Tag Archives: whiskey

Whiskey reviews page 5

Also see the main page: Cask Strength Kaiser! The Whiskey Blog

Dunville Distillery, Belfast National Library of Ireland on The Commons

Dunville Distillery, Belfast | by National Library of Ireland on The Commons, Circa 1900.

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All of the following five whiskies are made by Irish Distillers, at the New Midleton Distillery, in County Cork, Ireland.

Midleton Very Rare. Combines both pot still and grain whiskeys, no age statement, but the individual contents are generally at least 12 years old, with some much more than that. Aged in ex-bourbon American Oak barrels.  So – what is it like? Well, if you think that you enjoy Irish whiskey because you like Jameson then you’re in for a surprise – most Irish whiskeys are nothing like it! Midleton Very Rare was perhaps the lightest of what I tasted today. I didn’t enjoy it at first, yet enjoyed it a lot more when I circled back to it at the end of the tasting.

Green Spot. Brighter note on the nose. Very different from the 1st, better.
not bad. 7 to 10 year old, non chill filtered. Crisp apple or pear notes. Notes of vanilla, honey. Bourbon casks. Creamy mouth feel. Circling back, still not a favorite.
Redbreast aged 12 years. Nose is bitter compared to bourbons. Single pot still whiskey. First fill Bourbon, then Sherry casks. Nowadays there are no guidelines for what a sherry cask is. 500 liters. Sherry aged for a minimum of 2 years. Has Autumn notes.

Redbreast Lustau. Made to pay homage to the sherry industry. Dryer. Start in 2nd fill casks. Less influence from the casks initial spirit. More tannic, spice notes. Then oloroso sherry casks for another year of aging. Non aged statement. 10 to 13 years old total. 92 proof. The Irish call this Christmas cake spice flavor 🙂 that’s an Irish term. Dry at first, but it seemed to sweeten up greatly when I circled back around. Amazing how increasing levels of alcohol in the blood can change one’s perception.

Powers John’s Lane Release.
Big, bold, non chill filtered. I don’t like the nose at all, smells like rubbing alcohol. Flavors are baking spice, honey notes. More of a malted barley flavor. Circling around, I still don’t enjoy this one.

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I went to an Irish whiskey tasting event at Kappy’s Fine Wine & Spirits, in Medford, Massachusets.

The word “whiskey” is an Anglicisation of the first word in the Gaelic phrase, uisce betha, meaning “water of life.” This is a translation of the Latin term aqua vitae, which was commonly used to describe distilled spirits during the Middle Ages. Peat is rarely used in the malting process, so that Irish whiskey has a smoother finish as opposed to the smoky, earthy overtones common to some Scotches. There are notable exceptions to these rules in both countries. Although traditionally spelled with an ‘e’, Irish whiskey may be marketed as “Irish whisky”

There are legal standards that must be met for something to be sold as Irish Whiskey. It must be distilled on the island of Ireland from a mash of malted cereals , and which has been: saccharified by the diastase of malt contained therein; fermented by the action of yeast; distilled at less than 94.8% abv; aged for at least three years in wooden casks, such as oak; only water and plain caramel colouring may be added (E150a); have a minimum alcoholic by volume content of 40%, all done on the island of Ireland itself.

– adapted from Wikipedia, “Irish Whiskey”

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Glendalough Poutin Sherry Cask $38- A mash bill of malted barley and sugar beet, so it technically isn’t a whiskey. Aged in oak casks. Very nice, but not special. More expensive that the Double Barrel, so it again shows me that I don’t always favor the more expensive forms.

Glendalough Double Barrel $27.99. distilled in a Coffey still. Aged in ex-bourbon and finished for six months in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks. Really quite good!

Glendalough Single Malt, aged 7 years. $44.99. Just like a Scotch! Non-chill filtered, made in a copper pot still. Slightly smoky, yet not peaty.  Sweet, perhaps a hint of citrus. Since I hate strong peat, I was able to enjoy the subtle smoky tint. I could get used to this 🙂

Glendalough Single Malt, aged 13 years. $79.99.  Also smoky, a bit dark for me. Hints of spice and vanilla.

Glendalough Poitin – Made with barley and beets, so it technically isn’t a whiskey. This is traditionally a common form of Irish moonshine. Not much nose to it. vegetal.  It was easy to drink, no burn, but there’s no real flavor there. Seems like moonshine or whiskey; not sure that it has much purpose other than as a mixer, or as a vehicle to get drunk.

Glendalough

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Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey- Their standard, younger whiskey was okay. It was light and bright, easy to drink. Similar to some other Irish whiskies that I have tried. However, didn’t seem like anything special. Not planning on buying this.

Tullamore Dew, Aged 12 Years, Triple Distilled. Now this was different. Darker, with a richer flavor. Really stands up to other good whiskies out there. Irish whiskey aficionados might like to try this. It’s not hitting my favored flavor profiles, but it was nice to try.

Tullamore Dew

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Flaming Leprechaun Irish Whiskey

Made by Malcolm Brown Ltd. (Dundalk, Ireland.) The distiller says “Flaming Leprechaun Irish Whiskey is an original blend that is naturally golden in colour, with a slightly sweet smell and taste coming from the unique wood character of each hand picked cask. To keep the taste authentic, honest and true to the rich heritage of previous generations of distillers we ensure that no flavours, sweetness or allergens are added to the whiskey during the blending process.”

I was told that this aged for 4 years, and is advertised as being part of a line of “premium distilled spirits.” Yeah, okay 😉 You can just taste a hint of smokiness from the sherry casks that it was aged in. It was … nice? No burn, not a strong nose. Just nothing special here to recommend it.

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Jameson Irish Whiskey, from Jameson Distillery, now owned by Pernod Ricard, a French liquor production corporation. 80 Proof. Aged in sherry casks, and then in bourbon casks, aged for 7 years. An amazingly smooth and delicious spirit. From Smithfield Village, Dublin, Ireland.

Jameson Caskmates – Well! This was hard to review… but it’s basically stout beer barrels used to age whiskey. I couldn’t stand the taste of this at all, it’s just not whisky. There was even a hint of cocoa – which normally makes a whiskey a real winner for me, but I couldn’t get around the beer flavors. But for those people who like to mix beer and whiskey? This might be for you.

Jameson Black Barrel – Extra aged in charred barrels – and as expected, it added a beautiful hint of smokiness (yet without the peat flavor) Darn good

Jameson Irish

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Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey

My friend Craig and I engaging in purely scientific research, again. From their website: “Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey combines a high amount of malt whiskey matured in former Oloroso Sherry casks, with a sweet, batch-distilled grain whiskey.”

Black Bush, a blend of whiskies from 7 to 11 years old. 80 proof. Aged in Oloroso Sherry casks, and in ex-bourbon casks. Distilled in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The Old Bushmills Distillery is now owned by Jose Cuervo. A far better drink that Dewar’s, and it has an audience, but I’m not a fan. Gentle sherry nose. A thin palette, although you can definitely taste the sherry influence.

Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey

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Redbreast Single Pot Still, Lustau Edition

From their website “As are all Redbreast whiskies, Lustau Edition is crafted from a marriage of malted and unmalted barley, which are milled and mashed before being triple-distilled through traditional copper-pot stills. The inclusions of unmalted barley in the whiskey’s mashbill, along with the tradition of triple distillation, are uniquely Irish approaches to producing whiskey.”

Finished in first-fill oloroso-sherry butts . This had a floral nose yet almost a peaty flavor. Decent, but not worth $70.

Redbreast

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Contents

Whiskey blog: Main page and new reviews

Page 4, whiskey reviews

Page 3: Blended and flavored whiskies, other spirits, and even wine.

Page 2, 2016

Page 1, 2016.

Useful articles on whiskey

Whiskey Reviews page 4

Another page of archived reviews! See the newest reviews here at Bob’s whiskey review blog

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Old Weller Antique Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

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Today I am pleased to review Old Weller Antique, distilled at the Buffalo Trace Distillery, in Kentucky, this is perhaps the oldest continuously operating distillery in the United States. Owned by the Sazerac Company. Aged for 7 years, sold at 107 proof, this bourbon comes from the same distillery, barrels, warehouse, and mash bill as the famed and elusive Pappy Old Rip Van Winkle, which sells for hundreds of dollars on the secondary market! Thus, Old Weller Antique is a great value as it is commonly sold for under $25. I picked up mine at Kappy’s, in Medford, MA, which was noted as a store chosen, single barrel selection.

Appearance: dark auburn color. Nose – caramel, perhaps a hint of orange?
Palate – this is one full and rich bourbon. Almost fruity, perhaps a hint of vanilla. You can taste the oak. Smooth & easy to drink, with very little burn. And I am sensing a sweetness that I don’t get with a lot of whiskeys, which I am attributing this to being a wheater (a bourbon where wheat is the second largest grain in the mash bill, after corn.) Definitely going to pick up another bottle of this fine product.

The following spirits are produced by Buffalo Trace Distillery. Old Weller Antique – known to bourbon aficionados simply as OWA – is included under W. L. Weller , all of which are wheated Bourbons. The four versions of W. L. Weller are

W. L. Weller Special Reserve, 90 proof.
Old Weller Antique, 107 proof, which is what I am reviewing today.
W. L. Weller 12 Year, 90 proof.
William LaRue Weller (proof varies year-to-year)

buffalo-trace-distilery

“Buffalo Trace Distillery.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 Nov. 2016

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Spirit of Boston New World Tripel
Spirit of Boston Thirteenth Hour
Spirit of Boston Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout

I was fortunate to have a tasting at Kappy’s Fine Wine & Spirits – Route 1 (Malden, Mass.) They offered me a chance to sample three new whiskeys… well, whiskey-related spirits, from Boston Harbor Distillery. This is the Spirit of Boston – Limited Release, a set of three whiskey-related spirits based on the mash bill of ” distilled from three distinct Samuel Adams beers – New World Tripel, Thirteenth Hour, and Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout.” This set of three 375 ml whiskies has a list price of $120. To reveal my bias, I’m not a fan of beer – never found one that I enjoyed. A bit ironic, since I am a whiskey drinker, and whiskey may be considered a highly distilled (and then aged) beer. So although none of these three whiskies struck me as terrific, a fan of these styles of beer may enjoy them very much.

“It’s not whiskey because it’s flavored, but it’s not a flavored whiskey…we don’t even know what to call it,” says Couchot of the holiday spirits that have been distilled from three Sam Adams craft brews. Hence the name “whiskies” in quotation marks.”Bevspot: Holiday Gift Spotlight: Boston Harbor Distillery

13th Hour Stout, the one that tasted most like a traditional whiskey, has a wheat, beer-like finish. Based on the mashbill of Samuel Adams’s “Latitude 48 Deconstructed IPA – Hallertau Mittelfrueh” You can read here more about Hallertauer Mittelfrüh Hops.

New World Belgian Tripel, too spicy for my tastes, perhaps from the hops. The mash bill includes what Samuel Adams calls “Kosmic Mother Funk”, which means that it is “fermented with multiple micro-organisms including Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus and other wild critters found in the environment of our Barrel Room.” Samuel Adams: Kosmic Mother Funk, Grand Cru.

Merrymaker Gingerbread Stout, floral, gingerbread notes. Interesting, and I would like to try this again. The mash bill includes oats, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger, and East Kent Golding Hops.

Chilledmagazine article on this product
Boston Harbor Distillery: Spirit of Boston
You Can Now Drink Whiskey at the Boston Harbor Distillery – BostInno Streetwise

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The backs of the bottles provide details.

boston-harbor-distillery-b

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What is Scotch whisky?

By law, any whiskey made in Scotland – usually spelled whiksy– must follow certain rules; these rules demand that the product be labeled as “Scotch”; it is illegal to produce whiskey made in Scotland that doesn’t conform to the definition of Scotch. Scotch must be made and labelled according to the rules stated below. It must be aged in oak casks for no less than three years, and have an ABV less than 94.8%. No whiskey may be labeled Scotch unless it was completely made in Scotland.

Scotch Whisky Association: Scotch Whisky Categories

Single, Malt Scotch Whisky
A Scotch whisky distilled at a single distillery (i) from water and malted barley without the addition of any other cereals, and (ii) by batch distillation in pot stills. From 23 November 2012, Single Malt Scotch Whisky must be bottled in Scotland.
100% malted barley only. Many people think of this as the classic Scotch.

Single, Grain Scotch Whisky
A Scotch Whisky distilled at a single distillery (i) from water and malted barley with or without whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals, and (ii) which does not comply with the definition of Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
So this is not just malted barley! The mash bill may include any of the following: un-malted barley, wheat (this is the most common non-barley grain used in Scotch), and it could even include corn, rye, triticale or spelt. However, this would generally contain at least 5% malted barley, to begin the chemical process of saccharification [producing fermentable sugars.] One could also use malted corn or rye, but process is more complicated.

Blended Scotch Whisky
A blend of one or more Single Malt Scotch Whiskies WITH one or more Single Grain Scotch Whiskies.
So this would have to include a whiskey with a mash bill of something other than malted barley.

Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
A blend of Single Malt Scotch Whiskies, which have been distilled at more than one distillery.
The mash bill thus would consist of malted barley only.

Blended Grain Scotch Whisky
A blend of Single Grain Scotch Whiskies, which have been distilled at more than one distillery.
In this case, all of the source scotches had ingredients other than just barley. In fact, the sources could contain almost no barley, and be an almost pure rye, corn or wheat base scotch, although that would be rare indeed to find.

Definitions from http://www.scotch-whisky.org.uk/understanding-scotch/scotch-whisky-categories/

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New Year’s eve 2016/17

Macallan 12, Double Cask
Dewar’s White Label, Blended Scotch Whisky
Bushmill’s Black Bush Irish Whisky

black-bush-dewars-macallan

Dewar’s: Pale yellow color. 80 proof. I have no idea how this has become the number one selling Scotch in the USA. This is the third time I’ve tried Dewar’s blended Scotch whiskey, White Label. Just doesn’t appeal to my tastes. I’m not getting much in the way of pleasant flavor. It’s just shockingly sweet. Whatever complexity others may taste, I’m not getting it after this acrid sugary blast.

Black Bush, a blend of whiskies from 7 to 11 years old. 80 proof. Aged in Oloroso Sherry casks, and in ex-bourbon casks. Distilled in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The Old Bushmills Distillery is now owned by Jose Cuervo. A far better drink that Dewar’s, and it has an audience, but I’m not a fan. Gentle sherry nose. A thin palette, although you can definitely taste the sherry influence.

The Macallan 12 Year. 86 proof. Mash bill 100% malted barley. The distillery is in Craigellachie, Moray, northeast Scotland. Macallan Distillers L is owned by the Edrington Group. Aged in oak sherry casks from Jerez, Spain. Color: Copper/Amber. Nose: Sherry, amaretto. Palate: Sweet, sherry, plums, has a round mouthfeel. Definitely some smokiness, although this isn’t a peated whiskey. By far, my favorite of the three whiskies that I tried this evening.

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Blanton’s single barrel bourbon whiskey

From the Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, Kentucky. Launched in 1984 by distiller Elmer T. Lee. Perhaps the first single barrel bourbon product. Thanks for introducing me to this, Albert. This is the real deal!

Color: Reddish amber.
Palate: Full and smooth, sweet, with tones of caramel and orange.
Mash bill: Corn, rye and malted barley.
Aged approximately 9 years, no age statement, in American white oak barrels, #4 char.

Blanton’s is a single barrel bourbon, which means each bottle has spirit from only one particular aging barrel – no mixing. Update December 2016 – I just tried Blanton’s again for the first time in almost a year. I was impressed at how much more I liked it this time. I did enjoy it last time, but this time it almost seemed to have a series of honey-like notes. It wasn’t the gold, or the straight from the barrel, or anything special. Just your standard Blanton’s. Amazed at how smooth it was. I guess that’s what a year of tasting various types of whiskeys can do to you. Really open your palate to the amazing array of flavors that can be discovered within.

blantons-bourbon

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Chanukah Sameakh! חנוכה שמח

I built a whiskey-bottle-menorah 🙂

Chanukah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. Known as the Festival of Lights, it is observed by the kindling of a nine-branched menorah (called a Chanukiah), one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. The extra light, with which the others are lit, is called a shamash (שמש‎‎, “attendant”). The ancient menorahs were made with wicks in olive oil; today some menorahs are still oil based, but most use candles. Other Hanukkah festivities include playing dreidel and eating oil-based foods such as doughnuts and latkes. (- adapted from the Wikipedia article.)

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Old Forester Signature 100

This is a hell of a good straight bourbon whiskey- and a steal at just $22. Old Forester Signature 100 was recommended to me by one of the guys who works at one of the New Hampshire state liquor stores. Some history:

It is officially the longest running Bourbon on the market today (approximately 144 years as of 2015), and was the first bourbon sold exclusively in sealed bottles. It was first bottled and marketed in 1870 by the former pharmaceutical salesman turned bourbon-merchant George Garvin Brown – the founder of the Brown-Forman Corporation (whose descendants still manage the company). During the Prohibition period from 1920 to 1933, it was one of only 10 brands authorized for lawful production (for medicinal purposes).
Old Forester. (2016, November 6). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Mash Bill: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Barley Malt. No age statement; as a straight bourbon it’s been aged at least 2 years in new charred oak barrels, but likely four or more years older. Warm, powerful, at 100 proof it packs a wallop, so I prefer to have it with a few ice cubes. After it sits for a minute, the ice melts, the proof lowers, and then the flavors come out. Has some decadent chocolate or coffee notes, oak and vanilla notes to it.

Would be great to get a chance to compare this with the recent special release, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, 2015 – but that runs well over $200, and the reviews for it don’t appear spectacularly better than this $22 bottle. I wonder if bourbons that cost ten times as much are truly three times better? Or perhaps they are just slightly different, and I’m quite happy with this one!

old-forester-signature-100

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My bar this December 2016

my-whiskey-bar-dec-2016

Winchester bourbon whiskey
Winchester rye whiskey
Black Powder Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Jim Beam Black Extra Aged

Sitting down to compare these samples I picked up at Total Wine. Two come from Terressentia Corporation, a distillery in North Charleston, South Carolina. They have created a buzz with their so-called TerrePURE technology. According to their website they specialize “in contract production of distilled spirits. We produce spirits for large retail chains, individual brand owners, and other distilleries or exporters.” Instead of aging whiskey, they use chemistry to accelerate chemical reactions, would normally would in whiskey over a period of years.

The Winchester bourbon whiskey tastes young, but not terrible. The label says aged a minimum of 6 months in New Oak. Produced and bottled by TerrePURE Spirits. For something so young it’s surprisingly not terrible. The Winchester rye whiskey has the same description, and a completely different flavor. It tastes young, thin, and is markedly inferior to its bourbon whiskey cousin. Compared to a good rye whiskey like Pendleton 1910 or Knob Creek Rye, I’m afraid that the Winchester Rye isn’t very good. In fact, if I may be so blunt, it’s absolutely terrible.

Black Powder Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey – There were some decent reviews of this on the TotalWines website, and often I agree with crowd-sourced reviews more than professional ones, so I took a chance on this. But who makes it? The bottle says LeVecke, but their website vaguely says that it “develops, bottles and markets products in each spirit segment for any corporate brand product line-up.” Translation: They buy generic whiskey, and bottle it under other names. The result, for this label? No great nose, no great impression on the front or rear palette. Utterly forgettable. I sipped it slowly over ten minutes, and dumped the other half of the 50 ml bottle down the drain.

Jim Beam Black Extra Aged – 86 proof, aged in white oak charred barrels. A step-up in product from Jim Beam base product, white label. No age statement. I believe that their original black label was aged 8 years, but this product has since dropped it’s age statement. Chuck Cowdery estimates that the product, which has now lost its age statement, is still likely to be between 4 to 9 years old.

When tasting this, I compared it to Knob Creek, aged 9 years, and Weller Special Reserve. This Jim Beam Black Extra Aged had far less of a nose than the other two bourbons, and it wasn’t especially appealing. Nothing wrong, just not much there. The taste was thin and easy on the front palette, but on the back palette it was rougher, less pleasant. In contrast, Knob Creek (also a Jim Beam product) was a completely different animal! A full, rich sweet nose, fuller on the front palette, and far more pleasantly flavorful on the back palette. Better than both was Weller Special Reserve (reviewed earlier in this blog.)

winchester-terrepure

Is it even possible to make good whiskey quickly, without aging, though chemistry? The idea is anathema to most of the whiskey-drinking world, but I did find some good articles on the topic:

https://bottomofthebarrelbourbon.com/2015/04/10/better-aging-through-chemistry/

Rapid-Aging Whiskey Technology: GAME CHANGER OR GIMMICK? by Jake Emen –

https://redwhiteandbourbon.com/2015/06/23/the-fallacy-of-instant-bourbon-part-i-the-claims/

https://redwhiteandbourbon.com/2015/07/03/the-fallacy-of-instant-bourbon-part-ii-the-science/

Long Term Changes In Whiskey Maturation

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Four Roses Small Batch
Four Roses Yellow Label

A friend and I traveled to Codex, a 1920’s style speakeasy in Nashua, NH, to enjoy the city’s annual Winter Holiday Stroll and cocktails in style. Here I tried Four Roses Small batch. The origin of Four Roses is unclear. Some accounts credit Rufus Mathewson Rose, post Civil War, but the Four Roses web

site now credits a Paul Jones, Jr, who trademarked the name in 1888. In 1910 Four Roses was produced at the distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Seagram purchased this brand in 1943. The brand went through a period of highs and lows, with dramatically changing mash bills and recipes. A series of ownership changes in the 2000’s led to the distillery being purchased by the Kirin Brewery Company of Japan. Under their leadership, Four Roses began producing a variety of highly regarded, straight bourbon whiskeys, one of which we’re reviewing today.

So what is in Four Roses Small Batch? The mashbill is a mix of four recipes used by Four Roses: OBSO, OBSK, OESK, OESO. The OB batches have 60% Corn, 35% Rye, 5% Malted Barley, and the OE batches have 75% Corn, 20% Rye, 5% Malted Barley. They’re aged in new charred oak casks. 90 proof. No age statement – I looked at other reviews, and some stated that Four Roses Small Batch is about 8 years old. Details on the Four Roses recipes may be found here.

Nose: A light fruit sensation, almost flowery. Palate: Much greater than one might expect from the nose! Light the front palette, a hint of citrus, an almost apple-like tartness. Refreshing. A bit of caramel and oak develops on the back palette. A delicious, lingering finish. Now I definitely want to compare this to the “bottom shelf” version, Four Roses Yellow Label Straight Bourbon, as well as to the more upscale single barrel selections.

Here’s another informative review on this fine whiskey (sure, I link to other blogs, why not?) The Casks.com Four-roses-yellow-label

Four Roses Yellow Label

Much more affordable than the Small Batch, Yellow Label is the base version of the Four Roses bourbon family, and it’s surprisingly excellent. My 750 ml bottle was just $15! It’s not quite as refined as the small batch, perhaps a tad less smooth, and a bit lower in proof – but this is a fine drink that I have shared with friends, all of whom enjoyed it very much. Very glad I purchased this bottle. I enjoyed this even more than other somewhat more expensive whiskeys, like Knob Creek (which in of itself is a good product.)

Age: No age statement, but other reviewers, based on their research peg it as being around 6 years old. The mashbill is a mix of 8 to 10 recipes used by Four Roses, with corn, rye, and malted barley. They’re aged in new charred oak casks. 80 proof.

four-roses-bourbon
photo from http://www.facebook.com/pg/fourrosesbourbon/photos/

So where did we do this evening’s tasting? At the Codex BAR, a 1920s-Inspired Speakeasy Bar in Nashua, New Hampshire.

[During the Prohibition] Speakeasies popped up in every city across America…. Codex isn’t an ordinary bar, it’s a speakeasy. Inspired by the Prohibition Era, this bar is hidden. And by hidden I mean it’s disguised as a used bookstore on Elm Street… This storefront, however, is not the actual entrance… To get in, you’ll have to go down the side alley and find the unmarked door… Once you enter the “bookstore” you’re presented with a large bookcase and an apparent dead end…. take another look at the books. One of them is actually a secret lever! Pull the right book on the shelf, and you’ll be granted entrance through a secret door into the bar…. Read on: New England Today: Codex speakeasy

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Wild Turkey 101 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Distillery is Austin-Niochols in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Age: A blend of 6 to 8 year old bourbons. I’ve read that the mash bill is 75/13/12 corn/rye/barley. 50 Proof. Appearance – Light maple syrup color. Palate: Much better than the Canadian Club that I had previously; this bourbon has a toasty kind of quality, black peppery and rye spices. Rougher around the edges than the Knob Creek or Woodford Reserve. A bit strong for me to drink straight, I’d use this as a mixer or in cooking (heresy, I know!)

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Contents

Whiskey blog: Main page and new reviews

Page 5, Irish whiskey special

Page 3: Blended and flavored whiskies, other spirits, and even wine.

Page 2, 2016

Page 1, 2016.

Useful articles on whiskey

Is all whiskey and Scotch kosher?

Whiskey Reviews page 3

Here are reviews on flavored whiskies, American “blended whiskies” (which are not technically true whiskies) and other spirits and wines. The main page for whiskey reviews is here: Bob’s whiskey review blog

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Miglianico Montupoli Montepulciano

This red wine is from the wine growing regions of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

Montepulciano is a red wine grape variety grown widely in central Italy, most notably its eastern Abruzzo, Marche and Molise regions. The variety was named after the Tuscan parish of Montepulciano, but, confusingly, is not used in the famous wines produced there. – wine-searcher.com: Montepulciano.

This wine had a surprisingly strong berry flavor, yet with almost no sweetness. Not what I expected from a dry wine; very nice.

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1/22/16 Alcaeus: Ancient Oak Cellars

I’m not a wine connoisseur, and especially not a fan of dry wines. Still, I like to try new things – who knows when you’ll have a great experience, and discover something new? So when I had the opportunity to try this at Kappy’s Fine Wine & Spirits in Medford, MA, I was happy to explore. This is a Cabernet Franc, one of the major black grape varieties. One doesn’t generally see it on its own; it is usually part of a blend. They are generally lighter than a Cabernet Sauvignon. This expression is from a family winery in Santa Rosa, California – Sonoma County. It certainly had a pleasant, subtle, fruity nose. But I ended up tasting the tannins more than anything else. That’s not a knock – I’m upfront about my ignorance of the topic. Someone who likes Cab Francs might love this. Just not my thing.

Ancient Oak Cellars.com

alcaeus-ancient-oak-cellars

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Red Shot Cinnamon Flavored Whisky

Canadian Whiskey with Natural Cinnamon Flavor, 30% ABV/60 proof.

What can I say? This ain’t whiskey – it’s a whiskey-based cocktail, more of a liquor, where the predominant – dare I say only – flavor is sweet, sweet cinnamon. If that’s your thing, this has it in spades, and it’s cheap. Probably designed to make college kids drunk, it’s sure not a sipping whiskey.

For an in-depth comparison of five similar products, see BLOWING UP FIREBALL: Cinnamon Whiskey Review Round Up

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Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Flavored Whisky

Well it’s shockingly sweet, more like a flavored liqueur than whiskey. Sure, I’m used to detecting a hint of caramel or toffee, which may occur at small level in straight whisky. So for me to taste added caramel flavoring – well that overwhelmed my spirits pallet. This has the intensity of sweetness and caramel flavor that I would associate with an actual piece of caramel candy. Still, this is a flavored whisky by design, so it’s not fair to compare this to straight whiskey. For people who like flavored liqueurs, that would probably be a good choice. Yet although I occasionally enjoy a sweet drink, such as a frozen strawberry daiquiri, I just can’t see myself coming back to this.

Pictured here with one of my father’s, זיכרונו לברכה, Frank Sinatra albums

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Jim Beam Apple

Apple Liqueur Infused With Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Introduced in 2015.
James B. Beam Distilling Co., Clermont, KY, Beam Suntory. 70 proof. No age statement.

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Right off the bat, this isn’t whiskey – it’s a cocktail including whiskey and “flavored liqueur, which probably has a base of vodka, rum, or some distilled neutral spirit, along with flavorings. So if you are looking for a good scotch or whiskey to casually to sip, this ain’t it. This is a simple, very sweet, apple tart drink to have at a party with friends. And the flavor is decent – if this is the kind of experience that you’re looking for, then job well done!  Like most flavored liquors, I do wish that they cut the sweetness by half – most drinks Americans enjoy are heavily over sweetened. But that being said, the flavor is pleasant, and since it’s lower proof than most whiskey, one can perhaps drink a bit more of it, if the occasion allows.

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Taking a break from whiskey. Was doing a bit of wood-working for a holiday art project – when it’s done, you’ll see it 😉 Working on the project with my daughter, at my friend Joe’s house. Greatest guy.  While there he introduced me to B and B Dom , made by Benedictine. 86 proof, made in France, aged for 2 years in oak barrels. It is a drier liqueur than Benedictine. Their label states “Benedictine’s own bottled B and B unites the delicate finesse of Benedictine and dryness of fine Cognac brandy.” Benedictine itself is a herbal liqueur composed of 27 plants and spices. Super sweet a little bit like desert wine. After a year of tasting whiskies, I’m not used to this level of sugar, lol.

Had some high hopes for the Romana Sambuca, Italy, 42 percent ABV. It’s an Italian anise-flavoured, colorless, liqueur. Flavored with anise, elderberries, sugar, and a “secret natural flavor formula”, whatever the heck that is! I haven’t had anything like this in over 10 years! Reminds me of some old fashioned Italian pastries I had growing up, near East Boston.

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10/20/16 Rebel Yell root beer whiskey

Mediocre whiskey mixed with flat, mediocre, watered-down root beer. But at least there’s the unexpected disgusting plasticy taste to sneak up and surprise you. This is 99 cents I’ll always regret wasting :-p

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Contents

Whiskey blog: Main page and new reviews

Page 5, Irish whiskey special

Page 4, whiskey reviews

Page 3: Blended and flavored whiskies, other spirits, and even wine.

Page 2, whiskey reviews

Page 1, whiskey reviews

Useful articles on whiskey

Is all whiskey and Scotch kosher?

Whiskey Reviews page 2

Welcome! Here are some of my older reviews.

The newer reviews are right here New reviews on the Whiskey Blog!

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Hirsch Reserve, selected straight bourbon whiskey

At $40 a bottle I wasn’t quite willing to try small batch Hirsch Reserve, selected straight bourbon whiskey. Aged 7 years. But when I saw it on sale for $22, I thought I would pick up a bottle.

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The source is MGP, a major distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana that creates huge amounts of a variety of whiskeys, and then sells it to bottling companies which may finish it with additional aging in other barrels, or charcoal filter.  Those bottling companies then sell the finished product – which is often little changed from what MGP produces – under their own label (and sometimes sold misleadingly as artisan or small batch.) Here Anchor Distilling Company is the bottler, and they don’t hide the fact that this is MGP sourced whiskey. Aged 7 to 9 years. Light amber color. A smooth and unexpectedly tangy nose – floral and yeasty. On the palette there is a caramel corn flavor – and maybe some kind of nut, pralines? Faintly sweet and fruity.  Growing on me 🙂

Their website notes: The rye is sourced from Northern Europe, and the corn comes from Indiana and Ohio. The high rye content adds a distinctive spice character that balances the sweetness of the corn…barreled at 120 proof, which is amongst the lowest in the industry and imparts a smoother taste profile. The oak is a #4 char around the base and a #2 char at the head of the barrel. – from Anchor Distilling.com – Hirsch

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Bozwin Palestine Whisky

Until the 1950’s, “Palestinian” referred to Jews, and “Palestine” to The British Mandate of Palestine – a part of the United Kingdom that included what today is Israel and Jordan, and related territories. This region previously was part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. It existed from WWI to 1948.  During this era, there was a Jewish community known as the Yishuv (ישוב). Not only did Jewish residents of the British Mandate of Palestine produce wine – they also produced whisky! See “The Rare Find” by Gary He, on Drambox:

Bozwin, which roughly translates to “Beauty of Zion” was a brand created in the late 1920s by Mendel Chaikin, a Russian immigrant who founded M. Chaikin & Company, a London-based wine and spirit merchant. The company purchased kosher wine, spirits, and liquers in bulk from what is now modern day Israel, and shipped them back to London for bottling and sale to a growing Jewish community in the East End of London. The head offices for M. Chaikin & Co. were located at 72-74 Brick Lane, down the street from what was once the Spitalfields Great Synagogue.

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Click here for the article http://www.drambox.com/blog/content/2015/7/22/the-rare-find-bozwin-palestine-whisky

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Class act, gentlemen. We thank you for your service to our nation.
Pic courtesy of The Whiskey Wash.

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Bird Dog Blended Whiskey
Candian Hunter Blended Canadian Whiskey
Canadian Club
Jim Beam Devil’s Cut

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Bird dog Kentucky blended whiskey.  Bought it without thinking about what “blended whiskey” meant. Obviously it should mean a blend or 2 or more whiskeys, but due to misleading peculiarities of American liquor labeling laws, that’s not correct.

Under American law, American whiskey can be sold as a blended whiskey if it is as little as 20% whiskey, and the rest can be water and neutral grain spirits (basically, junk drinkable ethanol) It turns out that there are many different legal categories for American whiskies, and only some correspond to what we would call “real” whiskey. Anything labelled straight whiskey is real whiskey, while “blended whiskey” can be as little as 20%, plus filler. See this source for details TTB.gov Distilled Spirits homepage and TTB.Gov Distilled Spirits FAQs. To be clear, this is only true for American law: Other countries use the phrase “blended whiskey” is a more meaningful sense:  In Ireland and Canada, blended whiskies are simply a blend of 2 or more real whiskies, without grain neutral spirit filler.

Back to the Bird dog Kentucky blended whiskey: 80 proof. Medium gold color, with a caramel nose. I’ve never detected such a strong scent of caramel from whiskey before, and I’m pretty sure that it is an added flavoring. Drinks easy, but has a dark flavor that I’ve never experienced on the palette before. A bit too strong. It’s not what I want in a whiskey. It’s more like a flavored liquor, but there’s nothing on the label that indicates flavoring has been added.

Jim Beam Devil’s Cut, Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. While making whiskey, a significant percentage is lost due to evaporation. This is known in the industry as the “angel’s share”; but some of the whiskey is also lost, as it is absorbed into the oak barrels themselves, Jim Beam playfully refers to this lost whiskey as “the devil’s cut.”  Jim Beam developed a way to remove these dregs of whiskey from the barrel, and combine them with the rest of the whiskey, to improve their profits. While many drinkers would find this wood-soaked whiskey “dregs”, when a small amount is mixed with other whiskey, some might enjoy it. The Jim Beam website states:

“Through a unique, proprietary process, we extract this formerly lost liquid from deep inside the barrel wood and put it back into our special Bourbon. The resulting liquid is deep in color, aroma and character with robust notes of wood and vanilla.”

The result? As always, a matter of personal taste. Very light color, a decent nose, very affordable. I’m detecting some of the same citrus flavors I found when I tried basil Hayden’s, but Jim beam’s Devil’s cut isn’t up to that league. This is harsher, less smooth. And definitely very woody, read about the process by which Jim bean extract liquid from the wood in the barrels. Eventually it grew on me a bit, I’m appreciating the woody notes. Would be best paired with food, especially chocolate. See this review for more details. Jason Scotchreviews Blogspot.com Jim-beam-devils-cut-kentucky

Canadian Hunter Blended Canadian Whiskey

From Sazerac (US). Region of original distillery: Canada. Category: Canadian whiskey. No age statement, and I haven’t found a mash bill for this.  80 Proof. As for the nose: Not great, had a slight rubbing alcohol scent. Palate: It’s not harsh, was easy to drink, but there was no depth, no meaningful flavor. Had a thin feel to it, I don’t see this as something that I’ll be coming back to.

Canadian Club

Commonly thought of as a bottom shelf offering, I thought that I would give this a try again. From the Walker distillery in Windsor, and part of the Beam Suntory company. Aged 6 years in new white oak barrels. Mash bill is rye, malted rye, barley and corn, aged in new white oak barrels.  80 Proof. Appearance: Deep gold color. Nose – perhaps a scent of barley? Not much else. Palate: Medium body, and perhaps I’m almost detecting a ginger ale-ish quality to it? It’s drinkable and good for a mixed. I’d put this in the same category as Crown Royal.

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Pendleton 1910 Canadian rye whiskey

Produced and aged in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Purchased by Hood River Distillers in Oregon where it is finished and bottled.

100% rye mash bill. Aged 12 years in oak barrels. 80 proof.  Color in glass, pale gold.

Absolutely one of the most gorgeous bottles I have seen. Hint of vanilla, sweet, none of the alcohol burn that some associate with whiskey. The peppery rye flavor is more subtle than in other ryes. A very pleasant and easy drink. Not too complex, and lighter than the many higher proof offerings.

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Basil Hayden’s bourbon whiskey

for the first time. It’s the lightest bourbon whiskey from the Jim Beam family (owned by Beam Suntory.) 80 proof. Has a higher percent of rye in the mash bill, compared to most other bourbons. Until 2014 Basil Hayden’s was aged 8 years, but after that the company removed the age statement.

Light golden color. Surprisingly, this has a slight citrus scent (but not flavor) almost an apple cider flavor on the front palette. I may have detected notes of oak and vanilla. This drink is sweet, crisp and clean, like a hard cider. Almost no alcohol burn when tasting. I really like it, and would definitely recommend it. But there’s just one thing: It’s triple the price of Old Grand Dad – and to a large extent, it apparently is almost the same thing! People studying the distillery report that both Basil Hayden and Old Grand Dad share:

* same mash bill
* same barrels, and same warehouse
* same lack of age statement
* same proof (80)

Hayden’s is just apparently is aged a little longer, and from select barrels. That indeed could make a modest difference in flavor, but perhaps not substantially so. So is it worth it to pay 250% more, for a slightly older Old Grand Dad – in an admittedly much more beautiful bottle? If you detect a substantial difference in flavor, sure. But otherwise, perhaps it would be good to choose something from the Old Grand Dad family.

There’s a great history of Basil Hayden’s and Old Grand Dad here, discussing the difference between Hayden’s and OGD.

Old Grand Dad 80 proof vs. Basil Hayden’s: From The Whisk(e)y Room

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10/22/16 Knob Creek Rye Whiskey

Once again I was visiting the Winthrop Arms Hotel, Winthrop, Massachusetts, on Boston’s North Shore. This restaurant and hotel is an old-fashioned gem worth visiting. Has a turn of the century charm, beautiful restaurant and bar, and nice hotel rooms within walking distance of the water.

Wow, this Knob Creek Rye was a good choice. Has a beautiful golden color. 100 proof. From James B. Beam Distilling. Aged in white oak barrels. No age statement. I haven’t tried it yet, but other reviewers note that this may be very similar to the more expensive rī¹ (rye one) ,also from Jim Beam. Easy, warm, a little pepper in the front. The rye flavor strongly hits in the back palette. Not much of a burn. Very smooth.

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At the Winthrop Arms Hotel.

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10/2016 The Glenlivet 12 Year Old

An old best friend flew in from the west coast, always a reason to celebrate! Rob and I had hours to reconnect and trade stories and life experiences, and what better way to do so than over a drink?

The Glenlivet 12 Year Old, from The Glenlivet distillery, near Ballindalloch in Moray, Scotland. An affordable, common, single malt scotch whiskey, aged for 12 years, first in white oak barrels, then in European oak barrels.

Apparently I’m still a whiskey, rye and bourbon man – most scotches don’t do anything for me. The Glenlivet has a smooth mouthfeel. It’s great that this was not aged too long – some aged whiskies have an oakiness to them, which their manufacturers try to pass off as a feature, yet which is clearly more of a bug.  There wasn’t any astringency, harshness, or off-putting aromatics. It’s a typical scotch, and I can see why people might it. But just not my thing.

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10/16/16 The Glenmorangie Collection, gift pack

The Original – Glenmorangie aged 10 years, 43%, ex-bourbon casks. Has a white colour, and a bit of a bite to it. Really feel the alcohol burn. An absolutely delicious nose. Wish that I liked it as much I like the bourbons that I sampled.

The Lasanta, 10 years in ex-bourbon casks, then another 2 years in Oloroso Sherry casks. Noticably darker than the original 10 year old. Has a deeper, more complex flavor. A bit less of the burn. Has a nice mouthfeel on the upper palate, but becomes harsh/sour on the back.

The Quinta Ruban – 10 years in ex-bourbon casks, then another 2 years in Ruby Port casks. Has a nice honey/caramel color. A beautiful toasty warm aroma.  A bit less of the burn, and almost a hint of caramel.

The Nectar D’or – Finished in Sauternes wine barriques. Darker than the original, but lighter than the Quinta. While favored by some others, I didn’t appreciate the flavor at all.

I’ve tried all four a couple of times, over a week, but not thrilled with any of them at the moment. Perhaps I’m not a Scotch fan. But I’ll sample them again next month, & see if anything has changed in how I appreciate them.

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Contents

Whiskey blog: Main page and new reviews

Page 5, Irish whiskey special

Page 4, whiskey reviews

Page 3: Blended and flavored whiskies, other spirits, and even wine.

Page 1, whiskey reviews

Useful articles on whiskey

Is all whiskey and Scotch kosher?

Whiskey articles

Great articles on whiskey

whiskey-shelf

My whiskey blog Cask Strength Kaiser, The Whiskey Blog

What’s in Scottish, Irish and English whisky? Scottish, Irish and English/Welsh Whisky (from Cooper King Distillery)

Wheat whiskey:  Wheat whiskey has a mash bill of 51% or more wheat….Given the popularity of “wheater” bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle, Maker’s Mark and W.L. Weller, it is more than a little surprising that wheat whiskey hasn’t become a bigger thing…  What Happened To Wheat Whiskey Anyway?

Complete List of American Whiskey Distilleries & Brands: An attempt to catalog all current American whiskey distilleries and brands. The idea is that if you see a bottle of American whiskey on the shelf, you should be able to consult this list and figure out who makes and markets it.  Complete-list-of-american-whiskey

The Rational Way to Regard NDP Whiskeys: Non-distiller producer: Some producers make what they sell… Others buy aged whiskey in bulk from one of the distillers, bottle and market it. Those are NDPs. How should we regard these?  The Rational Way to Regard NDP Whiskeys

Rye Whiskeys Sourced from MGP ( Midwest Grain Products) ingredients In Lawrenceburg, Indiana.  Rye Whiskeys Sourced from MGP.

Mash bills, barrel char levels, and entry level proof for many whiskies and bourbons. From ModernThirst. Bourbon and Whiskey mash bills

How does your drinking measure up to the average in countries around the world?  BBC Booze calculator: What’s your drinking nationality?

Whiskey ID Abbreviation Glossary  Abbreviation-glossary

Bourbon acronyms from redwhiteandbourbon.com  Red, white and bourbon acronyms

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Blind taste tests

No one believe that all whiskies (or wines) taste the same. They have different mash bills, yeast strains, barrel wood sources, and charring. The rickhouses have different environmental conditions. So whiskies certainly evolve varying flavors. But can we rely on experts to find out which are better? In test after test, we find that even experts don’t rate the “best” and rarest whiskies significantly higher than many common whiskies. Expectations overwhelm our experience. So what happens when we have blind taste tests?

Blind taste test of a 1964 Black Bowmore. What happens when you put what’s arguably the most legendary single malt into an otherwise unassuming, unhyped blind tasting? Not a whole lot… Any “legendary” whisky is good-to-excellent, but mind-blowing is impossible. Whisky can only get so good, and the rest is added in your head.  Blind Black Bowmore: A blind tasting of Scotch whiskey yields a great lesson

Feeling baffled when it comes to wine? Turns out the experts don’t know anything either. (And I bet the same is true for whiskey)  Adam Ruins Everything – Why Wine Snobs Are Faking It

How to run a blind taste testWhiskey with Wes: A blind taste test to reveal the best whiskey for the Grove

Blind Taste Test – Including Pappy Van Winkle’s 20 Year, Michter’s 10 Year, Blanton’s, Basil Hayden’s and Jefferson’s Small Batch Bourbon. Guess what happened?!  Taste Test: The (Cult-Like) Pappy Van Winkle’s 20-Year Reserve Bourbon

Wine-tasting: it’s junk science. Experiments have shown that people can’t tell plonk from grand cru. Now one US winemaker claims that even experts can’t judge wine accurately. What’s the science behind the taste?  Wine-tasting: it’s junk science

Judge Reliability at a major U.S. Wine Competition

“Wine judge performance at a major wine competition has been analyzed from 2005 to 2008 using replicate samples. Each panel of four expert judges received a flight of 30 wines imbedded with triplicate samples poured from the same bottle… About 10 percent of the judges were able to replicate their score within a single medal group. …only about half of the panels presented awards based solely on wine quality.“ – That’s literally no better than random guessing!
An Examination of Judge Reliability at a major U.S. Wine Competition, Robert T. Hodgson, June 2012, An Examination of Judge Reliability at a major U.S. Wine Competition

Do more expensive wines taste better?

“Individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine. In a sample of more than 6,000 blind tastings, we find that the correlation between price and overall rating is small and negative… Our results indicate that both the prices of wines and wine recommendations by experts may be poor guides for non-expert wine consumers.” American Association of Wine Economosts, AAWE Working Paper, No. 16, April 2008, Do More Expensive wines taste better? Robin Goldstein et al

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Craft Distilleries in New England

Ultimate Guide to New England’s 61 Distilleries

thetakemagazine.com Distilleries of New England

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Possible health benefits of moderate whiskey consumption

http://coolmaterial.com/food-drink/health-benefits-whiskey/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/alcohol-full-story/

moderate alcohol usage and increased antioxidant intake decrease the risk of coronary heart disease.

Odds of dementia are lower among adults who consumed moderate alcohol, rather than none at all

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Is it Whisky or Whiskey?

Contrary to what aficionados might say, “whiskey” and “whisky” are the same word. Sure, here in the USA whiskey is usually spelled with an “e”, and the same is true for Ireland. But not always. For instance, Maker’s Mark and Old Forester are popular American whisky – spelled without the “e”.

In Scotland and Canada, the spirit is usually spelled whisky, without the “e”, but again, this isn’t traditional : historical records clearly show that both spellings were used in both countries, until the mid 20th century. Spelling choices are purely arbitrary, and not fixed. Expert Chuck Cowdry debunks spelling myths in these articles:

Whiskey or Whisky? New York Times Buckles To Pressure From Scotch Snobs. Chuck Cowdry

Whiskey or Whisky? I’m No Lincoln II. Chuck Cowdry.

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Whiskey & Jewish culture

Is all whiskey and Scotch kosher?

Kosher for Passover? Platte Valley 100% Straight Corn Whiskey

Jews and whiskey during prohibition

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Contents

Whiskey blog: Main page and new reviews
Page 4, whiskey reviews
Page 3: Blended and flavored whiskies, other spirits, and even wine.
Page 2, whiskey reviews
Page 1, whiskey reviews
Useful articles on whiskey
Is all whiskey and Scotch kosher?

Whiskey reviews page 1

Contents

Whiskey blog: Main page and new reviews
Page 5, Irish whiskey special
Page 4, whiskey reviews
Page 3: Blended and flavored whiskies, other spirits, and even wine.
Page 2, whiskey reviews
Page 1, whiskey reviews
Useful articles on whiskey
Is all whiskey and Scotch kosher?

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10/8/16 Maker’s Mark

Up in Freeport Maine a friend and I had the occasion to sample Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (45% abv). This is the bourbon noted for it’s distinctive bottles sealed with red wax. They’re typically aged for 6 years, in new American white oak barrels. To be defined as a bourbon a whiskey needs to be made with a mash bill that is at least 51% corn, while the remaining 49% could be any other cereal grain, such as rye, barley, wheat or corn. Most bourbons have some rye, which provides a bit of bourbon’s distinctive spice, or bite. But Maker’s Mark is a “wheater”, made with red winter wheat instead of rye. The third ingredient in their mash bill is barley. That puts it in the category of some rather famous and sought-after bourbons, the Pappy Van Winkle family,  Weller family, etc. Thoughts? Great color and body, great flavor – and for it’s price, one of the best around. It won’t excite the reviewers who feel the need to drink prized bourbons costing $80 or more per bottle, but Maker’s Mark beats out some higher prices bourbons and Irish whiskeys that I have tried.

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10/2/16 Beat 3 Whiskey

I had the privilege of touring Djinn Spirits, a craft distillery located in Nashua, New Hampshire. It is under the proprietorship of Andy and Cindy Harthcock. Easily accessible just off of Amherst Street, it’s in a quiet, unassuming long industrial building, with a friendly store and tasting area in front.  Only three years old, Djinn now features several whiskies and liquors.

Beat 3 White Whiskey, Barley mash. Basically, moonshine, filtered, and then “aged” for four days in charred American oak barrels. This moonshine is sweet and powerful. Would be great as a mixer.

Beat 3 Reserve Whiskey, Barley mash. Aged for four months in charred American oak barrels. Gaining in color, and developing some whiskey flavors, this was richer, and noticeably different from the white whiskey.

Beat 3 Single Malt Whiskey, Barley mash. A small-batch whiskey, aged for a year, in 15-gallon barrels. This is where things get really good – I’m normally a bourbon drinker, yet this easy, clean sweet whiskey feels like it could become a daily drinker, taken on the rocks.

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10/1/16
Colonel E. H. Taylor
Woodford Reserve
Eagle Rare

Woodford Reserve is noticeably smoother than the Eagle Rare, although both are good. The alcohol content is the same in both, so the difference must be the mash bill and oak barrel aging. I’ve been noticing that Colonel E. H. Taylor, small batch bourbon whiskey, BiB, has been getting a lot of great press. This is the third time that I’ve tried it, but it’s just not growing on me. It’s a bit stronger, 100 Proof but the flavor profile isn’t to my liking.  I brought it to a party, and everybody else seems to like it, and that’s okay. Whiskey is like wine: not everybody likes the same flavor profiles.

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9/16

Jameson Irish Whiskey

Distiller: Jameson Distillery, now owned by Pernod Ricard,  a French liquor production corporation. 80 Proof.
Aged in sherry casks, and then in bourbon casks, for at least 3 years.

Here I am getting ready for the Yamim Nora’im (Jewish High Holy Days, Days of Awe) with Irish whiskey and Jewish theology. The whiskey is Jameson, triple distilled, aged for 7 years. An amazingly smooth and delicious spirit. From Smithfield Village, Dublin, Ireland.

The book is Prayer and Penitence: A Commentary on the High Holy Day Machzor, by Jeffrey M. Cohen. The best book I’ve ever come across on this subject.

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9/16

Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey

My friend Craig and I engaging in purely scientific research, again. From their website: “Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey combines a high amount of malt whiskey matured in former Oloroso Sherry casks, with a sweet, batch-distilled grain whiskey.” Worth trying again – the next time I will be taking notes.

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5/11/16

Chivas Regal 12 year old blended Scotch whisky.
Dewar’s blended Scotch whiskey, White Label

This is the second time I’ve tried Dewar’s blended Scotch whiskey, White Label. Just doesn’t appeal to my tastes. I’m not getting much in the way of pleasant flavor.

As a comparison I tried Courvoisier Cognac VS. It was surprisingly whisky-like, but it had hints of unpleasant organics. I gave it a chance over a couple of days, but I just didn’t like it whatsoever.

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5/1/16 Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey

This has a high rye content (28%), aged at least 6 years in charred American white oak. Made in the Four Roses distillery. Standing out as something to try regularly. Smooth and flavorful. Bourbon whiskey is always at least 51% corn, but Bulleit is notable for a high rye content, 28% of the mash bill. 91 proof. Quite affordable, too.

Gentleman Jack – I just don’t get the popularity of Jack Daniels. Never liked it. Although Jack is a bourbon, it is marketed as a “Tennessee whiskey”, which is a made-up marketing term, with no real meaning. Although I don’t enjoy regular Jack, Gentleman Jack is an upscale version, and said to be worth trying. It is charcoal-mellowed twice. One before and once after the ageing process. Supposed to be produce a cleaner flavor. Maybe to others, but I found it quite distasteful.

Chivas Regal – Blended Scotch Whisky, 12 year old. A decent drink.

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5/5/16
Eagle Rare Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey

Aged 10 years in charred American White Oak barrels. 90 proof. Tastes sweet, and a little tart. Smooth body, well balanced.

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4/19
Maker’s Mark Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey

Served here with Lindt Excellence blackberry dark chocolate. Seemed quite a bit like Blanton’s – which is excellent.

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1/26/16

Crown Royal

My father’s last bottle of whisky. Crown Royal, blended Canadian. L,Chayim, Abba. Our tradition is to say, זיכרונו לברכה – Zichrono li’vrachah, may your memory be for a blessing. Every time I think of my family, and look at my daughter, and know how much she loves you, I know that it already has been a blessing.

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3/5/16

Knob Creek Kentucky Straight – over the rocks, this is excellent!. At 100 proof, it does need ice or water. But just an amazing, clean palate.

Chivas Regal – Excellent, straight or over the rocks. Yes, it’s blended, but damn fine.

Glenlivet Single Malt Scotch Whisky – 12 year – Clean, good taste, a bit harsher than the Chivas Regal or Knob Creek.

Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select Bourbon – great! But expensive. In the same class as Knob Creek.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye – Blended Canadian Whisky. Harsher than a few of the others that I have tasted. It does have a distinctive taste, probably due to it’s high rye content. The rye aspect of it is refreshing, but as a straight drink, too much for me. Good with ginger ale.

American Honey (Bourbon Whisky) – I wasn’t expecting this. I thought that this might be whiskey with hints of honey, but it is more of a flavored whisky liquor. Far sweeter than I expected, which may be what some people want. But not what I am looking for.

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Kiddush קִדּוּשׁ Club” refers to an informal group of Jewish adults who congregate during or after Shabbat (שַׁבָּת, Sabbath) prayer services to make kiddush over wine or liquor, and socialize. Traditionally it has been a male-bonding experience, especially in the Orthodox and Conservative Jewish communities. – Wikipedia

What’s the role of drinking in Judaism? From the The International Kiddush Club, a project of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs.

There have been kiddush clubs in shuls for as long as there have been shuls. Making a לְחַיִּים “l’chaim” after davening is one of the unique aspects of Judaism; our belief that the mundane parts of life can be elevated to a higher status through prayer is one of the central parts of our faith.

We eat, sleep, drink, etc. with a blessing. The blessing makes the action holy, not just through making it, but also through the reflection one gets from pausing before the act to stop and make the blessing. We think about what we are going to do and we have the intention to perform the act after a religious moment. We bring holiness to these acts through the blessing, through the thought and through our commitment.

Judaism has no prohibition on alcoholic beverages, in fact, one of our most important and sacred acts is to consecrate shabbat and holidays with the kiddush (blessing) over wine. If proper wine is not available, any kosher alcohol or juice may be substituted. It’s not about the drink, it’s about the kiddush.

Kiddush clubs meet any time after the Shacarit service…A quick l’chaim, a little shmaltz herring on a TamTam, maybe some smoked fish or more. Then back to the service and Musaf, refreshed, well fed and ready.

ברוך אתה ה’ א‑לוהינו, מלך העולם, שהכל נהיה בדברו.

Praised are you, Adonai our God, who rules the universe, through whose word all things exist. – traditional blessing before having whiskey.

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