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Steven C

A Word or Two About Velvet Bricks

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Steven C

I write copy for a living, so I try not to be too critical of marketing-copy for booze. I think lots of folks will tell you that they don't pay any attention to marketing or packaging, but the truth of the matter is, in some sense, there's really no escaping it.  Even if you appreciate a brand that tries to stay low-key and un-sensational, well...that's a style too. 

 

All that said, I do think the art of writing about spirits — tasting notes in particular — has become a kind of art-form in and of itself. And like any kind of speech that gets formal and codified (or any art form or genre) the more formal it gets, the more extreme it gets at the same time.   (Like heavy rock music: Deep Purple > Sabbath > Judas Priest > Metallica > Ramstein...etc.)

 

This is the current copy for Rare Breed on the Binny's website, from the "Beverage Tasting Institute (are they hiring?):

 

Medium amber color. Nutty aromas and flavors of butter roasted peanuts, cherry-peach pastry, root beer float with coffee-banana ice cream, and sandalwood soap with a supple, vibrant, fruity full body and a warming, elegant, very long vanilla toffee, brown and peppery spices, and cola finish. A flavor-packed, thrusting, in-your-face bourbon that hits the senses like a velvet brick.
 

I don't know about you, but this sorta stuff kinda cracks me up. "Thrusting" would have elicited giggles from 7th grade me, and I have to admit that 58 year old me couldn't stop laughing either.  And I've never had coffee-banana ice cream, but damn that DOES sound pretty good.

 

Feel free to post your favorites and any extreme examples you can find. I have to admit that these blurbs have LIKELY influenced a pick or two on my behalf, but I am pretty sure that my copywriter's pen will never pull one of these off with a straight-face!

 

 

 

 

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Richnimrod

I'd 'post my favorites'... but, I think I've overdosed on adjectives while reading that silliness.       ...flavors of ... sandalwood soap???!!!???    What the hell does that taste like.... and how in the world would anyone ever find that out?

Never mind.   I don't think I wanna know.

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Vosgar

Your thread reminds me of this story in Carla Harris Carlton's book, "Barrel Strength Bourbon" about Jimmy Russell and Elmer T. Lee.

 

"He (Jimmy) likes to tell a story about the time that he and the late Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee, another legend of the industry, attended a tasting event. They sat there, listening, as the speaker rhapsodized about the flavors in a particular whiskey: dried fruit, chocolate, pepper, leather. "Elmer leaned over to me," Jimmy recalls with a twinkle, "and he said, 'You ever put any of that shit in your bourbon?' "

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The Black Tot
1 hour ago, Vosgar said:

Your thread reminds me of this story in Carla Harris Carlton's book, "Barrel Strength Bourbon" about Jimmy Russell and Elmer T. Lee.

 

"He (Jimmy) likes to tell a story about the time that he and the late Buffalo Trace Master Distiller Elmer T. Lee, another legend of the industry, attended a tasting event. They sat there, listening, as the speaker rhapsodized about the flavors in a particular whiskey: dried fruit, chocolate, pepper, leather. "Elmer leaned over to me," Jimmy recalls with a twinkle, "and he said, 'You ever put any of that shit in your bourbon?' "

 

Ha! When I heard that story, it was Jimmy Russel saying to Jim Rutledge "I don't know about you, but I don't put any of that shit in MY bourbon..."

 

I guess it doesn't really matter who it was, it's a great quote and a perfectly made point.

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0895
4 hours ago, Richnimrod said:

...flavors of ... sandalwood soap???!!!???    What the hell does that taste like...


some IPA’s have a soapy aftertaste.

 

Or at least that’s how I describe it...

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Richnimrod
6 hours ago, 0895 said:


some IPA’s have a soapy aftertaste.

 

Or at least that’s how I describe it...

OK then.    Never tried an "IPA", so I defer to your experience and description, 0895.

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smokinjoe
12 hours ago, Steven C said:

I write copy for a living, so I try not to be too critical of marketing-copy for booze. I think lots of folks will tell you that they don't pay any attention to marketing or packaging, but the truth of the matter is, in some sense, there's really no escaping it.  Even if you appreciate a brand that tries to stay low-key and un-sensational, well...that's a style too. 

 

All that said, I do think the art of writing about spirits — tasting notes in particular — has become a kind of art-form in and of itself. And like any kind of speech that gets formal and codified (or any art form or genre) the more formal it gets, the more extreme it gets at the same time.   (Like heavy rock music: Deep Purple > Sabbath > Judas Priest > Metallica > Ramstein...etc.)

 

This is the current copy for Rare Breed on the Binny's website, from the "Beverage Tasting Institute (are they hiring?):

 

Medium amber color. Nutty aromas and flavors of butter roasted peanuts, cherry-peach pastry, root beer float with coffee-banana ice cream, and sandalwood soap with a supple, vibrant, fruity full body and a warming, elegant, very long vanilla toffee, brown and peppery spices, and cola finish. A flavor-packed, thrusting, in-your-face bourbon that hits the senses like a velvet brick.
 

I don't know about you, but this sorta stuff kinda cracks me up. "Thrusting" would have elicited giggles from 7th grade me, and I have to admit that 58 year old me couldn't stop laughing either.  And I've never had coffee-banana ice cream, but damn that DOES sound pretty good.

 

Feel free to post your favorites and any extreme examples you can find. I have to admit that these blurbs have LIKELY influenced a pick or two on my behalf, but I am pretty sure that my copywriter's pen will never pull one of these off with a straight-face!

 

 

 

 

Yeah, that basically reads like every other Fred Minnick review...

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Vosgar
8 hours ago, The Black Tot said:

 

Ha! When I heard that story, it was Jimmy Russel saying to Jim Rutledge "I don't know about you, but I don't put any of that shit in MY bourbon..."

 

I guess it doesn't really matter who it was, it's a great quote and a perfectly made point.

Knowing how bourbon stories are rather, shall we say, fluid, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a bunch of versions of this story :D

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FasterHorses

I liked (didnt like) this one from AD Laws wheated
“alpine meadows, pink peppercorns and crisp linen”  Really?

 

The 100% Colorado-grown wheat from Colorado Malting Company comes from the unique terroir of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, which imparts aromas of mountain strawberries and orange marmalade that accentuate hints of alpine meadows and wildflower honey. Jasmine tea, sage and spruce tips fade into pink peppercorns, with crisp linen on the mouthfeel. The spirit finishes dry with a slight bitter, candied orange finish

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Steven C
35 minutes ago, FasterHorses said:

I liked (didnt like) this one from AD Laws wheated
“alpine meadows, pink peppercorns and crisp linen”  Really?

 

The 100% Colorado-grown wheat from Colorado Malting Company comes from the unique terroir of the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, which imparts aromas of mountain strawberries and orange marmalade that accentuate hints of alpine meadows and wildflower honey. Jasmine tea, sage and spruce tips fade into pink peppercorns, with crisp linen on the mouthfeel. The spirit finishes dry with a slight bitter, candied orange finish

Yep, that's insane. "Crisp linen" as a scent....possibly...as a mouthfeel???  That's more of a moth-feel is ya ask me!

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BourbonGuy

I guess if the reviewer said: "I get a sweet, honey and caramel."  You be unimpressed.  In his book (wine, not Bourbon) How to drink like a billionaire, Mark Oldman mentions reviews like that.  He said he makes up stuff  like he tastes "Fox berries".

He said people nod knowingly.  Of course there is no such thing as fox berries, and therefore nobody has tasted them.  Yet nobody challenges him.    

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BigRich

I’ve still never seen anything that comes close to the tasting notes provided by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Those are just crazy.

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Steven C

Because those "light" cacao nibs never quite cut it...

I also love that the toffee flavor is distinctly the sort you get with "crushed pieces."

 

On the nose, baked peach and apple cobbler, caramel corn, cinnamon sticks, vanilla cream, butterscotch candy, a soft layer of oak spice. On the taste, baked peach and apple covered in milk chocolate sauce topped with crushed pieces of toffee, red cherry, and vanilla cream. The finish starts with confectionary fruits and cream before drifting into dark cacao nibs, oak char, and baking spices. 

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fishnbowljoe

I remember a few descriptors folks here have used over the years. Among the best are, wet paper bag, dirty diapers and ass. Wait a minute. Ass was used to describe the old carpet at the GN. My bad. ;)

 

Biba! Joe

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Mako254

Not sure about the notes but the last few bottles of Rare Breed I have purchased have been damn good. 

 

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Curtis Reed

Call me crazy, but sometimes when I smell Woodford, I smell pond water

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Richnimrod
2 hours ago, Curtis Reed said:

Call me crazy, but sometimes when I smell Woodford, I smell pond water

You're Crazy!!!   Well, you told me to call you crazy!    I don't get 'pond water' exactly; but I do sometimes get a kinda sour metallic aroma, and even a metallic taste sometimes with WR .   I always assumed it had to do with their pot distillation of some portion of what goes into their batches (a small bit now I think?).     I don't notice it a bunch; but, then again I don't pour WR a bunch either... because of this I guess.    In fact I no longer even have a bottle open.

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smokinjoe
19 minutes ago, Richnimrod said:

You're Crazy!!!   Well, you told me to call you crazy!    I don't get 'pond water' exactly; but I do sometimes get a kinda sour metallic aroma, and even a metallic taste sometimes with WR .   I always assumed it had to do with their pot distillation of some portion of what goes into their batches (a small bit now I think?).     I don't notice it a bunch; but, then again I don't pour WR a bunch either... because of this I guess.    In fact I no longer even have a bottle open.

I would find it interesting to know what the combo percentages of those Woodford pot still whiskies and B-F column still whiskies are now (and ages of each), and how they may have been been adjusted over the years.  I don’t get nearly the copper penny/cantaloupe rind notes that I sensed some years ago, but they are still there.  

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PaulO

So which spices qualify as "baking spices"?

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The Black Tot
8 hours ago, PaulO said:

So which spices qualify as "baking spices"?

 

Why have you got to go and ruin some perfectly good bullshit?

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Richnimrod
9 hours ago, PaulO said:

So which spices qualify as "baking spices"?

Speaking only for myself, I use the term to describe any mixture of aromas/flavors normally used in the baking of cookies/cakes of varying types.   

For me the actual number/combination of these 'spices' that I can pin down will vary from brand to brand of Bourbon, as well as from batch to batch and certainly from barrel to barrel.     The mixtures I sense might feature one or more in a dominant position and one or more further in the background.    It's just quicker to call the impression; "baking spices" and not get too far into the weeds of sorting for dominance, or finding those really subtle additional notes.    It gets to be less enjoyable, and more like work at some point.    If one is doing this sort of thing for a living, especially if one has a truly discerning palate, this 'shorthand' is probably anathema.   For me, it can seem challenging after a while to keep seeking and accurately naming  those nuances.      My hat is off to those who can readily identify and describe a half-dozen or more 'baking spices' in a Bourbon.   I'm not that good at it, nor that motivated to try to be.

The 'spices' that normally come to mind when tasting Bourbons are (for me at least) cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and clove.    Others may well come to mind occasionally; but I sense those four most frequently.   

Some of the other flavors/aromas I sometimes find are citrus in nature, cherry or cherry-cordial, and stone fruits, as well as 'stewed fruits'.   Then there are those oaky/tannic, nutty, and/or grassy notes found with some regularity; but that's another conversation, I think. 

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Flyfish
36 minutes ago, Richnimrod said:

 

The 'spices' that normally come to mind when tasting Bourbons are (for me at least) cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and clove.    Others may well come to mind occasionally; but I sense those four most frequently.   

Some of the other flavors/aromas I sometimes find are citrus in nature, cherry or cherry-cordial, and stone fruits, as well as 'stewed fruits'.   Then there are those oaky/tannic, nutty, and/or grassy notes found with some regularity; but that's another conversation, I think. 

Everybody recognizes the notes you recognize so there is no extra credit for recognizing them. A "real" taster remembers The Princess and the Pea and therefore knows that it is essential to notice something so subtle that nobody else can detect it or argue with it. (De gustibus non disputantum est.)  Like sandalwood soap. Come to think of it, in my Longbranch I detect a hint of fresh green pea, grown in East Texas within 75 yards of the Big Thicket, picked in the third week of April, and shipped to market in a flex-fuel truck but slightly bruised when the box was unloaded.

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fishnbowljoe
1 hour ago, Flyfish said:

Come to think of it, in my Longbranch I detect a hint of fresh green pea, grown in East Texas within 75 yards of the Big Thicket, picked in the third week of April, and shipped to market in a flex-fuel truck but slightly bruised when the box was unloaded.

BRILLIANT!   👍

 

Biba! Joe

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Paddy

:o...............and all this time I thought fox berries were just, scat. 

Edited by Paddy

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GeeTen
5 hours ago, Flyfish said:

(De gustibus non disputantum est.) 

oooo, I just love it when you talk dirty like that - gives me goosebumps all over mah body!   😜

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