Monday, April 11, 2022

Penderyn, Port Dundas, Samuel Gelston’s, Teeling Vintage , Cooley Scotch-Adjacents

I’ve reviewed non-scotch whiskeys before… So why stop now….

Penderyn 6, RoCo SP, Cognac Cask 61.9%
Hailing from a Welsh distillery, this is one of 430 bottles selected by ROCO spirits near Sacramento a Penderyn 6 year old malt that’s been in ex-cognac casks and selected for “The 200 club”. Nose is green apple skins, ripe bananas, green grass, some peach notes, some grapefruit peel, pepper and alcohol. Very sweet, bordering on honeyed tea notes, vanilla, white pepper and it’s also quite ‘breathtaking’… as in I couldn’t breathe for a bit after sipping my first sip. Becomes much more palatable after that on the experience, yet still quite warming on the throat due to untamed alcohol. ‘Creamy vanilla custard rum flambe’ is good description of the aftertaste. Overall: Oh I wish this was few years older to give alcohol a chance to calm down. This got amazing flavors but it’s also got untamed fury. Like being beaten up in a brawl by an attractive bodybuilder, great to look at, but it does still hurt. Fantastic young malt but it’s still young and after adding water everything falls apart into grassy raw notes suspended in light sugar syrup. Value: Looks like it was ~$99 which isn’t actually terrible for an uncommon distillery single cask. It’s not much of a value compared to it’s Scottish brethren but in context this gets a pass for the checkbox sake.
Score: C+

Port Dundas 14, Single Grain Scotch, Old Particular SiB, 48.4%
I’ve tried Port Dundas before and the one I’m thinking about was frankly, amazing… This bottle was fantastic: and I’ve also made no secret in the past that young single grain is a mess. So I’m clearly biased. Digging into this: the nose keeps on changing from vanilla rubbing alcohol to… grassy agricole rum, with a side of a screen wipe smell. Sweet vanilla cake that becomes a carnival of szechuan peppers on the palate. Reasonably long, gentle and very sweet aftertaste… Also like a vanilla cake. Overall: This needs another 20 years in a cask and it’d be amazing… As it is, it’s a curiosity but not much more. Don’t do young single grain kids, it’s not worth it. The dissolution of Port Dundas distillery is a shame but if you can get your grabby hands onto some old stock of theirs… It’s probably great . This, on the other hand, is barely passable. “Vodka (vanilla) cereal.” Value: N/A, not going to guess. If this is from auction and shipped to US… real bad. If sold locally… single grain bottles are pretty cheap comparably to their malt brethren. Still, don’t do single grains younger than 25 year old or so.
Score: C-

Samuel Gelston’s 25, Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 52.4
A blend of Bushmills casks… This is quite… interesting… from friend Logan. The nose is leathery dry peaches and apricots with more tropical fruits, mangos, papaia etc. That nose is ultra tropical with a tinge of smoke, but really more of a sundried smell. Velvet-smooth palate at the first moment, then intense wood and baking spices kick in. Smoked cinnamon mango on the long aftertaste. This really does tastes somewhat smokey even if it’s not supposed to be smoked or peated, but it’s so well integrated, it’s great! Overall: This starts yum, and finishes little bit on the bitter wood side on the second part of the palate. Perhaps just a tad overaged. I want to spend time in the nose… but palate is sort of a mess somewhat muddling the experience once I sip. Value: Very sold out but I’ve seen this between 300 and 400 and that doesn’t lay well for me. As usual, for that price the value is low, especially with Bushmills stocks.
Score: B+

Teeling (Cooley) Vintage Reserve 23, Irish Single Malt 58.9%
Yet another interesting sample from friend Logan. To be clear there’s no such thing as a Teeling 23 year old single malt as teeling isn’t even 23 years old as of this writing. So this is another Cooley… Dried fruit compote on the nose, dried apricots, prunes, some tropical notes are in the background. There’s probably some sherry cask involves in this considering it’s not a single cask bottling. Definitely getting a little bit of varnish on the nose too. Woody, sweet, more dark dried fruits, licorice on the palate, super interesting and very complex. Long aftertaste with warmth and more licorice notes that finishes almost drying with tannins. It’s like a tasty fruity root beer cocktail. Overall: Real enjoyable, Cooley works great in ex-bourbon, but this blend with some sherry involved and is no slouch. Definitely recommended to at least try since finding these bottles are nigh impossible. This particular one is apparently from Japan market. Value: As with just about anything from Logan, not going to bother guessing… this is not a cheap bottle even when it was released in 2015.
Almost certainly this: https://www.whiskyba … /teeling-23-year-old
Score: A-

Cooley 17 Single Malt, @SFWBSS Pick SiB, 58.07%
Another Cooley, this time a 17 year old from 2003, ex-bourbon cask, picked by local whiskey group and I got a little sample via a bottle split. I’ve written about Cooley before here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry210914-215238 so no need to reiterate, they’re a legendary Irish distiller that preceded Teeling. Intensely tropical nose, with leche fruits, peaches, mangos mingling together into a light tropical fruit concoction. Delicious and rather sweet palate with more tropical fruit punch flavors going on. Mango-coconut notes are the standouts. More coconut mango on the medium length aftertaste together with some baking spices and ginger notes. Overall: I’m quite enjoying this. It’s super sugary, almost agave syrup or cream-soda like, with tropical flavors and bourbon cask spices. But something in there is missing for me. Perhaps it’s so sweet that it evokes fruit punch and spoils my mental image? Almost too much on the senses out of the bottle… With water… most everything snaps into place. Yes! That was it, just add water! Value: Eeeeeeh. It’s $200 for 700ml… not a fan of that value to be honest… yet I still paid for part of the bottle to try it. If you’re a fan of Cooley malt it’s probably worth it considering current market… but honestly, it’s rather bad value especially if buying blind.
Score: A-

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

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Break time

Apologies for an unexpected break in reviews. I’ve been on and off sick for the last two weeks and took it a bit easy on the alcohol to recover. Not to mention trying to taste and smell something with clogged up sinuses is a bit a of a challenge. On the good side of things, I’ve got a lot of accumulated samples… So look forward to more reviews soon.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

El Tesoro, Ivy Mountain Peach Brandy, Arma/Co(gnac), Malternatives

Introducing new (and also old because there are few older reviews are also falling into this tag) category of ‘malternative’ spirit reviews. I may not revisit this tag too often but I will record my thoughts since I do get samples for non-whiskey booze too.

Full disclaimer, oftentimes I’m not familiar enough with the spirit in question to baseline it against others of its kind… consider my grades as an outsider’s opinion.

El Tesoro Reposado, K&L Sp, 40.7%
Sample courtesy of friend Charu. The nose is grassy fresh cut tropical fruit salad… Like the top of a pineapple. Light, sweet, slightly peppery and tropical palate. Lots of spices, primarily chili peppers rise in the reasonably long aftertaste. This is a tequila that truly wants to be paired with some mexican food or cheese. Side note, pairing it up with some smoked gouda is amazing. Overall: Highly enjoyable with mexican food but not too special on its own. I would absolutely drink this all day with tacos or whatever i’m given.
Score: B-

Ivy Mountain Peach Brandy, 40%
Unclear which batch this is, but likely batch 1…. Sample courtesy of friend Charu. It smells like pure peaches. Not even a note of alcohol for my ’seasoned’ nose. Okay, maybe a little bit like a peach extract/flavoring to be fair. Sweet peach skins and maybe a little bit of bitterness from around the pit on the palate. Very long and very… ‘peachy’ aftertaste. It really does taste like peach sangria or a real peach that’s been soaked in white rum for a while. A fun little experience, it makes me think of peach-flavored liquors or peach-flavored rum, though I’m fairly sure this is not flavored by any means. Overall: Fun summery drink for sure. “Don’t worry; be happy”. As straight as a line on complexity and perhaps it’s for the best.
Score: B

L’encantada Lous mouracs 1983 #25 Lincoln Road Pick, 48.6%
A small sample from friend Charu. This is so ridiculously dark and complex across the board. The nose is wonderful blend of old paint and varnish with vanilla extract and fruit compote. The palate is deeply oaky, super fruity and almost resembles Oloroso sherry for me, which is something I really really like in the glass. Toasted vanilla, lots of wood yet not overwhelming the balance is great here. Tons of dark dried fruits and some spice on the finish. Overall: Lovers of subtle spirits should not apply. This is not your shelf cognac light fruity style. This is luxuriously dark, deep, and amazing. Delicious example of brandy that I would love drinking even being a scotch lover. Definitely one to change a whiskey-drinker’s mind. It’s quite difficult to even call this an armagnac when trying blind… It’s something between a bourbon and heavily sherried scotch on the palate. Value: This is north of 200… so not cheap.
Someone else’s thoughts here: http://plebyak.blogs … s-1983-armagnac.html
Score: A-

Pierre Ferrand Renegade Barrel 1 - Cognac and Sauternes Cask, 48%
Sample from friend Charu. This batch is aged in combination of old cognac and sauternes casks. The nose got a minor but odd acrid note to it, like raw grapes or maybe bad white wine mixed with woody alcohol. The palate is actually not too bad. I don’t have too much cognac practice, but it’s definitely vanilla, ripe red grapes, pine nuts, very floral and quite sweet. The aftertaste brings interesting gentle szechuan pepper notes and some vanilla extract. Overall: Sweet and pleasant, this can appeal to those that enjoy Hennessy/Remi Martin no age blends but for my palate it’s not all that interesting. A solidly drinkable cognac, with an interesting twist and much more character than overblended generic ’staples’. Value: Solid, at ~$80 for the brand. Not that I have any expertise in cognac pricing.
Score: B

Pierre Ferrand Renegade Barrel 2 - Oak and Chestnut barrels, 47.1%
Sample from friend Charu. Very herbal on the nose, an herbal fruit compote to be fair as is the norm with cognacs. More herbs on the palate but now with wood and grapes, and raisins dominating, backed by the vanilla toasted wood. Lots of spices, some oak and vanilla; and of course more dried raisins, though this time white raisins, on the palate. Overall: This is quite a trip on the senses, though I’d have guessed the finish was some herbal vine finish rather than chestnut. Definitely oak-forward, with wood trying to unbalance the rest of the spirit it never quite gets there. Definitely an interesting and different take on a cognac. Not a typical offering and is likely polarizing to those that are more familiar with cognacs. Still, I’d drink this stand-alone no problem. Value: Solid, at ~$80 for the brand. Not that I have any expertise in cognac pricing.
Score: B+

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

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Obtainium, Whitmeyer’s Malt, Rare Character, Barrell SiB, American Whiskey

The sample wars are continuing with no end in sight.

Obtainium Light Whiskey. 67.8%
A sample from friend Logan. A light whiskey is typically bourbon that doesn’t conform to bourbon rules, being either too high proof at cask entry or being aged in used casks. Most light whiskey comes from MGP stocks and are typically older than 10 years due to slower maturation in previously used casks. The nose on this one is just…. very high proofed… but behind it hides a fruit punch of flavors, with cherries and strawberries being quite prominent notes. The palate… Oh boy, that proof’s got nothing to hide behind. Not going to sugarcoat it… this is quite intense. After a little water… this is velvety, almond and cinnamon croissant or a sticky cinnamon roll in a glass. All those toasty cinnamon roll flavors with big gollop of sticky sugar that just covers the mouth while being consumed all those are here. A long aftertaste slowly shifts from front of the tongue to the back of the throat with more gentle cinnamon tickle and a little bit of ginger. Overall: I quite enjoy it. Perhaps not quite good for home shelf this is certainly a top pick for a good dessert dram with friends. Bourbon purists be damned! Very enjoyable but needs careful, but nearly immediate dilution. Perhaps a perfect pour over little ice in summer. Make no mistake this is not for everyone as it’s essentially bourbon with all the primary flavors removed and all the secondary flavors amplified by 100. Value: No clue, but these aren’t very expensive at MSRP being around $80 last I’ve seen… Decent price for a novelty whiskey, especially at such high proof and age.
Score: B

Obtainium Light Whiskey 14, PlumpJack Estate Cabernet Finish. 68.1%
Another Light Whiskey, this time a 14 year old finished in Plumpjack Estate Cab casks. This sample comes courtesy of friend Orpheus. Astringent alcohol-forward cherries on the nose, as expected of wine cask finish. I expect this is going to be cherry liqueur creme-brulee on the palate… Let’s try… Yup… It’s quite hot cherry creme brulee. Water is strongly recommended to drop it down a few proof points. After water this is quite delicious. The cherry from wine cask adds tons of secondary subtle flavors and because it’s light whiskey, the secondary notes aren’t being overwhelmed. The palate is quite velvety and mouth-coating due to age. The aftertaste is more cherry, vanilla, some wood and lots and lots of ginger-cinnamon dust. The aftertaste is also quite warm and lasts for quite a long time. Overall: Slightly better than the ‘pure’ version above, as red wine casks bring lots of secondary notes to offset primaries, ending up with cherry custard that’s dusted with nutmeg and cinnamon. Enjoyable and quite drinkable though bourbon this ain’t… Also way too hot without water so it’s no casual @work drink either. In it’s own ‘weird whiskey’ category this is quite nice. Value: I don’t recall which variety this is, but PJ site has sister casks at $80 which is a decent price for what you get. Yet again, bourbon purists will scoff at it but I’ll say this is quite decent novelty whiskey for the price.
Score: B+

Whitmeyer’s Single Malt American Whiskey, 17 mo, Single Cask 54%
A small sample courtesy of friend Charu to scratch that ‘weird whiskey’ itch. This is some sort of Whitmeyers own experiment in fast aging, seeing this is only 17 months old, and a single malt nonetheless. I don’t usually group single malts and bourbons, but this review set is already going all over the place and is likely to get weirder; so here goes. The nose is eye-watering medical alcohol wipe with a tiny note of wood following. The palate is super alcoholic kahlua liquor. The finish is reasonably short and full of more coffee. This is basically highly fortified kahlua. Plus one of the weird whiskey train. -1 for everything else. Coffee-lovers need to apply here. This is like westland coffee profile but with almost no maltiness. Hard pass, though not a drain pour at least. It really tastes like coffee-flavored whiskey. It’s also not my jam in the booze department. Value: I don’t care.
Score: D

—- And now for a few Americans of ‘weird character’ all samples below are from Jaimie

Rare Character, 5 Years old MGP Bourbon, K&L Sp. 59.85%
An MGP product aged in Kentucky. Kinda a funky MGP nose notes, somewhat woody and strongly alcoholic, which isn’t surprising, given the proof. Very warm palate; an interesting mix of Kentucky, notably Heaven Hill with MGP cinnamon and wood, nothing too complicated here likely due to age a pleasant if a little hot drinker, like very alcoholic red hots. Medium length aftertaste that’s continuing from the palate. Water tunes down the heat a little bit making it an easy drinker for a relaxed conversation if heat is too much. Not much gained not much lost. Overall: Enjoyable and not too complex. The bottle is pretty and I guess would make a nice table topic, but this isn’t offering anything new that I’ve not seen before. Quite cohesive package if you’re into SAOS/MPG 5 year old offerings. An excellent example of an old familiar, like the favorite pillow. Value: at $70 for a 5 year old MGP with admittedly pretty label and bottle? Sure, I guess it’s okay price in the current market.
I’m fairly sure it’s this:
Score: B+

Barrell Bourbon 8, SiB “Old Ills”, 58.37%
Woody and cherry-forward nose profile. Quite a nutty bite on the palate with warming cinnamon, wood and some baking spice. Oddly mouth-watering after the sip, or perhaps my palate is trying to adjust itself to the burn. Chocolate-covered cherries dusted with cinnamon here for sure. Long and highly complex tingling sensation on the aftertaste. Few drops of water open up little more wood and makes it better balanced. Overall: Quite enjoyable but the cinnamon profile isn’t my cup of tea in bourbon to be honest… Though plenty will enjoy it. It’s also a little bit of nutty underneath the spice and the proof and leans very lightly into the peanut notes, though this is Kentucky single cask so Dickel is likely out of the mix here. I think the lesson here, is not everyone’s palate match up with picking single casks. Seems like I’m not a good match to the person that picked out this one. Value: at $100… it’s about average what I’d expect from a 8 year old single cask nowadays for the price.
Score: B

Barrell Bourbon 8, SiB “Blakely’s Barrel”, 58.6%
Another Kentucky bourbon sample. Another wood, alcohol and some cherry nose… While the description mentions mashbill with rye as the ’small grain’ (whatever THAT means). It does not seem like something out of BT or HH… Oh well, done with guessing. The palate is reasonably balanced, quite sweet and almost tame, yet not lacking in flavors deal. Lots of burnt sugar, cherries, spices, wood. Wonderfully balanced almost floral in its notes. The aftertaste is not too long on primary notes but lingers for a while with a light tingle. Overall: I quite like it’s sweeter-than-average and floral character. It’s both complicated and not overly so though the balance leans slightly towards delicate flower firewater rather than what I would associate with ‘macho American BBQ’ drinking… This is a warming winter drink rather than southern BBQ drink. Value: Another $100; it’s about average what I’d expect from a 8 year old single cask nowadays for the price.
Score: B+

Barrell Bourbon 6, SiB “Triple Cherry”, 59.95%
The nose lives up to its nickname spectacularly, it’s essentially cherry cough sirup for alcoholics. Really sweet cherry vanilla cola on the palate, end of description. The aftertaste brings an explosion of cinnamon and baking spices that are then slowly fade away over medium-long period. Overall: this will appeal to vanilla cherry lovers… Honestly, it’s not quite my thing due to cough sirup note associations as it’s on the lighter side of the spectrum. With a little bit more wood notes, this could have been much better balanced. Value: Another $100; it’s about little below average what I’d expect from a 6 year old single cask nowadays for the price.
Score: C+

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

J.P. Wiser’s, High West Rye, Olde St. Nick, Templeton(s) Ryeeees

Back to our regularly scheduled sample program…

J.P. Wiser’s 15, Canadian Whiskey, 40%
Another sample from friend Ross. Thanks friend. Looks like a 40% abv Canadian Blent of Rye and Grain with the only real distinction is that it’s 15 years old. Somewhat thin, yet sweet, wood varnish on the nose. Slightly sweet with maple syrup, woody palate. A rush of rye spice and then rising warmth on a reasonable finish. Overall: A Bar bar bar bar pour if at all barely. An inoffensive sipper, that I wouldn’t use as a mixer due to super gentle nature… Even the bottle says “a hint or rye spice”. Low proof and rather sweet profile without much standing out doesn’t do it much favors in the sea of interesting offerings by other distillers and blenders. Good with a conversation for anyone and everyone at the right time and place, but completely forgettable as a pour. Being inoffensive does have its benefits though. Value: Total wine lists this at $45… Price wise… It’s a fairly solid deal for a 15 year old whiskey for someone and only because it actually has an age statement.
https://www.totalwin … n-whisky/p/239256750
Score: C

High West Double Rye, Eureka SP, 49.6%
A High West Double Rye, single cask pick by Eureka!. This was finished for 8 months in Amontillado (a type of dry sherry) cask and is a single cask# 18422. For the record, I scored regular version of Double Rye not particularly high here: https://www.aerin.or … y:entry201115-213721
The nose is slightly alcohol forward combining rye spice and woody winey vanilla. Quite gentle for the first moment on the palate, yet spicy on the rye notes, this is full of typical rye dill and eucalyptus and yet again well balanced off by the dry baking spice. Somewhat sweet, there’s a spike of dill, alcohol, and spice in the center of the palate then it falls into medium-short finish where the sherry secondary notes get to leave their mark. Overall: The sherry brings a lot of subtle notes that are sorely needed with a lot of younger American whiskeys, making it a solid daily (rye) sipper that’s quite tasty if somewhat uneven in it’s palate experience. The higher proof helps a lot too! This could make a great mixed drink too. Value: Part of the $75 Eureka box… this is priced about right for the current market considering the box also had packaging and some swag. Compared to many other NAS ryes the price isn’t out of the ordinary.
Score: B

Very Olde St. Nick, Cask Strength Summer Rye. 59.05%
Another sample provided by friend Logan. No age statement but this is supposed to be an ‘old’ rye. The Wife says the nose is (red) apple pie, though I think it’s more of a raspberry jam tart. Anyways; it’s red fruits, vanilla, some rye spice, and a little bit of wood. The palate is sweet, almost subtle, and then the rye spice train pulls into the station. It’s full of clove, allspice, nutmeg, paprika… it’s a spice-plosion in the mouth. Almost like a rye version of mulled wine. This ball of flavor thankfully fades into the reasonably long and warm aftertaste with sweet vanilla and subtle wood. Overall: Sure, I’d drink this! It’s yet again not my favorite due to being a rye… but it’s super enjoyable. Few drops of water cuts the explosion of spice and proof to much more manageable levels. Water recommended in this one and it’s quite good after. Value: MSRP is $169. Oh hell no!
Score: B+

Brief notes below:

Templeton’s mashbill is 95% rye 5% barley across the board.

Templeton Rye 4, 40%
Nose is like a nice mellow rye. Palate is a sweet mellow rye that’s quite vanilla forward to balance out light dill/eucalyptus notes. Aftertaste is warm vanilla and is mostly missing. Overall: Skip! Unless you mix it up with something but still there are better choices. Enjoyable for that custard vanilla note.
Score: C

Templeton Rye 6, 45.6%
The other ‘Flagship of Templeton’, the distinction being shared between 4 and 6 year old ryes of theirs. The nose is full of anise, dill seed and fennel, plus some alcohol. The same vanilla sweet rye/anise mostly continues to the palate. This time a little deeper and woodier. Spicy, sweet, not too long but reasonably typical ‘rye’ aftertaste that’s enjoyable and makes the palate tingle with cinnamon. Overall: This is quite enjoyable, I’d still not buy a bottle but I’d love some mixed drinks with it or even just sip it at a bar, it’s got plenty of flavor but little ’substance’.
Score: B

Templeton Rye Oloroso Cask Finish, 46%
According the Templeton Rep the oloroso cask was picked to be quite ‘dry’ with little sweetness but more of the spice character. Sweet anise on the nose mixed with baking spices and is all noticeably toasty/woody. The palate with little sips is a little soapy/flat, but a bigger sip bring in a rush of autumnal spices, with cloves, cinnamon and cardamom dominating. Aftertaste spirals up to some of the interesting sherry spices and cinnamon and is quite long, if somewhat subtle. Overall: It’s hard to believe this is a rye… as it’s tasting different from other offerings.. but with a dry oloroso, I guess the layers of secondary notes are expected. Very nice but the slight soap note doesn’t let it rise above…. Honestly, I slightly prefer the 6yo on the primary and this on the secondary notes.
Score: B

Templeton Rye 10, 52%
A single cask 10 year rye. Nose is typal rye dill/anise alcohol but here the wood is starting to dominate. Palate is toasted vanilla and wood, quite smooth with tons of rye spice and only secondary notes being the usual eucalyptus oil. More eucalyptus on the aftertaste that’s finally long and fulfilling slowly fading with a tingling szechuan pepper sensation. Overall: I am quite enjoying this for a rye, considering this is still 95/5 rye mash bill, the rye profile is well balanced with the cask making it a good and enjoyable bottle for those that enjoy this sort of thing.
Score: B+

Templeton Rye Barrel Strength 2020, 56.55%
Last but not least is Barrell Strength version… which IIRC is also 10 years. High proof on the nose this is slightly rough around the edges version of their 10 year old. Same notes and same profile, chili flakes, chocolate, anise across the board. Less perfectly balanced, with alcohol quite noticeable here. I’d say solid Bar pour for a cask proofer.
Score: B

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