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!  ;>


Review: Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt (Shackleton’s Replica)

img_4456 This is probably the single dram I have ever actually looked forward to. Most drams I am simply pleasantly surprised to find out they exist, but this one… this one has been on my radar since it was announced after the Shackleton expedition find hit the news sites. Imagine, a replica whisky built off of actual exemplars which have literally been on ice for a hundred years, preserving the contents in a spectacular fashion!

For some of our newer readers, I’ll remind you that whiskies do not age in the bottle, so what was discovered in the crates in Ernest Shackleton’s hundred year old base camp was unchanged from when it when in the bottle so many years back. This provided an amazing opportunity for some lucky few (one being Richard Patterson, also known as “The Nose”, of Whyte & Mackay) to test, sample, and ultimately reproduce a new blend whisky to replicate the original as closely as possible with today’s available stock.

If you’ve not seen the show, I highly recommend checking out NatGeo’s “Shackleton’s Whisky” episode on the discovery of the whiskies he’d purchased for his expedition. This show delves into a good balance of the history of the expedition, as well as the process used in recreating the replica bottling. They really treated the bottles with utmost care and respect; amazing they held up so well for so long in such harsh conditions, but they do show their age 😉

So, of course, when I heard the replica was finally released and available in the States, I had to grab a bottle for my shelves. (Can’t quite say collection, as I don’t collect…. though this one will likely be opened far fewer times than most bottles on my shelves.) Well, it just arrived today, so I took the opportunity to snap a few photos then crack her open for a wee dram to take some studious notes and share for you all to drool over…

My first amusement was the packaging, which does a great job at mimicking the original crates. Of course the bottles weren’t individually packaged for Shackleton’s voyage, so Whyte & Mackay had to take some small liberties with the individual cases. The packaging could have been gimmicky and simple novelty, but thought was obviously put into this and resulted in a job well done. I will admit, as I stood in my kitchen opening the box, I did feel a bit of an explorer uncovering a long lost treasure, and a slight silly pang of guilt for not wearing my white gloves for the job. Gingerly pulling off the tissue paper wrapping, noting tears in expected places from the boxing, I was greeted by a lovely sight:

img_4472

But, as I noted above, I’m not a collector and can’t leave well enough alone, so I grabbed a tulip glass and gently shuffled the tin wrapper up and off without causing a tear (easily replaced back to original effect once I poured my dram). Right off the bat I noted how surprisingly light the whisky actually appeared. A few pictures later and I got down to tasting…  here are my notes:

 

Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt “Shackleton” Whiskey

  • Nose: A bit of heat at the start, then straight into the sweetness from the sherry butts and a waft of smoke to compliment. Next some subtle spices like a Major Grey’s chutney slink in, but hang around the shadows while lightly buttered toast enters only to highlight the orange zest originally hidden by the initial ethanol heat.
  • Flavour: Mild and subtle are the two words to spring to mind at first taste. There is very little bite from the alcohol, which at a higher 47.3% was as surprising as the light colouring. The first flavours to hit my palate are cheesecake with a nice toasted graham-cracker crust into a smokey fine quality toffee, then the oak follows to balance the sweet with the dry.
  • Finish: This dram has a middle to long finish which moves into heavier oak on the end. Quite dry during the last half of the finish as it slowly fades away leaving a nice woody tannin dryness to contrast the sweetness from the start.
  • Viscosity: 4   (it looks quite crisp in the glass, but in the mouth it is surprisingly and pleasantly chewy)
  • Boldness: 2
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal Taste:  A+
  • Extraneous Notes: It is very light in colour than what I was expecting for the age and casks of the distillates used in creating this replica, as well as the final marrying. This really is a quintessential Speyside dram though, as it drinks with far more depth than the colour would initially indicate. Like all quality aged whiskies, the subtleties really shine here, as the recipe is perfectly balanced to highlight each of the mild and balanced tones coming through. Not only is this dram balance at every point on the palate, but the balance transcends the immediate taste and works effortlessly to balance the entire length of the story; a task easily but brilliantly achieved by this blending.

 img_4486

I’m sure none of you are surprised to find this rated so highly on my personal taste; after all it is an expensive dram with a Speyside pedigree which I have been looking forward to for a while now. And yes, that may well indeed cloud my perception of this dram to some extent. But I tell you this: I’ve had far older, and far more expensive drams which don’t compare to the complexities and balance of Shackleton’s whisky. There is an impressive marriage of notes to this whisky which take it from a simple good dram, to an outstanding dram which may now take the top spot as my favourite (bumping the Balvenie 21 Portwood to a meager second place), but I think another dram or two will be needed before I close the books on that end. I’m quite pleased to have obtained a bottle for what I did, as I can imagine the price increasing exponentially from here on out as supplies become more limited. This IS a strictly limited 50,000 bottle run. Once gone, well… you’re only hope will be if another adventurer stocks away a case or two which are later rediscovered and replicated within your lifetime.

If you’re a fan of slightly smoked Speyside whiskies, do yourself a favour and pick up this bottle soon… you’ll regret it if you don’t. Thus far, my only regret is that I can’t buy more!

 

 


Barrel Aged Manhattan Cocktail- aka “The Manhattan Project”

Generally, the 3DC don’t speak much about cocktails and rather prefer to imbibe in the dram straight, neat of course. But there are indeed cocktails we enjoy, one of them being the traditional Manhattan.

So what to do once your 2 liter barrel has aged two runs of whitedog whiskies and is essentially spent when it comes to aging bourbon? Well, you take a page out of Jeffery Morgenthaler’s blog (soon to be book), and barrel age your Manhattan, obviously.

Here’s the recipe I used (thanks to Big Bottom Whiskey’s website ) to mix up my first batch of what I un-creatively dubbed “The Manhattan Project”:

  • 2 ½ oz Big Bottom American Straight Bourbon
  • ¾ oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

I scaled the recipe up to fit my 2 liter barrel using the following amounts:

  • 2200 ml Big Bottom American Straight Bourbon
  • 660 ml Sweet Vermouth
  • 60 dashes (18ml) Angostura bitters

Once the 2 liter barrel was filled, this recipe yields an extra 750ml bottle of finished cocktail plus enough for one drink while I’m cleaning up… You may wish to scale down the recipe slightly if you don’t wish to have that much extra. In my case I wanted to see how the same cocktail faired in glass versus barrel storage, so having a bottle extra worked perfectly for me.

I filled my barrel and promptly forgot about it for a week. To my utter shock and surprise, when I remembered to test a sample a week and a day later, the change was remarkable. So much so I opted to halt the experiment then and there, bottle up the first run, and mix up a second batch.

Because of the large difference I tasted after only that first week, I was hesitant to keep it in the barrel any longer for fear of getting too much oak and tannins from the wood in the final cocktail. As it stands after only a week, the cocktail has pulled a nice mild smokiness and woodiness from the barrel while at the same time marrying the vermouth, bitters, and bourbon into a single entity rather than three distinct parts. A comparison of the glass bottle cocktail aged for the same length of time shows the marrying beginning to occur, but only in its infancy stages after a week. Obviously the glass version doesn’t have that deeper richness imparted by the 2 liter oak barrel either. The difference a single week in the barrel made was a spectacular showing of just how distinctly different barrel aged cocktails can be from their normal counterparts.

I enjoyed the outcome of this experiment so much so that batch 2 is now resting in the barrel, perhaps for even a bit longer this go around. After that I may experiment with only barrel aging the vermouth rather than the entire cocktail (a suggestion from Ted Pappas of Big Bottom Whiskey) based on the fact that the bourbon is already oak aged but the vermouth is not. The only component missing being the time to marry the ingredients, which could then be done in a neutral vessel like glass.

Of course, next up I can really start playing with the variables and find the perfect vermouth and bitters, or even go down the path of making my own bitters… but I think I’ll save that rabbit hole for some other time and simply enjoy my pre-made cocktail for a bit instead 😉


Big Bottom Whiskey’s Tasting Room Grand Opening

It’s no secret; I’m a fan of Big Bottom Whiskey. This past Saturday, both Jean and I had another opportunity to join in and help bottle up more of the batch 3 Port finish, and get the Wild Bill warehouse series dram in the new bottles as well. As always, we had a fabulous time meeting new people and laughing our butts off through the various bits of conversation and chatter that occurs on the production line.

More importantly, though, Saturday was when Ted and Taylor opened the Big Bottom tasting room at the front of the warehouse. This is huge news for some of us locals, as they will be exclusively selling the warehouse series through the tasting room; yup, that means nowhere else, folks. While the rest of you can get the American Straight, and maybe some of the Port Finish whiskies, you won’t be able to get your hands on any of the Wild Bill, Project X, or other upcoming warehouse series drams unless you come to visit.

 

What ARE these new warehouse only releases?

Wild Bill is a cask strength version of the Tawny Port finish bourbon after a year in the port casks and bottled last Saturday around 118 proof. This dark and moody dram has a powerful kick, but seduces you with a balanced complex sweetness you’ve come to love from the port finish. Just look at the deep, rich colour of this dram sitting on the bottle filler… if I didn’t know better, I’d swear this was an American version of Loch Dhu!

 

Project X is even crazier. This is a bottling of a 4 year old whiskey finished for a year in White Port casks… yep, you read that right: white port! This is a dram I had the pleasure and honour of sampling from start to finish over the past year, and damn if I’m not impressed with the outcome. It started out almost void of any real colouring, but in the last two or three months transformed into a deep nearly ruby red dram; surprising for a white port! And the flavour, oh the flavour followed suit! This a wonderfully sweet bourbon with similar complexities to the Wild Bill (though at a lower 91 proof), but developed a richness and balanced tannins from the oak with just a slight almost wafting hint of acidity cutting through the depth to bring this dram to life.

 

Both of these drams SHOULD be on sale in the next 30 days, pending label approvals and of course actually getting the labels ON the bottles. You can rest assured I’ll be one of the first in line to grab me some of this goodness.

The Big Bottom tasting room is open every Saturday from noon to 4pm. (Like them on Facebook for the most up to date news and hours, etc.) Stop by, say hello, and tell them Jason of the 3 Drunken Celts sent you… it won’t get you anything other than a laugh and an eye-roll, but it’ll make them (and me) smile 🙂

 

Until then, here’s some more pictures from the bottling and tasting room opening:

 


A new “Age your own” experiment: 100% Malted Barely whiskey

Last year, I tried Woodinville’s Age Your Own Kit with slightly disappointing results. Once I bottled up that run, I was determined to find a white dog whiskey that would more closely match my palate, as I’m not a huge fan of corn mash based bourbons.

It will likely come as no surprise that Raz, my friend Corey, and I have all been on the hunt for a barley based American whiskey. Since we are all bigger fans of malted barley than corn mash, we’ve hoped to find an American created whiskey that focused on a majority barley based mash.

Well, you can imagine my surprise when browsing a local Portland area liquor store and luckily happened upon House Spirits’ White dog whiskey made with 100% malted barley! Ah, just what we were looking for! While it had been bottled at only 100 proof, I figured it was still high enough to weather some decent aging, and picked up three 750ml bottles to begin my second run experiment in the still-wet barrel from Woodinville’s kit, but with a markedly different distillate than before.

House Spirits’ White dog 100% barley mash based whiskey was barreled at 100 proof on December 27th, 2011. Following are the tasting notes I took down on Dec 27th, 2011 before the barreling process to get a sense of what I was starting with:

  • Nose: Distinct malt ball candy, off-putting to me but likely pleasant if you enjoy malt balls. Almost sickly sweet, but not sugary. Slight vegetation and a confusing hint of toast.
  • Flavour: Chewy and viscous, then straight into the heat before getting to a tongue coating sweetness. Of course, serious barley notes all over the place, as expected from an unaged barley spirit.
  • Finish: This surprisingly finished hotter than when it started. The sweetness from the malting hangs around for a bit while the front burn fades with a hint of vegetation that permeates just like the nose.
  • Viscosity: 4.5
  • Boldness: 4.5
  • Length of story: 3.5
  • Personal taste: B
  • Extraneous notes: Solid. The use of 100% malted barley for the mash makes a huge difference. Since I tasted this immediately after the aged corn mash based white dog from Woodinville, the barley based white dog from House Spirits here felt much more approachable to my palate with no hints of bitterness and the softer familiarity of scotch and Irish whiskies.

Of course, that was before aging… and given how the initial barrel run improved the Woodinville White dog (though not to my taste) I was REALLY looking forward to the notes imparted by some time for the barley distillate from House Spirits to sit on the oak and think about what it had done.

Unlike my prior run, I didn’t sample this one at all in the first few months. One of the ‘issues’ I encountered on the first run, was the rapid depletion of the distillate due to the angel’s share which was exacerbated exponentially with every small taste I had. With a 2 liter barrel, even small tastes make a big dent, and the more air that gets in the more room the angels have to take their shares as well. So I abstained from frequent testing during this second barreling in hopes of retaining more of the distillate at the end.

At 4 months on the oak, I determined that a sample was indeed in order to see if more time was needed, or if it was good to bottle. Following are my notes taken on April 11th, 2012:

  • Nose: Oak and caramel, a hint of raw mash, an almost ethereal waft of brine then heavier golden brown toast.
  • Flavour: caramel sweetness followed by mild tannins of oak, then the heat hits mid-taste and moves into a chewy salted caramel like sweetness.
  • Finish: Following the sweet, it transforms into a subtle Islay with a touch of brine much like the nose, finally leaving with a suggestion of vegetative raw mash to remind you it is still young.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of story: 3
  • Personal taste: B
  • Extraneous notes: Four months in the barrel has been nice to this dram, mellowing our some of the unpleasant sweet notes, replacing them with pleasant more refined sweetness throughout the entire story. The barley truly helps this dram move into the more subtle and complex realms of Irish and Scotch whiskies to which I am more drawn. The heat was surprisingly diminished after aging in comparison to when it was initially barreled. While still hot, it isn’t nearly as bitey on the front of the tongue as initially noted. Still a solid “B” on personal taste though, as it isn’t quite up to par… yet.

After tasting this dram at four months in a second use barrel, I am making the call to leave it sitting on oak for another two to three months before coming back to it for another test. I am hoping in that time to see the caramel notes diminish some, replaced with a bit more tannins and toast to bring deeper balance and complexity to the profile of this expression. I think the base distillate has the structure to get my personal taste up to an “A” grade, but the big unknown here is how the barrel and time will treat the final profile.


PDX Whisky tasting notes from 4-06-2012

Last Friday evening was another gathering of the PDXWhisky group, hosted again by the incomparable Ian Itschner. As we’ve come to expect, Ian outdid himself yet again with the ‘light meal’ he provides, this time opting to produce 20 or so individual Guinness meat pies, and even adjusting the recipe for the vegetarians in the group. Leave me wondering what he’s got left up his sleeves for the next tasting.

It seemed this time around we were all raring to go and dug in to the tasting quickly after having fortified ourselves with the delicious savory Guinness pies…

We enjoyed four selections during this tasting:
Springbank 12 yr – Claret cask finish. After finishing for 3 yrs in claret casks, this was put back into bourbon barrels to smooth out the wine influence.
Tobermory 15 yr – A new limited edition from the Isle of Mull, matured in González Byass Oloroso sherry casks.
Ardbeg Alligator – This Islay whisky is aged in heavily charred new oak casks. Highly rated.
Laphroaig Triple Wood – Bourbon casks, quarter casks and sherry butts. Softer and richer than the standard Laphroaig.

 

 

Following are my tasting notes for each expression:

Springbank 12 yr – Claret finish, 54% abv

  • Nose: Red fruit sweetness with a slight earthiness (raw vegetation and mineral mix) like damp potting soil.
  • Flavour: Oak into unburnt caramel, contained the richness just not the toasted quality of caramel. Quite hot and bitey at the front of the tongue.
  • Finish: Moves into mild brine and then a weak salted caramel profile.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 3.5
  • Length of story: 4
  • Personal Taste: B
  • Extraneous notes: This struck me as if a Speyside spent some time on holiday in Islay. Slightly challenging and complex because of this, but a fun tasty dram.
    .

Tobermory 15 yr – Limited edition, 46.7% abv

  • Nose: slight brined raisin and soft rubber.
  • Flavour: Peat and brine with a hint of unsweetened fig newton. All flavours here have been married well and balance without challenging the palate too greatly.
  • Finish: Savory into a rich sweet wild cherry with a whisper of mint
  • Viscosity: 5
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of story: 3
  • Personal Taste: A
  • Extraneous notes: This was my favourite dram of the night, and seemed to be so for a large portion of the rest of the group too. I found it complex and interesting. I came back to this after a dram of the Ardbeg Aligator which transformed this dram of Tobermory into a surprisingly wonderful fruitcake bomb.
    .

Laphroaig Triple Wood- 48% abv

  • Nose: Heavy iodine and peat, with a bit of band-aid like rubber notes.
  • Flavour: Mild smoke with a surprising sweetness in the middle.
  • Finish: Brine into oak with a hint of spice late at the end.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of story: 4
  • Personal Taste: B-
  • Extraneous notes: I quipped at some point during this dram that it tastes like the Springfield Tire Fire so oft referred to on episodes of the Simpsons. But don’t take that as a bad thing, I actually enjoyed this dram far more than the Laphroiag 10yr, and would likely partake again if offered.
    .

Ardbeg Alligator- 51% abv

  • Nose:First and foremost smoke, then moves into a touch of iodine and peat.
  • Flavour: Tannins and charcoal, then the heat hits. Some semi-sweet burnt chocolate makes its way in as well.
  • Finish: More heat, then it vanishes with just lingering smoke and a final chalky dry finish.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of story: 3
  • Personal Taste: C+
  • Extraneous notes: Surprising heat for a 51% dram, I’d have expected upwards of 54% to have that much bite. My least favourite of the night, given it is a single trick pony. No complexity or grace. It is as if an American designed this dram to simply be excessive.

 

All in all, another rousingly fun evening learning about whiskies. In part that was due to having such a wonderful crew of newcomers to the tasting, which provided interesting conversation and differing points of view, as well as my own vicarious way of rediscovering new whiskies through newer eyes/palates.

As always, any of you who are local to Portland, Oregon need to make an effort to join in on one of Ian’s tastings. I can assure you, you will NOT be disappointed!

Image credit: (c) 2012 PDXWhisky


Jason’s “Age your own” experiment results

You may recall last year I picked up Woodinville’s White dog aging kit to test test run as a novelty experiment. My apologies for the delay, but I now have the results from the experiment which ran from May 2011 until late December 2011 (my notes got buried on my desk).

Woodinville’s White dog bourbon mash was barreled at 110 proof on May 22, 2011. I tasted at various times, frequently at first, then tapering off later, but averaging about a taste every 6 weeks. On December 27th, 2011 I determined that no more time would benefit the whiskey and bottled it up. Following are the tasting notes I took down on Dec 27th after 7 months of aging:

 

  • Nose: Heavy on the mash notes still. Corn followed by the expected mild caramel notes imparted from wood aging. Balanced sweetness as I have come to expect from bourbons.
  • Flavour: Immediate oak and hard tannins, followed by caramel and a jarring shift into the corn mash. Heat all the way through with a trail of bitterness.
  • Finish: Fades from the distinct mash notes into caramel again, finally ending on a bitterness either remaining from the early raw/vegetative mash or imparted directly from the barrel itself.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of story: 2
  • Personal taste: C-
  • Extraneous notes: Not a whiskey I will enjoy drinking straight. Even after 7 months in the barrel, the bitterness on the finish still stuck around and makes this dram less than enjoyable. I have noted, however, that as an aged spirit, it mixes quite well with cola for a surprisingly delightful cocktail. A solid B grade if used to mix.

 

After being relatively disappointed with the results, I dove in to some ideas for a second use of the barrel. My third use will be for barrel aging cocktails, likely Manhattans, but I still needed a second run distillate. Luckily, I happened upon House Spirits’ White dog whiskey bottled only at 100 proof, but made with 100% malted barley, ah, just what I was looking for…

But that’s a story for another day.