Jump to content

Wednesday Tastings!


Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, tanstaafl2 said:

 

A personal preference thing to be sure. SKU really seemed to like it. So maybe it was just my palate or something I ate that day. Although two others tasting with me also weren't quite sure what all the fuss was about either. I do find Eau de Vie to be a bit tricky. They are essentially a white dog after all.

 

The only way to know for sure is to try it yourself. I can send you a sample or maybe even bring it along if I decide to head out that way again in September. Still haven't decided!

I think I'll take you up on that. Sounds like another good reason to get back out to the West Coast!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 298
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • tanstaafl2

    187

  • Kpiz

    20

  • Paddy

    12

  • maybeling

    12

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Somehow we skipped Wednesday this week but Tuesday was rum heavy along with the latest Compass Box, Hedonism Felicitas, and an usual 21yo Jenever from Belgium. Today we did a barrel pick of WhistlePig

It has been a long time since my last post due to travel, KBF and other assorted happenings. We did a few small tastings in between but I didn't get time to post anything about them. This week we trie

Decided to “Yak” it up this week with a few Armagnac selections (yes, 11 is “a few” 😳). Might as well close out the year with something fun! Kind of a 4 decade timeline if you will! I also kind of wis

Posted Images

Maybe the 16 local barley isn't worth the $100 premium over the 12 CS then... Sounds like it was more enjoyable with a touch of water, but would you say it was preferred over the 12 CS at all (w or w/o water)?

Edited by maybeling
Link to post
Share on other sites
tanstaafl2
On 7/1/2016 at 4:04 PM, maybeling said:

Maybe the 16 local barley isn't worth the $100 premium over the 12 CS then... Sounds like it was more enjoyable with a touch of water, but would you say it was preferred over the 12 CS at all (w or w/o water)?

 

The Local Barley was better overall to me than the 12. Probably not $100 better though. The 12 was much easier to drink and perhaps more enjoyable without water but a touch of water brought the 16 LB to life.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

This week we went back to basics with the focus on whiskey and mostly on bourbon.

 

Wednesday tasting 13JUL16 1.JPG

 

But before we got there we started with a couple more Springbank options! And we probably did it in the reverse of the ideal order as we started with sherried cask strength whisky and then followed it with cask strength bourbon and finally closed with a 4 way blind tasting of lower proof bourbon.

 

Wednesday tasting 13JUL16 2.JPG

 

Anywho first up was the Springbank 12yo single cask cask strength (109.8pf) fully matured in sherry from the 'cage" at the Cadenhead store in Campbelton. This is all sherry all the time with a bit of the match stick/sulphur-y character (that I don't mind and kind of rather like). It was paired against the delightful 17yo Sherrywood Springbank. But really they are two different whiskies. The cage bottle was more like an Aberlour A'bunadh, rich and dark with lots of sherry but pretty much dominated by the sherry with a shorter finish were the sulphur character was the strongest. The 17yo is well integrated with Sherry playing a part but well balanced against the classic Springbank light peat backbone of flavor. And so very easy to drink even at the 104.6 proof.  Will likely bring in an A'bunadh in the future to do another side by side with the cage bottle.

 

Wednesday tasting 13JUL16 3.JPGWednesday tasting 13JUL16 4.JPG

 

Next it was on to the long awaited FR "Elliott's Select" which is the 14yo OESK. This particular barrel was at 114.2 proof and came from rickhouse QN. It was tasted blind against a FRPS OESK from a local area store. That one was 9y 11m and was a little lower proof at 104.4 from rickhouse EN. Although blind it wasn't difficult to tell them apart although they did share a similar profile (expected but not always the case with the same recipe). There was more depth and oak in the LE but it was well integrated and not at all ashy. it was also fairly hot and benefitted from some water which brought out a bit more vanilla and caramel sweetness. The younger one did not need water as much although it seemed to handle a few drops well.

 

This bottle was pretty much as described, balanced, well rounded with pleasant oaky character and no sharp edges. But that was also the problem. It just didn't particularly stand out. Even the younger OESK was a bit like that with less oak. Perhaps I am just not a fan of the lower rye mashbill or K yeast in general. May be well change a bit now that it is open but this was good, not great, and while better than the younger bottle it wasn't particular that much different to warrant the extra 50% it cost. Oh well.

 

Wednesday tasting 13JUL16 5.JPG

 

Our final event of the afternoon was to do a blind side by side of the new Abraham Bowman wheated bourbon against other wheated bourbons to include Weller 12, Larceny and VSOF 12. So it was BT versus HH! Although there has been some discussion that the mashbill used by Bowman is not the same as the Weller mashbill. In any case I found it a challenge to separate any of these from one another. Several in the group picked up a banana character and suspected that was from the Bowman which proved to be true. Sadly (or perhaps fortunately if I am ever faced with the option of JD only...) I do not possess the banana gene so I didn't really get it. No one came close to figuring out the other three so we focused on what we liked the best. My choice turned out to be VSOF followed closely by Larceny which didn't surprise me as I thought they were similar in nature. For me Larceny continues to perform well as a top value pick in the group of wheated bourbons.

 

Toward the end of the discussion the local distributor (and fellow SB member I think) arrived and he suggested that perhaps the new Bowman wheated might have a connection to the Barton Sweet Wheat that came out recently if it wasn't a Weller mashbill. Made me wish I had brought a bottle of that along! But I will certainly do so at a future tasting.

 

He also arrived with the new Sazerac regional rep in tow. She was a delightful young lady but came from a wine background and was just getting her feet wet in the bourbon and spirits world. Of course being the southern gentleman that I am I shared our whiskey with her and offered to tutor her in the fine art of bourbon. I even invited her to the next GBS gathering!

 

If she decides to attend I am confident you will all do your best to introduce her to the exciting world of bourbon... B)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Another hot day in the city so as a result (and because I am headed "don island" for the next week or so) it seemed appropriate to feature rhum, mostly of the French perversion.

 

Wednesday tasting 20JUL16 1.JPG

 

Initially we planned a rather ambitious lineup but quickly decided that was a bit much for one day and put the Four Roses "Super Premium" that was gifted to me by a fellow SBer aside for another day.

 

Wednesday tasting 20JUL16 2.JPG

 

This was a retaste of the 00 eau de vie to see if it had improved with time. It was indeed a bit better, but still not something I would want to sit and sip on its own,  although the original apple note on the nose had drifted more towards the sour green apple side. While we were tasting odd clear spirits I decided to break out the Singani 63 I picked up from K&L a couple of months ago. It is a Bolivian brandy or Muscat grape pomace eau de vie, a bit like a pisco I suppose. it was more in the aromatic style of Peruvian pisco to me, not that I am a pisco expert! Interesting dry and somewhat floral citrusy flavor but again not something I would want to sip routinely. Still, it might work well in an appropriate cocktail.

 

Wednesday tasting 20JUL16 3.JPG

 

Next was a two step blind tasting of rhum agricole from the islands. First we tried the first 4, Barbancourt 15yo at 86 proof (the outlier here), the Liberation rhum 2010, a NAS bottle but presumed around 4-5yo and aged in "fresh" French wine barrels) from Marie Galante at 90 proof. It was the only newly opened bottle in the group, although we had tried the cask strength version a few weeks back. The last two were the Rhum JM XO, a 6yo also at 90 proof, and finally the Clement 6yo at 88 proof which are both from Martinique, albeit different parts.

 

The Barbancourt tasted thin despite being older and not being that much lower in proof than the others. But the least favorite in this group and coming as somewhat of a surprise was the Rhum JM XO. It was a very nice rhum right up to the very end late in the finish where it had a somewhat dry bitter almond sort of taste that was largely unexpected but significant enough to be a bit off putting. The Clement finished second but the winner for 2 of the 3 tasters, including me and again somewhat as a surprise, was the Liberation Rhum. The Clement was first and the Liberation second for the third member of our little tasting group.

 

Next we put the Liberation up against a couple of venerable bottles. This included the now dusty Clement XO, which is at least 6yo and 88 proof but contains rhum from several older and well respected vintages including 1976, 1970 and 1952 (Just how much from these vintages it doesn't say...) as well as a 15yo Rhum JM from 1994 at a cask strength of 89.6 proof. I fully expected the Rhum JM to blow the other two away and indeed one was far superior to the other two. But it wasn't the Rhum JM  that stood head and shoulders above the rest but the young upstart from Marie Galante, the Liberation Rhum! In this tasting it revealed a smokier almost sherry like finish that I would attribute e to the French wine casks. I have no idea why it didn't stand out in the first round but nobody noticed it as prominently as it was in the second round.

 

Weird but wonderful!

 

After a short break for a tequila cocktail using my favorite premixed tequila liqueur, Agavero, it was on to a couple of beers.

 

Wednesday tasting 20JUL16 5.JPG

Wednesday tasting 20JUL16 4.JPG

 

The first was a Wicked Weed called Resonare that was a barrel aged sour ale aged with plums. It was fine except that it did not seem to have much in the way of barrel aging, wasn't particularly sour and nary a plum could be found. Other than that it was fine! It did have a bit of a blood in the cloudy septic urine appearance so that was nice...

 

The next was a freebie from a new distributor carrying Paradox Beer Company from Colorado which I think it fairly new to Georgia. This was their No. 40 Pineapple Upside Down Sour which seemed to be similar to the Wicked Weed although it did have at least a little pineapple (it did have a faint hint, unlike the Wicked Weed which seemed to have no plum at all, but it was not particularly sour. At least there was no blood in this cloudy urine sample...

 

I brought along a Dogfish Head Postive Contact that was several years old but it had long since faded so little more needs to said about that. It was a quick drain pour.

 

Wednesday tasting 20JUL16 6.JPG

Finally we got to the Prairie Apple Brandy Barrel Noir, a stout aged in apple brandy barrels, and we finally got some beer joy! Not much apple (none really but none was expected) but this was a nice stout that was very, very chocolate forward with none of the coffee bitterness that detracts from it for me. Worth a try I thought!

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

A somewhat impromptu Wednesday tasting this week. But it was time to spend a few moments with the cult. Here is the whiskey that tried its best to bury the reputation of Four Roses forever. Thank goodness for Jim Rutledge and the early Japanese ownership which changed its course forever!

 

Now, will it remain the same? Only time, and a lot of drinking, will tell...

 

Wednesday tasting 03AUG16 7.JPGWednesday tasting 03AUG16 8.JPG

 

A pint of blended whiskey with a tax stamp from SC that is probably at from at least the 70's if not older. We didn't try it and the loss is all evaporation and it has some odd residue in the bottom. So it is there primarily for "historical" purposes.

 

I had stopped by to show the bottles I picked up in the Islands and to check out the Four Roses store picks that I had to miss out on a consequence. I brought a couple along for comparison of course but I don't make any final judgment until they show up in the bottle. I have had samples that weren't always consistent with the final product once bottled. In addition the tasting crew picked up a couple of bottles from the gift shop. Oddly it was an OESQ and an OBSQ. And hear I am thinking Q is in short supply.

 

This time there were only 6 barrels to choose from with a variety of B and E mashbills but I believe only F, K and V represented. Not sure if there was an O.

 

Here is what they ended up selecting from what was available. The V proved to be the best of the lot  that was available for choosing by some considerable margin. They had hoped to find a nice K but no such luck. Both of these were in the 9 year 3-4 month range I believe.

 

Wednesday tasting 03AUG16 6.JPG

 

In addition to trying the two Q's brought back from the gift shop I also brought along a couple of past bottles for comparison. A 12yo OESV Jackies pick from 2013 and last years excellent OBSV from DeKalb Bottle House at 9y1m and probabaly closest to what these new samples are in age.

 

Wednesday tasting 03AUG16 1.JPG

 

Wednesday tasting 03AUG16 2.JPGWednesday tasting 03AUG16 3.JPG

 

The Jackie's has a lovely rich dense mouthfeel but is perhaps a touch hot at around 126 out of the bottle. A few drops of water quiets it down a bit without diminishing the lovely caramel/vanilla character. A touch of well balance wood is here as well. This a great whiskey and not really a fair match for the much younger sample. The sample has all those same characteristics but just doesn't quite have the depth if the Jackie's.  When you catch a solid FR in its early teens I think you have really hit a sweet spot for these whiskey's, especially the V. Even with the lower rye content they are quite good with plenty of earthy rye spice notes.

 

The OBSV is in theory a little fairer competition as they are around the same age. Except that of course the pick last year was excellent and while the new pick is good it doesn't quite match last year, at least from the sample bottle.  The DBH 2015 is everything the Jackie's is but lower in proof so that it does not need water. It also has a nice balance of rye spice and a creamy mouth texture. Maybe a touch less wood but I don't really miss it. Just too damned easy to drink!

 

Hopefully the new picks will be in by October which might be just in time for a little surprise for GBS members...

 

Wednesday tasting 03AUG16 4.JPGWednesday tasting 03AUG16 5.JPG 

 

We also tried to the two Q's from the gift shop. Nice enough but neither seemed to really engender a ton of enthusiasm. Both were at 9y2m and so presumably produced around the same time. The E just seemed soft without any defining character. The B was the more floral of the 2 in spite of the description on the bottle and did show a bit more fruit and caramel but just didn't seem quite balanced. Seems like Q is still a fickle mistress...

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

After another long break as a result of some summer travels and local distributor shows on our usual Wednesday afternoon we were able to get back to more typical Wednesday tasting. This week started off with a new Springbank before switching to bourbon for the rest of the day. But first a new product was in town that we naturally had to try, purely for professional reasons of course.  That was a new gin made in Spain called Master's. Although labeled as a London Dry style gin it is made in a somewhat unusual fashion with sourced GNS redistilled in their pot still near Barcelona using juniper and other fairly typical gin spices. In addition there three separate macerations made using bitter orange peel, sweet orange peel and lemon peel. Each is rested separately for a year in tanks before being blended together and then mixed with the juniper & spice component to make the gin. The result is a very citrus forward gin that is not very much like a London Dry style but has a nice rich mouthfeel and some nice peppery character in the finish. Might work in a more floral style cocktail or with a bit of tonic or bitter lemon soda. It comes in a cobalt blue bottle that makes it stand out a bit with Blue Coat being the only other dark blue bottle of gin I recall.
 

Wednesday tasting 28AUG16 1.JPG

 

So, on to the main event! We started with a new Springbank 12yo at a cask strength of 107 proof that had been fully matured in Burgundy. While good on its own I thought it really opened up with a few drops of water. Lots of wine character on the nose and palate with red fruit flavors that carried well into the finish but didn't overwhelm the "Springbank-iness" of the base spirit. Well worth the cost for me but these wood finishes and especially fully matured styles are what I am currently looking for so that is no surprise. I did not bring a comparsion for it but was reminded of a Longrow that was burgundy finished we could have tried. Next time for sure!

 

Wednesday tasting 28AUG16 2.JPG

 

Next up was a newish Belle Meade Cognac finish. Their 9yo Sherry finish was pretty good but alas this was NAS (supposedly 6-9 yo) despite being similar in cost so expectations were not as high. Presumption is that this is again MGP distillate but the mashbill was "30%" rye so maybe a blend of the two main rye recipes? My understanding is that there  basic bourbon is made that way.  Reportedly finished in unidentified 12yo XO cognac barrels this was very cognac forward bourbon where the bourbon takes a back seat. Bottled at a lowish proof of 90.4 it also seemed a bit thin. If was compared in a blind tasting, perhaps a bit unfairly, to the 5th PHC which was a 10yo 100 proof cognac finished bourbon. This was most definitely a bourbon forward whiskey that had a well balanced cognac finish that enhanced the whiskey rather than dominating it in my opinion. I know it received mixed reviews from some people but it was always one of my favorites and time does not seem to have affected it at all. Between the two it was no contest. The Belle Meade was fine but I felt was way overpriced for what you got. If you want to try a finished Belle Meade my recollection is that you would do yourself a favor and go with the 9yo Sherry finished bottle.

 

Next up was a side by side of two new barrel picks. One was a recent store pick of 120 pf Knob Creek that was 12 years and change in age and the other was the newest GBS pick of 125 pf "Full Proof" 1792 from Barton. The Barton was naturally non chill filtered but to my knowledge Beam will still not do that even for barrel picks (There is also a second Knob Creek that is 13 years and change that is expected to arrive as a companion to the bottle we tasted in the next week or so).

 

These were tried blind but the KC had a bit more wood influence that made it a bit drier and fairly easy to pick out from the Barton. While both were drinkable at proof I thought that both benefitted from a few drops of water. Both had some nice caramel sweetness on the entry with the Barton being a bit sweeter whie the KC developed a nice cinnamon component and even more balance with a touch of water. Both were excellent but would be more a specific mood whiskey with the Barton being a little sweeter throughout and the KC showing its greater time in wood with a dryer, sharper but longer finish.

 

For dessert we finished up with a 3 Taverns "3" which was released in celebration of their third anniversary.

 

Wednesday tasting 28AUG16 3.JPGWednesday tasting 28AUG16 5.JPGWednesday tasting 28AUG16 4.JPG

 

I thought the wine barrel finish might be a nice addition and nod to the Springbank Burgundy but sadly there was little in the way of a wine finish to me. It was a perfectly adequate tripel "lite" with a bit of a yeasty character more than malt but not really in the same league as true Belgian triples and didn't seem like something you would want to throw out their as a beer to celebrate an anniversary. But maybe that is just me.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

After yet another long absence due to a variety of things including travel for KBF we finally got together for another edition of Wednesday Tastings!

 

This week it was the "Battle of Knob Creek". I finally got around to opening each of the three KC 2001 batches which we compared blind. Then we did three recent store picks in a blind side by side. The winner of each round then went side by side in a final blind tasting.

 

Wednesday tasting 12OCT16 1.JPG

 

First up were the KC 2001 batches. The original Beam notes indicated the following:

 

Batch 1: Higher in sweet notes, vanilla and caramel, very smooth

Batch 2: Higher in wood, oak notes and more astringent

Batch 3: Mid-way between the other two batches but favors more of the woody notes

 

Despite the picture they were all essentially the same color and of course are cut to 100 proof (in the picture they are out of order with 2 on the left followed by 1 and 3). They were tried blind and the nose did not reveal much difference between the three although one of them was indeed perhaps a bit less sweet on the nose. initial mouthfeel was nice and noteworthy while on the palate they seemed to fit the descriptions surprisingly well. Batch 1 was indeed a bit sweeter with the fairly typical, to me at least, cinnamon characteristic of KC. But it did not seem well balanced. A bit disappointing for a "luxury" bottle to be sure! Batch 2 was indeed drier and more "astringent" on the nose and on the palate. This had a nice drier finish and seemed more balanced over all. But it was Batch 3 that was the clear winner to me with a good balance between the two. All were very easy drinking and a touch of water did not really seem to add much to any of them for me.

 

Wednesday tasting 12OCT16 2.JPG

 

Next it was on to the store picks. 2 are recent arrivals in the store while the third was the store pick from last year which was about 10 1/2 years or so in age. Indeed the bottle from last year was the bottle that for me edged out the GBS KC pick,at least on that particular day, when we tried them blind at the end of last year!

 

Of the new ones they were aged 13y4m, known as "May the 4th be with you!" (it was picked on May 4th but I unfortunately wasn't able to participate) and a 12y3m known as "Bourbon Wars! DBH Strikes back". Yes, it is a Star Wars theme...

 

Again it was hard to tell too much from the nose as all were similar. They were tried blind but the pick of 2 of the 3 tasters was the 13y4m old Bottle called "May the 4th be with you". The 2015 bottling was a close second while the 12y3m bottle seemed a touch hotter throughout than either of the other two. But a touch of water seemed to really help bring it in line with the other 2. Even at 120 proof I didn't find the need for water with the other two although it didn't seem to hurt them any with a drop or two of water.

 

All in all the Battle of Knob Creek, probably not unsurprisingly, was a decisive victory (indeed, it was a massacre!) for the store picks. I found the store picks were as good or to be honest better than the 2001 batches and when you add in the QPR it becomes painfully obvious which is the better choice, at least for me!

 

If I had only known that before I bought them...

 

Wednesday tasting 12OCT16 3.JPGWednesday tasting 12OCT16 4.JPG

 

To finish up the afternoon for dessert we had the newest store pick of Four Roses. A second barrel, also an OBSV, is not far behind. At the selection several recipes were tried but it turned out that the 2 OBSV's were the best (the owner was hoping to get a K but it just wasn't as good as these two). I again managed to miss the selection as I was bobbing about in the French West Indies drinking rhum agricole at the time. As you can see this one weighed in at 109 pf and was 9y6m old. Initial impressions were that this was a very pleasant and easy drinking OBSV somewhat fruit forward pretty much on profile. But after all the Knob Creek fireworks it will of course warrant additional opportunity for careful reflection and assessment!

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

That's one heck of an afternoon! Glad to see Wednesday tastings are back and you're still performing these experiments in the name of whiskey science.

 

I'm still amazed that there are KC barrels at 13yo+ available for private selection. I've heard of one or two 11yo store picks in my area, so perhaps I'll pick one up for comparison against the KC2001. Although based on your findings, the results may give me buyer's remorse.

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Kpiz said:

That's one heck of an afternoon! Glad to see Wednesday tastings are back and you're still performing these experiments in the name of whiskey science.

 

I'm still amazed that there are KC barrels at 13yo+ available for private selection. I've heard of one or two 11yo store picks in my area, so perhaps I'll pick one up for comparison against the KC2001. Although based on your findings, the results may give me buyer's remorse.

 

Yeah, I don't know how long that may last. I think they picked on flavor and did not know the age until afterwards and were a little surprised they were as old as they were. But I missed the pick (I was in SF and Yosemite at that time and my flight out there was May 4th. Had I known in time I would have adjusted it!) so I don't know all the details or the ages of the other barrels they were offered.

 

If you can find it I recommend Batch 3. Or it would be easy enough for one or more to show up in your mailbox... B)

Edited by tanstaafl2
Link to post
Share on other sites

None of the stores around here that do KCSB picks ever reveal the ages. Would be nice to know more info on them.

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, amg said:

None of the stores around here that do KCSB picks ever reveal the ages. Would be nice to know more info on them.

 

Yes, that is true for many stores here as well. Not sure the average salesperson in most liquor stores knows anyway! I just have a good relationship with my store so I am able to find out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So this week I got a heads up their might be a few interesting bottles available to me for the Wednesday Tasting. And what fun is a tasting if you don't have anything to compare it with? So naturally I brought a couple of bottles to do a little side by side comparison with.

 

But just to make things interesting this week my A/C decided to die on Tuesday night. So I was on call from 4-6 to get a technician to work on it. So the testing couldn't be quite as leisurely and, umm, "thorough" as it often is. But we still had time because these appointments never arrive on time, much less early, right? Right??? And so as you might have guessed by now I of course got the call at 2:20 that the technician was ready and would be there at three! This, my friends, is what as known as Tanstaafl's Corollary to Murphy's Law. Everyone pretty much knows Murphy's Law, if something can go wrong, it will, and usually at the worst possible time!

 

And what about Tanstaafl's Corollary? That would be: "Murphy is an optimist."

 

Wednesday tasting 19OCT16 1.JPG

 

But I digress. Lets get on to the whiskey! This week we had several Four Roses barrel picks as well as a side by side for both Sazerac 18 and George T. Stagg to try. First up were the three FR picks. One was a Brent Elliot gift shop pick of OBSK at 8y9m and 101.8pf. The next two were local store picks including one that had just arrived. The first was an OBSV at 9y6m and 109pf while the newest one was an OESV at 9y8m and 114.4pf. To cut to the chase all were good (Hey, it's a FR barrel pick!) and while I generally like the B recipe and lower proof FR picks seem to be particularly good, it was the OESV with the highest proof of the three that was the favorite of the group. Nice nose with some delicate caramel tones, easily drinkable at proof with a solid balance of spice and floral characters. But hard to go wrong with any of them.

 

Wednesday tasting 19OCT16 2.JPG

 

Then we moved on to the one that intrigued me the most. This was a blind comparison between a newly opened Saz 2014 and the current 2016 release. Both seemed to have a similar color, which is always a bit lighter than I expect with an 18yo but I guess that comes from the unfortunate dilution that brings it down to 90 pf. The nose to me was fairly subtle as Saz 18 always seems to be to me. On the palate their was a bit bolder spice but a bit of an acetone character in one compared to the other. It was not an offense acetone character but it did give it a bit more of a rugged character. The other was more rounded and seemed a touch more balanced from start to finish with a very pleasant medium long finish. All but 1 of the 5 people tasting liked the more balanced bottle and thought that it was the older 2014 while the more rugged whiskey was the favorite of one person.

 

As is usually the case when the bottles were revealed it was the 2016 that was the more balanced of the two. The 2014 did not seem to be that similar to what I remember of past versions of the tanked whiskey and they were both newly opened bottles. The 2014 was from my basement where it had been out of the light for the most part so I have no real explanation for the results. Obviously more careful investigation is called for!

 

Wednesday tasting 19OCT16 3.JPG

 

About this time was when I got the dreaded call to head home to get the A/C repaired so we poured samples for everyone of the two Staggs (blind of course but the color of the whiskey, even though both were pretty dark the 2016 was clearly darker even though the picture might not make that clear, made this comparison a bit more obvious), the 2011 at 142.6 that has been opened for a while, perhaps a year or so (but not since 2011), while I went and signed away my first born to pay for the bottles. I did my tasting at home a bit later but I believe it was a full consensus that the new Stagg was the preferred whiskey. To be fair I don't know if the 2011 having been open for a while made a difference but the seal was tight so I have to think it wasn't that much.

 

Wednesday tasting 19OCT16 4.JPG

 

Because of the time crunch things were a bit hurried and so I will need to sit down and taste them both again to get some better notes together. It is a huge sacrifice but one I am willing to make for the sake of whiskey science!

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

We had time to squeeze in a tasting again yesterday to celebrate a very special birthday! But this might be the last one for a few weeks due to some schedule conflicts for the next few weeks. Maybe until after Thanksgiving.

 

In any case this week again focused primarily on bourbon with a bit of American Whiskey thrown in for good measure.

 

Wednesday tasting 26OCT16 2.JPGWednesday tasting 26OCT16 3.JPG

 

First up was the new High West Light Whiskey which is a distillery only bottling as I understand it. This was MGP whiskey distilled from corn (but above the 160 proof mark to be able to call it straight, yet not quite above the 190 proof level that would make it vodka although apparently mighty darn close) and put in used barrels. But it really goes back 14 or more years to around the end of the Seagram's era and the start of Pernod's ownership of the distillery. Pernod eventually flipped the distillery in about 2007 thereby screwing the pooch as the bourbon boom was just starting to bud. They remain largely (entirely?) bourbon free to this day. Probably just as well...

 

The Light whiskey is indeed a bit light at 92 proof but does carry a delightful vanilla character on the nose that carries through to the palate. I can kind of talk myself into some light chocolate character although whether or not it is white chocolate I couldn't say. But I could not come up with that Concord grape overlay despite my best efforts! But certainly a tasty and unique whiskey.

 

Wednesday tasting 26OCT16 1.JPG

 

Next up was our feature of the afternoon with a comparison of the last 5 years of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. We elected not to do this blind  as it gets a bit intense with 5 different whiskies. 2015 and 2016 were newly open for this tasting and the consensus of the four people participating was that 2015 was the winner with a great nose and solid enjoyable palate. None of these seemed to be to far off the general profile to me at least but there were some modest differences. 2013 & 2016 were very close for second with 2013 getting a slight edge from me. 2014 was next with 2012 bringing up the rear. It was not bad mind you but didn't seem to have the palate and finish of the others. Was that related to its age? Perhaps, but 2013 has held up extremely well so I don't think that is the case.   

 

Wednesday tasting 26OCT16 5.JPGWednesday tasting 26OCT16 4.JPG

 

We followed that up with a couple of Tennessee whiskies that had been finished in port. Both were from an unnamed source that was presumed to be Dickel until proven otherwise. The first was from a couple of years ago and was bottled in Nashville. It claims to be around 6 years old, is 90 proof and was finished in Ruby port barrels in two batches for 6 months, one aged during the presumably Nashville winter and one in the summer, which were then blended and bottled. To me it still has a bit of grainy character so if it is indeed 6+ years old that was a bit of a surprise. The port was a California source and I don't know what sort of barrels they used but it makes me wonder if they were on the smaller side. A bit of cherry/red fruit tries to find its way out on the palate under that subtle but present grainy wood character and the finish was relatively short. It was nothing I would seek out again (assuming I could as it was a fairly limited release I understand). Rumor was they were supposed to be released as two separate batches, winter and summer, but I wonder if the summer batch got too much wood and needed the other just to make it drinkable...

 

The second is the Fillmore & Sacremento 9yo Bourbon finished in California port presumably from Sonoma Portworks. Again it was an unspecified Tenenesse whiskey aged 8 years but this one got a full year in port and was aged and bottled by Amador. While this won't please the bourbon purists this had a really solid and enjoyable but rich port character right off the bat on the nose that dominated the palate and carried into a decent pleasant finish. Indeed it might be a little hard to tell what the base spirit is here. This might be more of a dessert whiskey when the mood I s right but it was definitely enjoyable if you like a fairly strong finish. Not quite as complex as a HW MWND perhaps, and not exactly a value buy, but enjoyable all the same.

 

To finish up, some might have noticed the Saz 18 and Stagg bottles in the background of the OFBB. I could not resist trying them again this week after being open for a week (but not blind this time). Short story is the Saz 18's seem to be a bit closer to one another but the 2016 is still my preference and at the very least seems a worthy successor to the line. As for the Stagg, both are again good but my preference again goes to the current 2016 bottle.

 

Hopefully we will be back at it again before Christmas!

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad you found occasion to dig into that "Fillmore & Sacramento" whiskey. The owner and/or manager at D&M (the person who always seems to know the details of their whiskeys, when stuff is coming in, etc.) told me that the base spirit is Dickel, for what it's worth. Not that it seemed to matter since your tasting notes make it sound more like a 100 proof bottle of port!

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Kpiz said:

Glad you found occasion to dig into that "Fillmore & Sacramento" whiskey. The owner and/or manager at D&M (the person who always seems to know the details of their whiskeys, when stuff is coming in, etc.) told me that the base spirit is Dickel, for what it's worth. Not that it seemed to matter since your tasting notes make it sound more like a 100 proof bottle of port!

 

While not port exactly it does seem to be heavily influenced! Like the Corti Bros Exquisite whiskey, which might be the closest comparable I can think of, it almost tends towards a port finished rum like character although I think the Corti Bros is even heavier in character.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, tanstaafl2 said:

 

While not port exactly it does seem to be heavily influenced! Like the Corti Bros Exquisite whiskey, which might be the closest comparable I can think of, it almost tends towards a port finished rum like character although I think the Corti Bros is even heavier in character.

 

 

Thanks for the additional info. The Corti Bros hits me a bit weird and this may have as well. Though as you said, sometimes the mood strikes for a rich dessert whiskey!

 

18 hours ago, tanstaafl2 said:

The Light whiskey is indeed a bit light at 92 proof but does carry a delightful vanilla character on the nose that carries through to the palate. I can kind of talk myself into some light chocolate character although whether or not it is white chocolate I couldn't say. But I could not come up with that Concord grape overlay despite my best efforts! But certainly a tasty and unique whiskey.

 

In regards to the HW Light Whiskey, I do recall a grape flavor when we tasted it at WhiskyFest, though admittedly I probably wouldn't have picked that out if David Perkins hadn't said it. Ah the power of suggestion...

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Kpiz said:

 

Thanks for the additional info. The Corti Bros hits me a bit weird and this may have as well. Though as you said, sometimes the mood strikes for a rich dessert whiskey!

 

 

In regards to the HW Light Whiskey, I do recall a grape flavor when we tasted it at WhiskyFest, though admittedly I probably wouldn't have picked that out if David Perkins hadn't said it. Ah the power of suggestion...

 

Yes, I remember him saying it at WF and it is in the text on the bottle. Not sure I really found it either time. Which probably says more about my palate than anything else!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Well, after a brief respite we were finally back at it yesterday. Since I had recently returned from a trip down island to St. Lucia, Martinique and Marie Galante it only seemed appropriate to take a rum or three for a test run. After trying out the odd sample or two that had collected since our last foray into a variety of whiskies back in October we plunged straight into the mysterious world of rhum agricole. Indeed, only one bottle in the lineup did not have at least some agricole in it.

 

Wednesday tasting 14DEC16 1.JPG

 

We decided to start at the beginning, as it should be, with a couple of blancs.

 

Wednesday tasting 14DEC16 2.JPG

 

First up was the Bielle Canne Grise (a single varietal of the grey species of sugar cane) grown and distilled on Marie Galante. This was a hefty 118 proof spirit and it was paired with the US version of Clement Canne Blue. That said it wasn't much of a comparison. The Canne Grise was a powerful estery, floral diesel-y bomb that drink pretty well despite the proof. Definitely would make an interesting Ti Punch alternative. The Clement by comparison was rather dull with a dry grassy flavor that was a bit one dimensional. Definitely very Jekyll and Hyde!

 

Wednesday tasting 14DEC16 3.JPG

 

Next was the recently arrived Clement single barrel paired with an off the shelf Clement Select Barrel. I did reach out to K&L in an effort to determine what the "New American Oak" for the barrel description really meant. Seems it is likely a new charred bourbon barrel in the range of a normal sized bourbon barrel. Don't know if Clement has their own special barrel size requirements or if it is a pretty standard barrel. Interestingly they do top up barrels in the first two or three years but don't top off the year that they bottle. They add spirit from the same date of distillation to the barrels and presumably it all comes from similar new oak casks that were filled at the same time (although that part is a bit of speculation on my part). For Clement they take a more French, brandy-centric approach it seems and vintage is more important than the single barrel expectations we have for a true single barrel bourbon. The K&L bottle, in addition to being barrel proof such as it is, is about 4 and half years old so about 6 months older than this local store pick.

 

This local pick had a hint of orange to it to some of us (My palate wasn't that sensitive apparently!) with some light caramel and vanilla notes but nothing that dominated. It was perhaps a bit one dimensional and a bit thin at less than 90 proof. Indeed, the select barrel, which is blended from multiple barrels of likely multiple types (new, used, American, French?) was a bit more complex and did not seem as thin despite being only 80 proof. Choosing blind I would no doubt choose the select barrel.

 

Wednesday tasting 14DEC16 4.JPGWednesday tasting 14DEC16 6.JPG

 

Next up were a couple of bottles of the 1931 from St. Lucia which celebrates the founding of the distillery. These rums are a blend of pot and column distillate. The column distillate is 6-10yo and finished for most of its time in port. The pot still component can be anywhere from 8-14yo from 2 different pot stills and the more recent one (the black label) has an added splash (maybe 10%) of local grown rhum agricole style that is 5-6yo and was distilled on a third smaller pot still. While at the distillery I also got to test some of these various distillates individually as well. That may have been the best part of the trip! As for the taste the blue label was rich but sweeter (presumably with at least some added sugar) that had a nice tobacco/leather component to the nose. It didn't carry over completely to the palate and it finished a bit shorter with some musty damp wood notes (in a pretty good way). The black label was drier with a hint of that earthy vegetal note to balance the sweetness and remained longer on the finish with little or none of that damp wood character. Both good but definitely different. Almost a mood rum for the two with a slight preference for the black label.

 

This tour took place before the ship ever left port so needless to say I was already rockin' pretty good before we even hit open water!

 

 

Wednesday tasting 14DEC16 5.JPG

 

We finished up with 3 more from Marie Galante. The Bielle 40th Anniversary was a BP (103.6) blend of roughly 7yo rhums (here must be several batches as I have seen at least one other proof on line) and was a delightful rich rhum although my notes get pretty sparse at this point. Well, non existent really! The real curiosity was the Labat 1997 which supposedly was an 18yo rhum but as you might be able to tell from the picture was significantly lighter than the 8yo sitting next to it. I was a bit suspect but I got to try them at the distillery before buying and this one had the mouthfeel to support the notion that even at 84 proof this one did not need to be cut that much. But it must have been a pretty burned out barrel they were using! Oh, and the 8yo was pretty good to.

 

That was enough!

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Butter!

 

I forgot the lovely, if slightly but delightfully rancid and rather unusual buttery quality that the Labat 1997 had on the nose and to a lesser degree on the palate. Really made it rather distinctive and I was not the only one who picked it up.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ambitious tasting lineup as always! I don't know how you do it, but glad you do. The Clement barrel selection sounds a bit disappointing, though I'm still tempted to pick up the K&L version since it's slightly older and much higher proof.

 

Interesting notes overall and especially in regards to the blancs. I hadn't previously considered the potential impact that the species of cane could have on the resulting distillate, but it makes sense, much like the species of agave affects the flavor of the Mezcal made from it (though production methods obviously make a big difference too, in both cases)

Edited by Kpiz
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.