Friday, December 20, 2019

@work Woodville, Wright Rye, Sonoma, Redwood Empire.

Woodinville Bourbon ~$40
Wife comment: Men’s cologne. Tasty.

A silly square bottle but a darn tasty offering. Not too subtle, not too funky. Right in the middle of that mellow bourbon territory. Great to have; not too complicated nor too mellow to miss out on what’s going in the glass or around you while not concentrating on the glass itself. Arguably one of the best thing for @work drinking we had for price/performance ratio.
Score: N/A

Wright & Brown Rye ~$80 (Batch 3. Bottle 1540)
Wife Comment: I like!

Let’s be clear. This is expensive rye, comparably. But it is so very very very good. (Personally, I liked their bourbon even more, but @work needed a rye). One of the mellower sweeter takes on a rye spirit. Yet somehow still deep and interesting without being overwhelmed by that rye-ish bite. Definite thumbs up, if you can find AND willing to deal with the price tag. Admittedly price is a bit high. But it is certainly deserving that ‘artisinal’ text on the label.
Score: N/A

Sonoma Distilling Bourbon ~$40
Another example of excellent California bourbon. I may be based in California so my store supplier is a little heavy on local representation… Hmmm… I think I like it. Nose is sour cherries mostly. Palate, continues that same sour cherry theme. A little bit of a bitter after taste, not unpleasant, maybe like walnut bitterness that lingers around, while long-lasting its also somehow a bit drying too. Middle is sweeter and spicy as bourbon should but spices dominate the sweetness without being unbalanced too much. Decently rounded if a little punch-y loud flavor profile. Not an everyday drinker (Woodinville seems to fit that better). But does REALLY well with fancy cherry or two to buff up the sweet, skip the vermouth for an improvised Manhattan.
Score: N/A

Redwood Empire Rye ~$40
Wife note: Bready

And yet Another California product… See the pattern here? (I’ll admit there few things I didn’t like but since I didn’t buy them I’m not planning to write about it). On the nose citrus and… acetone maybe (in a pleasant way, maybe nail polish a tad) a bit of rye loaf sourness and toasted crust. On the palate, sweet and restrained front but holy-moly does the back come in like a big wave. All those baking spices and still more bread-yness. Very long spicy finish that lingers for a while. Very good in a manhattan, quite enjoyable on its own though I’d consider it a bit ‘unbalanced’ if drinking straight as the profile heavily leans towards the back. Excellent mixer for @work or whenever. Plus supports local growers/producers/distillers which is always a plus. (Side note from memory: I’ve enjoyed most everything they had to taste, their bourbon was also excellent, yet again we had a mighty need of Rye @work)
Score: N/A

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

@work Deanston, Glenfarclas, Corsair, Dickel

Deanston Virgin Oak ~$40
Lets kick this off with a Scotch review, because why not?
Deanston Virgin Oak. Lets see, light, not terribly complex, malt, vanilla and wood on the palate. Reasonably pleasant nose of the same. Short pleasant aftertaste… of the same. This one doesn’t really try to be something its not. Lets also be honest, it’s the only $40 Single Malt bottle at the before-mentioned liquor store next to the office. Good, cheap, single malt, easy drinker. Sold!
Bonus Wife Comment: Sweet, vanilla/oak, wood. Exactly as described.
Score: N/A

Glenfarclas 12 ~$50 (Thanks Allan!)
Going off of memory here. More interesting budget scotch with somewhat similar flavor profile to Deanston above, plus a bit of nuttiness and light sherry influence on the palate (or more of a ex-bourbon thing). Very good, plenty of folks preferred this first, again likely due to slightly punchier/nuttier flavor profile, a tiny whiff of smokiness. General crowd-pleaser overall.
Score: N/A

Dickel Bottled-in-Bond ~$35
Wife note: Fancy men’s perfume. American version.

Exceptionally good american fare. Nose is some sorts of dark roasted nuts. Tiny bit of cherry sourness coming in through. Bottled in Bond works its own thing here, on the palate it packs quite a punch though balanced and quite drinkable. Exceptional in a mixed drink, especially if its a Manhattan. New whiskey of the year by Spirits Advocate for 2019. For the price, yeah I agree.
Personal note: Don’t try to taste things at the tail end of sinuses. This currently tastes like soap to me. I’ve opened it up a bit ago and other than being really punchy in your face kinda situation its really nice. Dickel makes some solid american whiskeys.
Score: N/A

Corsair Triple Smoke ~$40
So… I’m a little split on this one. We’ve bought and consumed at least 6 bottles (okay yeah we’re kinda insane I guess) of Cask-exclusive full strength (65%?) version of this general release… and well you can tell from number of repeats that its really really good. One of my favorite American bottles at the time.
The general version, coming in at exact 40 abv… comparably is… weak and simply doesn’t have the same punch as the cask strength version does… that is if you’re expecting cask strength flavors out of it… But it happens to be general production model release, not a supercharged drag racing version of that civic, but civic in itself is still good if compared to other cars in its class. So certainly expect that american malt caramel flavors, and 3 types of smoke certainly are to the front vs taking a backseat in the memory of the other bottles. Is it good by itself? Not at 40 abv. I wouldn’t chase it to the end of the earth to buy another bottle. Cask strength is a very different, smoked caramel experience that could be an interesting exploration in smoked bourbons.
Update: The newly rebranded and bottled at 50% abv single casks are… somewhere in-between the two opinions above. Not quite 40% flavored water, not quite concentrated experience of a 60+ percent abv. Makes for a fantastic manhattan just by adding couple of cherries to it. Multilayered smoke (think BBQ smokehouse) and reasonably okay amount of sweet american malt makes for a passable experience for such young malt.
Score: N/A

Drinking @work intro


Lets start with the basics.. Don’t drink and root, or do. Whatever is safe. But generally behave in a SAFE FOR WORK MANNER!!! To be clear: I strongly discourage drinking at the office during work hours, as that’s very unprofessional. What happens after work is done… well that’s entirely different question and splitting a bottle among friends/coworkers is a hell of a lot cheaper option to going out to a bar where no decent drink will cost you less than $10 each.

I happen to have the luxury working next to a fairly decent liquor store that also happens to do free tastings regularly. Lucky me! … /in-store-tastings/

Plenty of decent bottles are to be had at a reasonable price point for work consumption, where opportunity to contemplate or proper glassware may not be easily available. So a bigger focus is made towards tasty, easy drinking, uncomplicated, and budget-friendly bottles.

In the @work series I’ll try to focus at the bottles I’ve had in a work environment, either through tasting or sometimes from memory. Expect reviews to be shorter but not less interesting.

You may also find items mentioned are a lot more accessible and/or much easier to find as we tend to acquire bottles based on tastings and those tend to be more widely available brands or varieties.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Craigellachie Auchroisk Cambus

Craigellachie 12 Sovereign Single Cask
Wife’s Note: “Smells like inside of a brand new Buick”

This one is a mixed bag for me. It certainly smells and tastes like a distilled old leather couch from a basement of a life-long cigar smoker. Its almost unbelievable how much of a concentrated flavor there is in this relatively young scotch bottle. This is certainly a beast of a flavor bomb, without being overwhelming or cloyingly sweet. What do I think about it? I started loving it in casual touch but later revisiting don’t seem to do it for me on this one. Too astringent and to my tastes unbalanced. I really want to like it but my taste buds rebel when drinking it. Note and an exception to personal rule: One of the VERY few scotches I’ve put a tiny bit of water in, this one responds well and seems to balance out the flavors into somewhat enjoyable, walnut skins and old leather sorts of balance. So, yes, add a bit of water in!

Addendum on the water thing: I’m shocked how much more approachable it is with water. Solid stuff when just slightly diluted, borderline undrinkable (IMHO) otherwise.
Score: N/A

Auchroisk 21 Single Cask Hepburn’s Choice
Wife’s Notes: White pepper, pear and plums on the nose. Terrible in the mouth.

Another mixed bag for me in this bottle. An amazing nose. I’m mostly agreeing with wife’s smell on this, though I was thinking green bananas and pepper initially. Either way, no hints of smoke and no sherry. Looks like refill (refill-refill), bourbon casks with that sort of pale straw color. Certainly clean, peppery, yet surprisingly complex on the back that lingers and lingers… Lots of different spice going on there. Overall pleasant but not super exciting.
Score: N/A

Cambus 29 Sovereign Single Cask
I’m going to wax poetic about this one, so buckle up. Single GRAIN scotch… Its an interesting category, while still certainly a Scotch Whiskey, compared to single malt its more of a lawless land of opportunity, but what opportunities are there to be had. To be clear there are plenty of duds but the price point for 20+ y/o single grain is so low there’s no reason not to dip in. I mentioned 20 years old as for me its the lower cut off range as something ‘magical’ happens with single grains past low-20s in barrels and they suddenly become tropical. We’re talking coconut, vanilla, all sorts of tropical fruits and all in all ethereal and amazing. Whiiiiich brings up back to this one. YES. AMAZING! Love it! Still a single grain that’s not sherried or peated or anything special but age and cask is a match made in heaven. Simple indulgence.
Score: N/A

Friday, July 5, 2019

Compass Box Dance

Preface/Disclaimer: I’m generally not a fan of blended whiskies but John Glaser’s compass box company is certainly not a norm blender, nor it is ever shy to break a norm or to stick a middle finger up to the whisky regulatory body, just look up the story of “Last Vatted Malt” or any number of their whisky releases that are tongue in cheek (middle finger) to the Man. I’ve tried a number of them and across the board they are all excellent. I briefly touched on 5th and Harrison blend in the past review and will presently proceed though the taster box I’ve acquired a while back that showcases some of the core bottles of the company (though there are plenty of others so do give them a try). Another disclaimer: the overall taste tends to slightly shift batch to batch as the blend mix isn’t consistent but more of a theme.

example link: https://www.thewhisk … -miniature-gift-pack

Missing notes for: Asyla and Spice Tree somehow….

I recall it being better few years ago. It’s still light and tasty, but my taster has a little bit of orange zest (or grapefruit) bitterness to it and i seem to recall tasting it same in a bar not too long ago. It used to be much more like candy, sweet and light, this is certainly more balanced, but if anything it reminds me of glenmorangie original 10 than the old glory. Certainly hedonistic in a sense of a complicated mix of light and interesting flavors that need to be taken apart at length to understood but not quite right for me. This is mostly a blend of single grains whiskies and does vary batch to batch. A more recent batch with high percentage of Cameronbridge is very much taken up its character so it’s very much butter cookies or perhaps almond butter vanilla cookies. My palate did evolve somewhat in the last 10sh years so light and sweet it is, but I would have liked more sherry influence myself.
Score: N/A

Oak Cross:
Oh baby! Now we’re talking. Tasty, sweet, clean aftertaste, no bitterness. Vanilla galore (hello oak), little peppery and a drying at the end, this goes all over the place in terms of flavor without losing its goal of showcasing oak barrels and dropping the experience out in the middle of the taste ride. Certainly an subtle set of flavors but what a set it is. This is not one to punch you in the face but more of a snuggle into the favorite silk comforter.
Score: N/A

Peat Monster:
Do you like peat and light flavors? If so then this is one for you! Peaty, briny and almost astringent on the nose yet somehow managing to be light and sweet on the palate. The name of Monster belies a surprising mix, almost a conflict, of nose and palate. This is certainly an example of a lighter side of peated whiskies if on the tongue, while punching above its weight on the nose. Quite a recommended for peated whisky introduction, but then again Lagavulin 16 is an excellent into in on its own while being much meatier by itself. Where Hedonism had that little spice in the end but without anything to back it up, this one is certainly much more balanced experience. Adding a teeny-tiny drop of a sherry bomb single malt elevates this for me into ‘great whisky ‘, but I’m a self-admitted occasional fan of sherried peat
Score: N/A

Laphroaig Cairdeas
I’ve made no secret out of not really liking peated whiskies with a special dislike reserved for ‘pure, heavily peated’ versions, as exemplified by Kilchoman and young Laphroaig… BUUUT I’ve come to an interesting conclusion, that peat plus sherry is a combination that I generally enjoy if done right with sherry sweetness balancing the peat brine. (Different discussion but Ardbeg Uigeadail from few years back was quite enjoyable winter drink). So that brings me to Cairdeas at hand, and I have to admit it… but I like it. It’s not quite the best thing for me, but for what it tries to do was enjoyable enough, sorta of a salty/sweet and quite ‘balanced’ flavor where I wouldn’t mind picking up a bottle when I run out of my next Lagavulin 16 bottle and I had to pick between the two of them at the same price point. (Sorry not many tasting notes here, it’s been a few weeks, writing from memory).
Score: N/A