screen printed on it now swaddling the bottle. Hmm.

The whiskey was still tasty though!

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tanstaafl2

No tasting this week but yesterday's industry event was made particularly enjoyable the presence of products from KGB spirits, source of the Taos Lightning I sampled a few months ago in a Wednesday tasting.

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One of the highlights of the show for me.

They are currently making a rye with an 80% rye mashbill and essentially no corn (the other 20% being oats and barley and maybe wheat. Can't quite remember but in my defense a lot of "sampling" was required yesterday!). They buy young months old whiskey from MGP and bring it to Taos in a semi where the trailer then serves as the "rickhouse". Pretty significant swings in temperature as it ages in the high altitude of New Mexico. Currently bottling it as single barrel whiskey at 90 proof and 4 and 5 years old with the Turley Mill single barrel at cask strength (the bottle at the show was 114 pf. Very nice and to me a bit distinctive for MGP whiskey although the brisk mintyness is still present.

I will be curious to try their own make of rye whiskey if they let it get a little age. I do expect it to have relatively high "craft" level pricing though. The MGP bottling's should be in Atlanta in a the near future. Not sure when their own will be ready. Probably will be awhile yet.

Also tried the Brimstone "Liqueur". An absinthe style herbal concoction with plenty of anus, umm I mean anise, flavor to suit certain GBS members... :cool:

In addition to the rye and absinthe they were also touting a vodka, gin and orange liqueur.

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tanstaafl2

Nothing like a blind tasting to keep you humble! I have heard occasional stories about blind tastings where some legendary bottle was mixed in with more typical bottles and no one recognized the supposed masterpiece as such. Truth be told the blind tastings we do are often a challenge for me that to identify one bottle from another. I think there was the rumored Cleveland whiskey in an upscale bottle event at the Gazebo that went at least somewhat unrecognized.

Well, it was much the same yesterday at our pre tasting event. Before going to a tasting put on by one of the local distributors we had 4 different bottles in a blind side by side.

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Can you find the one that doesn't appear to belong? Why yes, that is indeed an Old Forrester Signature cozying up to its limited edition brethren in our little taste off! This was motivated in part by how good it seemed to taste in another Wednesday tasting several weeks ago. It joined a Fall 2013 Eagle Rare 17, the new WT 17 and the PHC Promise of Hope in our little blind tasting. After trying each whiskey blind I was pretty sure of one thing. and that was that I wasn't sure which was which! The small range of proof from 86.8 up to 100 wasn't enough to help me differentiate them and even though I had tried both the Signature and WT recently I still wasn't able to say for sure which was which. Of the three tasters involved one was able to identify 2 of the 4. I managed to get a big fat goose egg. The driest and oakiest, not that I noted a ton of oak on any of them despite a bit more advanced age for a couple of them, turned out to be the PHC (which I thought was the ER17).

But most notably all 4 were perfectly delightful in their own way to include the OF Signature (which as best as I can remember no one identified correctly).

After this we headed for the distributor tasting which included a variety of whiskey's and other spirits. Perhaps the highlight was an opportunity to try the Jack Daniels Single Barrel Barrel Proof. Pretty decent at around 134pf with almost no bananafication at all (they had no bottles with the barrel proof label but the TTB label approval suggests it will have a barrel number and bottling date but no distilling date to indicate the age). But at something close to a Four Roses Barrel Proof price point for the privilege of drinking what is almost certainly younger and, at least with the sample I tried, a less complex whiskey (could be my JD bias coming out) I doubt it will be much more than a one time curiosity purchase.

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fishnbowljoe

Great post Bruce! Goes to prove you just never know. Aside from you tasting notes, it's the JD barrel proof that has somehow piqued my interest now. I've tried not to give the new JD barrel proof much thought, but…… I just might have to give it a go. Besides, it would give me a chance to get in touch with my old JD drinking/bowling buddies I haven't been in touch with for a while. :cool:

Cheers! Joe

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Renegator

Agreed - great post Bruce. You've made me want to go out and try OF Sig again...

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maybeling
Agreed - great post Bruce. You've made me want to go out and try OF Sig again...

Was talking to Bruce about this the other day... But a half full OF Sig that's been open for a month or two is a very different (and better) beast than a newly cracked bottle IMO.

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tanstaafl2
Was talking to Bruce about this the other day... But a half full OF Sig that's been open for a month or two is a very different (and better) beast than a newly cracked bottle IMO.

Hmm, may just have to buy another OF Sig and put that to the test before this one gets emptied!

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unclebunk

In recent months, 0FSig has become my "every day" pour, replacing Larceny and VOB BIB for the time being. I can honestly say that I hadn't touched the stuff for probably two years when I rediscovered it after pulling out a bottle from the back of the cabinet. I absolutely love it and it is proving once again to be a big hit with all my friends.

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GaryT

I love these posts! I haven't touched my OF Sig in many months, and making a note to get some in the glass when the current occupant is evicted (of which notice is being served presently!) I'm always energized by stories where the blind tasting reveals some gems that taste like diamonds but are priced like CZs!

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tanstaafl2

A last little Wednesday tasting before hitting the road for a few weeks. Won't likely be another before October so we tried to have something a bit interesting. Thanks to a fellow SB/GBS member I was able to acquire a bottle of the Hedonism Maximus from about 7 years ago and that immediately made me think of a tasting with the other two in the line (there was also a very limited single cask 10th Anniversary Hedonism sold only in Europe in 2010. It was a 1971 Invergordon barrel that was about 39 yo and resulted in only 144 bottles). That included a standard Hedonism purchased a couple of years ago and the recent 15th Anniversary Hedonism Quindecimus. The two older bottles were at 92 proof while standard Hedonism is a lighter 86 proof. I would wish for more proof for all of them but especially this special bottlings.

The Maximus was the oldest of the three, consisting of 42yo Invergordon and 29yo Cameron Bridge grain whisky and it was newly opened for this occasion while the other two had been open for awhile.

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But before we got too deep into those we had another bottle to try! A store blend of Angel's Envy that we had created a few months ago also arrived this week so we decided to check it out first. For comparison I brought along a store picked blend from The Party Source from a couple of years ago that is kind of my gold standard blend. Both bottles were open although the new bottle had been open only a couple of days. Our blend was a 60/30/10 but that doesn't really mean much as I do not know if the 3 whiskeys provided have the same general profile from year to year. It is of course Angel's Envy which means it is lower proof and a touch sweet and fruity from the port finish. A very easy drinking whiskey and certainly a reasonable choice to introduce others to bourbon but not something that has ever been terribly complex. Our blend had a nice balance of fruit and a bit of spiceyness with a moderate finish and I really enjoyed it. It was similar to my "gold standard" Party Source pick.

Then it was on to our hedonistic Hedonism tasting! We poured these blind but it was readily obvious by color which was which. The Maximus head the maximum nose of leather with hints of vanilla and was almost toffee like. The Quindecimus was similar but not as strong. The regular Hedonism had a mildly medicinal, almost acetone twinge on the nose that was a bit unexpected.

The Maximus tasted as it smelled with a rich oily texture and nice long pleasant finish with a surprising lack of much in the way of strongly oaky character. The Quindecimus, which was perhaps a touch disappointing when I first tried it, seemed to have improved over time with more rich oiliness and a nice balance of vanilla and leather and other nice bourbon like qualities. Fortunately the nose of the regular Hedonism did not carry to the palate and it tasted again somewhat bourbon like but less depth than the older siblings. One taster, a fellow SB member picked up on the coconut flavor before realizing it was a flavor described on the bottle and in the Compass Box notes. I didn't really pick up on the coconut notes myself...

In any case all were enjoyable in their own way. But there was little doubt that the Maximus was the favorite of all.

Finally, I had recently received a bottle of the Arran Devil's Punch Bowl III and while I could not yet set up a tasting of all 3 in the series I could not resist giving this one a try. This one did not have any peated whisky in the mix, unlike the first two, so I am not sure how well a side by side would work anyway. Instead I brought a 15yo Single Sherry Cask from Arran as a comparison. The single cask is a big sherry bomb a bit like Aberlour while the DPB III to me was a much more subtle spicy complex whisky with more of a hint of sherry. As best I can tell this one was a NAS where the first two I think gave the ages of the barrels involved. But it had about 20 barrels including about 1/3 sherry, 1/3 French Oak (wine casks?) and 1/3 bourbon casks. I like strongly sherried whisky and I like this Arran single cask but it is a bit of a one trick pony. The DBP III was a much more complex and interesting whisky that carried its 106.8 proof very well. I think I am going to like this one!

Edited by tanstaafl2

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maybeling

Since you were including links, here is one to a pdf for the Hedonism Maximus I found. As always thanks for letting me tag along! That Maximus was really a special treat...

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tanstaafl2
Since you were including links, here is one to a pdf for the Hedonism Maximus I found. As always thanks for letting me tag along! That Maximus was really a special treat...

Thanks! I added it to the post.

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tanstaafl2

Back at it after a long absence due to a variety of activities.

To get things rolling again we started with a couple of new additions to the scene. The first was the arrival of the Teeling Single Malt in the Atlanta area.

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This was paired against the standard single batch that is widely available and the Teeling single grain that to my knowledge is now in the US but is still not in the Atlanta area. My bottle was an import from Europe. Each has been treated to different barrel management. The grain was matured in California Cabernet. Some sites suggest it was fully matured in them while others imply it was only partly matured in wine. It is NAS but I have seen suggested ages of between 5-8 years. The Small Batch was partly finished in rum casks and supposedly has a high malt to grain ratio. The single malt is the most exotic of the bunch with a blend of whiskey of various ages going as far back as 1991 and five different barrel finishes to include port, sherry, madeira, white burgundy and probably those same California cabernet barrels. All weigh in at 92 proof and of course these were tasted blind! The single malt was the only newly opened bottle. Let's just say I did a lousy job telling them apart...

Despite knowing the grain was wine finished and having a glass bottle that showed the color was a match to my glass I decided at the last second to go with the small batch as I kept thinking that lovely rich sweet red fruit character was from rum for some reason. It was of course the grain and it was quite good. Perhaps a little one dimensional but otherwise enjoyable. The malt was much more complex and that should be no surprise with 20+yo whiskey in the blend. But it was hard to distinguish any specific finish. The Small Batch by comparison was a bit underwhelming despite the rum cask finish and would a distant third. I found little rum influence at all. At this particular tasting I preferred the grain but the grain and malt are certainly different and both are very pleasant whiskies.

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Next we moved on to the PHC9 Malt. It was compared to the recent WR single malts as well as a Glenmo Ealanta which was aged 19 years in heavily toasted new American Oak rather than charred oak. Although tasted blind lets face it, the WR "classic" malt is just plain bad. Enough said. The "straight" malt is not a lot better but is drinkable but not in the league with the other two. While it was not hard to figure out which was which the house was split on which was better. For me it was the Ealanta that was a bit more interesting with greater depth to the whiskey but I do find I rather enjoy the PHC9 and don't regret my purchase in the least. A truly interesting bourbon/scotch hybrid although I think it lands much closer to the bourbon side of the table.

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Finally we finished up the new Pikesville rye compared to a relatively recent DSP1 Rittenhouse with the newer label. The Ritt was the hotter of the two despite the lower proof and I found the Pikesville to be quite nice even at 110. I would definitely choose it over the Ritt as a sipper but not sure it warrants the extra cost for use in cocktails unless you just need that extra proof.

None of the scotch from our Scotland trip last month made an appearance at this tasting but I feel certain they will get into future tastings. Of course 2/3's of them are still in the UK until I can manage to get them across the pond. The Cadenhead 27yo Barrel Proof Highland Park finished for 8 years in sherry and drawn straight from the barrel did make an appearance at the latest GBS gathering this weekend and it does appear people who tried it found it to be drinkable...

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Edited by tanstaafl2

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amg

Great notes as usual! I might have to give the Ealanta a try. Sounds like it's in my wheelhouse.

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tanstaafl2

Missed a week because of work travel but back in the trenches yesterday. It was a mostly scotch focus this week. Heck, even the rum was from Scotland!

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We ended up skipping the Cadenhead 27yo Highland Park finished 8 years in sherry as we had both broken out that bottle several times. A sherry bomb but damned good! We also skipped the Tamdhu Batch Proof NAS bottle that had been fully matured in sherry since it was one of the distilleries we had been to on our Scotland trip and we had tried it there fairly extensively. The two small Balvenie 200ml bottles from warehouse 24 (a warehouse on the tour where you can buy straight from the barrel) we decided to save for another day as well as we wanted to better appreciate a whiskey with an all bourbon barrel maturation versus essentially the same whiskey fully sherry matured. Pretty obvious which is which! Are you sensing a theme yet???

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Instead, to break up the sherry theme, we started with two new Compass Box 15th Anniversary offerings, Flaming Heart and "This is Not a Luxury Whisky". We had received a sample of each a week or so ago and I got it in my head to see if the samples were the same, better or worse than the final product.

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Turns out they were! We typically taste blind but didn't do so in this case. Still it was apparent to me that the samples were a little different. The samples had been opened and tasted a few days earlier while the bottles were freshly opened. For the "Luxury Whisky" it was the sample that was sweeter and "fresher" on both the nose and the palate. The bottle seemed a little closed off. It improved after 10-15 minutes but it still wasn't quite the same. The Flaming Heart was a bit reversed. The bottle was still a bit closed off initially but quickly improved and was the preferred choice of the assembled tasters over the sample.

Oh, and they are both damned fine whisky! I preferred the richness of the "Luxury Whisky" while another liked the heavier peaty flavor of the Flaming Heart.

Next up was a SBS of 1998 Signatory Mortlach 16yo single barrel cask strength at 111.6 pf that had spent 33 months in Oloroso sherry versus a new Springbank 17 at 104.6 pf that had been fully matured in a mix of fresh and refill sherry barrels. This wasn't a fair fight as the Springbank blew the doors off the place! An excellent whisky and dangerously easy to drink at proof. Sherry, sherry, sherry! And yet balanced, tasty and oh so drinkable. The Mortlach started off well with some sweetness on the front of the palate but seemed to fade in the finish with a moderately bitter after taste. Others noted the bitterness to the finish as well. I suppose it deserves another try not paired with that superb Springbank.

Next we moved on to a bottle we picked up at Bruichladdich that sounded intriguing but was a bit of a gamble. This was a 9 year 364 day old (no idea why they didn't wait another day or two and call it a 10yo!) whisky fully matured in an Amarone wine cask and weighing in at 114.6 pf.

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The color on this little darlin' was intriguingly dark orange despite the frosted bottle and we just couldn't help ourselves. We had tried another wine finished bottle on the warehouse tour but they wouldn't let us buy a bottle from that one (it was soooo good too!) so this was our next best option. They had a similar cask to the one we tried in the warehouse in the gift shop you could buy bottles of directly from the barrel but it just wasn't quite as good.

A very interesting bottle with a deep fruit component. I enjoyed it for something different. Not going to suit the person looking for a more typical Scotch profile but I think it is well worth an occasional pour.

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The 25yo Faultline Demerara at 102.6 proof paired with a Samaroli 16yo Demerara at 90 proof. The Faultline is off the Enmore wooden coffey at DDL still while the Samaroli is from the Versailles single wooden pot still. Despite that the taste was similar to me (although after all that scotch it can be hard to tell for sure!) with a moderate acetone note on the nose not uncommon for rums that have not been doctored with sugar an who knows what else. IBoth were drier and more whisky like than typical El Dorado although I think the Faultline was the winner with a richer mouthfeel and nice vanilla and baking spice on the palate and a bit of spice creeping in on the finish. The Samaroli was similar but thinner. They both probably deserve another try on a fresher palate.

After that we decide it was time to stop. And so we did! :grin:

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Edited by tanstaafl2

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