Friday, September 23, 2022

Garrison Bros Tasting, Redemption Bourbon & Rye 10, Larceny Barrel Proof

It’s been a while. I’ve been busy with work. The type of work that allows me to review whiskeys in spare time by allowing me to afford them…

Quick notes from a recent Garrison Brothers tasting.

Note: All Garrison bottles have a particular sharp note that’s somewhere between dried grassy herbs, leather, toasted wood, rubber, and denatured alcohol. It is not unpleasant but it is quite prominent and has some notes of an old crafts store or a workshop. Or even perhaps Sealing Wax if anyone recalls how that smells. I will almost forgo talking about nose on samples below as that aforementioned note applies to all these in some amount.

Garrison Brothers Honeydew, 40%
Bourbon with actual honey… and 40%… Notes from the tastings is that both of those choices were specifically done to mess with the owner of the distillery. The palate is warm, sweet and quite nice to sip. At the same time it’s quite thin lacks secondary notes. While the primaries are heavy on the original nose notes. The aftertaste here is where it’s at, warm, almost sticky it really lingers around the mouth with baking spices balanced off by the sweetness. Overall: Not my thing. Its inoffensive, but I’d rather drink something else. The aftertaste is better than everything else combined but I have to get to that first. Nice and sweet this is somewhat reminiscent of a cognac once I get through the front of the palate. Value: This is $80?! That’s kinda bad deal for what you get.
Score: C

Garrison Brothers Small Batch 2022, 47%
The core release is here. The nose is better balanced for what it’s worth. The palate is full of oak, cinnamon, yet again some grassy notes, but they seem to be balanced somewhat by other flavors. Molasses, corn syrup, cloves and nutmeg are all in the palate. The same spices come back to a reasonably long and spice-forward aftertaste that offers mellow continuation from the palate for the most part. Overall: I’m enjoying this quite a bit. It’s good in an uncomplicated, butan uncompromising way. Will not chase this down, but it does offer a pleasant and cohesive drinking experience, especially if I want something on the sweeter side. Value: This is ~$80 and I’d not consider it a good value. Tons and tons of excellent things are available in that bracket that offer a very stiff competition to this bottle on flavor and quality.
Score: B

Garrison Brothers Single Barrel #16733, 47%
I’ll be brief here due to variance in casks. I am findinging this somewhat similar, with understandably different balance, to the above small batch. This is lighter sweeter cask that’s quite tasty but to myself I personally preferred the Small Batch version due to little more wood in there to balance out the sweetness. Overall: Nothing wrong here, but nothing great in this cask either. I prefer different balance personally as this leans towards cinnamon and cloves cake icing. Value: N/A.
Score: B-

Garrison Brothers Balmorhea 2022, 57.5%
This is Garrison’s fancy cask proof offering. The nose here is pretty solidly woody with burnt vanilla caramel. The palate is great but there’s that mid-spike of the typical ‘Garrison’ note that’s not quite hits the brief for me. The aftertaste is very warm, spicy, lingering, woody and a touch fast-fading. Overall: This is enjoyably woody without being overwhelming but it’s also rather rough about the edges and lacks for the lack of better word ‘polishing’ in its overall balance. It’s drinkable but I’m not chasing it down. Value: MSRP of around $220 that’s terrible value all around.
Score: B

Afterthought: I reasonably enjoyed their small batch. Overall, their flavor balance isn’t my thing and their price point, admittedly because of not cutting corners and sourcing locally… well their price point is at least 2x what I’d pay for comparable bottles in the category bracket.

End of Garrison Brothers Tasting…

Redemption 10 year Bourbon Batch 2, 57.2%
This is a straight bourbon whiskey with the following specs. Age & Bottle Info: 10 Years, Batch 2, 60% Corn / 36% Rye / 4% Barley Malt. Distilled at MPG. Everything that’s MGP is in spades on the nose. Typical Smooth Ambler Old Scout MGP is 5 years old… Add 5 more years in wood, keep the proof. Spiced cinnamon honey on the hose with a healthy dose of perfume/cologne. Those perfume cologne notes continue into the palate. This stuff is beautiful. Slightly drying palate with oak tannins, its very light and not nearly overpowering the rest of it the flavors, is about the only negative here I can think of and only for those that dislike that stuff. Palate is medium with more cinnamon, cloves and honey on notes gently fading. Overall: This is spectacularly good drinking. Not flawless but critically close to being flawless in a saturated bourbon world. Everything that is great about MGP SAOS… made better! Value: If i recall, this was MSRP ~$100 which is a little bit above the ‘average’ (looking at your ECBP) for age-stated cask proof bottling.
Score: A

Redemption 10 year Rye Batch 2, 58.1%
Ten year MGP rye, barrel proof, mash bill 95% Rye, 5% Malted Barley. The nose is quite rye spice forward here. Fragrant dry grass is the best approximation, anice, caraway seed. Relatively tame palate that coats the mouth as it goes through… Most of the same flavors from the nose in liquid form though quite restrained by each other. The aftertaste is where it’s at! Very long, rather spicy it rolls and roll and rolls with ginger, all sorts of baking spice, szechuan peppers. Overall: Fans of spicy ryes are welcome to apply. This is exemplar of MGP rye for those that enjoy that profile. It’s great but not excellent. This is tasty and flavorful… and I’m glad I’ve tried it. I’ll also be okay not drinking it again. Value: MSRP is ~$100 here. Big fat ‘probably’ with rye spirit at high proof and age statement it’s probably about right price. with Barrell rye’s in the same bracket while being younger in age.
Score: B

Larceny Barrel Proof, Batch C921, 61.3%
Whelp, Heaven Hill finally coming out with Larceny (their wheated mashbill) at higher proof than their regular offering. The age is variable as this is batched by assumed to be somewhere between 6 and 10 years old. On the nose, caramel vanilla and candy corn with some spices, of the cinnamon variety. Palate is more of the candy corn sweetness, backed by proof and reasonable woodyness that doesn’t overwhelm. The aftertaste is very sugar and cinnamon forward and lasts for a reasonably long time. Overall: This is everything that folks like about Larceny (and Heaven Hill) and nothing they don’t. Kind of mellower McKenna that’s still amped up to 11 on intensity. Clearly this isn’t typical high-rye bourbon, but it’s still great and well worth trying or having. Value: I’ve paid $76 (MSRP) for this and it’s about correctly positioned as an alternative/complementary to ECBP line by Heaven Hill. At MSRP it’s well worth it, especially if you enjoy Henry McKenna profile or wished regular Larceny was a lot more flavorful.
Score: B+

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Kirkland 22, Balblair 15, Linkwood 13; Courage & Conviction SiB; Malts Marathon

Sneak Peek: Lots and lots of reviews to write. By my count i got ~40 samples in the backlog. A lot of Old Particular and Hart Brother’s single casks as well as few fancy ones too. Stay tuned. I got plenty of content to fill.

Kirkland 22 (2019/2020), 46%
Well I’ve finally opened up the bottle I got in 2020 or so. This is from the series of 46% heavily sherried (finished) Speyside Single Malt bottled by Alexander Murray for Costco. The 23 have been reviewed here: and 24 here: with mixed results. For the record, this particular bottling being written about now is supposedly the one that started the hype for the series. Let’s see how it compares.
Nose is malty, little spicy and sherry forward with nice dark stewed fruits, dried plums and perhaps some dried strawberries too. The palate is excellently velvety, pleasant and keeps solid balance between sweet and spicy without either one winning, sort of like roasted walnuts. Secondary notes spike up the spice and wood to surprisingly high levels, leading to long, sweet, baking spice notes, warming, charred fruit and vanilla compote aftertaste. Overall: This is an excellent everyday (heavily) sherried drinker, and totally justifies the hype it got. It’s an outstanding bottle from Murrays. I’ll note that there’s nothing in the glass here that screams 22 year old to me… but it’s no surprise with a heavy sherry finish will mask anything ‘odd’, as I’ve also noted very similar thing with the 24 year old… and that one was even older and objectively could have been better with more age. The rumor had it that this (unlike the later versions) was a Glenrothes which can be believed as a) Glenrothes takes to sherry like a champ b) It does have that sweet and nutty note that I’ve seen from the distillery… Though, please don’t buy this for the distillery name, as only for the contents of the bottle is what counts. Value: This was ~$70 which is a fairly solid price everything considering.
Score: B+

Balblair 15, 46%
This is a regular Balblair 15 that I happened to have a bottle of. This has been aged in american ex-bourbon oak casks and then finished in sherry… Full details and timing aren’t disclosed on the materials available to me at least. The nose is punchy and slightly sulfuric or iodine notes in there. Behind those are solid bourbon/sherry mix of notes as would be expected from the description. Velvety and quite punchy palate full of spice and sweetness, none of the weird notes here, spikes up with a tight spiral of more spice and sweetness that alternate into a medium length aftertaste that finishes malty sweet. An interesting note here is a light stainless steel metallic note in the secondary flavors and aftertaste but it’s almost like nut butter rather than a detriment. Overall: Delicious, full-flavored and well balanced malt. Perhaps a little too full-flavored as with repeated sips that nut roastiness is starting to border on bitterness. Value: The USA pricing for it varies but tends to be ~$110 or so currently; which is quite terrible value. Admittedly this is a solid pour but at $100 there are plenty of other solid pours and this is competing with Glendronach 15 which is ~$90.
Score: B+

Note: In side by side above… I found the Balblair is slightly better of the two because of better balance between malt, spice, and sherry making it a lot more interesting and dynamic vs Alexander Murray bottle. Neither of them are bad to be honest, and perfectly serviceable, especially with personal palate preferences easily could prefer one vs other.

Linkwood 13, Redacted Bros, 52%
A Linkwood bottling from 13 year old single cask by Thompson Bros at Dornoch Distillery, who likely for legal reasons are sold under ‘Redacted Bros’ label in USA. Anyways… Linkwood… I’m a fan of Linkwoods. This one was in Oak Casks for 13 years and one of 120 bottles. The nose is green apples, pears, vanilla, peach, some melons and citrus. Pretty much what you’d expect out of good oak cask. There are some hints on the website that this perhaps was a refill (refill) butt, which suggests sherry… but I dunno. It’s darn tasty and I’m not tasting much sherry here at all, instead this is got a bit of sauvignon blanc fruitiness going on there. The palate is loaded with sweet vanilla and fresh orchard fruits of the white and green variety, pears, peaches, green apples as well as more citrus. Really seems like a white vine in single malt wrapper. Aftertaste is gingery, peppery, and delicious if only medium length. Overall: This is excellent and continues fine tradition of solid offerings from Linkwood. I’m very happy consuming this. It doesn’t quite reach the wonders of Linkwood 37 but very few things do or will. Value: Sold for $69 this is good value.
Score: A-

Courage & Conviction Cuvee SiB, K&L SP, 59.2%
This is Courage & Conviction (C&C) single casks picked for K&L that’s been aged in Cuvee cask which is pretentious way of saying ex-wine cask. In case of C&C they also make this an STR cask, which is a shorthand for Scraped/Toasted/Recharred… meaning renewed cask that was used previously. I’ll also mention the packaging here, which is ridiculously overwrought and looks all sorts of premium, metal cap top, magnetic cask badge, ribbon, premium looking tube and bottle. It sure looks good on the visual department. Let’s dig in.
Nose is rather intense with red wine fruits and very slight sulfuric note, likely from wine cask influence as it reminds of a dark red cab with all the plums. In this case the sulfuric note is more of a funk that you may get out of prunes. Some nuttyness on the nose too and of course toasted vanilla. Extremely flavorful and punchy on the palate, nearly overwhelming on the flavor notes intensity. That proof is also quite impactful even for a relatively ‘average’ single cask abv. Intense plums and prune compote on the palate, sweet vanilla, slight nuttiness, baking spices, cloves, nutmeg, burnt sugar. This is likely from the wood re-char and so I’m likely tasting a heavily toasted cask that this was aged in. The aftertaste slowly rolls down from the secondary notes of ginger and spices for a medium-long malty finish that’s quite even in its fading. With few drops of water to tone down the intensity this becomes much MUCH better. Water recommended. Overall: The sulfuric note only shows up in the nose and not anywhere else surprisingly, so perhaps I’m having a wrong association there. This bottling is extremely intense and flavorful but It’s so very different from what I expected, this really isn’t red wine ‘influenced’ but basically red wine wrapper around an American Single Malt and high proof. It also somewhat reminds of a Starward single casks but in an American execution, so bigger, bolder, perhaps with over-inflated military budget. This isn’t a delicate single malt, this isn’t even C&C regular stuff (which is proofed to 46% so there’s that) this is full frontal assault on the palate. Enjoyable? Yes. Everyday? No. With water? Yes. Value: Priced at $99 I’m a little torn but this is about average bracket on pricing, especially for a ‘good’ single malt as this well compares to whatever other cask strength US bottler produces, and they source…
Original listing:
Score: B+ (A- /w Water)

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Canada, eh! (Hiram Walker’s Brands)

I’ve recently participated in a Canadian whiskey masterclass course over the course of 4 weeks. Aside from learning about bunch of different history facts about Canadian Whiskey I’ve got some samples. Here are (mostly) brief notes and perhaps my thoughts at the very end. The big difference between US and Canadian whiskeys, is that they are commonly distilled at 100% grain mashbills and then blended together after aging. There’s no strict regulation on casks types and stills so it’s mostly about the art of blending rather than production. TL;DR: All of samples below are blends.

J.P. Wiser’s Old Fashioned Cocktail, 35%
I believe these are findable pre-mixed in retail.
Quite orange forward. Straw colored. Orange and spicy nose as expected of old fashioned. Very thick and sweet almost syrup like body. Pleasantly warm aftertaste. Overall: Too sweet for me straight. Quite a bit better over ice, becoming reasonable to drink if someone were to give it to me at a dinner or a party.
Score: N/A

J.P. Wiser’s Manhattan Cocktail, 35%
Same with above, this is findable in retail.
Pouring over ice directly. Not bothering straight. I already know it’s going to be too syrupy. So this is quite aromatic bitters forward and surprisingly smells of cinnamon. The palate confirms it. I personally like my manhattans cherry-forward and this isn’t. Overall: Not my thing due to lack of cherries; though I imagine some will enjoy it enough to drink. Shockingly to myself I’ve enjoyed the old fashioned above more than this.
Score: N/A

J. P. Wiser’s Deluxe, 40%
Nose is rather grain-forward and slightly reminds me of Irish whiskeys. Palate is mostly grain, with a little bit of rye and I’m sure some other stuff mixed in. Aftertaste is not that great and will probably be alright if masked by other stuff. Overall: This is clearly targeted at mixing drinks. Just a smidgeon above ‘drain pour’.
Score: D-

The 15 year old is reviewed here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry220301-232141

J. P. Wiser’s 18, 40%
The nose alternates between rubbing alcohol and woody vanilla. The palate is thin, sweet with vanilla sugar and pleasant baking spice. It evokes a bit an image of toasted spiced pie crust. There are some decent secondary notes and peppery aftertaste that lasts for a while. Overall: Alright, this is actually drinkable. Nothing write home about but serviceable as it is. The only real downside is the proof which needs to be 46% or so instead of flat 40. Value: Total wine lists this at $52… I guess it’s above average but… tolerable enough of a price to sate FOMO once.
Score: B-

Gooderham & Worts, 40%
So this is a somewhat of a legacy brand that’s been recently resurrected. From Hiram Walker this a bit of a mix of ‘everything’ in there being a 4 grain blend. Pleasant, Canadian rye-forward nose with mint notes. Rather flavorful palate with big initial flavors, rye is dominating the conversation, pleasant and a little spicy. Not a lot of secondary notes, suggesting a solid amount of grain whiskey in the mix. Slightly wooden and spicy aftertaste reminds me of inside of an old wooden wardrobe complete with moth balls which do somewhat smell of mint and ammonia now that I think about it. Overall: Serviceable and inoffensive; this is a ‘better’ bottle for mixing drinks. I wouldn’t ask for it at a bar but I would also not pour it down the drain.
Score: C-

Pike Creek 10 (rye?!), 42%
Pike Creek 10 year old finished in Rum casks. Nose is flavorful and complex with wood and mint notes. The palate is smooth, woody, slightly minty and sweet, with mint likely coming from tropical rum casks there. Maple syrup, cinnamon, like a breakfast roll. Similarly lots of complexity on the aftertaste with spices, pepper, vanilla, and some more mint notes lingering. Overall: Enjoyable. Drinkable… Wait… this is a RYE!? Value: MSRP $35 and findable as low as ~$25 this is good deal for what it’s worth.
Score: B-

I should start adding a disclaimer into these that I’m not a Rye-loving person.

J. P. Wiser’s Triple Barrel Rye, 45%
A shockingly ‘high’ 45% abv for a Hiram brand. Very rye bread forward with some caraway seed on the nose. Repeated nosing really does bring some of that fresh dark rye bread to mind. More rye notes, caraway seeds, and some mint on the palate. This is quite flavorful. The aftertaste is rather unfortunate as it spikes up with a to something bitter and metallic and then slowly goes down with more bread notes and spicy pepperiness. Overall: Mixer! Also images of bread loaves clash in my head with this being a distilled spirit. Value: $20 is reasonable enough.
Score: D

Lot 40 Rye, 43%
The nose is pleasant and smells like decent canadian rye that Whistlepig bottles. Slightly woody, savoury, little bits of vanilla and dill on the nose, reasonably complex. I dislike saying ’smooth’ but palate cannot be described as anything but ’smooth’. Velvety texture that coats mouth easily, some of the nose complexity continues to the palate. The aftertaste is quite different with a prominent bitter wood spike and a lot of pepper but there are no off-notes in there for me. Solidly enjoyable experience start to finish. Buuuuuuut. What does ‘good nose’… ‘missing palate’…’good aftertaste’ mean to me? It means a mixer where the other ingredients supplement the missing palate notes and sing their own story. Overall: Premium mixing spirit. Acceptable straight or on the rocks if needs be. Value: at ~$31-40 it’s reasonable I suppose for a ‘Lot 40′… get it? get it?
Score: B

Afterthoughts: I would like to provide a special thanks for Hiram Walker’s marketing department for providing these samples, educating me though the Canadian Whiskey Masterclass on Canadian whiskey history and on how and why these whiskeys are produced and being being hardworking and passionate folks at what they do.

PS: Alright… you may notice that none of the scores above are great and… well, frankly, none of the whiskeys above are great… for me and the way I enjoy them. This is by no means meant to reflect on hard work that folks that work for Hiram Walker company are putting into these products. I simply happen to not be their core audience. I am also highly appreciative of the opportunity to try these and if anyone asks which Canadian Whiskey I would recommend… I’m now in a much better position to make an informed recommendation or decision.

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Kavalan Ex-Bourbon, Pekut and Carwick Tasting; A mix of things

Pardon a bit of a an absence. I was on vacation.

Kavalan Single Cask, Ex-bourbon, 54.8%
Here we have a bottle of Kavalan from a single ex-bourbon cask # B080825102 (meaning distilled on 08/25/2008) and bottled on 03/31/2016. So this is essentially an 8 year old Kavalan. tropically aged. First off, this really needs to sit in a glass for a while to open up. The nose is musky French cologne. Vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, dried tropical fruits with mango dominating… not too strong for the proof. Surprisingly bitter and slightly tannic palate, like over-steeped Lipton black tea. Tropical fruits are there with pineapple/mango/coconut but are almost buried by that spice intensity. Long aftertaste with more clove-nutmeg mix and then finally malt comes to the front and balances it out. Overall: I’m torn. I expected a sweet fruit bomb… This isn’t. The nose and aftertaste are great but the palate is weird. This is really almost like a mix of single malt and over-aged bourbon for the palate. Drinkable, yet this is also certainly not everyone’s pour due to unexpectedly bitter notes. This is likely a cask strength bourbon-lover’s dream pour. Great occasional pour but not quite ‘uninhabited island’ level for me compared to other similar Solist casks. Few drops of water tone down the bitter notes somewhat. Value: I bought this as a gift-pack with a Glencairn glass for $109 which is amazing value vs more common Single Cask Kavalan pricing of ~$250-300. I’ll say value-wise this particular price is a steal.
Disclaimer: Even within the same sale casks did vary. … /watch?v=9Hc6I7ENSL0 this video shows cask #108 (vs my 102), with the same distillation date, sale and source.
Score: B+ (It’s not what you’d expect from this cask)

I promised a mix of things… So Pekut and Carwick (which are actually made up names, somewhat reminds me of Harry Potter, but I digress). Is a very small independent bottler that is just starting up and gave some samples of their product to the @SFWBSS group to taste. I was a fun tasting I will admit. As far as their product range is concerned, there seem to be no focus and it’s more or less anything that the founder/owner finds interesting or different. Basically a case of FOMO on the alcohol production side of things. I do wish them the best. Their website is They also provide ridiculous amount of info with their bottlings which is always great to see for my geeky side.

Heritage California Single Malt, 61.5%
Distilled at Sutherland Distilling and bottled from two barrels. Oaky, minty, and with some pine on the nose this follows up with dark caramel notes. The glass doesn’t pull any punches with the proof. Smelling it blindly, it’s almost like a (malted?) rye. The palate starts sweet and almost mellow, but then builds up to dusty wet earth and leather notes, pine forest after-the-rain. Mint and vanilla and some wood char. More toasted rye bread with anise seed… Lots of cinnamon. That cinnamon with sichuan peppers slowly slide away in a long and warm aftertaste that lingers with residual maltiness. Few drops of water cut the proof slightly but amp up the sugar and mint notes, which makes it a bit of a easier sipper, few drops are definitely recommended. Overall: Wow, this thing is a wild ride. A good ride too. But just like mechanical bull, this ain’t for everyone. That spicy minty cinnamon flavor core is sure to be… different from a typical ‘malt’ expectation. Value: This is ~$90 so. I guess it depends on how much one likes wild rides. For the cask proof American malt this isn’t bad at all of a tag to take a gamble on (looking in your direction… Barrell Vatted American Malt mentioned here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry211026-200236 and scored similarly).
https://www.pekutand … om/products/heritage
Score: B-

Wheat Whiskey, 62.5%
Wheat Whiskey from Spirit Works (SP) stills. Single cask; full proof. This one was presented as a challenge to the tasting panel to provide tasting feedback notes. Before tasting it, I’ll disclose that I have a bottle of Wheated Whiskey from Spirit Works bottled for Eureka Group which isn’t bad at all and I do drink it undiluted… I’ve reviewed and put my notes here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry220203-230716.
Back to the sample: I really like the nose on it at full proof. It’s got none of the gin notes that I get with most Spirit Works products. I’m getting butter, vanilla, oak, a bit of spice; but not too much, perhaps toasted buttery oat cookies. The nose belies the proof for sure and feels lower than stated. The palate is certainly sweet wheat (no obvious corn/grain notes that many bourbons have) whiskey with nutty and woody flavors, surprising anice notes, baking spices, slight charry bitterness, grass and juniper in the secondary flavors. The palate is quite proof forward overall. Long, peppery and lingering aftertaste follows. Few water drops cuts the alcohol but amps up the bitterness. Alighty, this takes water like a champ and a solid amount is more or less required. I think I’m about 100 proof at this point and everything mostly snapped into place. Water is highly recommended. Overall: A fire at full proof this drinks way above its stated abv. I’ve dumped a solid amount of water into my glass to balance things into quite pleasant sweet and spicy concoction reminiscent of Red Hots that’s quite an easy drinking. As much as I personally hate to dilute good booze I’m of the opinion that water is needed here. Value: N/A this isn’t released yet.
Score: B+ (w/ Water, B otherwise)

Bulk Rum, 55.9%
I’ll be brief: A blended Guyana rum aged in used oak barrels. No age statement. Since its Guyana it’s almost certainly Diamond Distillery. Funky and quite pungent nose with menthol and esters. Quite sweet and little woody palate. Pleasantly spicy aftertaste. The nose is better than the rest of to be honest, which makes it a fantastic rum for mixing a tropical drink. This don’t seem tropically aged nor interesting enough to beat bottles from Foursquare and other amazing single casks that are being bottled and are finally becoming available on US market. Is it pleasant? Reasonably so! Will I drink it all night? Sure, if there’s nothing else to drink. Is it ‘generic, OK rum’? Yes, a little too generic. Is Diamond Distillery perhaps not for me? Also, perhaps. Overall: This is a generic version of Diamond single casks I’ve tried and they all didn’t particularly agree with my palate. Fantastic mixer though. Value: N/A make your tropical drinks with it.
Score: C (Top shelf mixer)

Umeshu Liquor, 23.6%
I’m going to add this here for completion, though I am not going to attempt to give this sample a letter grade. For context, umeshu is a liquor done with bitter/sour asian plums. The plums themselves are called ‘ume’ and are commonly found in pickled form in japanese cuisine… Also they’re closer to apricots than plums… But I digress. The smell of this i almost exact smell of plum hard candy from my childhood. The taste is sour-sweet, slightly tilted towards sour but sweetness lingers. A little bit of alcohol bitterness ties it all together. Overall: This is so delicious and very concentrated… Kind of a liquid/liquor take on my childhood candy memory. I think this would be amazing in high end mixology to add a bit of balance to a drink. In some ways this makes me think of a plummy version of limoncello. So make adult summer ‘plum-ade’ with this and some good soda water and I think you won’t be disappointed.
Score: N/A (Tasty soda drink flavoring)

End of Tasting

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown

Friday, July 1, 2022

Oban 18, Amrut 8, Glenallachie 19, Stranahan’s Port, Rogue SFWBSS, Westland Silver City

Back to malts! Oh what a backlog I got there…

Oban 18, 43%
A sample from friend JasonW. An obvious upgrade from the regular release if only in the years counted from inception. Nose is intense with vanilla, pears, stone fruit and melon, perhaps some tropical notes come in eventually. The palate is great. The tropical fruits really shine, sweet mango, papaia, litchi fruits, vanilla. Thick texture that wants to coat your tongue, though not quite succeeds. Aftertaste sees bourbon spices come out into nicely rolling aftertaste that’s unfortunately at best medium in length. Overall: This is highly enjoyable though I wish the aftertaste was a sliver longer than it is… And perhaps proof bumped up to 46%. Still, it’s very tasty and will please almost any scotch drinker. It’s malty, it’s tropically fruity, it’s pleasant and inoffensive. It’s quite above the level of the regular 14. Very big plus there in the grade, just a tad short due to short-ish aftertaste. Value: Total Wine got this at ~$150 which is reasonably high for an 18 year old malt. Then again… with current rising pricing about average… Honestly though… I’d skip buying it.
Score: B+

Amrut 8, “SCWC” Ex-Port Pipe. #4672; 60%
South California Whiskey Club bottling though K&L Wines… Another tiny sample from friend JasonW. The nose is glorious. All sorts of dark fruits compote, concentrated! The color is chestnut! I gotta admit this is actually awesome. I’d like to sniff it for awhile… but I got a thing to do. Palate is an experience. Dried figs, candied nuts, plums/prunes. Amazing complexity on the darker side of the flavors spectrum. Then the cask spices show up in spades in secondary notes and gallop into long sticky sweet and baking spice laden (yet still delightful) aftertaste. Overall: This is amazing as long as one likes wine (Port) influence on their malt. About as good as anything from Kavalan I’ve tried for comparison. Absolute bomb on flavors. Easy score. Value: Priced at even $200 this is… eeeeeeh and makes me think twice on value proposition here.
Score: A

Glenallachie 19, Hart Bros, Single Cask. 56.7%
Hart Brother’s bottled Glenallachie 19 in 2015. Supposedly aged in oak cask but this is pretty dark so it could have been something else prior to Glenallachie. Either way it doesn’t quite smell like ex-bourbon. The nose is butter, vanilla, something salty and spicy, and perhaps a touch fermented. Somewhat reminds of a good salmon spread. Really complex into fatty-salty direction. Very deserving to be sniffed at for a while. Very wood-laden palate, slightly rubbery, yet again suggesting some sherry in there, bordering on too much wood which unfortunately overwhelms almost every primary note. Very little sweetness in the notes, more of a bitter vanilla. Baking spices and secondary notes finally come out in the long aftertaste that finishes with some chili tingle. Perfume and flowers in the tertiary notes right at the end of that aftertaste fading. Overall: Oh really wish to love it as it’s on paper everything I do love… Yet, it’s too woody in the middle for me to enjoy to the fullest. It’s a shame, as the core of this is fantastic… Likely quite polarizing this is certainly not a casual pour, though during right conditions it’s amazing… but if conditions aren’t perfect this will be… not perfect. A chameleon that keeps on changing as I sip it. Way up there on complexity, little too ‘mental’ for unadulterated enjoyment. Value: Going by paper… this is ~$110 and is a solid value.
https://www.klwines. … whisky-700ml/1559889
Score: B

Stranahan’s American Single Malt, Distiller’s #3, Carcavelos Cask, 53.65%
Something quite special, this is Distiller’s Experimental Series from Stranahan’s aged 7y11m in Carcavelos (white port) casks. American single malt from Colorado… This is ‘old’ for american single malt. Also distillery exclusive. Let’s just say ‘very limited supplies’. The nose is creme brulee laden with baking spice, change that to bourbon creme brulee, not too sweet though vanilla and sugar are present but it’s got a solid core of that burnt sugar top note. Incredibly well balanced, velvety on the palate. More of of the same combination of roasted balanas, burnt caramel, dusted with nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon and perhaps a scoop of banana ice cream on top. An interesting twist as it starts quite sweet, but almost immediately becomes funky, spicy, and almost (good) rum-like. Long aftertaste with more cinnamon and some bitter chocolate chili notes. Overall: This is extremely good stuff. One of the best single malts from America I’ve had, easily on par with best from Westland, also same age as best stuff from Westland so perhaps that helps. I have mostly discounted Stranahan’s in the past due to low age of their regular bottles but this does put a solid case for their older offerings that will be coming down soon enough hopefully. Value: I’ve paid $55 for a 375 ml bottle which is actually rather solid for the age statement, exclusivity and high proof in American malt.
Score: A

Rogue SIngle Malt, SFWBSS Pick, Cab Franc, 58.89%
A bottle exclusive to visitors of Fog City Social, organized by SFWBSS that happened in the Spring of 2022. The event was pretty great, but we’re not here to talk about it. Let’s talk about the bottle that came with the gift bag, generously provided by Rogue Spirits. This is a single cask, full proof single malt aged in Cab Franc wine cask. I’m not going to sugar-coat my hesitation approaching this as I’ve not too high opinion of regular Rogue releases based on prior experience with them. Here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry210729-205754, Let’s dig in: Nose is… malt, wood spice and alcohol-strong red wine, something almost fruit tea-like. Lots of plums, some sour cherries, and dried apples. The wine cask bring a lot of complexity to the table here and balances out the alcohol. Supposedly, this is lightly peated, and on the palate some of that smokes shows up with somewhat bitter char notes. The bitterness is yet again balanced by wine cask influence which brings tons of red fruit and sweetness. Aftertaste is somewhat cherry bubble-gum like, with medium length gently fading cinnamon, some bitter baking spice mix, maltiness and yet again that red fruit leftovers. Malt takes a bit of setback here, and the aftertaste is nearly bourbon-like, still rich with red wine influence. Overall: The red wine cask does a miracle here. Honestly, it tastes a little bit like a ‘weird’ Starward that’s a little higher proof than common single cask and slightly more unbalanced. Frankly that’s the ’spot’ this bottle will occupy on my shelf… an American riff at Starward. It’s complex, not too old, very red wine-forward and good on occasion. There’s not much dislike here, but it’s also impossible to pigeonhole it into a category that is recognized by a casual drinker, leaving it a niche audience. Value: Tough to judge as it came ‘free’ with the ticket. Let’s assume about 50% of the ticket price was the bottle… So let’s give this a ~$50 valuation…. Which is honestly fairly solid for a no-gimmick single malt at high proof.
Score: B-

Westland 4.5, Silver City Cask Exchange, 51.2%
A bottle that’s been open on my shelf for a while, a great thank you to friend David from Seattle for getting it for me. This is a cask exchange bottle, meaning it’s American Single Malt aged in a beer cask… while there was some beer aged in a cask(s) from Westland. This particular one is with Silver City brewery and a marriage of output of casks that had Magnificent Bastard and Fat Woody in them prior to malt. I’ve written about a similar cask exchange bottle prior: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry210127-170948… A side note that Westland is quite coffee-forward naturally, so it works well with beer casks as a lot of darker kinds of beer have coffee in them or have a lot of coffee notes. Back to the malt: the nose is full of strong chocolate porter notes. The palate starts sweet and malty with velvety texture… The secondary notes kick in and drive those flavor notes way high. Mostly chocolate and coffee, bit of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, szechuan peppers galore. Aftertaste is strong porter, espresso, more szechuan peppers in the mix there, substantial sweet undertones from malt, gives it almost spiced italian espresso impression. Overall: Enjoyable but not an everyday pour for me. This proudly occupying ’something different’ spot and it’s happy to own that classification. Value: Tricky… this was ~$100… Perhaps for an interesting bottle… but I’d say it’s average value. Not great… not bad.
Score: B-

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown