2015 Holiday Gift Guide

Greetings Whisky Lovers (or very lost people looking for Celtic gifts),
Rather than issue a single list of likely gifts for the whisky enthusiast in your life, I solicited our Glorious Godfathers for a small selection to combine into one list. I gave simple Guidelines:
• One or two bottles
• One whisky-related item
• One non-whisky item
If nothing else, this proved to be a very interesting sociological study. I will call out that no one followed the guidelines as given, and one has yet to respond; if he does I’ll add to the list.
Continue reading


Stag Party – a Dalmore tasting

LA Scotch Club – ClubMez Dalmore tasting and paired dinner at the Far Bar

EventFlyerWell that was a mouthful, and so was the evening.  I’ve always liked Dalmore, but it never made a distinct impression on me until now – and now I even know why. Through conversation I learned Dalmore chill-filters and uses coloring additives. I find the later more disturbing that the former – but it does explain the uniformity of color across the six drams offered.

And for the taste – while chill filtering can remove some of the particles and oils that can add distinction to a dram, I learned every bottle of Dalmore has been  in at least two barrels, American oak, then sherry.  I think this tradition is what leads to the sameness of flavor throughout expressions . . . but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Continue reading


LA Scotch Club – XXX Tasting

No, not that kind of Tripple-X. From the L.A. Scotch Club website: (The specific meeting page is now archived) Scotch is traditionally distilled twice while Irish whisky three times. By tradition, an “X” is used designate each time a spirit has been distilled. Scotch would normally be XX, but on the occasions when it is distilled three times, you get a XXX expression. Only one distillery in Scotland regularly distills three times, Auchentoshan.

LA Scotch Club Malt Poutin' Night - archived

This evening’s tasting included several offerings from Auchentoshan, a Benriach and an Octomore Trestarig (pronounced “trace-arak”) Futures bottle that was limited to investors of Bruichladdich.  Continue reading


Single Cask Nation at Southern California Whiskey Club

Southern California Whiskey Club
Single Cask Nation tasting with Joshua Hatton

A few weeks ago I went to a whiskey tasting to promote Single Cask Nation, a club that makes bottles available from a distiller’s single cask negotiated by Mr. Hatton.  It is a brilliant concept for the whisky connoisseur collector; and if someone wants to really impress me for any gift-giving occasion, I’d love a membership; but right now it is out of my price range.  The clubs offerings are all cask strength, and all have a researched history, which I’ll link to with each post.

The tasting itself was nicely run, and the host venue, Blu Jam Cafe in Sherman Oaks, provided several light diner options and cold water. We sat out on the back patio, which presented a few challenges for a tasting that I will get into later. It also is the reason I don’t have pictures: I relied on my cell phone, that does not have a flash, and as the light quickly faded I realized I was not going to be able to capture any quality images.

Since he has a relationship with the distillers and is such a lover of whisky, Joshua had a great story to go with each offering. He quickly built a rapport with the attendees and the evening passed all too soon. If you have an opportunity to attend one of these tastings, I highly recommend it.

If you, however, you might want to bring your own glasses.  Only one was provided for each of us – so not only was some whisky wasted as those who didn’t want to finish their (measured) pours were forced to pour it in a waste container, but we were on our own for cleaning the glass between drams.  I was the only one being so diligent as to rinse, wipe, then rinse again to remove any lint, and leave the glass up-side-down to let the water drain out.

Also, on the “needs improvement” list, there were no palette cleansers and since time was a factor, we moved rather quickly through the drams, not leaving much time for blooming or color appreciation between pours.
Continue reading


Better get Cash

Bank Note – Blended scotch, 5-years old

I had some time to kill the first full day after Passover (A Jewish holiday where one abstains from bread and grains for 8 days) and decided to sup at a pizza joint.  I was seated near the bar and could hear the training of the new tender.  My eyes started to wander across the whiskey selections and I came across the following bottle:

Click to enlarge.

Something about the label had me transfixed, and I walked up to take a closer look.  You see, though the bottle was with other whiskies, I couldn’t tell if what kind of liquor this was.  Once I got the bartender’s attention and asked, he told me it was their standard “well” whiskey and that since it was Happy Hour, the dram was far more than reasonably priced.  How could I refuse?  He was also kind enough to let me snap a picture of the full label after he poured a generous dram, neat.

Click to enlarge

Once I had the dram in my hand, it was love at first sight. No, really, the color of this blend was so warm and inviting I was both eager and hesitant to drink it. I’d call it amber, but it doesn’t do it justice. Click to Enlarge
Like a mix of honey and candlelight, but with a level of clarity I don’t think I’ve seen before.  (I really hope that is the natural color and not because of an additive, but I’m not sure how to find out.)

The bar did not have a tulip glass, so it was served in an angled old fashioned. Not a bad glass, but without a lower bulb, it was hard to swirl the dram and not spill a drop.  I settled for a slow rotation and was almost hypnotized as the sheet broke into legs led by heavy drops, indicating a greater-than-average viscosity.

Falling in love with the aesthetics, I was ready to start the olfactory experience. Bringing my nose over the glass wood smoke is the first impression, but it is light and tempered with soft brine; like a campfire put out with ocean water. The overall bouquet is mild, and though lingering, even with my nose in the glass, scent seems a little muted, as if I’m trying to find something just out of reach by scent.

I almost don’t want to write the next paragraph, about the actual taste.  I so wanted the flavor to match the visuals and nose; but I found it falling short.

Click to Enlarge Here is where I must give a small warning to the reader – at this tasting I had a bit of a burn in my mouth from my morning coffee. I’m afraid this colored my actual tasting of this dram. (Meaning I’ll have to have it again when my lips and mouth are at their best, no?) 

There was just a little more burn than I wanted, and the flavors, though not bad, just didn’t live up to the complexity of the nose. There was still a distinct smokiness, and a salty feel around the mouth, and even notes of citrus threatening to break through, but nothing really stood out or lingered for very long.  Overall I was left with not much more than wood and burn on my palette.

I tried to warm the dram, but the glass made that impossible, so I bloomed it with a few drops of water, hoping to quiet the heavier wood notes and bring up the hints of citrus and smoke – but it had the opposite effect.  The nose went almost dead, and the flavors just all muddled together into a generic whiskey taste.  I can’t imagine using this in a cocktail if it loses so much character just with a little water.

Overall, I don’t think I’ll be buying the bottle. I wish I knew more about the process, and the distiller to hint at how there can be such disparity between sight, smell and taste – and  I’m hoping this impression is due to poor tools. Stay tuned for the epilogue after I taste this again, (at Happy Hour, or course.)


Finnegan’s Eight

Prologue

As with all good things Irish, this will start with a story of how I came to be tasting this dram on St. Patrick’s Day this year.

Finnegan 8 Year

Finnegan 8 Year

I figured St. Patrick’s Day would be a perfect occasion to sample a nice Irish Whiskey and do a write up on my findings; but when I checked the liquor cabinet, and the auxiliary cabinet where I store the tall bottles, and the display shelf for the pretty ones (well you get the idea) I couldn’t find a single bottle of Irish Whiskey. Nine bottles of Scotch, one from Taiwan, one American bourbon; but nothing from the Emerald Isle.

Continue reading


Tasting Notes – Bruchladdich 16, Bourbon Cask and Highland Chief.

Tuesday night Raz and I went to a local saloon (Johnny’s in Huntington Beach, CA) for a nightcap and had a rather surprising experience.  As we usually do at Johnny’s, we ordered drams of something new – or at least something from bottles we didn’t recognize. (Johnny’s is rather dark, and though they have a remarkable whiskey collection, the staff is not always knowledgeable of same.)  What we ended up with were two very drinkable drams on quite different ends of the price spectrum.

NOTE –  There won’t be too much talk of visuals because there is more light coming from the TV screens than from any interior lighting.

B16BCCadillac
When I asked the bartender about the bottle, he said something about a “cask” and I thought it might be a quarter cask. It wasn’t until I had my first sip that I walked around and studied it that I saw it was a Bruchladdich. At about $100 a bottle, I should not have been surprised how pleasant the taste was – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The dram looked pale, but looks can be deceiving. Once it got even close to my nose the sweetness was very dominant, hints of vanilla, notes of the oak, and a promise of iodine, but I found the predominant aroma to be sweet cream.
The promise was kept on the palette too, the creaminess counterpointed with iodine all surrounded with vanilla and oak.  While the iodine was too much for Raz, we both agreed this dram was right up my alley. The flavor was full and round, with the wood and vanilla notes turning around the yin and yang of iodine and cream.  I’ve had Bruchladdich before, but I haven’t been this impressed with it in the past.  I’m guessing the age and bourbon cask gave this dram the sweetness and richness that I can not wait to try again.
Sadly there was no water to bloom with, and the Old Fashion glass was too thick to really get it warm enough with my hands.

 

HondaHighlandChief
I initially passed on the Highland Chief based on name alone – it was obviously a blend, and sounded like a cheap one too.  I also have no great fondness for the cheaper Highland scotches, so I passed.  Raz decided to take the chance, and we are both very glad he did.
So impressed with his reaction, I begged for a sip and found a surprisingly satisfying dram.  A smooth veil of smoke covered a mild spice and citrus flavor that lasted just as long as the whisky was on the tongue.  It was simple and short, but such a nice taste that I’ll be adding this bargain basement bottle (as low as $10, never over $20) to my shelf soon.


2012 Non-Whiskey Gift List

Tradition dictates that sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving the 3DC publishes a list of non-whiskey gifts for the whiskey enthusiast.  This year I hit the search engines to find some obvious, and some new treasures to possibly delight the whiskey lover on your “nice” list. (If they are on your “naughty” list, get them some Whiskey Stones.)

The indented text is from the merchants, while the standard text is my own editorial input.

 

WhiskeyMichaelJacksonWhiskey: The Definitive World Guide
By Michael Jackson (No, not that Michael Jackson.)
~$30.00

http://books.google.com/books/about/Whiskey.html?id=ZZQMAgAACAAJ

http://www.amazon.com/Whiskey-Definitive-World-Michael-Jackson/dp/0789497107

From grain to glass, “Whiskey” tells you everything and anything you’ll ever want to know about whiskey, from storing and serving whiskey, whiskey cocktails, to pairing whiskey with food. Whether interested in the story behind aromas and flavors, what makes certain distilleries unique or how weather and environment influence taste–this is the most fascinating illustrated examination of whiskey on the market.

It’s always nice to have something to read while you sip your favorite dram.  And while there is no end to whisky-related books on the market, this “definitive guide” should have something any whisky-lover could enjoy.

 

Whisky Advocate (formerly Malt Advocate) Magazine

WhiskyAdvocate

http://www.whiskyadvocate.com/default.asp
1 year – $18.00

Whisky Advocate magazine is America’s leading whisky publication. It’s a premier source for whisky information, education and entertainment for whisky enthusiasts. Whisky Advocate also sponsors WhiskyFest™, the country’s largest and most respected whisky tasting events.

Since the magazine’s inception more than 20 years ago, Whisky Advocate influence reaches an increasing audience of enthusiasts, press and trade from around the world.

Our contributors are the most knowledgeable whisky writers and they stay on top of trends, new products and breaking news.

A bit pricy for a quarterly, but so full of the latest and greatest information on our favorite spirit that it is worth every penny.  Also it is available digitally for those that don’t want the paper.

 

Butlers Jameson Irish Whiskey Truffles
http://www.chocolate.com/products/butlers-jameson-irish-whiskey-truffles/JamesonTruffles
$11.00 +S&H

These mouthwatering truffles combine the wonderful taste of Butlers Irish Chocolate with the distinctive flavor of Jameson Irish Whiskey. In 1932, Ms. Marion Bailey Butler set to making delicious and original handcrafted chocolates from her kitchen in Dublin, Ireland. People loved Butlers because of its delicious and original recipes – many of which have been handed down through the years. Butlers has received many awards for both its chocolates as well as attractive packaging.

Nothing says “I love you” to a member of 3DC like Irish Whiskey *and* chocolate! And if there happened to be one or two of these boxes under this author’s proverbial tree, she would feel loved indeed.

 

Bushmills Whiskey Marmalade
 Maramladehttp://www.englishteastore.com/whiskey-marmalade-bushmills.html
< $10 (Depending on specials, could be only $7 + S&H)

Try our Bushmills Irish Whiskey Marmalade. A traditional medium cut orange rind with a kick of Bushmills Irish Whiskey. The secret spices give it the most distinctive of flavors. The old Bushmills Distillery in Ireland, is devoted to the production of the finest quality Irish whiskey. Whiskey making at Bushmills draws on centuries-old distilling history, including the first license to distill whiskey.

A gift basket with home-made Irish soda bread, Scotch shortbread, English Muffins, and this marmalade would be fantastic, no?

 

GlencarinGlencairn 3 Piece Whiskey Glasses and Book Bundled Gift Set
http://www.amazon.com/Glencairn-Piece-Whiskey-Glasses-Bundled/dp/B004085SEQ
$35.00 The perfect gift for the whiskey lover in your life, this gift set includes two Glencairn crystal whiskey tasting glasses and Helen Arthur’s The Single Malt Whisky Companion hardcover book.

Combining the knowledge and expertise of some of the whiskey world’s leading innovators, the unique and stylish shape of the Glencairn glass has been crafted with eminent care to enhance the enjoyment of single malts and aged blends.

The Single Malt Whisky Companion provides information on every major Scottish distillery and their single malts as well as the premier whiskeys from Ireland and Japan.. Covering 500 years of Scottish tradition associated with this unique beverage, this is the essential guide to enjoying the finest premier single malts available.

Either one would be a great gift on its own, but combined they are almost irresistible. And with two glasses, it begs the receiver to share a dram with the giver!

 

Little Whizzer Liquor DispenseLIttelWhizzer

~ $20

Inspired by Brussels’ famous Mannekin Pis (“little man piss”) fountain statue, the Little Whizzer liquor dispenser will provide your guests with a funny (and slightly disturbing ) drinking experience. “A kid peeing whisky into a tumbler is funny no matter where you live.”

Never Forget The Funny!

 

 

Jameson Swag

If you put “Jameson” into an Amazon.com search, you can find all kinds of things:

JamesonTowelSocks:  http://www.amazon.com/Jameson-Whiskey-Black-Socks-Size-6-11-Ships/dp/B006LL1ZIS

             $9.99

 

 

 

 

Shirts:

 JamesonShirt1 http://www.amazon.com/Jameson-Whiskey-Triple-Distilled-Graphic/dp/B007UPIY56/ref=pd_sim_sbs_misc_3 $27.99 – $29.99
 JamesonShirt2 http://www.amazon.com/Malham-Jameson-Whiskey-T-Shirt/dp/B007BEWAAG/ref=pd_sim_sbs_a_1 $19.99 – $25.00
 JamesonShirt3 http://www.amazon.com/Jameson-Whiskey-Striped-Green-Embroidered/dp/B007UPIWJE/ref=pd_sim_sbs_a_4 $42.99
There are many more, but you can do your own search of Amazon’s inventory.

Bar Towel: http://www.amazon.com/Jameson-Irish-Whiskey-Cotton-Towel/dp/B003TS6Q94/ref=pd_sim_sbs_a_3

JamesonBar

                      $4.95
They have Jack Daniels too, and many other breweries.

Hats:

 JamesonHat1 http://www.amazon.com/Jameson-Irish-Whiskey-Military-Cotton/dp/B007EMII5Q/ref=pd_sim_sbs_a_4 $11.99
 JamesonHat2 http://www.amazon.com/Jameson-Irish-Whiskey-Light-Green/dp/B009UGC7WY/ref=pd_rhf_se_p_t_1 $16.99

 

And we have come to the end of my lunch hour, and thus the end of this list.  I hope you are inspired to share your love of whiskey with those whom you share your life.  And seriously, someone tell my husband about those chocolates!  ;>