Thursday, May 31, 2012

Charbay LAWS Edition 1 69.1%

1. Charbay 12yo 69.1%
Los Angeles Whiskey Society


A lot of companies/distilleries like to present their whisky as Unique, Rare, Limited and/or Special. This is often more marketing trompets than reality.

Any single cask can be described as the above if you feel like it. But what whisk(e)y can REALLY be described as the above?? 

This bottling can. This bottling IS different. It IS all of the mentioned. 

It's Unique. It's made from bottle ready pilsner made at Sonoma Mountain Brewry

Limited. Yes. 40 bottles

Rare. Yes, Charbay is a winery and a distillery. Their main product is not whiskey and they releases are rare as a hens tooth

Special. Yes. This tastes like nothing else in the world of whisk(e)y

Nose : fantastic nose. Pilsner ?. I would have thought a double IPA. Hops detoriate quite fast in beers, but in distilled spirit it seems to be preserved and also intensified. This nose is bombasticand intense. I can smell the glass from across the room. Licorise, wood. Tea. Hops

Palate : The alcohol is high but surprisingly not that overwhelming. The hops is again very dominating. I think I notice it because it's not a flavour you otherwise would find in whisky. Mint, licorise, tea, wood in a nice melting pot of flavours. This whiskey for sure benefits with water. Water adds some delicate sweetness and balance to this.

Finish : Very Long

Comment: A fantastic whisky. It's spectacular complex with unusual flavours, layered on a background of a solid whiskey in itself. 

Rating 91

I really like this dram. IPA is also my favourite beer style. Who thought this could be part of a whiskey in a succesful way ? 

LA whiskey society has an excellent website here :¨
It's a great source of whisk(e)y reviews

I visited Charbay Winery 1½ years ago:

Back label

Big thanks to Adam from PLOWED to introducing me to Charbay, getting me this bottle and also hosting a Charbay vertical where I experienced various stages of this whiskey, samples of upcoming products, and the beers they are made from. Sonoma Mountain Brewery is out of business. The upcoming products were made from Bear Republic's Racer 5 (IPA) and a stout, also from Bear Republic 

Monday, May 28, 2012

More of the Weller heritage

I've allready been through 15yo and 20yo Pappy van Winkle, which was made at Stitzel-Weller distillery with the old Weller wheated bourbon mash bill. I am not 100% sure the 15yo Pappy reviewed is of Stitzel-Weller heritage, but it could very well be, by the time and where I bought it.

Here is a few more of the Weller heritage whiskeys.

Buffalo Trace acquired the Weller brand name and is now producing bourbon after the Weller recipe. The fact that the van Winkles are now tightly associated with Buffalo Trace is making the heritage obvious, at least from the hands-on side. Julian P. "Pappy" van Winkle opened the Stitzel-Weller distillery in 1935. His grandson Julian III van Winkle and great-grandson Preston van Winkle is now in charge of the "Old Rip van Winkle Distillery" (which was a distillery - back in history, but today it's "just" a company name, following a confusing american tradition of naming companies "distillery" that isn't distilleries)

Here's three whiskeys of the Weller heritage:

1. W.L. Weller Aged 12years 45%
This a soft, sweet and delicate bourbon, where my first impression on the nose was oranges!. Not uncommon for me to find this in bourbons. This is almost like drinking caramelfudge sweets with a wooden alcoholic twist. Very nice and this is a very affordable dram, I even found some cheap bottles in Denmark at 289,- which is around 30£. One for the sweet tooth

Rating 86

2. William Larue Weller 66.75%
Part of the 2011 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (BTAC)

Special bottling of the same whiskey as the 12yo I reckon. This is not for the faint hearted. The ABV and intensity is breathtaking. Don't tell anyone, but I actually had to add some water to this. It was not to open up the whiskey, it was to make the alcohol burn go away and making me able to drink it. I didn't learn to drink casks strength single malts overnight, and I need to practise on full strength bourbons as well. I need to practise! I really do. It's just practising. It really is.....
With the ABV a little down I am now able to taste this fabulous dram. Out comes the nutty flavours. Caramel with a hint of fruit and brandy, finishing of with licorise tree. The balance between the taste components in this whiskey is simply spectacular good as soon as I got the ABV down. Caramel, fudge, no floor varnish really, nuts, mints, all very well mixed together.

rating 90

3. Jefferson Presidential Select 18yo 47%
Batch No 27

Jefferson is the brand name of a range of bottlings from the company McLain and Kyne. As they source their whiskies from different distilleries, this is what I would call an independent bottler.

This 18yo is labeled as originating from Stitzel-Weller so there you go.

The nose is a give away as it's more similar to PvW 20yo than any other bourbon I have tried. The wood is laid back and relaxed compared to bourbons in general and I pick up a nutty flavour as well. Loads of caramel-fudge-floor varnish infused together in a delicious cocktail of flavours, with a little hint of wood spices I normally associate with well aged scotch. The finish is long and delivers the mentioned flavours again and again

Rating 90

Comment: As a relative new bourbon drinker I just love how continued drinking learns me to discover new layers of this wonderful dram. No doubt the Weller experiences has educated me and my palate. The more you drink the more wise you get

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ardmore 1977 Scott's Selection

1. Ardmore 1977 Scott's Selection, bottled 2003 57.5%

This is an american bottling (750ml). I am aware of at least one other 1977-2003 Scott's Ardmore bottled at 700ml with different ABV

Not much left unfortunately

Nose : Nutty, Peaty

Palate : Spicy, woodtannins, peaty. It's not from a very active cask sherrywise, the sherry influence is hard to find, maybe a little fruit sweetness, but I wonder if I would have found that if I didn't sit with the label in front of me. The wood spicyness is delicioius, and the peat is higher than I would expect from a whisky this age, and a whisky that's not from Islay. This proves to me that Ardmore is a great alternative if you love peated Islay's. The cask might not be active from a sherry point of wood, but there's a whole lot of wood spices in this. Mint, nutmeg and vanilla based on a nutty flavoured spirit, which result in a dry experience, despite the faint sweet sherry notes I am possible imaging. The whisky is well balanced and gives you an excellent experience of drinking old peated whisky

Finish : Not that intense but long. The whisky improves with new layers as you have it in the glass or pour more. As your palate get used to the dominant peat, a lot of delicious flavours emerge from the wood.

Comment : I like Ardmore and I like Scott's Selection which always seems to gives solid performs

Rating 89

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Can a whiskybook be a page-turner ?

And can an ebook be a page-turner ?

I wouldn't have thought so

Recently the american bourbon expert Chuck Cowdery, released a book about one single bottling, called The best bourbon you never taste, with the subtitle : 

The true story of A.H. Hirsch Reserve Straight Bourbon. Distilled in the Spring of 1974

This is not a "real" printed book as it's only available on digital media. This was my first experience with a digital book, but I managed to get on amazon and get the book for my laptop, and with a little trouble I also managed to make it appear on my mobile phone. 

The book is the story about this particular one bottling, but also about the the distillery which made the whiskey inside the bottle, Michter's in Pennsylvania (which actually just was the distillerys final name)

It's also a great insight into American Whiskey History. Or maybe more correctly, a glimpse into American Whiskey History.

I found the book very exciting to read. The chapters are set out very intelligent, as a reader I had this "What's going to happen"-feeling, or as this is whiskey-history, "what did happen?"-feeling

What did happen at Michter's ?. What Whiskey did they produce ?. Why did Michter's close in 1990 ? Why was a batch of 16yo 1974 vintage bourbon from this distillery bottled in 2003 ?

I can only recommend this book. It's for hardcore whiskyfans, but as you read this, I am sure you are :-)

It's only available digital. You can read Chuck Cowdery's own presentation on his blog HERE and it will also tell you how to get a copy. I had to download a free app on my phone to read it, but it's ready readable on my laptop. I paid 11.49$ 

PS I actual always thought reading an ebook would be annoying. It wasn't. And it's a very convenient way to get cheap access to books that would otherwise be hard, expensive or impossible to get hold of.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Whisk(e)y on the internet

Google Reader is getting discontinued in near near future. I recommend you try the new Google Chrome app named NewsSquares which is the follow up to FeedSquares and actually makes it easier if you want to follow a lot of (whisky)blogs. If you, like me have used Google Reader + Feedsqaures before, you can easily transfer what you follow to NewsSquares
Update July 2013. Google Reader is now discontinued. Long live NewsSquares :-)

I often hear people say, that there is a lot of whisky blogs and similar sites out there, and it's too hard to keep track and read all of them and they can't really be troubled to follow them

"I just read Whiskyfun and Malt Advocate" is a sentence (or similar) I often heard in the past. Well, I honestly think the whiskyworld has more to offer, than just a handful sites like the two mentioned.

A good whisky site needs 3 things first of all

1. Well written
2. Knowledgable
3. Activity

I actually follow around 60 blogs and the number is raising. I enjoy reading blogs from all over the world. I even sometimes sidetracks to cocktailblogs (I had a great input from one at my recent James Bond post here)

How is that possible ? For a start I have a lot of them feeding on my facebook and twitter profile, which can be handy. But it's not perfect. The way for me to easy track all these sites is to use some help from google. First I use google chrome and NewsSquares

NewsSquares can be found HERE

NewsSquares displays all blogs, that you have added, as a grid of squares, where it's very easy to keep updated with new posts and get access to added websites and their recent posts.

NewsSquares will appear as an icon when you open a new Chrome page. If you go the NewsSquares' Options you can set it up to your likings, like adding an "unread counter" on the icons which is very handy or setting NewsSquares up as "Home Page". You can set NewsSquares up to follow many places, not just regular blogs.

I highly recommend NewSsquares to anyone who likes to follow the fast world of online whisky :-)

Kind regards and have fun

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What would James Bond really drink ?

No more Martinis for Mr. Bond!

Who drinks Martini anyway today?. It's just so the seventies..

I am pretty sure that if James Bond didn't drink Martini, most people would never have heard about it. (That's what I thought, I've been corrected, see later)

But now he quit Martini. Apparently. According to the press Bond is now going to drink Heineken!. How cool is that ?

Bond is classy, sophicasted and cool.

From Sean Connery

to Daniel Craig

But he won't be holding glasses like that in his hand anymore. It's now gonna be Heineken. Standard International Lager. Is that cool or is it just me ?

Heineken IS cool

Cool people drink Heineken. 
People like me drink real ale. 
Quality beer has a bit of an image problem... I think. Would Bond really drink Heineken or would he rather have a London Pride ?

I know what I would drink :-). But drinking real ale is probably too associated with middle-aged bearded overweight men. And they don't have the kind of big money needed for marketing neither, as a big company like Heineken. Product Placement > Coolness

I would honestly have thought Bond would quit smoking before change his drink. Or maybe quit drinking totally?
 I do think a glass of organic orange juice would be more noted than the absence of a cigarette though. 

So maybe... or maybe not, Bond will have an image problem with a (can of) Heineken in his hand. Heineken will for sure not have an imageproblem being in the hand of James Bond.

Personally I think he should upgrade cocktailwise and go for a Manhattan, a Mojito or maybe a Mint Julep. But I bet the good people over in the mixologist department have a far more qualified opinion on this

I asked Cheri Loughlin, The Intoxicologist and she said "Martinis still hugely popular. So is retro and reinvention of the classics" Her specific suggestion for a modern Bond drink was the Black Rose

I also asked Kerry from Whisky in the City and she said "The 'Mad Men' effect is bringing back the old classics." Kerry suggests Bond would pick up: "Aged tequila with lime twist in the style of an old fashioned"

Basically they couldn't agree more without picking the exact same, so I am more or less outvoted 2-1 by the lovely ladies (no surprise)

This is a whisky blog. Most people here would say, why doesn't Mr. Bond drink a whisky ? But is drinking whisky cool enough for Bond? 

Do whisky have the right image. I know what kind of image the whisky companies like their drinkers to be. Something like this


But that's a minority. In reality we look like this

Classy moment at Limburg 2011

Some of the whisky companies are big spenders in the marketing department. They should be able to afford a dram for James Bond. He would end up drinking Johnnie Walker, Macallan, Glenfiddich or Dalmore most likely. 

I think it would be far more cool if Mr. Bond walked up to a bar and asked for a Caperdonich 72

What do you think ?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Whisky Round Table May

Is hosting Mays

Blogger Question with the following question

The Parting of the Sensory: Scotch has long been thought of as a drink for rich old men.  Although that’s changed over the last decade, scotch is still something of an older man’s drink.  However, as humans get older our senses start to fade and our acuity decreases.
Is a 1959 Bunnahabhain wasted on a man whose taste buds are starting to forget the difference between green fruits and grapefruit?  In other words, is well-aged whisky wasted on the old?
Is this the wrinkled old man in the convertible, or is it the much deserved reward for having achieved success in life?  Can our palates retain sensitivity throughout middle age, or does experience more than make up for any loss?

Read the answers from a series of whiskyblogger, my self included here

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Kentucky Bourbon Distillers is sort of what we (us scotch drinkers) would call an independent bottler. Sourcing casks from distilleries and bottling them

There's a little difference. Willet is actual the name of a distillery, which was working from the mid thirties up to the early eighties.

There's a scandinavian connection to the Willet distillery. Even Kulsveen, a native norwegian, and son-in-law to Thompson Willet, purchased the property, founded KBD in 1984. The distillery has reopened  this year. But inbetween the Willet name has lived on as a range of bottlings. Hard to your hands on in Denmark, but I succeded in finding a couple of excellent bottlings in my holiday travels

Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Bourbon
13yo 62% Barrel no. 3718
Distilled 14. May 1996

This is one of the most well balanced and complex bourbons I have tried. Wood, Syrupsweetness, Vanilla, Nuts, Caramel, Butterscotch it's all there in perfect harmony. The whisky is thick and oily like a wooden custard cream. The high ABV is only slightly felt. Delicious

Rating 91

Family Estate Bottled Single Barrel Rye
25yo 47% Barrel no. 1372
Distilled 10. May 1983

The typical floor varnish I usually get in old ryes is toned down and spiced up to a delicious nose, with only a hint of the classical rye spicyness. The balance is great. The palate is a wood explosion dryness with a thick layer of orange flavours accompanied by a hint of nuts. The wood is very dominating but the whiskey is very delicate still. Woodylicious with a fantastic caramelcandy finish

Rating 89

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Three quick Benriachs

BenRiach 15 yo OB, Pedro Ximenez-finish, 46%

Nose: Fresh, sugar sherry, light and elegant, summery. It actually brings distant memories from summers gone by.

Taste: Juicy sugar sherry sweetness. Dark, burnt sugar and plenty of oak. A modern dram with a decent quality.
Rating: 84

BenRiach Horizons 12 yo OB, triple distilled, sherry finish, 50%

BenRiach Horizons

Nose: Lovely oloroso sherry, toffee and orange chocolate, vague rubber notes (rubber band), burnt nuts and prunes.

Taste: Young. Feisty sherry with dark coffee notes and bitter nuts. It's a powerful horizon we're looking at here, so no extra softness for being distilled three times. Good whisky.
Rating: 86

BenRiach Authenticus 25 yo OB, 46%
Nose: Peaches and fruit drops - or is it fruit caramel? Beautiful nose with the smoke drifting quietly behind the fruit curtains.

Taste: Peaches and mango. Again the smoky element is carefully present and mixes in with the tropical style very, very well. A delicate experience.

Rating: 89

Concluding comment: During the last 7-8 years, careful and innovative ownership, along with the delicate quality of the whisky, has raised the profile of Benriach distillery and it's bottlings from a point of oblivion to a wide popularity. These three drams are fine examples of good quality Speyside whisky.